March 17, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – March 17, 2023
National/Federal No Rest Between Censuses for Congressional Mapmakers DNyuz – Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 3/10/2023 For just about all of the nation’s history, politicians would fight over redistricting for a short period after each once-a-decade census, then forget about […]
No Rest Between Censuses for Congressional Mapmakers
DNyuz – Reid Epstein (New York Times) | Published: 3/10/2023
For just about all of the nation’s history, politicians would fight over redistricting for a short period after each once-a-decade census, then forget about congressional maps until the next reapportionment. Now, a string of lawsuits and in-the-works state referendums are poised to redefine the battles over state legislative and congressional lines and leave the country in a state of perpetual redistricting. Not since 2012 and 2014 have all 50 states’ congressional lines remained constant for consecutive elections, a streak unlikely to be broken next year.
Social Media Threats Exploded after Tucker Carlson’s Jan. 6 Claims, Analysis Finds
MSN – Jessica Guynn and Will Carless (USA Today) | Published: 3/13/2023
Tucker Carlson’s portrayal of the deadly January 6 attack as a largely peaceful event on his Fox News show set off a new wave of social media chatter that includes death threats against Capitol police officers and Democratic leaders, according to experts who monitor extremism and a report from Advance Democracy. The segment downplayed the violence, falsely recasting the mob that breached the Capitol as an “orderly and meek” gathering of “sightseers.”
GOP Rep. Andy Ogles Seems to Have Kept $25,000 From a GoFundMe for a Child Burial Garden
New Republic – Tori Otten | Published: 3/15/2023
U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles appears to have kept money raised through a charitable GoFundMe event. A media investigation found Ogles set up a GoFundMe in 2014 after his son was stillborn. Ogles said he wanted to build a garden where families could bury their stillborn children and sit on benches by the gravestones. It raised almost $25,000, but the garden was never built. GoFundMe confirmed that Ogles received the money.
Sold: Yacht with a waterfall. Price: $19 million. Broker: George Santos.
Yahoo News – Rebecca Davis O’Brien and William Rashbaum (New York Times) | Published: 3/15/2023
A $19 million luxury yacht deal brokered by U.S. Rep. George Santos between two of his wealthy donors has captured the attention of federal and state authorities investigating his campaign finances and personal business dealings. Even if Santos broke no laws, the deal serves as further evidence of an emerging narrative given by people in his political orbit, that Santos seemed to use his campaign not only to win elected office but also as a networking exercise to ingratiate himself with rich donors and enrich himself from those contacts.
House Republicans Quietly Halt Inquiry into Trump’s Finances
Yahoo News – Luke Broadwater and Jonathan Swain (New York Times) | Published: 3/13/2023
House Republicans halted a congressional investigation into whether Donald Trump profited improperly from the presidency, declining to enforce a court-supervised settlement agreement that demanded that Mazars USA, his former accounting firm, produce his financial records to Congress. Oversight and Accountability Committee Chairperson James Comer professed ignorance about the inquiry Democrats opened when they controlled the House, and was instead focusing on whether President Biden and members of his family were involved in an influence-peddling scheme.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Commissioner Will Change Response to Ethics Complaint Following 12News Reports
MSN – Joe Dana (KPNX) | Published: 3/10/2023
A prominent association representing utility commissioners across the country said its name was falsely used to promote a two-day event hosted by the American Gas Association in New York in January. The revelation contradicts a statement filed by Arizona Corporation Commission member Kevin Thompson in response to an ethics complaint. Thompson, a former manager and lobbyist at Southwest Gas, said the meetings were beneficial to the public because it’s the job of commissioners “to reassure there’s regulatory stability in Arizona.”
California – Ethics Commission Wants More Time to Decide If Nonprofits, Other Groups Will Have to Register as Lobbyists
Long Beach Post – Jason Ruiz | Published: 3/9/2023
The Long Beach Ethics Commission said it will continue to work on its recommendations for changes to the city’s lobbying law after dozens of nonprofit leaders turned out to its meeting to demand their current exemption from the law remain intact. There are over 600 nonprofits with a location in Long Beach, according to Michelle Byerly, executive director of The Nonprofit Partnership, who told the commission its proposal to add “advocacy” to the law and treat advocates the same as lobbyists would put a great burden on nonprofits.
California – Inside the Financial Ties Between a Controversial Housing Nonprofit and Kevin de León
MSN – Liam Dillon, Benjamin Oreskes, and Doug Smith (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 3/13/2023
The AIDS Healthcare Foundation in 2020 was pursuing a lawsuit alleging Los Angeles illegally denied funding for an affordable housing project the nonprofit was proposing. Kevin de León, the area’s incoming city council member who had been elected but not yet taken office, contacted an aide to then-Mayor Eric Garcetti. The aide arranged a video call for De León with city department heads and high-ranking mayoral staffers. But those in the meeting did not know De León was a consultant working for the foundation, a job that would pay him more than $100,000 in the six months prior to his taking office.
California – Lawyers Make Opening Statements in Mark Ridley-Thomas Corruption Trial
MSN – Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 3/8/2023
At the start of the corruption trial of suspended Los Angeles City Councilperson Mark Ridley-Thomas, jurors heard conflicting portraits of the onetime power broker. Defense attorneys cast him as a lifelong public servant who represented the poorest communities of Los Angeles. Prosecutors said Ridley-Thomas was a conniving operator eager to “monetize” his position and conceal a sexual harassment investigation into his son, then a state Assembly member. To preserve the family’s political brand, the elder Ridley-Thomas helped engineer his son’s abrupt resignation from the Legislature, supposedly for medical reasons, and leaned on the University of Southern California for favors to benefit his son.
Colorado – Former Trump Lawyer Jenna Ellis Censured by Colorado Judge for False Statements
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 3/9/2023
A Colorado judge censured Jenna Ellis, a former senior legal adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign who admitted in state disciplinary proceedings that she made at least 10 false statements about the 2020 election as part of an effort to mislead the public. Ellis is the latest of Trump’s legal aides to face scrutiny for their conduct in the aftermath of the 2020 election. She is the first of the cohort to acknowledge in public that comments she made surrounding the election were false.
Florida – Florida Scoured Math Textbooks for ‘Prohibited Topics.’ Next Up: Social Studies.
DNyuz – Sarah Mervosh (New York Times) | Published: 3/16/2023
In Florida, textbooks have become hot politics, part of Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign against what he describes as “woke indoctrination” in public schools, particularly when it comes to race and gender. Last year, his administration made a splash when it rejected dozens of math textbooks, citing “prohibited topics.” Now, the state is reviewing curriculum in what is perhaps the most contentious subject in education: social studies. A prominent conservative education group, whose members volunteered to review textbooks, objected to a slew of them, accusing publishers of “promoting their bias.” At least two publishers declined to participate altogether.
Florida – Inside Ron DeSantis’s Politicized Removal of an Elected Prosecutor
Yahoo News – Alexandra Berzon and Ken Bensinger (New York Times) | Published: 3/11/2023
As he travels the country promoting a new book and his expected presidential campaign, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis repeatedly points to his ouster of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren as an example of the decisive way he has transformed Florida and could remake the nation. He casts Warren as a rogue ideologue whose refusal to enforce the law demanded action. But an examination of the episode reveals a different picture: a governor’s office that seemed driven by a preconceived political narrative, bent on a predetermined outcome, and focused on maximizing media attention for DeSantis.
Georgia – Little-Known Lawyer, a Trump Ally, Draws Scrutiny in Georgia
Yahoo News – Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset (New York Times) | Published: 3/11/2023
At a Georgia Senate hearing after Donald Trump lost his bid for reelection, attorney Robert Cheeley presented video clips of election workers handling ballots at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Cheeley spent 15 minutes laying out specious assertions the workers were double- and triple-counting votes. The fact that Cheeley was called to appear before the special grand jury investigating election interference by Trump adds to the evidence that the false claims made by his allies at legislative hearings have been of significant interest.
Hawaii – Hawaii’s New Deputy Economy Chief Has a Powerful Business Partner in The Senate
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 3/15/2023
The business partner of a powerful state senator is on his way to being confirmed as deputy director for Hawaii’s economic development agency. Dane Wicker, a former chief of staff to Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz and co-owner of Kilani Brew with Dela Cruz, cruised through a Senate committee hearing on his nomination. Senate rules on conflicts-of-interest apply to legislation in which a senator has a “direct financial interest.” The rules do not have any provisions on nominees before the Senate.
Illinois – ‘ComEd Four’ Bribery Trial to Put Focus on Ex-Speaker Madigan’s Power, State’s Blurry Line Between Politics and Crime
MSN – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 3/12/2023
Four former Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) officials – ex-Chief Executive Officer Anne Pramaggiore, onetime utility lobbyist Mike McClain, retired ComEd executive John Hooker, and ex-City Club of Chicago president and former ComEd consultant Jay Doherty – are on trial in federal court, accused of scheming to influence indicted ex-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Prosecutors alleged the four defendants tried to bribe Madigan, who controlled what proposals the House would consider and approve, from 2011 until 2019 to advance legislation favorable to ComEd and defeat bills the company opposed.
Illinois – As ComEd Bribery Trial Gets Underway, Judge Reverses Course and Will Allow Secret Recordings to Be Released to the Media
WBEZ – Jon Seidel and Tina Sfondeles (Chicago Sun-Times) | Published: 3/14/2023
The federal judge presiding over the Commonwealth Edison bribery trial reversed course and ruled secret recordings made of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and his allies may be released to the media after they are played for jurors. That means people across the state will finally have an opportunity to hear the evidence at the core of the corruption investigation that ended Madigan’s record-breaking tenure as the leader of the state House and landed him under indictment.
Kansas – Kansas Republicans Push Forward with Changes to Ethics Rules Amid Ongoing Investigations
Kansas Reflector – Sherman Smith | Published: 3/15/2023
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s chief of staff urged Republican lawmakers to spend more time studying proposed changes to campaign finance law before moving forward with legislation inspired by ongoing investigations. The House Elections Committee amended and advanced a version of House Bill 2391, which was written by attorneys who represent a GOP political operative. The executive director of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission warned lawmakers the revised bill still contains numerous changes that would limit his agency’s authority.
Kansas – Wichita Council Member Frye’s Vote Buys time for Wife’s Company on City Contract
Yahoo News – Chance Swaim and Matthew Kelly (Wichita Eagle) | Published: 3/15/2023
Wichita City Council member Bryan Frye cast a decisive vote related to a city contract with his wife’s employer, Copp Media Services. Frye’s action raises questions about whether his vote ran afoul of the city’s ethics rules that aim to prevent council members from voting on friend-and-family deals. Frye did not disclose the potential conflict-of-interest or recuse himself from the vote. Mayor Brandon Whipple and council members who knew about it did not raise any public objections during the meeting, citing confusion over who actually voted.
Louisiana – New Orleans Mayor Fights Lowered Recall Signature Threshold
Yahoo News – Kevin McGill (Associated Press) | Published: 3/14/2023
A court settlement that significantly lowered the number of petition signatures New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s opponents need to force a recall election was challenged in two state courts by Cantrell and one of her supporters. The settlement came after recall organizers sued election officials saying New Orleans voter rolls still list hundreds of dead people and thousands of voters who should be placed on an “inactive” list because they have likely moved. Questions have been raised about Cantrell’s travel expenses and her personal use of a city-owned apartment, among other issues.
Maine – Portland City Council Begins Developing State’s First Municipal Clean Elections Program
Yahoo News – Rachel Ohm (Portland Press Herald) | Published: 3/13/2023
The Portland City Council began developing a new clean elections program the city plans to have in place for the November election. The state in 1996 established the Maine Clean Elections Act, a voluntary program for public campaign funding for state level offices including governor and legislators, but Portland is the state’s first community to establish such a program at the municipal level.
Maryland – Judge Issues Warrant for Roy McGrath, Hogan’s Former Chief of Staff
MSN – Ovetta Wiggins (Washington Post) | Published: 3/13/2023
A federal judge issued a bench warrant for Roy McGrath, once a top aide to former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, after he did not appear in court for the first day of trial on wire fraud and embezzlement charges. McGrath was charged in federal and state court in 2021 with dozens of charges stemming from his time working for a quasi-governmental agency he led before serving as Hogan’s chief of staff. He became the subject of an investigation shortly after it was publicly revealed he was given a severance package of nearly $250,000 when he left the Maryland Environmental Service.
Minnesota – Revolving Door at Minnesota Capitol Creates Windstorm
Minnesota Reformer – Michelle Griffith | Published: 3/15/2023
State lawmakers becoming lobbyists in Minnesota is not a new phenomenon, but heavy turnover at the Capitol has clients turning to legislators-turned-lobbyists. Sen. Matt Klein said lobbyists who recently left office have an advantage in information and relationships, and questioned the propriety of the arrangement. David Schultz, a political science professor at Hamline University said that special access for clients who can afford to hire a former lawmaker could mean less access for average Minnesotans.
Minnesota – Former House Majority Leader, Key Player in THC Law, to Start THC Beverage Company
Minnesota Reformer – Michelle Griffin | Published: 3/15/2023
Former Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler is starting a THC beverage company after playing a key role in the passage of the law that legalized the THC edible industry. Winkler said he had no intentions of starting a company last year when he led the effort to legalize low-dose THC products. He only decided to go into the business after he lost the primary election for Hennepin County attorney last August.
Missouri – ‘It Forces You to Be More Creative’: How lobbyists kept their grip on Missouri politics
MSN – Jonathan Shorman and Kacen Bayless (Kansas City Star) | Published: 3/12/2023
Missouri voters in 2018 approved an amendment to the state constitution that effectively eliminated lobbyist gifts to state legislators, tightened campaign contribution limits, and further restricted the “revolving door” of lawmakers becoming lobbyists. It was a striking achievement for good government advocates, who had voiced outrage for years over the state’s cozy Capitol scene. But as the fifth anniversary of the Clean Missouri vote approaches, a strong lobbying culture remains as Jefferson City has learned to adapt.
New Jersey – Why Is New Jersey the Only State That’s Never Had a State Song?
Philadelphia Inquirer – Alfred Lubano | Published: 3/14/2023
New Jersey is the only state that has never had a state song. It has a state mollusk shell (the knobbed whelk); a state dance (the square dance); and a state microbe (Streptomyces griseus), and a state animal, flower, fruit, bug, reptile, and dinosaur. “It’s a political hot potato,” said Tom Cunningham, host of the “Springsteen on Sunday” radio program. “You’ve got North, Central, and South Jersey – unique areas with their own ideas about music. Hopefully, one day the twain shall meet. But not now.”
New Mexico – Money in Politics Transparency Nears Finish as Legislative Session Winds Down
New Mexico In Depth – Marjorie Childress | Published: 3/14/2023
An effort to close a loophole in New Mexico’s campaign disclosure laws and bar campaign contributions from lobbyists and political committees to lawmakers during legislative sessions has a tailwind heading into the final week of the legislative session. New additions to Senate Bill 42 would require more timely reporting of political contributions so the public has more complete information just before elections and just before the legislative session each year.
New Mexico – Lobbyists Had Safety Plans and Trainings for NM’s 2023 Session, Fearing Misconduct by Lawmakers
Source New Mexico – Megan Gleason | Published: 3/9/2023
This year, the Center for Civic Policy created a safety plan for New Mexico’s 2023 legislative session and shared it with other lobbying organizations around the state. It lays out measures such as staying with colleagues, understanding who to confide in, knowing the surroundings, and taking notes of any incidents that happen. The group also held safety training sessions before and midway through the legislative session with other advocacy organizations. Lan Sena policy director for the Center for Civic Policy, said the Capitol is an unsafe work environment for many people working with advocacy and nonprofit organizations.
New York – NY Troopers PBA Removes Political Director Amid FBI Investigation
Albany Times Union – Brendan Lyons | Published: 3/13/2023
The board of directors for the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association (PBA) voted to part ways with the union’s longtime political director, Gordon Warnock, amid an ongoing investigation of the organization’s finances and business dealings. The departure comes after it was reported that the investigation includes examining hundreds of thousands of dollars paid through the years to individuals or companies with connections to the union. A lobbying firm operated by Warnock has done extensive work for the union and subcontracted some of its national work to a limited liability company formed by the PBA’s former president.
New York – Former State Sen. Jeff Klein Loses Appeal Seeking to End Ethics Probe
Albany Times Union – Staff | Published: 5/10/2023
A New York appellate court rejected former state Sen. Jeffrey Klein’s efforts to shut down an ethics panel’s investigation into allegations he violated the law when he allegedly forcibly kissed a female staff member outside an Albany bar in 2015. Documents show that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) found there was a substantial basis to proceed with a case despite a hearing officer’s recommendation it should be dismissed. Klein’s 2020 petition alleged JCOPE exceeded its authority when it rejected the recommendations of hearing officer Richard Rifkin.
New York – NYC Mayor Eric Adams Faces Thousands in Fines for Potential Campaign Finance Violations
Gothamist – Gwynne Hogan | Published: 3/15/2023
New York City Mayor Eric Adams is facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for three alleged violations of campaign finance law based on issues stemming from his 2021 Transition and Inauguration Entity, a fund that recently elected candidates use to cover expenses after they win an election and before they officially take office. The Campaign Finance Board accused Adams of accepting prohibited donations, failing to respond to requests for information and documentation, and failing to close the fund once Adams became mayor in 2022.
New York – Prosecutors Signal Criminal Charges for Trump Are Likely
Seattle Times – William Rashbaum, Ben Protess, and Jonah Bromwich (New York Times) | Published: 3/9/2023
The Manhattan district attorney’s office recently signaled to Donald Trump’s lawyers that he could face criminal charges for his role in the payment of hush money to a porn star, the strongest indication yet prosecutors are nearing an indictment of the former president. The prosecutors offered Trump the chance to testify before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the potential case. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close; it would be unusual for the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him.
North Carolina – N.C. High Court Mulls Throwing Out Rulings on Redistricting, Voter ID
MSN – Patrick Marley (Washington Post) | Published: 3/14/2023
The North Carolina Supreme Court, now controlled by Republicans following the November midterms, weighed reversing a three-month-old decision aimed at ensuring election maps are drawn fairly. Ahead of oral arguments, critics excoriated the justices for reexamining the redistricting case and a voter ID decision so soon after ruling on them, contending the justices were doing so for partisan reasons instead of legal ones. In December, when Democrats controlled the court, a four-to-three majority issued decisions that went against Republicans on redistricting and threw out the voter ID law.
Ohio – What’s Next in Ohio Corruption Probe After Guilty Verdicts?
ABC News – Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 3/14/2023
The largest corruption case in Ohio history culminated with guilty verdicts for ex-House Speaker Larry Householder and lobbyist Matt Borges, the former head of the Republican Party. But state Attorney General Dave Yost said it is “only the beginning of accountability” for the now-tainted $1 billion bailout of two aging nuclear power plants. There have been no charges against the FirstEnergy executives who were fired in the wake of the scandal. They include former Chief Executive Officer Chuck Jones and former Vice President for External Affairs Michael Dowling, whose texts, emails, and travel itineraries factored heavily into the case against Householder.
Ohio – Guilty: Former Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, ex-Ohio GOP chairman Matt Borges convicted in $60M bribery scheme
MSN – Jake Zuckerman (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 3/9/2023
A jury found former House Speaker Larry Householder and ex-Ohio Republican Party Chairperson Matt Borges guilty in the largest public corruption case in the state’s history. Prosecutors accused Householder and Borges of being part of a scheme to funnel nearly $61 million in “dark money” from First Energy Corp. and its subsidiary to elect Householder as speaker, solidify his power base, secure enough votes to pass a ratepayer-funded bailout of two nuclear plants that benefitted a FirstEnergy subsidiary, and ensure the law survived a ballot campaign to overturn it.
Oklahoma – Okla. Lawmaker Says Bible Endorses Corporal Punishment of Disabled Children
MSN – María Luisa Paúl (Washington Post) | Published: 3/15/2023
Oklahoma Rep. John Talley thought his bill to bar schools from spanking children with disabilities would find little to no opposition in the Legislature. What seemed like a rare bipartisan moment quickly came crashing down as other Republican lawmakers invoked the Bible to argue against Talley’s House Bill 1028, claiming in some instances that “God’s word is higher than all the so-called experts,” as Rep. Jim Olsen said during debate. The bill wound up six votes short of the 51 it needed to pass.
Pennsylvania – ‘Ya Fav Trashman’ Mishandled Campaign Funds and Bilked Staffers. He Says He Wants to Make Things Right.
MSN – Mike Martin (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 3/10/2023
Terrill Haigler, a former city sanitation worker who gained Instagram fame under his alter ego “Ya Fav Trashman,” ended his campaign for Philadelphia City Council, telling his thousands of social media followers he did not get enough signatures to appear on the ballot. But behind the scenes, financial problems plagued his campaign. Haigler has not paid his staffers, used campaign funding for personal expenses in a possible violation of Pennsylvania law, and could face penalties from the city’s Board of Ethics for failing to account for the money.
Tennessee – Tennessee Governor OKs Bill to Cut Nashville Council in Half
Yahoo News – Jonathan Mattise and Kimberlee Kruesi (Associated Press) | Published: 3/9/2023
Republican lawmakers and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed off on cutting Democratic-leaning Nashville’s metro council in half, a move that follows the council’s rejection of efforts to host the 2024 Republican National Convention. The move drew an immediate outcry and is expected to spark legal challenges. Nashville Mayor John Cooper’s administration and others say the change will throw this year’s council elections into chaos, spurring the need to redraw districts after more than 40 candidates already launched campaigns.
Tennessee – Lt. Gov. Randy McNally Faces Criticism for Comments on Young Man’s Mature Instagram Photo
Yahoo News – Melissa Brown (Tennessean) | Published: 3/9/2023
Tennessee Lt. Gov. Randy McNally is facing controversy after reports revealed his Instagram account liked half-nude photos of a gay man whose account he follows despite McNally’s support for anti-LGBTQ legislation. Screenshots show McNally’s official account posting emojis of red hearts, fire, hands clapping, and a smiling face with hearts for eyes. The state Senate, with McNally as its leader, advanced and passed bans this year on gender-affirming care for transgender youth and restrictions on where certain drag shows can take place.
Texas – Legislature Has Little Appetite to Fund Ken Paxton’s Settlement with Whistleblowers
Texas Tribune – James Barragán | Published: 3/13/2023
Texas lawmakers are facing a choice: approve $3.3 million in state funds to end a lawsuit accusing Attorney General Ken Paxton of improperly firing four whistleblowers or reject an out-of-court settlement – potentially adding millions of dollars in costs while leaving the outcome of the lawsuit to fate in a long-shot attempt to make Paxton pay. The settlement would resolve a lawsuit that alleges Paxton fired former high-ranking deputies in retaliation for accusing him of using his office to benefit a friend and political donor. But lawmakers have shown little appetite to use state funds to help Paxton settle the case.
Texas – Ken Paxton’s Campaign Against Election Crimes Ensnared a Texas Justice of the Peace Three Times Before Judges Thwarted the Efforts
Texas Tribune – Alejandro Serrano | Published: 3/15/2023
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office in 2021 pursued criminal election fraud charges Tomas Ramirez III, a justice of the peace in Medina County. An indictment accused Ramirez of illegally possessing absentee ballots of 17 voters during the 2018 GOP primary in which he toppled a Republican incumbent by nearly 100 votes. Ramirez said he never had any voter’s absentee ballots. The indictment did not explain how the alleged scheme worked or the role Ramirez was accused of playing.
March 13, 2023 •
Monday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Elections Colorado: “Former Trump Lawyer Jenna Ellis Censured by Colorado Judge for False Statements” by Matthew Brown (Washington Post) for MSN Ethics New Mexico: “Lobbyists Had Safety Plans and Trainings for NM’s 2023 Session, Fearing Misconduct by Lawmakers” by Megan Gleason for Source New […]
February 3, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – February 3, 2023
National/Federal At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties Seattle Times – Steve Eder (New York Times) | Published: 1/31/2023 After Chief Justice John Roberts joined the U.S. Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her […]
At the Supreme Court, Ethics Questions Over a Spouse’s Business Ties
Seattle Times – Steve Eder (New York Times) | Published: 1/31/2023
After Chief Justice John Roberts joined the U.S. Supreme Court, his wife, Jane Sullivan Roberts, gave up her career as a law firm partner to become a legal recruiter to alleviate potential conflicts-of-interest. Now, a former colleague of Mrs. Roberts raised concerns that her recruiting work poses potential ethics issues for the chief justice. Seeking an inquiry, the ex-colleague has provided records to the Justice Department and Congress indicating Mrs. Roberts has been paid millions of dollars in commissions for placing lawyers at firm, some of which have business before the Supreme Court.
Biden Lawyer: FBI finds no classified docs at beach house
Associated Press News – Eric Tucker, Colleen Long, and Zeke Miller | Published: 2/1/2023
The FBI searched President Joe Biden’s vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, without finding any classified documents, the president’s attorney said. Agents did take some handwritten notes and other materials relating to Biden’s time as vice president for review. The search was the latest discomfiting moment for a president who has sought to contrast his sensitivity to rule-following with that of Donald Trump, who faces a criminal investigation into his handling of classified documents.
Court Blocks DOJ Review of Scott Perry’s Phone in Jan. 6 Probe
MSN – Spencer Hsu, Jacqueline Alemany, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
An appeals court put on hold the search of U.S. Rep. Scott Perry’s phone data in the probe of the Capitol insurrection pending appeal. Perry’s appeal sets the stage for a constitutional test over the scope of immunity held by members of Congress from criminal investigation by the Justice Department under the Constitution’s “speech or debate clause,” which protects legislative work from executive branch interference. House leaders from both parties concluded that at least reviewing Perry’s case and weighing in on its impact on Congress’s constitutional independence is in its best interests.
EU Lobby Register Still Riddled with Errors
EU Observer – Nikolaj Nielsen | Published: 1/31/2023
The European Union’s lobby register remains riddled with errors, as pro-transparency campaigners demand better data and mandatory oversight rules. The latest findings come amid a raft of proposals by the European Parliament president to weed out corruption in the wake of a lobbying scandal. Vicky Cann of the Corporate European Observatory identified some 431 suspicious entries, which were then reviewed by the register’s secretariat. The secretariat then reached out to each one and found only three percent of the original entries were correct.
Google’s Ex-CEO Eric Schmidt Tapped for Federal Biotech Commission That Allows Members to Keep Biotech Investments
CNBC – Eamon Javers | Published: 1/31/2023
Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees announced the selection of former Google Chief Executive Officer Eric Schmidt and 11 others to serve on a new commission on biotechnology. It is tasked with reviewing the biotech industry and suggesting investments that would benefit national security. But the appointment does not require members to divest their own personal biotech investments. Schmidt holds stakes in several biotech companies, placing him in a position to potentially profit if those companies are the beneficiaries of a new wave of federal spending.
GOP Report Shows Plan to Ramp Up Focus on Disproven Election Fraud Claims
MSN – Amy Gardner and Isaac Arnsdorf (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
A new internal report prepared by the Republican National Committee proposes creating a permanent infrastructure in every state to ramp up “election integrity” activities in response to perceptions within GOP ranks of widespread fraud and abuse in the way the country selects its leaders. The report suggests building a massive new party organization involving state-level “election integrity officers” and intensive new training models for poll workers and observers, all based on unsubstantiated claims that Democrats have implemented election procedures that allow for rigged votes.
How Barr’s Quest to Find Flaws in the Russia Inquiry Unraveled
DNyuz – Charlie Savage, Adam Goldman, and Katie Benner (New York Times) | Published: 1/26/2023
Then-Attorney General William Barr in 2019 set out to dig into the theory the investigation to Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign ties to Russia likely stemmed from a conspiracy by intelligence or law enforcement agencies. Barr turned to prosecutor John Durham to prove the theory, and later granted him special counsel status. But after almost four years, Durham’s work is coming to an end without uncovering anything like the deep state plot alleged by Trump and suspected by Barr. The New York Times found Durham’s inquiry was marked by some of the very same flaws that Trump allies claim characterized the Russia investigation.
Hunter Biden’s Lawyers, in Newly Aggressive Strategy, Target His Critics
MSN – Matt Viser (Washington Post) | Published: 2/1/2023
Hunter Biden’s lawyers sent a series of letters to state and federal prosecutors urging criminal investigations into those who accessed and disseminated his personal data and sent a separate letter threatening Fox News host Tucker Carlson with a defamation lawsuit. The string of letters, which included criminal referrals and cease-and-desist missives aimed at critics and detractors, marked the start of a new and far more hard-hitting phase for the president’s son just as House Republicans prepare their own investigations into him.
‘Just Off K Street’ Lobbyist Sheds Instagram Alias and Day Job
Bloomberg Law – Jack Fitzpatrick | Published: 1/26/2023
The lobbyist behind the popular Instagram account about Washington’s lobbying culture is stepping away from the daily grind on Capitol Hill, but not before shedding her anonymity. Katie McMichael, manager of government relations at Aurora Innovation, said she will maintain her “Just Off K Street” Instagram presence, but she is taking a reprieve from government affairs to spend more time with her family. Most of her 1,500 posts frequently lament the exhausting absurdity of Congress, told from the perspective of a bedraggled industry association lobbyist just trying to get through the day.
Justice Department Asks FEC to Stand Down as Prosecutors Probe Santos
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker and Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 1/27/2023
The Justice Department asked the FEC to hold off on any enforcement action against U.S. Rep. George Santos, who lied about key aspects of his biography as prosecutors conduct a parallel criminal probe. The request also asked the FEC to provide any relevant documents to the Justice Department. The FEC ordinarily complies with the department’s requests to hold off on enforcement. Those requests arise from a 1977 memorandum of understanding between the agencies that addresses their overlapping law enforcement responsibilities.
National Archives Asks Past Presidents, VPs to Look for Classified Items
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 1/26/2023
The National Archives sent a letter to representatives of living former presidents and vice presidents asking them to review their personal records to verify that no classified materials are outstanding. The request comes after a limited number of records bearing classified markings were found in recent weeks at President Biden’s home and a think tank bearing his name, as well as at the home of former Vice President Mike Pence.
Redistricting Lawsuits Could Shape the 2024 Battle for House Control
MSN – Daniel Altimari (Roll Call) | Published: 1/30/2023
The reconfiguration of political districts after the 2020 census resulted in a flood of legal challenges, some of which remain unresolved. The 15 states with ongoing litigation include New York and Texas – home to 64 seats combined – along with the battleground state of Georgia. After Republicans flipped nine seats in November, Democrats need to win five back to retake the majority, so redrawn maps could be a factor in shaping party control in the 2024 elections.
Rep. George Santos Is Stepping Down from Committees Amid Fabrications About His Biography
MSN – Meryl Kornfield, Leigh Ann Caldwell, and Marianna Sotomayor (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
Embattled U.S. Rep. George Santos told House Republicans he will step down temporarily from his committee assignments amid multiple investigations into his campaign finances after he lied about key aspects of his biography. The temporary retreat from committees marks Santos’s first major concession after weeks of maintaining a steadfast resistance to any consequences over his fabrications.
Statehouse Efforts to Avoid Partisan Gridlock Hit Obstacles
Yahoo News – Amee LaTour (The Hill) | Published: 1/31/2023
Leaders in state Legislatures across the country have turned to cross-party alliances and power-sharing agreements as they seek to avoid the political deadlock that has hindered lawmakers in Congress, but signs are emerging that some of those efforts might be in vain. It underscores the fact that while these coalitions may enable lawmakers to avoid political paralysis at least temporarily, they are not a cure-all for the hyper-partisanship plaguing the country as a whole.
Trump’s Evolution in Social Media Exile: More QAnon, more extremes
Yahoo News – Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) | Published: 1/29/2023
In September, former President Trump went on Truth Social and shared an image of himself wearing a lapel pin in the form of the letter Q, along with a phrase closely associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement: “The storm is coming.” In doing so, Trump ensured the message would be hugely amplified, visible to his more than 4 million followers. Even as Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced Trump would be reinstated, there is no sign he has curtailed his behavior or stopped spreading the kinds of messages that got him exiled in the first place.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – Arizona Republicans Exempt Lawmakers from the State’s Open-Records Law
MSN – Patrick Marley and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez (Washington Post) | Published: 1/26/2023
Arizona Republicans shielded legislators from the state’s open-records law, a move that comes months after the release of thousands of documents detailing extensive efforts to undermine Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election in the state. Senators will not have to disclose any text messages sent on personal devices, even when dealing with state business. For lawmakers in both the Senate and the House, emails and other documents will be destroyed after 90 days – in many cases, well before members of the public know to ask for them.
Arizona – GOP Leaders Pressure Hobbs to Donate $1.3M in Excess Inaugural Cash
KJZZ – Howard Fischer (Capitol Media Services) | Published: 1/26/2023
The top two Republican lawmakers want Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs to put money left over from the inaugural celebration into a state account, where it cannot be used to elect more Democrats. House Speaker Ben Toma and Senate President Warren Petersen called on her to surrender control of what is left from the more than $1.5 million she collected for the celebration. At the same time, the costs totaled only about $207,000.
Florida – Hide Your Books to Avoid Felony Charges, Fla. Schools Tell Teachers
MSN – Hannah Natanson (Washington Post) | Published: 1/31/2023
School officials in at least two Florida counties, Manatee and Duval, have directed teachers to remove or wrap up their classroom libraries. The removals come after the State Board of Education ruled a state law restricting the books a district may possess applies not only to schoolwide libraries but to teachers’ classroom collections, too. The law mandates that schools’ books be age-appropriate, free from pornography, and “suited to student needs.” Breaking the law is a third-degree felony, meaning a teacher could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine for displaying or giving students a disallowed book.
Florida – Penalty Decided for Manatee Commissioner Baugh Who Violated Ethics in Vaccine Rollout
MSN – Ryan Callihan (Bradenton Herald) | Published: 1/27/2023
The Florida Ethics Commission on Ethics accepted Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh’s proposed settlement over scheduling herself an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine site she helped organize. Baugh was ordered to pay $8,000 and accept a public reprimand. Baugh sent an email to county staff with personal information for herself, a developer, and two former neighbors. Staff members said they understood the list to be a clear directive to ensure those people received a COVID-19 vaccine. At the time, more than 100,000 people were in the county’s vaccine waiting pool.
Illinois – Ethics Board Warns Candidates: Don’t use uniformed cops in your ads
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 2/1/2023
The Board of Ethics warned candidates running for mayor, city council, and Police District Council to not use images of uniformed Chicago police officers, firefighters, or city personnel in campaign advertisements. U.S. Rep. Jesús García edited his first television advertisement in the race for mayor to remove images of the candidate talking to two uniformed officers while promising to get tough on crime. Representatives of the police department confirmed the two officers were under investigation.
Illinois – Jury Finds Son of Former State Rep. Edward Acevedo Guilty of Tax Evasion Charges with Ties to ComEd Bribery Probe
MSN – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/30/2023
The son of former state Rep. Edward Acevedo was found guilty of tax evasion charges that were an offshoot of the investigation into Commonwealth Edison’s (ComEd) alleged attempts to influence then-Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Alex Acevedo was convicted for underreporting his lobbying income by about $70,000 in 2016 and 2018, resulting in a total tax loss of about $20,000. Though relatively minor in scope, the indictment against Alex Acevedo, along with separate charges filed against his younger brother and their father, received widespread attention due to the connection to the ComEd probe.
Iowa – State Agency Can’t Enforce Iowa’s Campaign Finance Laws; Asks Lawmakers for Changes
KCRG – Ethan Stein | Published: 1/27/2023
According to data from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, thousands of politicians and advocacy groups have received fines for submitting campaign finance reports late. An investigation found hundreds of fines have not been paid because state law does not set a deadline for when the penalty is paid. It also found the agency’s data is inaccurate and campaigns, along with advocacy groups, were not notified about penalties.
Kansas – Kansas Republicans Tried to Oust Ethics Head Amid Subpoenas. Will They Try Again?
Yahoo News – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital-Journal) | Published: 1/26/2023
Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson wants to reopen discussions about the scope and management of the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission as the office pursues an investigation into campaign finance violations involving Republican officials. Masterson did not provide details on what action would be pursued but he said that under previous directors, lawmakers looked to the commission for guidance and cannot anymore. Although the ethics agency is an independent body that has jurisdiction to investigate lawmakers, Masterson said legislative efforts to change the commission were appropriate.
Massachusetts – Mass. Republican Party Elects New Leader, Rejecting Chairman Jim Lyons’ Bid for Third Term
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/31/2023
After years of dismal election results and weak fundraising, the Massachusetts Republican Party picked a new leader, narrowly rejecting the embattled chairperson, Jim Lyons. in favor of Amy Carnevale, a lobbyist for K&L Gates who promised to steady the party and reverse its electoral decline. Documents obtained by the Globe showed Lyons used party funds to investigate two fellow Republicans. He also appears to have communicated directly with an outside PAC about digging up dirt on Gov. Maura Healey during last year’s election.
Missouri – Former St. Louis County Official Sentenced to Prison for COVID Relief Kickback Scheme
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Katie Kull | Published: 1/26/2023
A former St. Louis County jail official who was long involved with politics and government was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for engaging in a pandemic relief kickback scheme. While still working for the county, Tony Weaver filled out fraudulent applications and sought kickbacks from a small businessperson who applied for multiple grants during the COVID-19 pandemic, a scheme Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith said revealed Weaver’s “unbridled arrogance.”
New Mexico – New Mexico Bill to Restrict Lobbyist ‘Revolving Door’ Advances
Albuquerque Journal – Dan McKay | Published: 1/30/2023
A proposal moving through the New Mexico Senate would prohibit former legislators and executive branch appointees from returning immediately to the Capitol as paid lobbyists. The legislation was sharply expanded in committee. The change adds employees who serve at will under the governor to the two-year lobbying ban. At least 20 former legislators and state officials are among the hundreds of people registered to lobby this session, though many of them served several years ago.
New Mexico – New Mexico Considers Roasted Chile as Official State Aroma
MSN – Susan Montoya Bryan (Associated Press) | Published: 2/1/2023
The smell of green chile roasting on an open flame permeates New Mexico every fall, wafting from roadside stands and grocery store parking lots. Now one state lawmaker says it is time for everyone to wake up and smell the chile. Sen. Bill Soules’ visit with fifth grade students in his district sparked a conversation about the hot peppers and the potential for New Mexico to become the first state to have an official state aroma, a proposal now being considered by lawmakers.
New York – Hochul’s Vow to Boost Ethics and Sexual Harassment Training Falls Flat
DNyuz – Jay Root (New York Times) | Published: 1/29/2023
On her first day as governor of New York, Kathy Hochul vowed to overhaul policies on ethics and sexual harassment in the government workplace. Her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, had just resigned amid a sexual harassment scandal. Hochul said she would strengthen the training, requiring state workers to participate in live classes and seminars. No longer would employees “click their way through a class,” Hochul said. Nearly a year and a half later, there is still no universal live training in either subject for the state’s work force.
New York – Inside George Santos’s District Office: Nothing to see here
Buffalo News – Dana Rubinstein (New York Times) | Published: 1/30/2023
The storefront in the Tudor Revival building in the Douglaston neighborhood of Queens has lived many lives: It was a flower shop; the satellite office of former U.S. Rep. Thomas Suozzi, whose name still adorns the green awning. Now it is home to perhaps its most notorious tenant: U.S. Rep. George Santos. With the northern half of Long Island’s Nassau County falling into Santos’s district, County Executive Bruce Blakeman has said he will direct all federal constituent calls to Anthony D’Esposito, another Long Island representative. “My office will have no interaction with George Santos or his staff until he resigns,” said Blakeman, a Republican.
New York – Lobbying on LaSalle Nomination Shows Apparent Gap in Reporting Requirements
Albany Times Union – Joshua Solomon | Published: 1/30/2023
Citizens for Judicial Fairness spent between $75,000 to $100,000 on its brief efforts trying to influence the vote of state senators on the Judiciary Committee as they considered New York Gov. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nomination of Hector LaSalle for chief judge of the Court of Appeals. State law is silent on the issue of nominations and appointments to public office, according to a spokesperson for the state’s ethics commission. It leads to a near-impossible dynamic for observers who want to follow either the money or those seeking to influence the nominations.
New York – Manhattan Prosecutors Present Trump Case to Grand Jury
Buffalo News – William Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Jonah Bromwich, and Hurubie Meko (New York Times) | Published: 1/30/2023
The Manhattan district attorney’s office began presenting evidence to a grand jury about Donald Trump’s role in paying hush money to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign, laying the groundwork for potential criminal charges against the former president in the coming months. The grand jury was recently impaneled, and the beginning of witness testimony represents a clear signal that the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is nearing a decision about whether to charge Trump.
North Dakota – North Dakota Senate Cuts Back Ethics Panel’s Bill to Expand Authority
Bismarck Tribune – Jack Dura | Published: 1/31/2023
North Dakota’s ethics panel might not get everything it sought in a bill for tweaks to state laws. The Senate approved legislation advanced by the Ethics Commission for several requested changes, including a proposed but deleted expansion to include nearly 9,000 more state employees under its authority. Changes also include extending the time frame to notify an accused person of an ethics complaint, and adding criteria for who can make complaints.
Ohio – Corporate Jets, Bribes and Dark Money: Householder trial spotlights weaknesses in Ohio ethics laws
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 1/29/2023
Aspects of Larry Householder’s corruption prosecution show grey areas or even loopholes in Ohio ethics laws that either enabled his activities or, perhaps, made them legal. But lawmakers have taken no substantive action to address any of the ethical issues underlined in the case, with several bills stalling despite at times getting bipartisan support. On the eve of the trial’s start, a group of House Republicans announced a proposed set of ethics reforms they said would address some of the issues exposed by the scandal. But the bill, which has yet to be introduced, has an uncertain future.
Oregon – Oregon Elections Director Who Worked for Democratic Party Will Not Recuse Herself from Investigation into Party’s Crypto Donor
Portland Oregonian – Hillary Borrud | Published: 2/1/2023
Oregon’s new elections director, Molly Woon, will not recuse herself from the investigation into a $500,000 donation the state Democratic Party received from an FTX executive last year even though she previously worked as a top employee of the party. In October, the Democratic Party accepted the contribution the party claimed was from a Las Vegas cryptocurrency company Prime Trust. But Prime Trust was not the actual donor. Under state law, it is a felony to make a campaign contribution under a “false name” and elections employees are deciding whether the case should be forwarded to the state attorney general for prosecution.
Pennsylvania – Lobbyist Says She Was Harassed by Current Pa. Lawmaker, Wants Legislature to Change Misconduct Rules
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso | Published: 1/27/2023
A lobbyist for one of Pennsylvania’s most influential unions says a sitting state lawmaker sexually harassed her, and she is urging the Legislature to expand internal rules that govern who can bring misconduct complaints. Andi Perez, who advocates on behalf of Service Employees International Union, made the allegation during a listening session organized by new Speaker Mark Rozzi. He has scheduled a series of public meetings to solicit feedback about the House’s operating procedures Amid a partisan deadlock over which party controls the chamber.
Rhode Island – AG’s Office Nixes $40,000 in Funding as NAACP President Faces Campaign-Finance Charges
Yahoo News – Mark Reynolds and Amy Russo (Providence Journal) | Published: 1/27/2023
Gerard Catala, the newly elected president of the Providence NAACP and a former city council candidate, faces criminal prosecution for failing to report on the finances of his 2022 campaign as required by state law. Because of the charges against Catala, the state attorney general’s office will withhold the $40,000 it had planned to give the branch over the course of four years. The funds were part of a large grant from the U.S. Department of Justice meant to support “hate-crime prevention and education.”
South Dakota – House Kills Bill That Would Have Increased Campaign Donation Limits
KEVN – Austin Glass | Published: 1/31/2023
The South Dakota House defeated a bill that would have increased the campaign contribution limits for individuals and entities. Proponents said the increase would be good in light of inflation. But opponents said the current system works well and increasing the caps would allow wealthy donors to have more influence.
Texas – Ex-Legislator Tests Lobbying Revolving Door Law by Repping Big Energy Companies
MSN – Lauren McGaughy (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 1/27/2023
A former Texas representative is testing a state law meant to crack down on the “revolving door” between the Legislature and lobbying firms. Chris Paddie chaired a powerful House’s committee that held hearings to demand answers from energy firms after 2021’s deadly winter storm. Now, he has registered to lobby for a handful of the same power companies he was previously tasked with scrutinizing. His activities come despite a law that bans state legislators from becoming lobbyists within two years of using their own campaign cash to donate to other politicians.
Virginia – GOP-Led Panel Again Defeats Campaign Finance Reform
MSN – Sarah Rankin (Associated Press) | Published: 2/1/2023
A Virginia House panel voted down legislation that would prohibit lawmakers from using campaign funds for personal expenses such as a vacation, mortgage, or country club membership. Virginia’s elected officials are currently outliers in the nation for their ability to spend money donated to their campaigns on virtually anything. Similar legislation is still alive in the Senate, but the vote signals it is likely to meet a similar fate should it cross to the House.
Washington – As Capital Gains Tax Goes to WA Supreme Court, a Push to ‘Microtarget’ Justices
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 1/26/2023
As the Washington Supreme Court prepares to decide the fate of the state’s new capital gains tax, a conservative think tank, whose leadership sued to stop the tax, is “microtargeting” the state’s nine justices with an ad campaign. The Washington Policy Center wrote to donors recently outlining its advertising strategy as the justices prepare to hear challenges to the tax. The campaign focused on areas “where justices spend the bulk of their time (work and home) as well as secondary places our research found that may be relevant,” the think tank wrote to supporters.
Washington – Prominent Lobbyist Barred from WA Capitol After Ruling He Stalked State Representative
Seattle Times – Jim Brunner | Published: 1/31/2023
A prominent lobbyist was barred from the Capitol campus after a judge ruled that he had stalked a state representative, leading her to flee her home for months. Rep. Lauren Davis last year obtained a domestic violence protective order against lobbyist Cody Arledge, citing what she said was an escalating pattern of obsessive and threatening behavior after she broke off their romantic relationship. Their dispute is now before the state Court of Appeals, where Arledge is challenging the restrictions on him as an “Orwellian” violation of his constitutional right to privacy and ability to work. Davis’s attorneys are defending the restrictions as necessary to protect her.
January 31, 2023 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Iowa: “State Agency Can’t Enforce Iowa’s Campaign Finance Laws; Asks Lawmakers for Changes” by Ethan Stein for KCRG Ethics National: “Trump’s Evolution in Social Media Exile: More QAnon, more extremes” by Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman (New York […]
Iowa: “State Agency Can’t Enforce Iowa’s Campaign Finance Laws; Asks Lawmakers for Changes” by Ethan Stein for KCRG
National: “Trump’s Evolution in Social Media Exile: More QAnon, more extremes” by Ken Bensinger and Maggie Haberman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Missouri: “Former St. Louis County Official Sentenced to Prison for COVID Relief Kickback Scheme” by Katie Kull for St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Ohio: “Corporate Jets, Bribes and Dark Money: Householder trial spotlights weaknesses in Ohio ethics laws” by Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
Washington: “As Capital Gains Tax Goes to WA Supreme Court, a Push to ‘Microtarget’ Justices” by David Gutman for Seattle Times
New York: “Inside George Santos’s District Office: Nothing to see here” by Dana Rubinstein (New York Times) for Buffalo News
New York: “Lobbying on LaSalle Nomination Shows Apparent Gap in Reporting Requirements” by Joshua Solomon for Albany Times Union
National: “Redistricting Lawsuits Could Shape the 2024 Battle for House Control” by Daniel Altimari (Roll Call) for MSN
January 13, 2023 •
News You Can Use Digest – January 13, 2023
National/Federal At Proud Boys Trial, U.S. Aims to Win Another Seditious Conspiracy Case MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2023 Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members of his right-wing group Proud Boys are standing trial on charges of […]
At Proud Boys Trial, U.S. Aims to Win Another Seditious Conspiracy Case
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2023
Henry “Enrique” Tarrio and four other members of his right-wing group Proud Boys are standing trial on charges of seditious conspiracy in a case that will test the limits of a rarely used law. Prosecutors will seek to convince a jury the riot at the U.S. Capitol was not the spontaneous outburst of a misguided mob but an assault on democracy galvanized by dedicated extremists. The strongest evidence against the Proud Boys comes from on and around January 6, as they discussed storming the Capitol and members of the group engaged in violence. The government’s challenge will be tying that to a broader political plot.
Attorneys Clash in E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case Against Trump
MSN – Keith Alexander (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2023
An appeals court heard arguments on whether Donald Trump was acting within his job as president when he denied a writer’s allegations that he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. Lawyers for E. Jean Carroll argued Trump acted as a private citizen when he denied raping Carroll, and therefore can be sued like anyone else. Trump’s lawyers and an attorney for the Justice Department countered that his responses were made as part of his job as president, which would effectively end Carroll’s case against him.
Here Are the K Street Lobbyists Closest to McCarthy
Yahoo News – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 1/11/2023
U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s ascension to speaker of the House could be a boon for a small group of lobbyists within his inner circle. He has relied on a small handful of lobbyists for advice and fundraising help. Now those allies are a hot commodity among corporate clients eager to make inroads with McCarthy, who is in lockstep with corporate America on economic policy but has chastised major companies for wading into social and political issues.
House Narrowly Approves Rules Amid Concerns About McCarthy’s Concessions
Seattle Times – Catie Edmondson (New York Times) | Published: 1/9/2023
House Republicans pushed through an overhaul of operating rules for the new Congress, overcoming the concerns of some rank-and-file members about concessions that Speaker Kevin McCarthy made to the hard right in the desperate and drawn-out process of securing his job. Taken together, the rules increase transparency around how legislation is put together. But they could also make it difficult for the House to carry out even its most basic duties in the next two years, such as funding the government, including the military, or avoiding a catastrophic federal debt default.
How Kevin McCarthy Survived the GOP Revolt to Become House Speaker
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf, Mariana Sotomayor, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 1/8/2023
Months of posturing and saber-rattling at last gave way to serious talks on changing how the new House would operate, which eventually led to Kevin McCarthy winning the speakership. What emerged was a deal that would secure McCarthy his prize only by diminishing it and putting the House on a collision course for more crises like the one just barely resolved, next time over funding the government or raising the debt limit.
Official U.S. Capitol Tour Guides Told to Only Mention Jan. 6 If Asked
Yahoo News – Joe Heim (Washington Post) | Published: 1/5/2023
Visitors on official guided tours of the U.S. Capitol are peppered with facts about its rich history. But they probably will not hear a word about the January 6, 2021, attack by supporters of Donald Trump who were seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. Guides have been told to only refer to January 6 if questioned on a tour, according to former tour guides and people familiar with the Capitol Visitor Center’s operations. It is a policy that in many ways reflects a country at odds with itself, unable to agree on fact and truth and reluctant to engage on the history of a day that threatened democracy.
Scandal-Hit EU Assembly Set to Move on Anti-Corruption Plan
Yahoo News – Lorne Cook (Associated Press) | Published: 1/11/2023
Spurred into action by a major corruption scandal, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola wants to prevent former lawmakers from lobbying on behalf of businesses or governments soon after they leave office and to make public the names of current members who break assembly rules. Metsola also seeks tougher checks on lobbyists and the public listing of any meetings that lawmakers may have with them. The plans were divulged a month after Belgian authorities arrested four people on charges of corruption, money laundering, and participation in a criminal organization.
Second Biden Search Yields Additional Classified Documents
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Matt Viser, Tyler Pager, and Perry Stein (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2023
President Biden’s personal lawyers discovered a small number of classified documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, an institute Biden started after serving as vice president. Legal representatives for the president then announced they found additional classified material at a second location. White House officials have said they are cooperating with the Justice Department and that Biden’s lawyers quickly handed over the documents to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The Mysterious, Unregistered Fund That Raised Big Money for Santos
DNyuz – Alexandra Berzon and Grace Ashford (New York Times) | Published: 1/12/2023
A month before George Santos was elected to Congress, one of his large campaign donors was asked to consider making another sizable contribution. The request came from a Republican loyalist on behalf of RedStone Strategies, which was described in an email to the donor as an “independent expenditure” group. The donor sent $25,000 to a bank account belonging to RedStone Strategies. But where the donor’s money went is unclear. The FEC said it had no evidence RedStone Strategies was registered as a political group, and there do not appear to be any records documenting its donors, contributions, or spending.
The New Soldiers in Propane’s Fight Against Climate Action: Television stars
DNyuz – Hiroko Tabuchi (New York Times) | Published: 1/11/2023
For DIY enthusiasts, Matt Blashaw is a familiar face, judging bathroom remodels or planning surprise home makeovers on popular cable television shows. He also has a strong opinion about how Americans should heat their homes: by burning propane. Less well known is Blashaw is paid by a fossil fuel industry group that has been running a furtive campaign against government efforts to move heating toward electricity made from cleaner sources. The Propane Education and Research Council has spent millions of dollars on “provocative anti-electrification messaging,” using influencers like Blashaw, according to the group’s internal documents.
Trump Campaign Officials Got Subpoena Asking New Questions About Jan. 6
MSN – Josh Dawsey, Devlin Barrett, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 1/11/2023
A wide-ranging subpoena sent to Donald Trump’s campaign officials in December shows new areas of investigative interest as part of the Justice Department’s extensive January 6 criminal probe, and lawyers say a grand jury focused on the day’s events and related fundraising has increased its activities in recent months. The document seeks more than two dozen categories of information and includes some questions that were not part of a series of similar subpoenas that were sent to several dozen people in September.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – Wasilla Lawmaker Advised Not to Solicit Campaign Funds for Oath Keepers Trial Costs
Yahoo News – Sean Maguire (Anchorage Daily News) | Published: 1/6/2023
Staff at the Alaska Public Offices Commission advised Rep. David Eastman not to keep soliciting campaign contributions to pay his legal bills, saying that would run afoul of state law. Anchorage Superior Court Judge Jack McKenna ruled in December that Eastman was eligible to hold public office despite his membership in the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group that had some members and leadership participate in the riot at the U.S. Capitol. Without being able to solicit campaign contributions, he can still accept donations to a separate legal fund, but as a sitting legislator, the law prohibits him from accepting monetary “gifts” worth $250 or more.
California – Lobbyist’s $1,100 Payment to El Monte Councilmember for Breast Augmentation Lawful, FPPC Rules
San Gabriel Valley Tribune – Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) | Published: 1/8/2023
The California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) found El Monte Councilperson Victoria Martinez Muela did not violate the law by accepting $1,100 for breast augmentation surgery from a friend, even though the friend’s employer had business before the city council. The FPPC determined the payment for the procedure did not constitute a “gift” under state law, would not have been subject to state limits, and did not qualify as reportable income, said Alex Rose, counsel for the agency’s enforcement division.
California – San Jose Lobbyists Skirt Transparency
San Jose Spotlight – Tran Nguyan | Published: 1/5/2023
A review of 2022 disclosure reports shows how some lobbyists failed to divulge details of their meetings with San Jose officials. San Jose adopted lobbying rules in 2007 to increase transparency at City Hall and allow the public a window into how lobbyists influence city business and policies. The ordinance requires lobbyists to submit weekly reports and disclose details, including who their client is, who they meet with, how they communicate, and the topic being discussed.
Colorado – ‘Laughable’: Is it too easy to get on the Denver mayoral ballot?
Denver Post – Joe Rubino | Published: 1/5/2023
It took Leslie Herod’s campaign less than 17 hours to collect the 300 verified voter signatures needed to get the mayoral hopeful on the ballot for Denver’s April 4 municipal election. The speed with which Herod hit the petition mark – turning in her signatures at 4:30 p.m. on the first day signature gathering was allowed – highlights a concern that has been rumbling beneath the surface of Denver elections: is it too easy for candidates and citizens’ initiative to get on the ballot?
Florida – DeSantis Inauguration Planned to Give Donors Special Treatment. They Got Long Lines, Few Seats
MSN – Mary Ellen Klas and Lawrence Mower (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/5/2023
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proclaimed to a crowd of about 250 people at a candlelight dinner for donors that his swearing-in ceremony was “the most requested ticket” of any inauguration in state history. In fact, organizers sold more tickets than there were seats for the swearing-in, leaving numerous people, including the chief executive officer of Publix and the future speaker of the Florida House, without a place to sit. The treatment of the VIPs left some egos bruised. Many paid between $25,000 and $1 million for sponsorship packages that included seats to the VIP section for the swearing-in ceremony and tickets to the inaugural ball.
Georgia – Fani Willis, the Georgia Prosecutor Investigating Trump, Has Taken on Seemingly Untouchable Targets
MSN – Tom Hamburger, Matthew Brown, and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 1/9/2023
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is considering using Georgia’s racketeering statute in a politically treacherous investigation. The question is whether former President Trump conspired with his allies to break the law and attempt to overturn the 2020 election in the state. Willis finds herself at the center of an inquiry with the potential to make history and influence the course of the next presidential vote. A special grand jury convened as part of the investigation submitted a report that could include recommendations for charges.
Hawaii – Commission Fines Cayetano Campaign, Super PAC Over Josh Green Attack Ads
Honolulu Civil Beat – Blaze Lovell | Published: 1/11/2023
The Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission fined gubernatorial candidate Vicky Cayetano’s campaign and her super PAC, Victory Calls. Commission staff found probable cause the campaign improperly coordinated with the PAC to run a print ad in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser attacking Gov. Josh Green, who at the time was a gubernatorial candidate and Cayetano’s opponent in the Democratic primary. The commission voted to fine the campaign and Victory Calls $1,000 jointly for the print ad, meaning either the PAC or the campaign can pay the fine.
Hawaii – Proposal Would Increase Public Funding for Hawaii Campaigns
Yahoo News – Dan Nakaso (Honolulu Star-Advertiser) | Published: 1/10/2023
State Sen. Karl Rhoads plans to introduce legislation this year to help county, state, and Office of Hawaiian Affairs candidates raise more campaign money through public funds to ease their reliance on lobbyists and private donors with the goal of promoting “clean elections.” The proposal follows the guilty pleas of Sen. J. Kalani English and Rep. T.J. Cullen on bribery and corruption charges that led to calls for ethics and fundraising reform that largely did not materialize last year but did lead to a ban on fundraising while the Legislature is in session and to the creation of a House commission on legislative conduct.
Illinois – Ex-U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez Allegedly Lobbied Speaker Michael Madigan for ComEd Board Appointment for Juan Ochoa, According to New Filing
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner and Ray Long (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/11/2023
Federal prosecutors revealed new evidence they intend to use against four people accused in an alleged bribery scheme between Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) and then-House Speaker Michael Madigan. Former McPier chief executive Juan Ochoa is expected to testify he enlisted the help of a member of Congress in 2017 to help repair his tattered relationship with Madigan and ultimately secure a lucrative position on ComEd’s board of directors. Sources said the member is ex-U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez. The trial promises to be the biggest corruption trial in Illinois since ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was convicted in 2011.
Illinois – Lightfoot Campaign Asks CPS Teachers to Encourage Students to Help Her Win Reelection in Return for Credit
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 1/11/2023
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign sent an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers asking them to encourage their students to volunteer to help Lightfoot win a second term as mayor and earn class credit. The message was sent to teachers’ official work email accounts. As mayor, Lightfoot appoints not only the superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools but also the members of the city Board of Education. Chicago’s ethics ordinance prohibits the use of public resources, including email accounts, for non-official purposes.
Kansas – Prominent Kansas Senate Republican to Pull Double Duty as Kris Kobach Adviser, Legislator
MSN – Andrew Bahl (Topeka Capital Journal) | Published: 1/11/2023
State Sen. J.R. Claeys will serve as a senior adviser to Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, a move that is not unprecedented but has brought concerns about a potential conflict-of-interest. There is nothing in the rules preventing Claeys, who also served as Kobach’s campaign manager during the 2022 election cycle, from simultaneously serving in a state agency. Legislators, both current and past, have worked for executive branch agencies and Kansas Board of Regents institutions, among other day jobs.
Kentucky – Pfizer Gives $1 Million to Republican Party of Kentucky to Expand Its Headquarters
Kentucky Lantern – Tom Loftus | Published: 1/9/2023
In what may be the largest political contribution ever given to a political party in Kentucky, the drug maker Pfizer Inc. gave $1 million last month to the building fund of the state Republican Party. A report filed by Republican Party of Kentucky Building Fund listed the $1 million from Pfizer along with five other big corporate contributions in the final quarter in 2022 totaling $1.65 million. That is an extraordinarily large haul for the fund which had raised only $6,000 during the first three quarters of last year.
Louisiana – Former Louisiana Democrats Chair, State Senator Gets Prison Time for Wire Fraud
Louisiana Illuminator – Greg La Rose | Published: 1/11/2023
Former state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson was sentenced to 22 months in prison after admitting she used money from her campaign and the Louisiana Democratic Party to support a gambling addiction. Peterson was accused of pilfering $147,000 from her campaign and party coffers through a series of payments to close political allies.
Massachusetts – SJC Rules DiMasi’s Federal Corruption Convictions Do Not Disqualify Him, or Others, from Lobbying on Beacon Hill
MSN – John Element (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/5/2023
Secretary of State William Galvin misinterpreted Massachusetts law when he denied former House Speaker Sal DiMasi’s registration as a lobbyist in 2019, the state’s highest court ruled. The Supreme Judicial Court said amendments to ethics laws enacted by state legislators in 2009 specified that only state corruption convictions could be used to prevent someone from registering as a lobbyist for 10 years after being convicted. DiMasi was convicted in federal court of fraud and extortion for taking bribes while in office.
Massachusetts – The Latest Challenge for the Beleaguered Massachusetts State GOP: Tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid bills
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globde) | Published: 1/10/2023
Fresh off an electoral defeat in the November midterms. the Massachusetts Republican Party now appears to have mounting financial and legal problems, too – a pile of overdue bills, much of that money owed to an opposition research firm that party leaders hired last year to dig up dirt on Maura Healey during her run for governor. As of late December, the state GOP owed at least $86,000 to at least two outside vendors hired for election-related services, bills that were late by more than two months. Republican sources, including one familiar with the party’s direct mail process, estimated the debt far exceeds that amount.
New Mexico – Democratic Officials’ Homes, Offices Shot Up in New Mexico
Associated Press News – Susan Montoya Bryan and Morgan Lee | Published: 1/6/2023
The homes or offices of five elected Democratic officials in New Mexico, including the new attorney general, have been hit by gunfire over the past month, and authorities are working to determine if the attacks are connected. Nobody was injured in the shootings. Federal officials have warned about the potential for violence and attacks on government officials and buildings, and the Department of Homeland Security has said domestic extremism remains a top terrorism threat in the U.S. Local officials have also faced an increasing number of threats in recent years.
New York – Lawmaker’s Victory May Cost Him Coveted Manhattan Apartment
DNyuz – Luis Ferré-Sadurní (New York Times) | Published: 1/6/2023
Democrats in the New York Assembly had been considering whether to expel a Republican member because of evidence suggesting he lived in Manhattan, not in the South Brooklyn district he was recently elected to represent. But the efforts to remove Assemblyperson Lester Chang were seen as politically contentious. So Democratic leaders decided they would not try to remove Chang. But even though Mr. Chang will keep his seat, he may be at risk of losing something equally precious: his rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan.
New York – Rensselaer County’s Former GOP Elections Commissioner Admits Voter Fraud
Albany Times Union – Robert Galvin | Published: 1/11/2023
Jason Schofield, Rensselaer County’s former elections commissioner, pleaded guilty to 12 counts of voter fraud charges, admitting he fraudulently filed absentee ballots in 2021 using the personal information of at least eight voters without their permission. The plea is part of a broader, ongoing investigation by the U.S. Justice Department that led to the guilty plea of ex-Troy City Council Member Kimberly Ashe-McPherson. The probe is examining the election activities of several top county officials.
New York – Trump Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg Sentenced to Five Months in Jail
MSN – Shayna Jacobs (Washington Post) | Published: 1/10/2023
Longtime Trump Organization finance chief Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to 15 counts including tax fraud, conspiracy, and grand larceny, was sentenced to serve five months in jail. Authorities had promised Weisselberg a steeply reduced sentence in exchange for testifying against the Trump Organization. He had faced up to 15 years in prison. The company was convicted of tax crimes. Donald Trump was not charged with wrongdoing.
North Dakota – As Lawmakers Return to Bismarck, Lobbyists Fill the Capitol
Grand Forks Herald – Jeremy Turley (Forum News Service) | Published: 1/6/2023
Lobbyists are sure to be present wherever laws are made, and the North Dakota Capitol is no exception. For each of the state’s 141 lawmakers, there are more than two registered lobbyists, and their numbers are expected to grow as the Legislature’s four-month session unfolds. Lobbyists, whether paid or not, are a vital piece of the Capitol ecosystem, according to policymakers and political scientists.
North Dakota – Bill Would Add 9,000 State Employees to North Dakota Ethics Panel’s Jurisdiction
Jamestown Sun – Jack Dura (Bismarck Tribune) | Published: 1/6/2023
North Dakota’s Ethics Commission is asking the state Legislature to expand the panel’s oversight authority to include thousands of state employees. Senate Bill 2048 includes several changes requested by the commission, such as extending the time frame to notify an accused person of an ethics complaint and adding criteria for who can make complaints. The bill also would add about 8,960 executive branch employees to the ethics panel’s jurisdiction over “public officials.”
Ohio – Ex-Ohio Governor Candidate Joe Blystone Fined $105K, Can’t Run for Office for 5 Years
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert (Cincinnati Enquirer) | Published: 1/5/2023
Joe Blystone, who unsuccessfully challenged Gov. Mike DeWine in the Republican primary election last May, will pay a $105,000 fine and not run for office for five years as part of a settlement with the Ohio Elections Commission. The $105,000 fine is what is left in Blystone’s campaign account minus $75,000 placed in reserve for a pending lawsuit. The case stemmed from a slew of campaign finance violations committed by Blystone.
Oklahoma – After Dark Money Flooded Elections, Oklahoma GOP Chair Wants Changes to Help Political Parties
Tulsa World – Carmen Forman | Published: 1/11/2023
After millions of dollars in “dark money” flowed into Oklahoma elections last year, the state Republican Party chairperson is seeking reforms. A.J. Ferate asked the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to consider updating campaign finance rules so political parties can raise more money and provide additional assistance to state candidates. Corporations and other entities can contribute unlimited sums of money to influence elections through groups that do not have to report their donors. Political parties have to report their campaign fundraising and spending.
Pennsylvania – DA Larry Krasner’s Impeachment Trial Gets Indefinitely Postponed by the Pa. Senate
MSN – Ellie Rushing (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 1/11/2023
The Pennsylvania Senate voted to indefinitely postpone the impeachment trial of Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner. A Commonwealth Court ruling to dismiss the articles of impeachment as legally insufficient, the future of the trial – and the timeline for when, or even if, it resumes – remains uncertain. Judge Ellen Ceisler said the articles did not sufficiently demonstrate Krasner failed to perform his duties or acted with an improper or corrupt motive, a standard required under the state constitution to impeach a public official.
Rhode Island – As Judge Caprio Moves On, Questions About ‘Caught in Providence,’ and the Profits, Are Raised
Yahoo News – Katherine Gregg (Providence Journal) | Published: 1/9/2023
In 2015, The Rhode Island Ethics Commission gave the chief judge of Providence Municipal Court, Frank Caprio, its blessing to expand his “Caught in Providence” television show into wider markets. Caprio told the commission that “he has never and will never accept financial compensation of any kind from the broadcast of these Municipal Court proceedings.” But the judge’s brother, David Caprio, chair of the state’s higher education board, recently acknowledged he has made a little more than $100,000 a year from the broadcast, which he did not list on his ethics-disclosure filing.
South Carolina – South Carolina US House District Ruled Racial Gerrymander
Yahoo News – James Pollard and Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) | Published: 1/5/2023
Federal judges ordered South Carolina lawmakers to draw new congressional maps, ruling the U.S. House district lines of a seat flipped by Democrats four years ago were intentionally redrawn to split Black neighborhoods to dilute their voting power. The state used the maps in this past November’s midterm elections after the Republican-dominated state Legislature redrew the lines following the 2020 U.S. Census. With Republicans holding a thin margin in the House, any change to competitive districts has a chance to alter the balance of power after the 2024 elections.
Utah – The Utah Executive Ethics Committee Has Been Understaffed for 2 Years
Local Today – Emily Anderson Stern (Salt Lake Tribune) | Published: 1/11/2023
After major scandals that led to the FBI investigating a Utah attorney general and lieutenant governor, the Legislature passed a bill establishing an ethics committee to review complaints against the state’s executive branch. But for nearly two years, the Executive Ethics Committee operated with fewer than half its legally required members and has limited public avenues to file a grievance against Utah’s top officials.
Washington – Seattle Ethics Committee Restricts Collection of Democracy Vouchers
Real Change – Guy Oron | Published: 1/11/2023
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission amended the city’s democracy voucher program, limiting the ability of paid campaign staffers to collect vouchers, a move campaigns say could reduce the impact of the system. The program allocates four $25 vouchers to eligible Seattle residents who can donate them to candidates. Previously, staff could collect replacement forms from potential donors. That made it easy for supporters to give their vouchers immediately to a campaign. Now, supporters must turn in a replacement form to a volunteer or to the city directly, either by mail or online.
Washington – Sutherland to Pay $2.5K to Settle Ethics Violation Complaint
Everett Herald – Jerry Cornfield | Published: 1/6/2023
State Rep. Robert Sutherland will pay $2,500 to settle a complaint alleging he violated Washington’s ethics law when he berated and swore at a House security official and then bragged about it at a political rally hours later on the Capitol campus. Sutherland and Sean Hartsock, the chamber’s director of security, became embroiled in a heated exchange when the lawmaker sought access to a building he had been barred from entering because he had not taken a required COVID test.
West Virginia – W.Va. Journalist Let Go After Reporting on Abuse Allegations
Yahoo News – Leah Willingham (Associated Press) | Published: 1/7/2023
West Virginia Public Broadcasting (WVPB) reporter Amelia Ferrell Knisely said she was told to stop reporting on the Department of Health and Human Resources after leaders of the agency “threatened to discredit” the network. She then learned her position was being eliminated. Knisely had reported about alleged abuse of people with disabilities within the state agency. She said her news director told her the order came from WVPB Executive Director Butch Antolini, former communications director for Gov. Jim Justice. The governor has tried to eliminate funding for WVPB and was accused of appointing partisan operatives to its board.
January 10, 2023 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance National: “Watchdog Group Asks FEC to Investigate Embattled New York Rep. George Santos’ Campaign Finances” by Fredreka Schouten (CNN) for MSN Alaska: “Wasilla Lawmaker Advised Not to Solicit Campaign Funds for Oath Keepers Trial Costs” by Sean Maguire […]
National: “Watchdog Group Asks FEC to Investigate Embattled New York Rep. George Santos’ Campaign Finances” by Fredreka Schouten (CNN) for MSN
Alaska: “Wasilla Lawmaker Advised Not to Solicit Campaign Funds for Oath Keepers Trial Costs” by Sean Maguire (Anchorage Daily News) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “Fani Willis, the Georgia Prosecutor Investigating Trump, Has Taken on Seemingly Untouchable Targets” by Tom Hamburger, Matthew Brown, and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) for MSN
West Virginia: “W.Va. Journalist Let Go After Reporting on Abuse Allegations” by Leah Willingham (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
National: “How Kevin McCarthy Survived the GOP Revolt to Become House Speaker” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Mariana Sotomayor, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
New York: “Lawmaker’s Victory May Cost Him Coveted Manhattan Apartment” by Luis Ferré-Sadurní (New York Times) for DNyuz
California: “Lobbyist’s $1,100 Payment to El Monte Councilmember for Breast Augmentation Lawful, FPPC Rules” by Jason Henry (Pasadena Star News) for San Gabriel Valley Tribune
South Carolina: “South Carolina US House District Ruled Racial Gerrymander” by James Pollard and Jeffrey Collins (Associated Press) for Yahoo News
October 14, 2022 •
News You Can Use Digest – October 14, 2022
National/Federal A Congressional Campaign Committee Just Reimbursed a Dead Lawmaker for Travel Mileage Yahoo Finance – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 10/12/2022 The campaign committee of a deceased member of Congress reimbursed him for travel mileage months after he died. […]
A Congressional Campaign Committee Just Reimbursed a Dead Lawmaker for Travel Mileage
Yahoo Finance – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 10/12/2022
The campaign committee of a deceased member of Congress reimbursed him for travel mileage months after he died. The Friends of Hagedorn campaign committee refunded Rep. Jim Hagedorn more than $1,100 for “mileage” on September 20. Hagedorn, however, died in February. FEC guidance notes congressional campaign funds can be used to refund travel costs incurred by a lawmaker, as well as their spouse and children, as long as it is “directly connected to the officeholder’s official responsibilities.
A Majority of GOP Nominees – 299 in All – Deny the 2020 Election Results
MSN – Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2022
A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the U.S. House and Senate, and key statewide offices have denied or questioned the outcome of the last presidential election, according to a Washington Post analysis. Candidates who have challenged or refused to accept Joe Biden’s victory are running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in four states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races. Most of the election deniers are likely to win. Of the nearly 300 on the ballot, 174 are running for safely GOP seats; another 51 will appear on the ballot in tightly contested races.
First Proud Boys Leader Pleads Guilty to Jan. 6 Seditious Conspiracy
MSN – Spencer Hsu (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2022
A former Proud Boys leader became the group’s first member to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy in the Capitol riot, deepening the government’s case against an organization accused of mobilizing violence to prevent the inauguration of Joe Biden. Jeremy Bertino becomes a potential key witness against five Proud Boys leaders, some of whom had ties to influential supporters of Donald Trump. The Proud Boys defendants are set to face trial in December on charges including plotting to oppose by force the presidential transition.
Government Officials Invest in Companies Their Agencies Oversee
Fox Business – Rebecca Ballhaus, Brody Mullins, Chad Day, Joe Palazzolo, and James Grimaldi (Wall Street Journal) | Published: 10/11/2022
Thousands of officials across the government’s executive branch reported owning or trading stocks that stood to rise or fall with decisions their agencies made, a Wall Street Journal investigation found. More than 2,600 officials at agencies from the Commerce Department to the Treasury Department, during both Republican and Democratic administrations, disclosed stock investments in companies while those same firm were lobbying their agencies for favorable policies. That amounts to more than one in five senior federal employees across 50 federal agencies reviewed by The Journal.
How Trump’s Legal Expenses Consumed GOP Donor Money
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 10/11/2022
Donald Trump’s political operation has spent more money since he left office on lawyers representing the former president and a pair of nonprofits staffed by former Cabinet members than it has on Republican congressional campaigns. Legal fees are expected to climb, Trump advisers say, as he employs a growing retinue of lawyers to fend off federal, state, and county-level investigations. State-level Republicans have also used party resources to defray legal costs related to Trump’s attempts to stay in power.
Judge Dismisses DOJ Bid to Force Wynn to Register as Foreign Agent
Yahoo News – Kyle Cheney and Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 10/12/2022
A federal judge dismissed a Department of Justice (DOJ) effort to force casino magnate Steve Wynn to acknowledge a stint as an agent of the Chinese government. U.S. District Court Judge James Boasberg expressed reservations about his own ruling but suggested that long-standing appeals court precedent bars the DOJ from requiring foreign agents to retroactively register once they are no longer performing that work. If the ruling stands, it could deal a blow to the effort to crack down on undisclosed foreign influence campaigns in the U.S.
Justice Dept. Asks Supreme Court to Deny Trump Request in Mar-a-Lago Case
MSN – Perry Stein and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/11/2022
The Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a petition from Donald Trump’s attorneys in the Mar-a-Lago search case, arguing that allowing an outside arbiter to review the classified documents seized from Trump’s residence would “irreparably injure” the government and as a former president, Trump has no “plausible” claims of ownership over sensitive government materials. It is the latest turn in the department’s high-stakes investigation to determine whether the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
Leonard Leo Pushed the Courts Right. Now He’s Aiming at American Society.
Seattle Times – Kenneth Vogel (New York Times) | Published: 10/12/2022
Activist Leonard Leo is best known for his role in pushing the appointments of conservative judges to the center of the Republican Party’s agenda. Now, he has developed a coalition that aims to transform American society. Most of the initiatives were supported by a network shaped by Leo and funded by wealthy patrons, usually through “dark money.” An investigation reveals new details of how he has built that network into one of the most sophisticated operations in U.S. politics, giving him influence as he pushes a broad array of conservative causes and seeks to counter what he sees as an increasing leftward tilt in society.
Misinformation Swirls in Non-English Languages Ahead of Midterms
Yahoo News – Tiffany Hsu (New York Times) | Published: 10/12/2022
Unsubstantiated rumors and outright falsehoods spread widely in immigrant communities ahead of the presidential election in 2020. That is happening again in the run-up to this year’s midterm elections, researchers say, but with an insidious twist. The social media accounts pushing misinformation are now targeting audiences in more languages on more topics and across more digital platforms. Multilingual fact checkers say they cannot keep pace with the deluge of falsehoods online. They have called on the big social media platforms, like Facebook and YouTube, to do more for efforts in other languages as they would for misinformation in English.
She Went Out on a Limb for Trump. Now She’s Under Justice Dept. Scrutiny.
Seattle Times – Glenn Thrush, Maggie Haberman, and Michael Schmidt (New York Times) | Published: 10/11/2022
This spring, one of the lawyers representing former President Trump made a request to Christina Bobb, who had just jumped from a Trump-allied cable network to a job in his political organization. M. Evan Corcoran asked Bobb to sign a statement that the Trump legal team had conducted a “diligent search” of Mar-a-Lago and found only a few files that had not been returned to the government. She later complained she did not have a full grasp of what was going on around her when she signed. Her sworn statement was shown to be false. Bobb’s trajectory is a familiar one in Trump’s orbit: a marginal player thrust into a position where her profile is elevated, but at the cost of serious legal and reputational risk.
Steele Dossier Source Heads to Trial, in Possible Last Stand for Durham
MSN – Salvadore Rizzo and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2022
Former President Trump said special counsel John Durham’s investigation into the origins of the FBI’s 2016 Russia probe should “reveal corruption at a level never seen before in our country.” But the nearly three-and-a-half-year examination seems destined for a less dramatic conclusion as Durham put Igor Danchenko on trial. He was indicted on charges of lying to FBI agents who interviewed him about the sources behind his claims to former British spy Christopher Steele. Defense attorneys argue Danchenko made a series of “equivocal” statements to the FBI and should not be penalized for giving wishy-washy answers to vaguely worded questions.
Top House Staffers Are Still Overwhelmingly White, Study Finds
Roll Call – Jim Saska | Published: 10/6/2022
The senior aides who hold the most sway with members of Congress have grown more diverse in recent years, but still not nearly as diverse as the nation. A new study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies finds people of color now occupy 18 percent of the top staff positions in the House, a four-point increase since 2018, but still much lower than the 40 percent of Americans who are not white. People of color have more representation among the actual representatives than their closest aides, the report finds.
Trump Worker Told FBI About Moving Mar-a-Lago Boxes on Ex-President’s Orders
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 10/12/2022
A Trump employee told federal agents about moving boxes of documents at Mar-a-Lago at the specific direction of the former president, according to people familiar with the investigation, who say the witness account, combined with security-camera footage, offers key evidence of Donald Trump’s behavior as investigators sought the return of classified material. The witness description and footage offer the most direct account to date of Trump’s actions and instructions leading up to the FBI’s search, in which agents were looking for evidence of potential crimes including obstruction, destruction of government records, or mishandling classified information.
Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential
Yahoo News – Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 10/10/2022
With Congress often deadlocked and conservatives dominating the U.S. Supreme Court, state governments increasingly steer the direction of voting laws, abortion access, education, and other issues dominating the lives of Americans. The Supreme Court could soon add federal elections to that list. The justices are expected to decide whether to grant nearly unfettered authority over such elections to state Legislatures. If the court does so, many Democrats believe, lawmakers could have a pathway to overrule the popular vote in presidential elections by refusing to certify the results and instead sending their own slates of electors.
From the States and Municipalities
Alaska – APOC Says Dunleavy Backers Won’t Respond to Investigation Without Subpoena
Alaska Public Media – Lisa Phu (Alaska Beacon) | Published: 10/11/2022
In an investigation into alleged violations of campaign finance laws, an independent expenditure group supporting Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s reelection has refused to respond to requests for information. A complaint says the Republican Governors Association and Dunleavy are “engaged in a scheme” to subsidize and coordinate the campaign activities of the independent expenditure group A Stronger Alaska with those of Dunleavy’s official campaign committee. Coordination between a candidate or a candidate’s representatives and an independent expenditure group is prohibited.
California – Grand Jury Accuses Santa Clara City Council Members of Putting 49ers Ahead of City
MSN – Marisa Kendall (San Jose Mercury News) | Published: 10/7/2022
A grand jury report accuses several Santa Clara City Council members of getting too cozy with the San Francisco 49ers, neglecting their duties to constituents, and potentially violating state law. The report raises a series of concerns about the conduct of five council members who frequently vote in favor of the NFL team’s interests. Frequent closed-door meetings between 49ers lobbyists and those council members raised a “serious question” about whether they are violating state open-meeting laws, according to the report. The report also takes issue with some of the council members’ personal use of the stadium, among other issues.
California – Jose Huizar’s Brother to Testify in Federal Corruption Trial of Former L.A. Councilman After Pleading Guilty
Yahoo News – Nathan Solis (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/12/2022
The older brother of Jose Huizar admitted to lying to FBI agents about receiving envelopes of cash from Huizar and will cooperate with the federal government’s corruption investigation of the former Los Angeles City Council member. Jose Huizar gave his older brother, Salvador, envelopes of cash and asked him to write a check for the exact amount out of his own bank account, federal investigators said. Salvador Huizar admitting to repeatedly lying about the cash, including while under oath before a grand jury and as recently as two weeks ago when he was interviewed again by FBI agents.
California – Nury Martinez Resigns from L.A. City Council in Wake of Audio Leak Scandal
Yahoo News – David Zahniser, Julia Wick, Dakota Smith, and Benjamin Oreskes (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/12/2022
Nury Martinez, the Los Angeles City Council member at the center of the scandal over a taped conversation in which she made racist comments about colleagues and constituents, has resigned. The Los Angeles Times published a recording in which Martinez is heard making the remarks while talking with fellow council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo and labor leader Ron Herrera about how the city’s council district boundaries should be redrawn. The October 2021 conversation focused on how the group could maintain Latino political power while ensuring they and their colleagues would have districts that help them win reelection.
California – San Francisco Election Watchdog Boss Set to Resign
San Francisco Standard – Alex Mullany | Published: 10/12/2022
LeeAnn Pelham, executive director of the San Francisco Ethics Commission since January 2016, will resign on January 23, 2023. Over the years, the commission has been slow to handle complaints and been criticized for using the city attorney’s office as counsel rather than having its own independent attorneys. Yet, Pelham was able to hire more staff and modernize many of the commission’s systems. “I would say that LeeAnn Pelham substantially increased the reach of the commission in terms of accomplishing its mission,” commission member Larry Bush said.
Colorado – Adams County Must Pay Legal Fees of the Treasurer It Sued, Colorado Supreme Court Orders
MSN – John Aguilar (Denver Post) | Published: 10/10/2022
The Colorado Supreme Court ordered Adams County to pay the legal expenses of its elected treasurer, who it sued over allegations she mismanaged her office. The state’s high court called Adams County’s failure to cover Lisa Culpepper’s costs of defending herself against the county’s lawsuit an “abuse of discretion.” Culpepper would normally be represented by the county attorney’s office in legal matters. But because that same office was representing the county commissioners suing her meant Culpepper had to obtain outside counsel.
Colorado – Political Group Agrees to Pay Fine Over Primary Voter Guide That Failed to Disclose Information
Colorado Springs Gazette – Marianne Goodland (Colorado Politics) | Published: 10/11/2022
ProgressNow Colorado agreed to pay a fine of $16,277 for a primary “voter guide” that failed to fully disclose required information. It was the third complaint over ProgressNow’s voter guides in the past 18 months and the second that the organization has settled with the Elections Division. The first complaint, in 2021, resulted in a $3,000 fine.
Florida – DeSantis Broke Florida Precedent and Maybe the Law, Too, in Making Congressional Map
Yahoo News – Joshua Kaplan (ProPublica) | Published: 10/11/2022
An examination of how Florida’s congressional districts were drawn, and who helped decide the new boundaries, show Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration appears to have misled the public and the Legislature and may also have violated state law. Gubernatorial aides worked behind the scenes with an attorney who serves as the national Republican Party’s top redistricting lawyer and other consultants tied to the national party apparatus. The Florida Constitution was amended in 2010 to prohibit partisan-driven redistricting, a landmark effort in the growing movement to end gerrymandering.
Florida – Ethics Panel Finds ‘Probable Cause’ That Miami Commissioner Abused Power with City Car
MSN – Joey Fletchas (Miami Herald) | Published: 10/12/2022
The Miami-Dade County Commission on Ethics and Public Trust agreed to charge Miami City Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla with violating county ethics law and exploiting his official position after a friend who did not work for the city used a city car to pick up alcohol for the commissioner, drop off his dry cleaning, and drive him to a property his family owns. The friend, Jenny Nillo, worked for the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency, and should not have had access to the car, according to city policy.
Georgia – Common Cause Georgia Sues FEC Over Dismissed Complaint That Conservative Nonprofit Broke Finance Rules
Georgia Recorder – Stanley Dunlap | Published: 10/11/2022
Common Cause Georgia is suing the FEC for dismissing a complaint alleging conservative election-monitoring organization True the Vote illegally contributed to the Georgia Republican Party during the January 2021 runoffs for two U.S. Senate seats. The lawsuit accuses three Republican commissioners of failing to enforce federal campaign finance law when they went against the agency’s general counsel’s recommendation to open an investigation into the relationship between the Texas-based nonprofit and the Georgia GOP.
Georgia – GOP Crisis in Herschel Walker Race Was Nearly Two Years in the Making
MSN – Isaac Arnsdorf, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2022
In early 2021, as football star Herschel Walker considered running for the U.S. Senate, he approached some of Georgia’s top Republican operatives about advising his campaign. The operatives were warned about political vulnerabilities in Walker’s past that were openly discussed in the state’s political circles. Walker’s overwhelming name recognition and backing from former President Trump made him so formidable that state and national Republican leaders did not mount a serious challenge in the primary. Now, they are stuck with him as those liabilities threaten to dominate the news and derail his campaign.
Illinois – City Council Debate Over Private Booting Shines Light on Ways Clout and Campaign Cash Work in Chicago
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 10/10/2022
Faced with a surge of criticism at City Hall, Innovative Parking Solutions owner Michael Denigris did what Chicago business owners have done for decades – he hired an influential lobbyist and poured tens of thousands of dollars into lawmakers’ campaign accounts. But it is not clear whether that expensive and time-consuming effort, which illuminates how wealthy interests get their issues in front of the city council, will pay off for Denigris and his firm.
Iowa – Iowa Board Requires ‘Paid for By’ Statements on Some Political Texts
Bleeding Heartland – Laura Bellin | Published: 9/28/2022
The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board said some political text messages are subject to the state law requiring disclosure of who is responsible for express campaign advocacy. Board Executive Director Zach Goodrich drafted the advisory to clarify when text messages can be considered “electronic general public political advertising.” He decided to address the issue after a mass texting campaign from an undisclosed source reached Kansas voters shortly before a constitutional referendum in August.
Maryland – Allegations Against Vice Chair Deepen Montgomery Planning Board Controversy
MSN – Daniel Wu (Washington Post) | Published: 10/11/2022
An investigation into Montgomery County Planning Board Chairperson Casey Anderson’s conduct has expanded to include the actions of Vice Chair Partap Verma and the abrupt firing of Planning Department Director Gwen Wright. A complaint sent to the county council levied new accusations against Verma, who already had been publicly reprimanded alongside Casey and fellow board member Carol Rubin, deepening concerns about the planning agency’s governance and rattling employees as a council vote looms on a long-term growth plan.
Missouri – St. Louis County Ethics Committee Stonewalled on Marijuana Questions
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Joe Holleman | Published: 10/10/2022
The majority of the main players involved in a conflict-of-interest probe of St. Louis County Councilperson Lisa Clancy continue to give the silent treatment to the council’s ethics committee. Of five people involved in 2019 with Clancy and the county’s zoning laws for medical marijuana industry, all of whom refused to attend a committee meeting on September 6, only one has responded to written questions the committee sent out recently. The committee asked for a response by October 5.
Montana – GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts
Montana Free Press – Arren Kimbel-Sannit | Published: 10/7/2022
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan found a state House candidate tried to pay vendors with bad checks and misreported accrued debts as expenditures, referring the matter to the Lewis and Clark County attorney for possible prosecution. Alden Tonkay misreported a minimum of $2,264 in debts, Mangan found. Those debts stemmed from non-payment to sign-making and catering companies. Tonkay repeatedly said he would send a response to the complaint as well as a full accounting of his campaign finances, but never delivered, according to Mangan’s decision.
Montana – How Montana’s New Election Laws Failed Legal Muster
Montana Free Press – Alex Sakariassen | Published: 10/6/2022
Three new laws that changed how Montanans can vote and access the polls were declared unconstitutional. People will once again be able to register to vote on Election Day, use student IDs and voter registration cards as primary identification at the polls, and accept payment for collecting ballots on behalf of voters unable to return them themselves. A spokesperson was noncommittal on whether Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen would appeal the decision to the Montana Supreme Court.
Nevada – How a Las Vegas Newsroom Set Out to Solve a Colleague’s Killing
MSN – Sarah Ellison (Washington Post) | Published: 10/6/2022
Executive Editor Glenn Cook sent an email to staff members at The Las Vegas Journal-Review on September 3, informing them that their colleague, Jeff German, had been found dead outside his home. Over four days of relentless reporting, Review-Journal staff would essentially solve the case, delving into German’s old stories and doing their own on-the-ground detective work to identify a surprising suspect, who is now behind bars, facing murder charges.
New Hampshire – In Time of Distrust, How One State Is Trying to Boost Voter Confidence
MSN – Joanna Slater (Washington Post) | Published: 10/10/2022
Since May, the New Hampshire Special Committee on Voter Confidence has traveled the length of the state holding public hearings that are part civics roadshow, part airing of grievances. They have come together for an unusual experiment aimed at bolstering faith in American democracy. The committee’s stated goal is to identify the causes of the decline in voter confidence and recommend ways to reverse it. Left unstated is the unprecedented nature of the current moment, where former President Trump and Republican candidates continue to deny the outcome of the 2020 election.
New Mexico – Vote to Amend Legislature’s Internal Investigative Procedure Fails
Santa Fe New Mexican – Robert Knott | Published: 10/11/2022
A body of lawmakers charged with administering legislative policies and procedures in the New Mexico Legislature deadlocked on a proposal to add a fifth and tiebreaking member to a pair of interim ethics committees, in effect killing the proposal and leaving the Legislature’s embattled internal investigation process unchanged. Calls for reform to the harassment policies and investigation of complaints have grown louder in the wake of accusations by lobbyist Marianna Anaya and others against Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto.
New York – Hochul Raises Massive Sum in Final State Election Before New Campaign Finance System Kick In
Gothamist – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 10/12/2022
Since Kathy Hochul became governor of New York in August 2021, 47 people have given the maximum amount, $69,700, directly to her campaign. In total, Hochul’s campaign has brought in $46 million in her first 14 months in office. That massive sum will not be as easy to accumulate in future elections thanks to a new state campaign finance system that will lower individual contribution limits and establish a small-dollar public matching program for state-level offices. The new system goes into effect immediately after Election Day this year for the next election cycles and will apply to statewide offices.
New York – New State Ethics Watchdog Agrees to Chew on Old Cases
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 10/6/2022
New York’s ethics and lobbying commission is rolling over all pending investigations inherited from its predecessor, a move that increases the odds those inquiries will reach conclusions. As of September 23, the new ethics body had 32 “open investigations” in motion, including that of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, had been scheduled to face a hearing over whether he violated the law by using state employees to assist in the production of his lucrative memoir of the Covid-19 pandemic.
New York – New York Lobbyists Hold Sway in Spite of Shake-Ups, Scandals
Poli-Ticks – Rebekah Ward (Albany Times Union) | Published: 10/7/2022
Lobbyists in New York often are key in passing or defeating legislation. Many are veteran lawmakers themselves or had prior jobs, including as agency leaders or legal counsel for top elected officials, that provide them connections and insight into the government’s inner workings, which enable them to shape political outcomes for their clients. They are a constant presence in Albany, customizing pitches to assuage the differing concerns of key officials, strategically framing stories to steer media attention, and using the hectic legislative calendar to their advantage.
Ohio – Ohio Is About to Hold Elections for Unconstitutional Congressional and Legislative Districts. Here’s How It Happened
MSN – Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/9/2022
Ohio’s congressional and state legislative districts have twice been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, but one of those maps will be in place for the November elections. It is the result of a previously untested state redistricting process, a months-long fight between Republican leaders and the Ohio Supreme Court, and a federal court finally intervening and picking one of the redistricting plans to use just for the 2022 election. So, despite voters approving two state constitutional amendments to end gerrymandering, the congressional and legislative lines have again been drawn in a way that gives Republicans a clear advantage.
Ohio – Steve Dackin, One-Time Ohio Schools Superintendent, Signs Settlement Agreement for Ethics Violations, Avoids Criminal Prosecution
MSN – Laura Hancock (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/7/2022
Steve Dackin, who spent 11 days as the state superintendent of public instruction before resigning amid an ethics investigation, signed a settlement with the Ohio Ethics Commission. The commission will not refer its investigation to any public prosecutor. Dackin will be required to attend three hours of ethics training and agreed to not apply for the state superintendent job again until February 26, 2023. Dackin had access to the applications for the job as the committee conducted its search. Days before the application period ended, Dackin resigned from the Ohio State Board of Education and submitted his own application for the job.
Tennessee – Kelsey Co-Defendant Smith to Plead Guilty in Federal Campaign Finance Case
Tennessee Lookout – Sam Stockard | Published: 10/11/2022
The co-defendant in a federal campaign finance case against Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey is set to plead guilty to one charge of funneling “soft money” to the senator’s congressional campaign six years ago. Federal prosecutors claim Kelsey and Josh Smith, the owner of The Standard Club in Nashville, conspired with others to illegally shift a total of more than $80,000 from his state account to buy ads that supported his federal race. Prosecutors say Kelsey gave Smith a check for more than $106,000 in July 2016 during a gathering at The Standard to be transferred from his campaign account to the restaurant’s PAC.
Washington – Judge: Facebook intentionally violated WA campaign finance law 822 times
Seattle Times – David Gutman | Published: 10/6/2022
A judge ruled Facebook’s parent company Meta intentionally violated Washington’s campaign finance law 822 times, which may subject the company to millions of dollars in fines. The law requires advertisers to make information about political ads run in Washington that appear on their platforms available for public inspection. The judge said the violations were intentional because of the company’s history of failure to comply with the law, its extensive experience with campaign finance law, and its “lack of good faith and failure to acknowledge and take responsibility for its violations.”
October 12, 2022 •
Wednesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance National: “How Trump’s Legal Expenses Consumed GOP Donor Money” by Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN Tennessee: “Kelsey Co-Defendant Smith to Plead Guilty in Federal Campaign Finance Case” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout Elections […]
National: “How Trump’s Legal Expenses Consumed GOP Donor Money” by Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
Tennessee: “Kelsey Co-Defendant Smith to Plead Guilty in Federal Campaign Finance Case” by Sam Stockard for Tennessee Lookout
New Hampshire: “In Time of Distrust, How One State Is Trying to Boost Voter Confidence” by Joanna Slater (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Government Officials Invest in Companies Their Agencies Oversee” by Rebecca Ballhaus, Brody Mullins, Chad Day, Joe Palazzolo, and James Grimaldi (Wall Street Journal) for Fox Business
California: “Grand Jury Accuses Santa Clara City Council Members of Putting 49ers Ahead of City” by Marisa Kendall (San Jose Mercury News) for MSN
Colorado: “Adams County Must Pay Legal Fees of the Treasurer It Sued, Colorado Supreme Court Orders” by John Aguilar (Denver Post) for MSN
Illinois: “City Council Debate Over Private Booting Shines Light on Ways Clout and Campaign Cash Work in Chicago” by Heather Cherone for WTTW
Florida: “DeSantis Broke Florida Precedent and Maybe the Law, Too, in Making Congressional Map” by Joshua Kaplan (ProPublica) for Yahoo News
October 11, 2022 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance Montana: “GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts” by Arren Kimbel-Sannit for Montana Free Press Elections National: “Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo […]
Montana: “GOP House Candidate Paid Vendors with Bad Checks and Misreported Debts” by Arren Kimbel-Sannit for Montana Free Press
National: “Why Little-Noticed State Legislative Races Could Be Hugely Consequential” by Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Georgia: “GOP Crisis in Herschel Walker Race Was Nearly Two Years in the Making” by Isaac Arnsdorf, Ashley Parker, Michael Scherer, and Josh Dawsey (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Steele Dossier Source Heads to Trial, in Possible Last Stand for Durham” by Salvadore Rizzo and Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Nury Martinez Steps Down as L.A. City Council President” by Julia Wick, Dakota Smith, David Zahniser, and Benjamin Oreskes (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
Ohio: “Steve Dackin, One-Time Ohio Schools Superintendent, Signs Settlement Agreement for Ethics Violations, Avoids Criminal Prosecution” by Laura Hancock (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
New York: “New York Lobbyists Hold Sway in Spite of Shake-Ups, Scandals” by Rebekah Ward (Albany Times Union) for Poli-Ticks
Ohio: “Ohio Is About to Hold Elections for Unconstitutional Congressional and Legislative Districts. Here’s How It Happened” by Jeremy Pelzer (Cleveland Plain Dealer) for MSN
October 7, 2022 •
News You Can Use Digest – October 7, 2022
National/Federal DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive Cointelegraph – Turner Wright | Published: 10/4/2022 The legal team behind nonfungible token (NFT) firm DataVault Holdings requested an advisory opinion from the FEC on using […]
DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive
Cointelegraph – Turner Wright | Published: 10/4/2022
The legal team behind nonfungible token (NFT) firm DataVault Holdings requested an advisory opinion from the FEC on using NFTs for campaign fundraising efforts. DataVault’s lawyers proposed sending NFTs as “souvenirs” to individuals who donated to political committees, as well as giving the token holder the option to use it for promoting a campaign “strictly on a volunteer basis and without any compensation.” The firm requested the FEC provide guidance on how it may operate as a commercial vendor, issuing the tokens to political committee members seemingly without violating federal campaign finance laws.
Election Officials Confront a New Problem: Whether they can trust their own poll workers
Yahoo News – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 10/4/2022
Election officials are growing concerned about a new danger in November: that groups looking to undermine election results will try to install their supporters as poll workers. The frontline election workers do everything from checking people in at voting locations to helping process mail ballots. Now, some prominent incidents involving poll workers have worried election officials that a bigger wave of trouble could be on the horizon.
In Trump White House, Classified Records Routinely Mishandled, Aides Say
MSN – Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Aides who worked in Donald Trump’s White House were not surprised when the FBI found highly classified material in boxes at Mar-a-Lago mixed with news clippings and other items. During his four years in office, Trump never strictly followed the rules and customs for handling sensitive government documents, according to 14 officials from his administration. What those ex-Trump aides and advisers saw in an inventory of items recovered by the FBI in August – classified documents in boxes, stored alongside newspaper and magazine articles, books, and gifts – looked to them like the idiosyncratic filing system Trump used in the White House.
Justices Shield Spouses’ Work from Potential Conflict of Interest Disclosures
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs, Josh Gerstein, and Peter Canellos (Politico) | Published: 9/29/2022
Over the past year, Virginia Thomas has gotten attention for operating a consulting business that reportedly includes conservative activist groups with interest in U.S. Supreme Court decisions as clients. Her husband, Justice Clarence Thomas, has chosen not to reveal any of his wife’s clients, let alone how much they contributed to the Thomas family coffers, dating back to when her consulting business was founded. A Politico investigation shows potential conflicts involving justices’ spouses extend beyond the Thomas family.
Lawmakers Confront a Rise in Threats and Intimidation, and Fear Worse
MSN – Stephanie Lai, Luke Broadwater, and Carl Hulse (New York Times) | Published: 10/1/2022
Members of Congress in both parties are experiencing a surge in threats and confrontations as a rise in violent political speech has increasingly crossed over into the realm of in-person intimidation and physical altercation. In the months since the attack on the U.S. Capitol, which brought lawmakers and the vice president within feet of rioters threatening their lives, Republicans and Democrats have faced stalking, armed visits to their homes, vandalism, and assaults. It is part of a trend that many fear is only intensifying as lawmakers scatter to campaign and meet with voters around the country ahead of midterm congressional elections.
Politics Are Becoming Tougher to Avoid at Work, Survey Finds
MSN – Taylor Telford (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Escalating political tensions in the workplace are creating problems for organizations as midterm elections draw nearer, a new survey found. About 26 percent said they have personally experienced differential treatment (positive and negative) because of their political views or affiliation, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). Corporations are under pressure from employees and consumers to weigh in on political issues. But the rise of politics in the workplace has consequences for polarization across the country, said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., SHRM’s chief executive.
Pro-DeSantis Hybrid PAC to File Lawsuit Challenging Unfavorable FEC Ruling
OpenSecrets – Taylor Giorno | Published: 10/3/2022
The political committee Ready for Ron asked the FEC for permission to share a list of supporters and their contact information with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to encourage him to run for president in 2024. The FEC ruled that Ready for Ron cannot share the list if DeSantis becomes a federal candidate or begins “testing the waters” for federal office, as the value would exceed the federal campaign contribution limit. The commission deadlocked on whether Ready for Ron could share the list if DeSantis is not testing the waters or running for federal office. The PAC plans to fille a lawsuit challenging the FEC’s decision.
Supreme Court to Scrutinize U.S. Protections for Social Media
MSN – Andrew Chung (Reuters) | Published: 10/3/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to federal protections for internet and social media companies freeing them of responsibility for content posted by users. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit, relying on as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. It protects “interactive computer services” by ensuring they cannot be treated as the “publisher or speaker” of any information provided by other users. Democrats have faulted it for giving social media companies a pass for spreading hate speech and misinformation. Republicans painted it as a tool for censorship of voices on the right.
The Onion Files Supreme Court Amicus Brief Defending the Right to Parody
MSN – Rachel Pannett (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
A man who was arrested over a Facebook parody aimed at his local police department is trying to take his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The satirical website The Onion filed an amicus brief in support of Anthony Novak. A jury found him not guilty, and he is trying to sue the city for damages. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying the police had qualified immunity, and an appeals court upheld that decision. “Americans can be put in jail for poking fun at the government?” the brief asked. “This was a surprise to America’s Finest News Source and an uncomfortable learning experience for its editorial team.”
Trump Asks Supreme Court to Intervene in Mar-a-Lago Search Case
MSN – Devlin Barrett and Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Former President Trump’s lawyers asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mar-a-Lago documents-seizure case, saying the special master appointed in the matter should be allowed to review the classified papers. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit granted the Justice Department’s request to keep about 100 classified documents separate from a review of documents being conducted by a court-appointed legal expert, called a special master. The department has launched a probe to determine if Trump or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
U.S.: Oath Keepers, Rhodes attacked ‘bedrock of democracy’ on Jan. 6
MSN – Spencer Hsu, Rachel Weiner, and Tom Jackman (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2022
Members of the extremist group Oath Keepers led by Stewart Rhodes planned for an armed rebellion “to shatter a bedrock of American democracy” – the peaceful transfer of presidential power – culminating in their role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol, a prosecutor said in the first seditious conspiracy trial of the January 6 investigation. Rhodes’ defense attorney Philip Linder said Oath Keepers came to Washington as “peacekeeping” security guards, believing then-President Trump could invoke the Insurrection Act to mobilize private militias, put down riots, and remain in power.
From the States and Municipalities
Alabama – Supreme Court Debates Alabama’s Refusal of Second Black Voting District
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
The U.S. Supreme Court’s liberal justices combined for an aggressive and unified defense against Alabama’s efforts to limit creation of voting districts in which minorities have the ability to elect candidates of their choice. The case is another major test of the Voting Rights Act, which the court’s conservative majority has diluted in recent years. At the end of oral arguments, it appeared a majority of the court might not embrace Alabama’s request for a broad reinterpretation of how the law is enforced, and that a narrower compromise was a possibility.
Arkansas – Missouri Health Executives Plead Guilty in Widespread Fraud
Stamford Advocate – Associated Press | Published: 9/29/2022
Two former executives of a Missouri health nonprofit pleaded guilty to their roles in a corruption scheme that ensnared several Arkansas elected officials and lobbyists, federal prosecutors said. Bontiea Goss and her husband, Tommy Goss, were executives at Preferred Family Healthcare, which provided services such as substance abuse treatments and counseling to people in Missouri, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. Federal prosecutors said the Gosses and other co-conspirators paid bribes and kickbacks to Arkansas lawmakers to obtain favorable legislation and other official actions that helped the nonprofit.
California – A Cannabis Bribe and Arson: Former Adelanto councilman sentenced to federal prison
MSN – Gregory Yee (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/3/2022
Former Adelanto City Councilperson Jermaine Wright was convicted of taking a $10,000 bribe to help open a cannabis business and hiring someone to burn down his restaurant for an insurance payout. He was sentenced to five years in federal prison. Wright told an informant the money had to go to a nonprofit set up to conceal their scheme and he would put the informant on the nonprofit’s board so they could receive the money as well, a pre-sentencing report said.
California – New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California
Voice of OC – Spencer Custodio | Published: 10/3/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that bars local elected officials voting on items benefitting contributors who donated more than $250 within the past 12 months. Elected officials could return the campaign donations within 14 days of finding out about the contribution, which would allow them to vote on the item. In Orange County, an FBI corruption investigation into Anaheim City Hall that touches on Disneyland resort area interests has put a renewed focus on campaign finance, spurring calls of campaign finance reform.
Florida – The Story Behind DeSanti’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard
Yahoo News – Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, and J. David Goodman (New York Times) | Published: 10/2/2022
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a budget that set aside $12 million to create a program for transporting unauthorized migrants out of Florida. He touted it as the highlight of the state’s new spending when it came to immigration. But just three months later, the money was being used to round up Venezuelan asylum seekers on the streets of San Antonio and shipping them on private planes to Massachusetts. Details have begun to emerge of the clandestine mission. In the middle of it all was a woman with a background in military counterintelligence who investigators believe was sent to Texas from Tampa to fill the planes.
Georgia – Federal Judge Upholds Georgia Election Law in Challenge Brought by Abrams
MSN – Matthew Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 10/1/2022
A federal judge upheld Georgia’s election laws in a blow to Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Stacey Abrams, who also is the state’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee. Abrams’ group filed a lawsuit against the Georgia’s secretary of state soon after her 2018 election defeat, arguing the state’s absentee ballot policies, which require an “exact match” for names and addresses between voters’ IDs and voter registration records, represented “gross mismanagement” of the state’s election systems that violated Georgia voters’ constitutional rights.
Georgia – Georgia DA: GOP bankrolling lawyers for ‘fake’ Trump electors ‘rife with serious ethical problems’
Yahoo News – Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman | Published: 10/4/2022
The Georgia Republican Party is bankrolling the legal defense of most of the so-called fake electors in the state as part of a controversial arrangement that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis charges in a new court filing is “rife with serious ethical problems” and “actual conflicts-of-interest.” Wills has launched a sprawling probe into Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election in Georgia. Willis escalated the legal battle over the issue when she moved to disqualify the two lawyers being paid by the state GOP.
Georgia – Herschel Walker Paid for Girlfriend’s Abortion, Report Says
MSN – Bill Barrow (Associated Press) | Published: 10/3/2022
Herschel Walker, who has vehemently opposed abortion rights as the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, paid for an abortion for his girlfriend in 2009, according to a report. Walker called the accusation a “flat-out lie” and said he would sue. The Daily Beast reviewed a receipt showing her $575 payment for the procedure, along with a get-well card from Walker and her bank deposit records showing the image of a personal check from Walker dated five days after the abortion receipt. The woman said Walker encouraged her to end the pregnancy, saying the time was not right for a baby.
Louisiana – Louisiana Officials Use Campaign Cash to Buy LSU, Saints Tickets
Louisiana Illuminator – Julie O’Donoghue | Published: 10/4/2022
Forty-nine Louisiana politicians spent $181,600 from their campaign accounts and PACs on tickets to collegiate and professional sporting events in 2020 and 2021. Over half of those purchasing the tickets were state lawmakers, but the group also includes the governor, sheriffs, district attorneys, and a state Supreme Court justice. State law prohibits elected officials from using campaign money for “personal use,” but sports tickets have long been considered a legitimate expense. The practice is legal so long as officials can explain why the spending is related to their campaign or job, said Kathleen Allen, the state’s ethics administrator.
Maryland – Nash Seeking Clarity on Lobbying Rules After Ethics Decision
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash will not challenge a decision by the city’s Ethics Commission that some of her professional lobbying activities violated city rules in court and is seeking guidance for future work. The commission found Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed coordinators for various city Neighborhood Advisory Councils and others, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city. Nash also asked that information about avoiding conflicts be made available to candidates when they file.
Massachusetts – Former State Police Union Boss Dana Pullman and Former Lobbyist Anne Lynch Face Trial for Alleged Kickback Schemes
MSN – Shelly Murphy (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/3/2022
Dana Pullman, the former leader of the Massachusetts State Police union, is on trial on charges he took kickbacks totaling $41,250 from a union lobbyist, Anne Lynch, and diverted thousands of dollars from the union for personal expenses, including flowers, gifts, a Florida vacation, and meals at upscale restaurants with a girlfriend. When announcing the charges in August 2019, federal authorities accused Pullman of running the union “like an old-school mob boss” and tapping the union’s account as if it was “his own personal piggy bank.”
Michigan – Michigan’s Proposal 1 Would Change Term Limits, Require Financial Disclosure for Lawmakers
Yahoo News – Clara Hendrickson (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 10/6/2022
Michigan voters will have a chance to decide this November whether they want to end the current term limits for state lawmakers in favor of reducing the total number of years lawmakers can serve in Lansing while increasing the number of times they can seek reelection in either chamber. The proposal would also establish new financial disclosure requirements for some elected officeholders. It would require annual reports describing their assets and sources of income, positions held outside of state government, agreements or arrangements regarding future employment, gifts and travel payments received, among other requirements.
Missouri – Missouri Ethics Commission Hobbled Again After Parson Pulls Appointees
St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Jack Suntrup | Published: 9/29/2022
The Missouri Ethics Commission again is unable to function, at least temporarily, because it does not have enough members. Gov. Mike Parson removed three members of the panel on recently, said Liz Ziegler, executive director of the commission. Ziegler said Parson took the three members off the ethics commission “due to the special legislative session” the governor had called on tax relief.
Montana – Commissioner of Political Practices to Step Down Before Term Ends
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 10/3/2022
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan announced on social media he will be retiring before his term ends, stepping down just before Election Day. Not since Dennis Unsworth’s departure at the end of 2010 has anyone served out a full term as commissioner. Past commissioners have at times come under fire for bringing a perceived partisan bias to their work investigating political complaints. Republican lawmakers have for years brought legislation seeking to disband the office or reduce the power commissioners wield.
New Mexico – NM Sen. Ivey-Soto Resigns from the Chairman Position of an Influential Committee
Source New Mexico – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/29/2022
Fallout from a harassment complaint filed against New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto has now affected his position of power as a lawmaker in Santa Fe. Ivey-Soto submitted a letter resigning as chairperson of the Senate Rules Committee. His resignation as chair shields lawmakers from having to take a public position on Ivey-Soto’s behavior at the Capitol. A meeting to discuss Senate committee assignments would have been the first public discussion and vote by lawmakers about Ivey-Soto after an investigation about sexual harassment allegations against Ivey-Soto.
New York – City Council Redistricting Drama Underscores Dropped Commission Ethics Policy
Gotham Gazette – Ethan Geringer-Sameth | Published: 10/3/2022
New York City’s redistricting process was thrown into disarray in September after the commission responsible for drawing new city council district lines voted down its own draft map. An aide to Mayor Eric Adams individually lobbied his appointees on the commission to vote no, activity the mayor has denied knowing about. There are few formal barriers in place to prevent conflicts-of-interest between the 15 redistricting commissioners and the elected officials who appointed them.
New York – Contender for Top NYC City Hall Post Left Trail of Penalties and Debt as a Lobbyist
MSN – Michael Gartland (New York Daily News) | Published: 10/3/2022
Tiffany Raspberry, who currently serves as a senior advisor for external affairs in New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ administration, is being considered as the mayor’s next chief of staff. Before her stint at City Hall, Raspberry worked as a lobbyist through her firm York Group Associates. The firm failed to follow city and state disclosure requirements dozens of times between 2011 and 2020, leading to nearly $38,000 in fines for late and incorrect filings. Records reveal Raspberry’s former clients are still registered to lobby on both the city and state levels.
New York – Hochul Says She Had No Role in New York’s $637M Deal with Campaign Donor
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 10/6/2022
Gov. Kathy Hochul said that before her staff authorized $637 million in payments to a major campaign donor, she was never asked to give final approval to the taxpayer-funded deal for COVID-19 tests from Digital Gadgets. The governor also said she was not briefed about the cost of the purchase orders, which were significantly higher than what other companies had charged for providing rapid tests to New York. Before finalizing the deals, Digital Gadgets had little history as a distributor of COVID-19 tests. The company’s chief executive officer, Charlie Tebele, held campaign fundraisers for Hochul around the time the contract was awarded.
Ohio – Cleveland Police Commander Faces Discipline for Hiding His Work with Private Security Companies, Failing to Pay Taxes
MSN – Adam Ferrise (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 9/28/2022
Cleveland police Commander Michael Butler faces accusations involving his work for private security companies, including that he hid from city officials his work for the businesses during a time he led the city’s efforts at staffing both officers and security firms for major events, according to an internal disciplinary letter. The city’s letter also said Butler broke state law by failing to pay taxes on income he had earned.
Ohio – FirstEnergy Fights to Keep Records Tied to Bribery Scheme from the Public
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 10/5/2022
FirstEnergy, which has admitted to spending tens of millions of dollars bribing top government officials in Ohio, asked state regulators to shield documents about its bribes from release to the public. The company’s request will soon be decided by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, whose former chairperson, Sam Randazzo, allegedly accepted a $4.3 million bribe from the utility for favorable regulatory treatment. The records could unmask the identities of several government officials and energy executives that FirstEnergy anonymously identified in its deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department.
Ohio – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose Creating Public Integrity Unit in Office Reorganization
MSN – Andrew Tobias (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 10/5/2022
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is reorganizing his office to form a “public integrity” unit, a shuffling he said will include hiring of investigators with the authority to issue subpoenas to look into potential elections-related crimes. The secretary of state would make the decision on what cases to pursue. Any cases would be turned over to the attorney general’s office or local county prosecutors, which play a role in enforcing state criminal laws, or the Ohio Elections Commission, which is a clearinghouse for violations of state elections law. The move comes as increasing numbers of Republican voters view the accuracy of elections with suspicion.
Oklahoma – Okla. GOP Ties Hospital’s Covid Funds to End of Gender-Affirming Care
MSN – Kimberly Kindy (Washington Post) | Published: 10/4/2022
Oklahoma lawmakers added a controversial provision before awarding the state’s largest hospital system $108 million in pandemic relief funds. OU Health would only get the money if its Oklahoma Children’s Hospital stopped providing gender-affirming care. The move, which the governor signed into law, marks the first time that conservative state lawmakers have tied gender-affirming care to the receipt of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Some advocates worry it might embolden other Legislatures with GOP majorities to add similar restrictions before allocating money to publicly funded hospitals.
Oregon – City Elections Office Upholds Campaign Penalty Against Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez
Portland Mercury – Alex Zielinski | Published: 9/29/2022
Portland City Council candidate Rene Gonzalez’s appeal of a $77,000 campaign finance violation was rejected by the Small Donor Elections program. Gonzalez had argued that accepting a $250 monthly rate for an office rental in downtown Portland that normally goes for a monthly rate of $6,900 was not an in-kind contribution from property owner Jordan Schnitzer. According to Gonzalez, that is because vacancy rates are so high in downtown Portland the office would have gone unrented if his campaign had not occupied the space.
Pennsylvania – As TV Doctor, Mehmet Oz Provided Platform for Questionable Products and Views
MSN – Colby Itkowitz and Lenny Bernstein (Washington Post) | Published: 10/3/2022
As a Republican candidate for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, a key battleground in the fight for control of the chamber, Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is putting his medical background and his popular television show at the center of his campaign pitch. But during the show’s run from 2009 to 2021, Oz provided a platform for potentially dangerous products and fringe viewpoints, aimed at millions of viewers, according to medical experts, public health organizations, and federal health guidance.
Pennsylvania – Unresolved Gray Areas in Pa. Mail Voting Law Likely to Spur Fresh Confusion, Legal Challenges
Spotlight PA – Stephen Caruso and Katie Meyer | Published: 10/5/2022
Some key questions on mail ballots remain unsettled in Pennsylvania, opening the door for more legal action and confusion after the upcoming gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. State lawmakers in 2019 passed a bipartisan overhaul of the state’s election law and allowed no-excuse mail voting for the first time. That law does not say, for instance, whether counties should be able to contact voters who have submitted mail ballots with errors and allow them to fix them, a process known as ballot curing. The law also does not mention ballot drop boxes or how they should be regulated.
Texas – Ethics Commission Shelves Lobbying Complaint Against Austin Pets Alive! Employee
Austin Monitor – Chad Swiatecki | Published: 10/3/2022
The Ethics Review Commission opted not to move forward with a lobbying complaint against Katie Jarl, a member of the city’s Animal Advisory Commission who also works in a governmental affairs job for Austin Pets Alive (APA). The complaint was based on the likelihood that Jarl was involved in lobbying activity for APA in 2021 when it was negotiating with the city for a long-term lease for a shelter property. City laws bar a registered lobbyist from serving on boards and commissions.
Texas – Fort Worth City Manager Apologizes After Reprimanded for Trip with Sundance Square Owners
MSN – Lana Ferguson (Dallas Morning News) | Published: 10/5/2022
Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke was publicly reprimanded for taking a trip to Colorado on a private plane with Ed and Sasha Bass. Some argue the trip was, in part, to promote the city, but Cooke said it was a “personal trip with friends.” Cooke will remain in his role but must recuse himself from all city business tied to Sundance Square, which the Basses own, and the Downtown Public Improvement District. Mayor Mattie Parker and the city council said Cooke’s decision to take the Labor Day weekend trip to Aspen showed “questionable judgement” and that, when asked about it, he “exercised poor communication to the public.”
Virginia – IT Issues Stall Voter-Records Processing for 107,000 in Virginia
MSN – Laura Vozzella (Washington Post) | Published: 10/5/2022
Local registrars across Virginia began scrambling to process about 107,000 voter records dumped on them overnight by the state Department of Elections, where computer network failures had left applications in limbo for months. Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office blamed unspecified technical problems for the backlog, which affected new voter registration applications, address updates, and other changes submitted through the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registrars do not face a hard deadline for processing registrations, but state law requires they notify voters of their polling place 15 days before an election.
Virginia – Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268K to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.
Richmond Times-Dispatch – Patrick Wilson | Published: 10/5/2022
The political advertising agency behind Glenn Youngkin’s successful bid for Virginia governor, which created his branding, received a $268,600 contract from a state agency to produce a tourism video that heavily features Youngkin himself. The ad will appear in Virginia’s airports and welcome centers at a time when the governor is considering a run for president and is seeking to boost his national image. Poolhouse specializes in digital advertising for GOP candidates. It was formed in 2013 and has never performed marketing work for the state before the Youngkin tourism advertisement.
October 6, 2022 •
Thursday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance National: “DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive” by Turner Wright for Cointelegraph Virginia: “Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268k to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.” by […]
National: “DataVault Requests US Election Agency’s Advice to Send NFTs as a Campaign Fundraising Incentive” by Turner Wright for Cointelegraph
Virginia: “Virginia Paid Governor Youngkin’s Political Ad Agency $268k to Make a Tourism Ad – Featuring Youngkin.” by Patrick Wilson for Richmond Times-Dispatch
Georgia: “Georgia DA: GOP bankrolling lawyers for ‘fake’ Trump electors ‘rife with serious ethical problems’” by Michael Isikoff and Daniel Klaidman for Yahoo News
Pennsylvania: “Unresolved Gray Areas in Pa. Mail Voting Law Likely to Spur Fresh Confusion, Legal Challenges” by Stephen Caruso and Katie Meyer for Spotlight PA
National: “Politics Are Becoming Tougher to Avoid at Work, Survey Finds” by Taylor Telford (Washington Post) for MSN
Ohio: “FirstEnergy Fights to Keep Records Tied to Bribery Scheme from the Public” by Jake Zuckerman for Ohio Capital Journal
Oklahoma: “Okla. GOP Ties Hospital’s Covid Funds to End of Gender-Affirming Care” by Kimberly Kindy (Washington Post) for MSN
Maryland: “Nash Seeking Clarity on Lobbying Rules After Ethics Decision” by Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) for Yahoo News
Alabama: “Supreme Court Debates Alabama’s Refusal of Second Black Voting District” by Robert Barnes (Washington Post) for MSN
October 4, 2022 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance California: “New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California” by Spencer Custodio for Voice of OC Ethics National: “Trump’s Lawyer Refused His Request in February to Say All Documents Returned” by Josh […]
California: “New State Law Could Curb Pay to Play Politics in Orange County & California” by Spencer Custodio for Voice of OC
National: “Trump’s Lawyer Refused His Request in February to Say All Documents Returned” by Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany (Washington Post) for MSN
National: “Supreme Court to Scrutinize U.S. Protections for Social Media” by Andrew Chung (Reuters) for MSN
Florida: “The Story Behind DeSantis’s Migrant Flights to Martha’s Vineyard” by Edgar Sandoval, Miriam Jordan, Patricia Mazzei, and J. David Goodman (New York Times) for Yahoo News
Massachusetts: “Former State Police Union Boss Dana Pullman and Former Lobbyist Anne Lynch Face Trial for Alleged Kickback Schemes” by Shelly Murphy (Boston Globe) for MSN
New Mexico: “NM Sen. Ivey-Soto Resigns from the Chairman Position of an Influential Committee” by Shaun Griswold for Source New Mexico
Texas: “Ethics Commission Shelves Lobbying Complaint Against Austin Pets Alive! Employee” by Chad Swiatecki for Austin Monitor
New York: “City Council Redistricting Drama Underscores Dropped Commission Ethics Policy” by Ethan Geringer-Sameth for Gotham Gazette
September 23, 2022 •
News You Can Use Digest – September 23, 2022
National/Federal A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022 Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. […]
A Landmark Supreme Court Fight Over Social Media Now Looks Likely
MSN – Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow (Washington Post) | Published: 9/19/2022
Conflicting lower court rulings about removing controversial material from social media platforms point toward a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on whether the First Amendment protects tech companies’ editorial discretion or forbids its censorship of unpopular views. The stakes are high not just for government and the companies, but because of the increasingly dominant role platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play in American democracy and elections. Social media posts have the potential to amplify disinformation or hateful speech, but removal of controversial viewpoints can stifle public discourse about important political issues.
Appeals Court: Justice Dept. can use Mar-a-Lago documents in criminal probe
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
An appeals court sided with the Justice Department in a legal fight over classified documents seized in a court-authorized search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, ruling the FBI may use the documents in its ongoing criminal investigation. The decision by a three-judge panel of the appeals court marks a victory for the Justice Department in its legal battle with Trump over access to the evidence to determine if the former president or his advisers mishandled national security secrets or hid or destroyed government records.
Apple Flexes Muscle as Quiet Power Behind App Group
Yahoo News – Emily Birnbaum (Bloomberg) | Published: 9/19/2022
The APP Association brands itself as the leading voice for thousands of app developers around the world. The majority of its funding comes from Apple, however. The tech giant is not a member of the association, but it plays a dominant behind-the-scenes role shaping the group’s policy positions, according to four former App Association employees. In fact, critics note, the association’s lobbying agenda tracks closely with Apple’s even when it is at odds with app developers, the companies that make the individual games and programs that run on Apple’s iPhone and other devices.
DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks
MSN – Zach Montellaro (Politico) | Published: 9/15/2022
An effort to draft Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis into the 2024 presidential race promised to proceed with an unusual attempt to boost his would-be campaign, after the FEC deadlocked on a request for guidance about whether the strategy was legal. Ready for Ron is a federal PAC that wants to build a list of up to 1 million people urging DeSantis to run. But with those names, the group wants to deliver would-be supporters’ email addresses and phone numbers to DeSantis. The FEC has said candidates can rent or buy supporter lists compiled by other groups, but they cannot accept something of such value as a gift without breaking contribution limits.
Fugitive in Massive Navy Bribery Case Caught in Venezuela
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/22/2022
Leonard Francis, a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the largest bribery scandals in U.S. military history, was arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing. The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in a federal court for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of U.S. Navy officers. The U.S. government faces an uphill challenge returning the fugitive back to American soil.
Gaetz Sought Pardon Related to Justice Department Sex Trafficking Probe
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/17/2022
U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz told a former White House aide that he was seeking a preemptive pardon from then-President Trump regarding an investigation in which he is a target, according to testimony given to the House select committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. Asked by investigators if Gaetz’s request for a pardon was in the context of the Justice Department investigation into whether he violated federal sex trafficking laws, Johnny McEntee replied, “I think that was the context, yes,” according to people familiar with the testimony.
Greg Norman Finds Friendly Faces, Harsh Criticism on Capitol Hill Trip
MSN – Rick Maese (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
As a federal antitrust case winds its way through the court system, LIV Golf chief executive Greg Norman visited Capitol Hill, receiving mixed reviews from lawmakers as he tried to sell them on his breakaway tour that has upended the golf word. While some lawmakers seemed receptive to Norman, others questioned LIV Golf’s Saudi financing and said Congress should not spend time intervening in a business dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf and seven of its golfers have sued the PGA Tour, saying it violated antitrust laws, allegations the Justice Department is also reportedly probing.
House Passes Bill to Prevent Efforts to Subvert Presidential Election Results
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House passed an electoral reform bill that seeks to prevent presidents from trying to overturn election results through Congress, the first vote on such an effort since the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral win. The Presidential Election Reform Act would clearly reaffirm the vice president has no role in validating a presidential election beyond acting as a figurehead who oversees the counting process, barring that person from changing the results.
Jan. 6 Committee Reaches Deal with Ginni Thomas for an Interview
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Azi Paybarah (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
The House select committee investigating the Capitol insurrection reached an agreement with Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to be interviewed by the panel in coming weeks. Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, pushed lawmakers and top Republican officials to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election, citing baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.
Old Money: How retirees are funding and fueling political candidates unlike ever before
Yahoo News – Madison Hall (Business Insider) | Published: 9/20/2022
Retirees are becoming one of the most powerful financial forces in politics as they spend their savings to fuel federal-level campaigns. By the 2020 election cycle, retirees accounted for more than 20 percent of contributions, amounting to more than $378 million. Retirees’ expanded influence coincides with the rapid increase in politicians fundraising by email and text message – and targeting older Americans with never-ending solicitations. Older Americans, many of whom are retired, tend to be more engaged politically and represent a larger share of each party’s base, said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at OpenSecrets.
Senate Republicans Block Bill to Require Disclosure of ‘Dark Money’ Donors
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/22/2022
Senate Republicans blocked legislation that would have required super PACs and other groups to disclose donors who give $10,000 or more during an election cycle, a blow to Democrats’ efforts to reform campaign finance laws. Spending in election cycles by corporations and the ultrawealthy through so-called dark money groups has skyrocketed since the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC, which allowed incorporated entities and labor unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or attack candidates.
The ‘Cost’ of Voting in America: A look at where it’s easiest and hardest
Seattle Times – Nick Corasaniti and Allison McCann (New York Times) | Published: 9/21/2022
A new study ranks all 50 states based on the overall investment a resident must make, in time and resources, to vote. The 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, a nonpartisan academic study that seeks to cut through the politics of voting access, focused on 10 categories related to voting, including registration, inconvenience, early voting, polling hours, and absentee voting. The study’s emphasis on early-voting options meant states like Washington and Oregon, where voting is conducted entirely by mail, ended up at the top of the rankings.
TikTok to Ban Campaign Fundraising, Require Verification for Political Accounts
MSN – Gina Martinez (CBS News) | Published: 9/21/2022
TikTok announced it is banning campaign fundraising on its platform. It also announced new policies for political accounts, including “mandatory verification.” The ban will include videos asking for donations, and videos from political parties directing people to a contribution page on their website. Verification will ensure that anyone watching content belonging to a government, politician, or political party account will know that the account is “genuine” and the source is “authentic.”
Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns
MSN – Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) | Published: 9/19/2022
The trial of Thomas Barrack, an informal adviser to former President Trump accused of acting as an unregistered agent of the United Arab Emirates, could shed light on how foreign governments jockeyed for access to the Trump administration, efforts that may have created lucrative opportunities for businesspeople close to the White House. Prosecutors have accused Barrack of using his sway with Trump to advance the interests of the Emiratis and of serving as a secret back channel for communications without disclosing his efforts to the attorney general, as the government contends that he should have.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – 14 AZ Lawmakers Took 9-Day Europe Trip Sponsored in Part by Lobbyists and More Are Coming
MSN – Ray Stern (Arizona Republic) | Published: 9/18/2022
Fourteen Arizona lawmakers took a free trip to Germany recently, where they met government and business officials. Lobbyist firms and taxpayers funded the lawmakers’ expenses as part of a state House international relations program. The trip may have had trade benefits, but lawmakers should still take care to avoid the perception they are receiving gifts that could influence their policy making, said John Pelissero of the Markula Center for Applied Ethics. The number of lawmakers and that they could take their spouses seemed excessive to Pelissero, who called the trip a “junket.”
California – Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas
Yahoo News – Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
A former University of Southern California dean agreed to plead guilty to bribery, admitting she arranged an illicit $100,000 payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas when he was on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors in return for a university contract with the county. Marilyn Flynn’s admission of guilt strikes a major blow to Ridley-Thomas, now a Los Angeles city council member who has been suspended while he defends against federal charges of bribery, fraud, and conspiracy. Flynn’s plea also reduces the likelihood that evidence related to U.S. Rep. Karen Bass, the front-runner in the race for Los Angeles mayor, would get a public airing at trial.
California – Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines
Sacramento Bee – Juan Esparza Loera | Published: 9/19/2022
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation to give redistricting duties in Fresno County to a 14-member commission. Assemblyperson Joaquín Arámbula said it was the only way to ensure the Latino community gets a fair chance at political representation after the next census. Arámbula and community organizations said county supervisors cannot be trusted to draw fair and equitable districts because supervisorial districts have changed little despite a spike in Latino population.
California – Legal Pot Spawned a Wave of Corruption, Threats and Secret Financial Deals for Politicians
MSN – Adam Elmahrek, Robert Lopez, and Ruben Vives (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 9/15/2022
California’s decision to legalize recreational cannabis ushered in a multibillion-dollar commercial market that officials in many small, struggling communities hoped would bring new jobs and an infusion of tax revenue. But the advent of commercial marijuana unleashed a wave of corruption that has rocked local governments across the state and left them with few effective tools to combat the problem. The industry has donated campaign money to local government officials as cannabis became a powerful special interest. Lobbyists and others say bribery and shakedowns have become so commonplace in licensing that it feels like a normal part of doing business.
California – Santa Clara Mayor Asks Newsom to Give Campaign Donor a Break
San Jose Spotlight – Joseph Geha | Published: 9/21/2022
Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor lobbied California Gov. Gavin Newsom to help a major real estate firm save money on the largest mixed-use development planned in the state, months before the developer made a six-figure donation to her campaign. Gillmor advocated that Related Companies should not be required to pay prevailing wages to workers. Related formed a local PAC to support Gillmor as she runs for reelection and funded it with $100,000. Executives from the company also donated to Gillmor’s mayoral election campaign in 2018, two years after the project was approved by the city council.
California – Trial of Corruption Case Against California Sheriff to Begin
Yahoo News – Associated Press | Published: 9/21/2022
A longtime San Francisco Bay Area sheriff is on trial on public corruption allegations involving her office’s granting of concealed-carry weapons permits and costly jail mismanagement. The unusual case against Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith is a civil process to seek removal of an elected official but is similar to a criminal case. The trial follows an investigation into allegations that Smith’s office traded concealed weapons permits for donations to her reelection campaign and mismanaged the jails, where mentally ill inmates died or were injured.
Florida – Jury Awards $3 Million to Garbage Contractor in Opa-locka Corruption Lawsuit
MSN – Tess Riski (Miami Herald) | Published: 9/20/2022
A jury awarded a $3 million judgment to a garbage contractor that sued Opa-locka in 2017 alleging corruption and extortion in a city that has for years been plagued with financial and political turmoil. Jurors found the city failed to act in good faith with Universal Waste Services of Florida (UWS). Representatives of UWS made accusations of extortion against former city Commissioner Terence Pinder, who died in an apparent suicide in 2016, two days before he was scheduled to turn himself in on state bribery charges.
Florida – Migrants Flown to Martha’s Vineyard File Class-Action Lawsuit Against DeSantis
MSN – Amy Wang (Washington Post) | Published: 9/20/2022
A group of Venezuelan migrants who were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard – allegedly after being falsely promised work and other services – filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other officials who arranged the flights, saying the officials used fraud and misrepresentation to persuade them to travel across state lines. The migrants are seeking unspecified damages, as well as the cost of their legal fees, for emotional and economic harm.
Georgia – Georgia 2020 Election Inquiry May Lead to Prison Sentences, Prosecutor Says
MSN – Matthew Brown and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 9/15/2022
Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, the prosecutor investigating efforts by Donald Trump and his allies to challenge the 2020 election results in Georgia, said her team has heard credible allegations that serious crimes have been committed and she believes some individuals may see jail time. At least 17 people have been notified they are targets of the criminal investigation, meaning they could eventually face charges. More targets will be added to the list soon, Willis said.
Georgia – Video Shows Trump Allies Handling Georgia Voting Equipment
Yahoo News – Danny Hakim, Richard Fausset, and Nick Corasaniti (New York Times) | Published: 9/20/2022
Newly released videos show allies of former President Trump and contractors who were working on his behalf handling sensitive voting equipment in a rural Georgia county weeks after the 2020 election. The footage, which was made public as part of litigation over Georgia’s voting system, raises new questions about efforts by Trump affiliates in a number of swing states to gain access to and copy sensitive election software, with the help of friendly local election administrators.
Illinois – State Sen. Emil Jones III Took Bribes from Red-Light Camera Company, Lied to Feds: Charges
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 9/20/2022
Federal prosecutors charged Illinois Sen. Emil Jones III with three felonies, alleging he took a bribe from a firm that installed red-light cameras throughout the state and lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. After being approached by a former executive for Safe Speed, the red-light company, who was cooperating with law enforcement, Jones agreed to limit the scope of his bill to study red-light cameras only in Chicago, where the firm did not operate, prosecutors say. In return, the executive agreed to pay Jones $5,000 and to provide a job to an unidentified associate of Jones.
Maryland – Opinion Says Nash’s Lobbying Violated City Ethics Ordinance
Yahoo News – Ryan Marshall (Frederick News-Post) | Published: 9/16/2022
Frederick Alderwoman Katie Nash violated the city’s ethics rules by lobbying on behalf of a firefighter union’s concerns about county emergency services coverage in the city, an Ethics Commission ruled. Nash, a lobbyist registered with the state, improperly emailed people, including coordinators for various Neighborhood Advisory Councils, encouraging them to raise concerns with the county about plans to shift coverage of paramedic services in parts of the city, according to the opinion. Nash was a paid lobbyist for the International Association of Firefighters Local 3666 when she sent out emails and press releases.
Michigan – Former Macomb Public Works Boss Marrocco Pleads Guilty in Corruption Probe
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
Former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco pleaded guilty to attempted extortion in federal court in a yearslong corruption probe that netted more than 20 other people. Prosecutors alleged he used an aide and others to shake down builders and contractors for donations to his fundraisers. If they did not contribute, the indictment said, Marrocco retaliated by holding up building permits, denying payment to vendors, and refusing to award contracts to firms. The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.
Michigan – Here’s the Punishment for Warren Councilman Who Handcuffed Woman over BLM Stickers
Yahoo News – Christina Hall (Detroit Free Press) | Published: 9/19/2022
Warren City Councilperson Edward Kabacinski pleaded no contest to disturbing the peace and was sentenced to one-year probation for his actions toward a woman at a rally for then-President Trump. Kabacinski was charged in October 2020 with assault and battery and impersonating a police officer when he chased a woman and handcuffed her after she put a Black Lives Matter sticker on a Trump sign during a protest. Kabacinski claimed he is a former military police officer and federal law allows him to detain those who breach the peace or break the law. The woman was not facing criminal charges.
New Hampshire – New Hampshire GOP Senate Nominee Abruptly Backs Off False 2020 Election Claims
MSN – Gregory Krieg and Dan Merica (CNN) | Published: 9/15/2022
U.S. Senate candidate Don Bolduc won the Republican nomination in New Hampshire after months campaigning on false claims the 2020 election was stolen from former President Trump. A little more than a day after the primary, he attempted an about-face. “I’ve come to the conclusion, and I want to be definitive on this: the election was not stolen,” Bolduc said. He is not the only GOP candidate who has tried to temper, or erase, hardline positions as the general-election environment starts to look less favorable for the party.
New Jersey – When George Gilmore’s Public Work Dried Up, an Ally Gave His Wife a Job with Engineering Firm
Yahoo News – Matt Friedman (Politico) | Published: 9/19/2022
When Ocean County Republican Party Chairperson George Gilmore was convicted on three federal tax charges in 2019, it did not just cost him his political leadership post. His work with public entities also dried up. Gilmore’s now-defunct law firm, Gilmore & Monahan, had made between $2 million and $3 million in public contracts annually between 2012 and 2018. He resigned from another job at the lobbying firm 1868 Public Affairs. But after Gilmore’s conviction, a political ally founded Morgan Municipal Services, a new division to expand the firm’s work in the public sector. It counted Gilmore’s wife as one of its three founding partners.
New Mexico – NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct
Source NM – Shaun Griswold | Published: 9/19/2022
New Mexico Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto said the sexual harassment complaint filed against him is closed. But outrage continues to grow, as everyone involved calls for reform of statehouse procedures shrouded in secrecy. The lobbyist who came forward with the initial complaint says her First Amendment rights have been violated because of the confidentiality rules about who is allowed to speak about the matter publicly. After the findings in the misconduct investigation were leaked, Ivey-Soto contacted the FBI about what he says is extortion.
New York – Donald Trump, 3 of His Children Accused of Business Fraud by New York AG
MSN – Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit accusing Donald Trump, three of his grown children, and executives at his company of manipulating asset valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers, and tax authorities into giving them better loan and insurance policy rates and reduce their tax liability. The complaint asks the state Supreme Court to bar the former president, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring commercial real estate or receiving loans from a New York-registered financial institution for five years.
New York – Executive Threw Hochul Fundraiser Weeks Before Landing $637M Deal
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 9/20/2022
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul maintains that when her administration paid a vendor $637 million last winter for COVID-19 tests, she was unaware the recipient was a campaign donor. Yet a month before the administration struck the deals, the company’s founder threw an in-person campaign fundraiser for Hochul. The deal was enabled by the governor’s revived suspension of competitive bidding rules for the administration’s purchase of COVID-19 supplies. Through an emergency executive order, Hochul suspended those rules four days after the fundraiser.
Oregon – Oregon’s Nonaffiliated Candidates Face Long Odds Making It onto the Ballot
Oregon Capital Chronicle – Julia Shumway | Published: 9/20/2022
Democratic and Republican candidates in Oregon pay a fee ranging from $25 to $150 and fill out a two-page form to compete in a primary. Minor party candidates are nominated separately by their parties, through conventions or party-run primaries. But non-affiliated candidates must collect petition signatures from hundreds or thousands of voters, depending on the office. Efforts to change Oregon’s election system are again afoot, with a coalition launching its petition drive for a constitutional amendment to open primaries. Nearly 41 percent of Oregon voters are ineligible to vote in primaries because they are nonaffiliated or registered with a minor party.
Oregon – Portland Elections Program Hits Council Candidate Rene Gonzalez with $77,000 Fine for Discounted Office Space
OPB – Rebecca Ellis | Published: 9/21/2022
Portland City Council hopeful Rene Gonzalez was fined for accepting and failing to report a steep discount on rent on his campaign office. The $77,000 fine, the biggest ever issued by the city’s Small Donor Elections program, stems from an unreported in-kind contribution Gonzalez is accused of accepting from the company, which is owned by Jordan Schnitzer, who personally gave $250 to Gonzalez in May. Program Director Susan Mottet said a normal tenant would have been asked to pay $6,900 per month for the over 3,000 square feet of space. Since May, Gonzalez’s campaign only had to pay $250 per month.
Pennsylvania – Philly’s Board of Ethics Voted to Close a Loophole that Super PACs Use to Get Instructions from Campaigns
MSN – Sean Collins Walsh (Philadelphia Inquirer) | Published: 9/21/2022
The Philadelphia Board of Ethics voted to ban the strategy known as “redboxing,” in which candidates send indirect signals to independent expenditure campaigns like super PACs that can raise unlimited amounts of money but are not allowed to coordinate with campaigns. Candidates do that by publicly stating the strategic needs of their campaigns, and some in recent federal elections have put those instructions in red boxes on their campaign websites to guide super PACs buying advertisements on their behalf. The statements use lightly coded language to inform the PACs on what the campaign wants.
Pennsylvania – Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis | Published: 9/19/2022
This past summer, a select group of Pennsylvania legislators, including House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, got to experience the Cheyenne Frontier Days, the premier summer festival in Wyoming that bills itself as the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration, courtesy of Pace-O-Matic. The company makes skill games that currently generate millions of dollars in revenue and, in Pennsylvania, operate in a legal and regulatory gray area, one the Legislature will play a key role in defining. For some of the lawmakers, it was an all-expenses-paid experience.
South Dakota – Ethics Board Keeps ‘Action’ Secret on Complaint Against Noem
MSN – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 9/20/2022
The Government Accountability Board will not publicly disclose the “appropriate action” it took after finding evidence South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem intervened with a state agency to influence her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license. The board found there was evidence Noem engaged in a conflict-of-interest and malfeasance. A lawyer hired by the board, Mark Haigh, responded to an open records request by saying the board’s response would remain “confidential.” The board has never handled such a high-profile case since its inception in 2017.
Virginia – Virginia Rule on Legislators Leaving Districts Could Add More Intrigue to 2023 Elections
Virginia Mercury – Graham Moomaw | Published: 9/22/2022
After past redistricting cycles, the number of Virginia General Assembly members having to switch districts was kept to a minimum because legislators were allowed to draw careful lines around each other’s homes to avoid doing damage to incumbents. That was not the case last year, when experts appointed by the Virginia Supreme Court effectively reset the state’s legislative maps with little regard for keeping incumbents comfortably installed in conflict-free seats. That means an unusually high number of legislators are facing the prospect of moving to position themselves for the next election cycle.
Virginia – Youngkin’s Restriction on Trans Students’ Rights Is Probably Illegal, Experts Say
MSN – Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 9/21/2022
A directive from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin for public schools to restrict the rights of transgender students is either unenforceable or will be struck down in court because it appears to violate both state and federal law, experts and advocates said. The model policies require schools to categorize transgender children by their “biological sex” when it comes to using the bathroom, locker room, and other facilities and participating in activities. They also bar students from adopting a new name or pronouns without parental permission.
September 20, 2022 •
Tuesday’s LobbyComply News Roundup
Campaign Finance National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN Ethics National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN California: “Former […]
National: “DeSantis Draft Effort Pushes Ahead After Campaign Finance Watchdog Deadlocks” by Zach Montellaro (Politico) for MSN
National: “Martha’s Vineyard Flights Leave Migrant Advocates Scrambling” by Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Maria Sacchetti (Washington Post) for MSN
California: “Former USC Dean Admits to Arranging Bribery Payment for Mark Ridley-Thomas” by Michael Finnegan and Matt Hamilton (Los Angeles Times) for Yahoo News
New Mexico: “NM Senator Defends His Reputation While Policy Silences the People Accusing Him of Misconduct” by Shaun Griswold for Source NM
Texas: “Texas Social Media ‘Censorship’ Law Goes into Effect After Federal Court Lifts Block” by Jesus Vidales for Texas Tribune
National: “Trump Adviser’s Trial May Shed Light on Foreign Influence Campaigns” by Rebecca Davis O’Brien (New York Times) for MSN
Pennsylvania: “Skill Games Company Woos Pa. Lawmakers with Trips to Wild Wyoming Rodeo” by Angela Couloumbis for Spotlight PA
California: “Gov. Gavin Newsom Strips Fresno County Supervisors’ Power to Draw Election Lines” by Juan Esparza Loera for Sacramento Bee
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