Cruz and Meadows propose no limits, OGE tweets, and other political law links

SUPER PAC ELIMINATION LEGISLATION.  Cruz.  “U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) today introduced the SuperPAC Elimination Act of 2017, which champions free speech in the election process and effectively eliminates SuperPACs by allowing unlimited individual contributions to candidates with immediate disclosure.”  WSJ coverage is here.

TRANSITION UPDATE.  WP.  “Michael Toner, who served as general counsel to the Bush-Cheney transition in 2000, recalled the 10-week post-election period as a time for setting broad ethical policy — and considering specific safeguards for the incoming president — that would set the tone for the incoming administration.”

AMENDED FARA FORMS.  WT.  “The Podesta Group, run by chairman Tony Podesta and his brother, filed two amended disclosure forms earlier this month in response to reporting by The Washington Free Beacon.”

WHAT’S ABOUT THOSE OGE TWEETS?  CNN.  “The Office of Government Ethics normally uses its Twitter account to send bland updates about rules and regulations, barely noticed and sometimes weeks apart.  So it was a little unusual on Wednesday when the office issued a burst of enthusiastic tweets to cheer on President-elect Donald Trump.”

OGE TROLLS.  HP.  “The Office of Government Ethics released a stream of odd tweets on Wednesday that praise President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to hand control of his real estate empire to his three eldest children.”

BI SAYS BIZARRE.  BI.  “In a statement after the tweetstorm, an OGE spokesman said the organization was ‘excited’ to read Trump’s early-morning tweets.”

LOSING MONEY ON PAY TO PLAY.  DB.  “It seems that back in 2013, Ackman’s (now formerly?) favorite former analyst gave $500 to a friend’s sister’s hopeless campaign for governor of Massachusetts.”


CA:  TICKET PROBE.  MN.  “Calling it a ‘bankrupt’ policy, the Public Ethics Commission at a hearing Wednesday offered strong criticism of the city’s use of free tickets to Golden State Warriors games and other events at Oracle Arena and the Coliseum.”

CA:  FORMAL INVESTIGATION.  EBT.  “A state agency on Wednesday launched an investigation into allegations that BART illegally used public funds to campaign for its $3.5 billion bond after it aired a video featuring Warriors’ star Draymond Green.”

GA:  FOCUS ON LOBBYIST RULES.  AJC.  “State law requires lobbyists to register and report their spending on public officials, but many believe there is a hidden army of lawyers, business executives, issue advocates, and state government employees who work feverishly to pass, alter or kill bills but do so without registering as lobbyists.”

TX:  TEC DEATH WARRANT.  WCN.  “‘The TEC signed its own death warrant today,’ said Trey Trainor, an attorney representing Empower Texans in litigation with the TEC. ‘In order to avoid giving depositions and paying twenty to thirty thousand dollars in attorneys’ fees, the agency has agreed to an order that will soon unravel all of its power.'”

WI:  LIMITS URGED.  BH.  “This bill, which state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, and other Democratic legislators will introduce next year, would limit the coordination political candidates can have with outside, independent groups.”


SEC pay to play exemption sought and other political law links

EXEMPTION SOUGHT.  Reuters.  “Pershing Square Capital Management, the hedge fund firm run by billionaire William Ackman, wants to be exempted from possibly having to return millions of dollars in fees after a former employee donated $500 to a family friend’s political campaign.

DEREGISTRATION.  WP.  “At least four lobbyists who are involved in the Donald Trump transition or who are being considered for a Cabinet-level position have filed paperwork in the past week and a half to terminate their status as federal lobbyists — an apparent move to comply with the president-elect’s new ban on lobbyists in the administration and transition.”

RIDER REJECTION URGED.  Hill.  “In a letter sent Tuesday to current House and Senate members, nine representative-elects said they did not want two riders that were part of last year’s spending package to be included in appropriations legislation for fiscal 2017.”

READY FOR….  Hill.  “Three new political committees have formed in the last month urging first lady Michelle Obama to run for president in 2020.”

MAYER ON “DARK MONEY.”  NPR.  “New Yorker magazine reporter Jane Mayer discusses the political influence of billionaires like the Koch brothers.”

BEFORE PANEL.  Politico.  “In mid-August 2015, Stutzman, his wife, and children visited Los Angeles. Stutzman met with and called potential supporters over two days, but billed his Senate campaign for the full costs from the trip, a potential violation of House rules and federal campaign law, according to OCE. Candidates are not allowed to use campaign funds to pay for personal expenses.”

IL:  CITY RULES MAY NOT APPLY.  JO.  “The further restriction of who can make political donations to city of Des Plaines candidates running for election and the amount of those contributions were approved by aldermen last week. But whether the new requirements will apply to candidates running for office in next April’s election is unclear.

NY:  PACKAGE PRESENTED.  GG.  “The City Council heard testimony Monday on a broad package of bills that would prevent conflicts of interest between elected officials and political nonprofits, limit the electoral influence of those who do business with the city, and make it easier for first-time candidates to navigate the city’s campaign finance system.”

PA:  JUDGES AND CONTRIBUTIONS. LI.  “On Nov. 4, Pennsylvania’s Judicial Conduct Board (JCB) issued guidance to the state’s judges and justices on the ethics of dealing with campaign donors in the courtroom, specifically on when a judge should be disqualified or recuse herself because of a campaign contribution from a litigant, lawyer or law firm before her.”


Plea, recount, government employees giving and more political law links

GUILTY PLEA.  PH.  “According to federal prosecutors, [Michael] Liberty orchestrated a ‘conduit contribution scheme’ in which he convinced employees, associates and family members to each contribute $2,500 to a presidential primary campaign. Liberty then reimbursed those nine individuals a total of $22,500, violating federal laws against such pass-through donations.”

FOLLOW THE RECOUNT MONEY.  “Where will all of that money go, though, and how is she allowed to spend it? It turns out attorneys could get almost half of the money raised so far.”

LAST WEEK AT THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION.  FEC.  “The complaint alleged that the DNC hired [Cindy] Nava, a foreign national, as an intern who took part in the DNC’s decision-making or management processes and who thus apparently made a prohibited foreign national contribution to the DNC.  DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the DNC or Nava violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act) because (1) the available information did not indicate that Nava participated in the decision-making or management processes of the DNC and (2) it does not appear that Nava made a contribution to the DNC in the form of services she provided while working there as an intern.”

ALTHOUSE ON FIRST AMENDMENT.  AltH.  “If Trump’s enthusiasm for punishing flag-burning arises out of vengeance toward his political antagonists, it only makes it worse.”

WHO ARE GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES GIVING TO?  HA.  “How is it that the federal employees working at these agencies are so overwhelmingly Democratic when it comes to political contributions?”

CT:  COMMISSION MUM.  NB.  “The Ethics Commission met for almost three hours behind closed doors Monday to discuss three complaints filed last month after disclosure of the Connecticut Municipal Energy Cooperative’s lavish annual trips to the Kentucky Derby, which included municipal officials such as Mayor Deb Hinchey and Norwich Public Utilities General Manager John Bilda.”

MA:  ETHICS LAW REVIEW.  ML.  “A new task force will be formed to review Massachusetts’ ethics laws governing public employees under a law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker last week.”

MT:  COMPLAINT FILED.  BDC.  “Most details of ethics complaints are confidential under Montana law, but the commissioner of political practices who processes ethics complaints told the Chronicle on Monday the complaint filed Nov. 2 was against Public Service Commissioner Brad Johnson of East Helena.”

SC:  AUDITS WOULD BE PEACHY.  TS.  “For all of the Senate’s resistance to letting the State Ethics Commission investigate legislators and making those investigations public — both changes are set to begin next year — the Senate Ethics Committee has developed an impressive track record of spotting and prosecuting campaign-finance violations.”

WA:  GEMS IN FAILURE.  ST.  “Washington voters were wise to reject Initiative 1464, a flawed approach to reforming state campaign-finance laws. But the initiative contained some smart reforms that should be reconsidered when the Legislature convenes in January.”

WI:  IT’S COMPLICATED.  ESQ.  “Dark money helping to guarantee that majority’s permanent survival. And, eventually, an opposition party giving into the futility of it all. That’s how Wisconsin got the way it is.”

CAN:  CAP CUT.  GM.  “Alberta has introduced dramatic cuts to the amount of cash individuals can donate to political parties and candidates and limits to how much each party can spend during an election, arguing the changes are necessary to limit influence from the affluent.”