Monday, February 28, 2011

Will California Governor Jerry Brown cut funding for redevelopment agencies?

Jessica Levinson was quoted in this story about the future of development agencies. 
Here is an excerpt: 
Jessica Levinson ... said Proposition 22 is one of the most complicated ballot measures she’s ever seen. And she said it hasn’t been tested in court.
“I do think it’s likely that, if local mayors think there is a chance, then they’ll spend the money to wage that battle,” she said.
Levinson said the non-partisan Legislative Analysts Office believes Brown’s proposal is sound and that redevelopment agencies are not always as profitable for cities as they claim to be. But the San Diego Mayor’s office said redevelopment has worked here and that the city is used as a model for others. And they want to keep it that way.  

KPBS has this report.

Do our nation's campaign finance laws need a drastic overhaul?

Bradley Blakeman writing for FoxNews says yes

"Even though U.S. corporations and unions under current law cannot contribute directly to campaigns or candidates, there are ways for outsiders to influence outcomes of elections that are disturbing and fundamentally unfair." 

How easy should it be to amend a state constitution?

"Colorado's constitution is a blueprint for the administration of public affairs through the ages, a document that spells out how its citizens want to be governed.
Obviously, it is not written in stone and changes are necessary over time. But it shouldn't be quite as easy to change as it is."

The Denver Post has this opinion piece. 

"K St. holding cards on 2012 primary"

"Many K Street insiders are close to several of the likely presidential contenders and are waiting to see who will officially jump into the race before showing their cards."

The Hill has more here

Which county ranks 5th in lobbying the federal government?

Answer: Riverside County.

"Some critics argue that taxpayer dollars would be better spent providing county services instead of lobbying the federal government, but officials insist that investing in lobbying pays big dividends."

The Desert Sun has this report.

Google, Facebook, Yahoo and others rely on D.C. lobbyists

"Apple hired its first outside lobbyist more than a decade ago; Google brought on its first K Street firm in 2003; biotechnology company Genentech and softwaremaker Oracle have spent millions on lobbyists for more than a decade."

Amanda Becker of WaPo has more here

Is public campaign financing coming to New York?

"Backers of public financing argue that New York City's experience shows that candidates pay more attention to soliciting small donations when they're matched multiple times over, increasing public engagement with campaigns and lowering the likelihood that big donors will sway lawmakers."

Andrew Grossman, of the WSJ, has more here

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Should there be full disclosure of those who pay for political ads?

"Independent political groups, especially those backing conservatives, say federal disclosure law doesn't apply to them. The FEC is at an impasse: Democrats want full disclosure of who's paying for political ads; Republicans say they favor a hands-off approach."

David Savage of the LAT has more here.

Justice Thomas speaks

"Delivering the keynote speech at an annual symposium for conservative law students, Thomas spoke in vague, but ominous, terms about the direction of the country and urged his listeners to 'redouble your efforts to learn about our country so that you’re in a position to defend it.'”
Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico has this report
Jessica Levinson has this piece in the Huffington Post about Justice Thomas and the ethical questions he is currently facing.

Are the Koch brothers an anti-union force to be reckoned with?

"The billionaire Koch brothers -- whose deep pockets and small-government philosophy have made them conservative powerhouses -- are playing an influential role in the drive to strip public employee unions of their rights to bargain in several U.S. states."

Andrew Stern of Reuters has more here

Who will be the tea party darling in 2012?

"Presidential hopefuls testing the waters at a tea party convention Saturday said the grass-roots movement will play a key role in 2012 elections."

Roll Call has more here.

How does Congress make a budget without earmarks?

"The fact that Congress remains a spending disagreement or two away from shutting down the government no doubt strikes some as remarkable. But there is another extraordinary aspect to the fiscal clash unfolding on Capitol Hill: earmarks have disappeared from the budgetary landscape."

Carl Hulse of the NYT has more here

Does disclosure of campaign donors chill speech?

The Walla Walla Union Bulletin says no.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mike Huckabee on Wisconsin Democratic Senators

Click here for the video of Huckabee's appearance on Fox & Friends.

Should AWOL Dem Senators in Wisconsin be recalled?

"An effort to recall state Sen. Dave Hansen kicked off Saturday with hundreds of supporters and opponents gathering on the far northwest side of Green Bay.
Hansen, assistant minority leader from Green Bay, is one of 14 Democratic senators who left the state on Feb. 17 to block a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill that would, among other things, discontinue collective bargaining for public-sector employees."

USA Today has this report.

A new constitution for Kenya?

"Kenya's non-reformist political class will be the biggest obstacle to the implementation of the new Constitution. Despite passing many land mark Bills, the Tenth Parliament has also been retrogressive due to intense ethnic rivalry and the unfortunate concentration of political power in the hands of former Kanu politicians. These politicians have always resisted reform having benefited from the corruption and dictatorship."

Click here for more.

Are political reforms coming to Jordan?

"Some 5,000 activists from diverse political backgrounds marched in downtown Amman and other cities in the Kingdom on Friday, calling for greater political freedom and economic reform."

The Jordan Times has this report

News from Virginia: Tea Party calls for redistricting of Dare County

"With the release of 2010 census data just around the corner, a small group of like-minded residents is urging the Dare County Board of Commissioners to alter the county's method of translating population into representation."

The Virginian Pilot has more here.

"Millions spent on tanker lobbying"

"For a decade, the world’s two largest aerospace companies fought a bitter battle to build the next fleet of Air Force refueling tankers, a fight that’s likely to continue at least at the political level even after Thursday’s announcement that Boeing bested EADS for the $35 billion contract."

Politico has this report

Ala. Gov raises $1.62 for inauguration foundation

"Alabama corporations, business lobbying groups and law firms that contract with the state government contributed almost all of the $1.62 million for Gov. Robert Bentley's inauguration foundation, which is donating its leftover money to the state government."

CNBC has more here.

Oklahoma lawmaker tries to keep public financing proposal alive

"A lawmaker said Friday he will petition a House committee chairman to hear his bill that would establish a voluntary program that would provide grants to legislative candidates."

Click here for more from NewsOK.

WI Rep. Cory Mason got funds from Koch and gave them back

"The famous Koch brothers, who donated to Gov. Scott Walker's campaign and are connected to the tea party, also tried to contribute to state Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine. But Mason returned it."

The Journal Times has more here.


Conservative Canadians commit campaign finance violations?

"In an embarrassing development for the Conservative government, four senior party officials have been charged with violating financing rules during the election campaign that brought it to power in 2006."

Reuters has more here

How much did Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, spend on his campaign?

Answer: about $11 million.

The Chicago Tribune has more here

The downfall of a California potato king?

"Last week, Larry Minor, whose Agri-Empire business is one of the nation's largest potato growers, was indicted in a California court on charges of funneling $66,000 in campaign contributions through his family and employees to two candidates for the state legislature, evading the state's contribution limit of $3,900."

T.W. Farnam of WaPo has this report

And for more on the potato king's legal troubles, see Jessica Levinson's piece on here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Mitt Romney donates to Wisconsin Republican Party as budget battle rages"

"Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a likely 2012 GOP presidential candidate, announced Thursday that his political action committee has donated $5,000 to the Wisconsin Republican Party as a sign of support for Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the state's ongoing budget fight. "

The Hill has this report

News from Chicago: "Will County faces redistricting"

"The Will County Board is about to tackle a process that will determine how many members are on the board and how new districts will be drawn."

The Chicago Sun Times has more here

"White House meets lobbyists off campus"

"Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident." 

Chris Frates, as Politico, has this report

More news from Wisconsin: "State Senate Fails to Pass Voter ID Bill"

"The gambit failed, for now. The Republican-only state Senate adjourned for the day -- after a 40-minute session -- without passing the voter ID bill."

Slate has this report

"Ind. man: Census data supports redistricting suit"

"Jeffersonville could face a special primary election if a judge agrees that people who live in neighborhoods recently annexed by the southern Indiana city are being disenfranchised by the city council's redistricting plan."

The AP (via the Chicago Tribune) has more here

"NY Senate clashes over Cuomo's major reform idea"

" New York's contentious Senate is now fighting over Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal to take partisan politics out of the critical redistricting process."

The AP (via the WSJ) has more here

News from Minnesota: "State ethics watchdog hearing from angry voters"

"So many complaints, in fact, that Kevin J. Kennedy, director and general counsel of the Government Accountability Board, put out a statement Thursday saying his agency is already monitoring the state budget battle in the Legislature."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has more here

"Florida Senate Pres. Mike Haridopolos (R) will get a letter of admonition for the state Senate Rules Committee"

"The GOP-dominated panel deliberated for about 10 minutes today before making their unanimous decision. Rules Committee Chair John Thrasher (R) is close with Haridopolos and had already endorsed his campaign for Senate, as had another committee member, Sen. Anitere Flores (R). When asked whether his voting on the matter represented a conflict of interest, Thrasher said, 'Hell, no.' Flores also said she felt there was no conflict."

Julie Sobel of the National Journal has more here

News from Utah and beyond: "Jon Huntsman's risky campaign-in-waiting"

"When Horizon PAC’s new website launched with a big red “H” in the middle of its homepage earlier this month, everyone was in on the joke. This is, as a PAC staffer e-mailed reporters, the 'campaign-in-waiting' for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who recently resigned as American ambassador to China.
The PAC’s launch, though, has sent Huntsman’s presidential prospects into a politically bizarre and legally tricky two-month limbo."
Ben Smith and Alexander Burns of Politico have more here

"Utah Republicans ponder Matheson's fate"

"Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson is a political survivor of the first sort, holding down a very conservative Utah House district for the past decade. 
But Republicans think Matheson will face his toughest opponent ever: redistricting."

Aaron Blake of WaPo has this report

"Watchdog calls for criminal probe of Governor Walker over prank Koch call"

"A Washington-based campaign finance watchdog group is calling on Wisconsin prosecutors to launch an investigation of Governor Scott Walker, alleging potentially illegal fundraising activity in an exchange with the prankster who posed as billionaire David Koch, the group says."

Greg Sargent, of WaPo, has more here

"Is Anyone Watching?"

"Two years ago, the Supreme Court looked over a cliff and decided not to jump. The question was whether a core section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as renewed by Congress in 2006 for another 25 years, was constitutional. A majority opinion by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. strongly suggested that it wasn’t."

Linda Greenhoues, of the NYT, has more here

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"Obama team defends lobbyist meetings -- and their location"

"The Obama administration is defending itself against talk that aides meet with lobbyists beyond the White House gates in order to avoid public disclosure." 

USA Today has this report

News from the UK: "Coalition urged to act over lobbyists who use party groups 'to buy influence'"

"Corporations and interest groups have channelled more than £1.6m to MPs and lords in the past year through sponsorship of parliamentary groups, a Guardian investigation can reveal."

The Guardian has more here.

"Conviction Appealed in Lobbying Case"

"A man who did public relations work for the lobbyist Jack Abramoff is appealing his prison sentence because he believes a Supreme Court ruling ought to cut the penalty."

The AP (via the NYT) has this report.

"Working the war chest" Campaigns need expiration date'

"A candidate’s character, experience and message are all part of the formula for success, but always, money is a key ingredient. Cash is sought, amassed, parceled out, lavished and otherwise sent through the tried-and-true machinery that helps mold a victory."

The Worcester Telegram has more here

"What do Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio and California have in common? Public employee pension problems, minus the rancor"

"In California the Legislative Analyst Office pegs the estimated medium-term unfunded liabilities for government employee pensions at $136 billion—in the next 10 years taxpayers will be on the hook for somewhere between $325 - $500 billion to fill shortfalls in all pension funds."

KPCC has this report

"Egypt: How a Lack of Political Reform Undermined Economic Reform"

"Among the supreme ironies of the legacy of U.S. policy in Egypt is that the economic reforms Washington invested in for decades are at risk of unraveling due to the lack of serious political reforms."

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has more here

"Reid urges end to term limits"

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday called on Nevada lawmakers to abolish term limits for elected officials, which would require going against the wishes of voters who approved the restrictions in 1994 and 1996."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has more here

"Wisconsin Gov. Walker's punk'd phone call is a viral hit"

"Really? A 20- to 25-minute conversation and he didn’t know he was being punk’d? The tale of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s bogus phone conversation with a guy he thought was multi-billionaire conservative tycoon David H. Koch is making serious waves."

The Minnesota Post has more here

News from South Carolina: "Proposal would close loophole in campaign finance law"

"A bill intended to close a loophole in state campaign finance laws, created by a federal court decision last year, has been introduced in the S.C. Senate.
The bill would rewrite state campaign finance laws to once again impose limits on contributions to political action committees, education groups and other third-party groups. In September, a judge ruled that state law, requiring any group spending at least $500 influence an election must register with the state, violated the U.S. Constitution." 

The State has more here

"Did Gov. Scott Walker Break the Law During Prank Call?"

"Did Wisconsin Scott Walker break the law during his phone conversation with a prank caller posing as right-wing billionaire David Koch?"

Mother Jones poses that question.

News from Georgia: "Complaint alleging Casey Cagle affair headed for dismissal"

"The state ethics commission appears ready to dismiss the complaint lodged last October against Casey Cagle that accused the Republican lieutenant governor of having an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer and overpaying her with campaign funds."

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has this report.

News from California: "New state ethics watchdog may seek end to posting allegations of wrongdoing"

"The new chief of the state's campaign finance watchdog agency said she may try to keep complaints of wrongdoing against public officials off the Web until they have been substantiated."

Patrick McGreevy of the LAT has more here

"Hosni Mubarak party in tatters as Egypt prepares for new elections"

"Hosni Mubarak's fall from power has precipitated large scale changes in Egypt's political landscape."

WaPo has more here

"New Push to Change Presidential Elections"

"All right, to Cleveland, Ohio -- President Obama making his 13th stop to the state in almost as many months, nothing new for a president facing another run for office, but, if my guest is right, not fair either to the other two-thirds of the states he says are essentially ignored in presidential races.
Former Republican gubernatorial candidate of New York Tom Golisano is looking to wipe out the Electoral College, so there is no need for these sort of favoritism trips.
He just became spokesman of the National Popular Vote Campaign, making that announcement today."

Click here for more from Fox News (including a video from "Your World" with Neil Cavuto)

"Lawmakers disagree over La. court redistricting"

"When lawmakers gather next month to redraw state political district lines, maps for the Louisiana Supreme Court and state appeals courts may be left on the cutting room floor."

Town Talk has more here

"Ladies and gentlemen, start your Congressional and legislative redistricting engines"

"Now that the U.S. Census figures for Washington are out, state and local redistricting commissions will get busy drawing new lines for Congressional, legislative and other election districts."

The News Tribune has more here

"Confessions of an Ex-Qaddafi Lobbyist"

"As was the case with the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, it's also spotlighted the American lobbyists who have been paid handsomely to burnish the regime's image and represent its interests in Washington."

Mother Jones has this report. 

"Ethics bill takes aim at double-dipping in Texas"

"A top Texas Republican leader proposed ethics legislation Tuesday that would require more disclosure of campaign transactions and potential conflicts of interest between lawmakers and lobbyists, taking aim at double-dipping spending practices by lawmakers that have led to a criminal investigation."

The AP (via the Houston Chronicle) has more here

"For-profit education shorts: 0, Lobbyists: 1"

Here is an excerpt:

"It's a clear case of what corporate lobbyists can achieve if they go unchecked," said Lindsay McCluskey, president of the United States Students Association, which is lobbying for the tougher rules. "Hopefully we can fight this in the Senate, but this is a David and Goliath dynamic for students." 

CNN Money has more here

"Koch's Seven Wisconsin Lobbyists"

The article discusses the " Democratic outrage over the influence of Koch Industries in Wisconsin, which broke out on the Assembly floor yesterday as it's broken out in the halls of the Capitol."

Slate has more here

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

News from Missouri: " Legislators propose tightening process for ballot initiatives"

"But some lawmakers want to make it much more difficult -- and costlier -- for groups to get propositions on the ballot. A Republican state representative and a Democratic state senator, for instance, introduced constitutional amendments forcing groups to gather a certain amount of signatures in all of Missouri's congressional districts, as opposed to only two-thirds."

The St. Louis Beacon has more here

"Among Libya's lobbyists"

"Several consulting, law and lobbying firms have moved in to advise the Libyan government and energy interests since U.S. sanctions were lifted on Libya in 2004, some of which have since canceled their contracts, according to Justice Department records."

Laura Rozen, of Politico, has more here

"Tea Party sentiment fails to stop initiative changes"

"Though the power of the Tea Party weighed on the minds of some Republican legislators today, it was not strong enough to stop the passage of a resolution that would make it more difficult for people to amend the constitution through the ballot amendment process."

The Colorado Independent has more here

"NY suburb appealing federal voting-rights ruling"

"A village outside New York City has decided to appeal a federal court ruling that led to an unusual voting system and the election of its first Hispanic trustee."

The AP (via WSJ) has more here

"Why the Other Members of the SCOTUS Should Follow Justice Clarence Thomas' Lead (Sort of... )"

"Dear Justice Thomas, I'm afraid you might be disproving the saying that 'there is no such thing as bad publicity.' Let's face it, Mr. Justice, there is such a thing, and wow have you been getting a lot of it."

Jessica Levinson has this post in the HuffPost. 

"Professors ask Congress for an ethics code for Supreme Court"

"A group of more than a hundred law professors from around the country has asked Congress to extend an ethical code of conduct to the Supreme Court for the first time and clarify when individual justices should step away from specific legal cases."

R. Jeffrey Smith of WaPo has more here

"Senate Dems launch 'super PAC'"

"Top Democratic operatives are quietly building an aggressive campaign machine to battle huge Republican third-party spending and sway critical Senate races in 2012."

Politico has more here

DOJ Statement on Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

"Much of the legal landscape has changed in the 15 years since Congress passed DOMA.   The Supreme Court has ruled that laws criminalizing homosexual conduct are unconstitutional.  Congress has repealed the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.   Several lower courts have ruled DOMA itself to be unconstitutional.   Section 3 of DOMA will continue to remain in effect unless Congress repeals it or there is a final judicial finding that strikes it down, and the President has informed me that the Executive Branch will continue to enforce the law.   But while both the wisdom and the legality of Section 3 of DOMA will continue to be the subject of both extensive litigation and public debate, this Administration will no longer assert its constitutionality in court."

Click here for a press release from the DOJ. 

"As GOP slashes budget, lawmakers who built careers on earmarks must re-brand"

"Lawmakers have long seen themselves in part as human funnels whose primary job is to bring home federal money. Now, the GOP wants its members to define themselves by what they can reduce, defund or terminate."

The WaPo has more here

"Livingston Group Lobbied for Libya, Qaddafi Charity"

"The Livingston Group, one of the main lobbying firms working on behalf of Egypt and former President Hosni Mubarak, also was paid $2.5 million in 2008 and 2009 to influence Washington on behalf of the government of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi and a charity run by his son Saif Al Islam Al Qaddafi."

Susan Crabtree, of TPM, has this report

"M.P.A.A. and Christopher Dodd Said to Be Near Deal"

"Hollywood is a whisker away from naming Christopher J. Dodd as its new chief lobbyist."

The NYT has more here

"2012 Ad Blitz for Obama Planned"

"Top Democratic Party backers are in discussions about how to fund a television-advertising blitz in support of President Barack Obama's re-election bid. But already an internal debate has started about who should run the group and whether there should be just one organization."

The WSJ has this report

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Breaking news: Rahm Wins

Chicago has a new mayor, and it is former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

Click on the following news outlets for more: The Atlantic, CNN, and AP.

"Walmart to use ballot initiative to try to expand Milpitas store"

"Walmart will again try to expand its Milpitas store by nearly 18,460 square feet to allow liquor sales, groceries and 24-hour operation, according to documents filed today.
Walmart filed its intent to hold a 180-day signature-gathering campaign today to bring about a ballot initiative for special election this fall, countering Milpitas City Council's rejection of the same project last year."

Ian Bauer, at the Mercury News, has more here

"San Francisco May Vote on Circumcision Ban"

Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, someone is using the initiative process to try to ban circumcision.

Click here for more.

"What Wisconsin's Turmoil Means for California"

"As Wisconsin's state capital erupts in protest over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's plan to end collective bargaining rights for government workers, trade unionists in California thank their lucky stars for Jerry Brown's victory over former eBay CEO Meg Whitman."

The Bay Citizen has more here

"Philip Morris gearing up for June fight over cigarette tax"

"Tobacco giant Phillip Morris USA is gearing up for a potential June ballot measure fight over cigarette taxes, reporting more than $128,000 in contributions to a new campaign account this month."

Torey Van Oot, of the Sacramento Bee, has more here

"Target's turnaround"

"Target has adopted new guidelines for donations to trade associations that prohibit the use of the company's contributions in political campaigns. The decision is a victory for gay rights activists, who objected to the retailer's donation to a group that supported a candidate opposed to same-sex marriage. But Target's turnaround has a wider importance. It shows that consumers and activists can hold corporations accountable for their political participation."

The LAT has this editorial.

"Jerry Brown taps two for state campaign finance watchdog agency"

Jessica Levinson quoted in this story in the LAT.

Here are some excerpts:

Ravel is the former county counsel for Santa Clara County, a job that included advising elected officials on state political conduct rules, noted Jessica Levinson. 
"It seems like he [Brown] appointed someone who has a lot of applicable experience," Levinson said. "She seems to have a deep understanding of the Political Reform Act, which is what she will be working with."
Eskovitz, 40, is a Republican and replaces Schwarzenegger appointee Timothy A. Hodson, a Democrat.
The new commissioner is a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. He served as an assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1999 to 2003, where he prosecuted cases involving financial and bank fraud, money-laundering and public corruption.
"You can’t get someone with a more sterling pedigree," Levinson said.

Should Rep. Jane Harman pay for the special election to replace her?

"Her departure only two months into her new term has some activists suggesting the wealthy Democrat should cover the cost of the special election to fill her seat."

The Hill has this report

Will Rahm Emanuel be Chicago's next mayor?

"The frontrunner to succeed retiring Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Emanuel endured jeers for his advice to U.S. presidents, sat through hours of cross-examination from lawyers and residents over his Chicago bona fides, and had at least one egg thrown at him."

Bloomberg has this report

The Supreme Court lets Washington's disclosure laws stand

"The court on Tuesday let stand without comment a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the state's disclosure requirements. Human Life of Washington challenged the requirements as a violation of the First Amendment. The group didn't want to reveal its donors in a 2008 campaign opposing an assisted suicide ballot measure."

The AP has more here

"Ex-lawmakers find jobs at firms seeking to shape policy"

"The tough job market doesn't seem to be hurting many former members of Congress. Less than three months after leaving Capitol Hill, a dozen have found work so far with groups that seek to influence their former colleagues, despite rules that impose restrictions on lobbying once they leave office."

USA Today has this report.

"Obama tech dinner: Company spending figures for D.C. lobbying, campaign contributions"

"According to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and noted by the Sunlight Foundation, 6 of the 11 companies represented by their respective CEOs on Thursday night spent millions of dollars last year lobbying federal lawmakers in Washington D.C. through employees and political action committees.
And 10 of the 11 companies and their employees contributed financially to Obama's 2008 campaign for President."

The LAT has this report.

"The industry of influence: Lobbyists may be big players at Nevada Legislature"

"They are an army on a mission with countless boots on the ground at the Nevada Legislature.
So far, the 2011 session has more than 600 registered lobbyists, paid and unpaid. As the session heats up, that number is expected to grow to about 900.
That would be 14 lobbyists for each legislator. Currently, the ratio is 10 to 1."

The Reno Gazette-Journal has more here

"Tampa reflects growing trend: self-financed candidates"

"Amid the dozens of people running for Tampa City Council this year, many have turned for funding to their most reliable source: themselves."

The Tampa Tribune has this report.

"Hoboken City Council parses out Zimmer's ethics and campaign finance reform package"

"Change has come to the city of Hoboken's pay-to-play ordinance, but not the way Mayor Dawn Zimmer and her allies on the City Council hoped it would unfold."

The Jersey Journal has this report

"Why D.C.'s Office of Campaign Finance needs a major overhaul"

"It's clear there needs to be a major overhaul of this office. Mayor Gray could start by bringing much-needed bipartisan balance to the Board of Elections and Ethics, which oversees the office, and by appointing a Republican, as required by law. And council Chairman Brown, who has made ethics reform a priority, should make clear that government offices are not the place for political parties, whatever their affiliation, to do their business."

WaPo has this editorial.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Measure O would allow L.A. to impose oil drilling extraction tax"

Jessica Levinson quoted in this article by Kevin Modesti about Measure O, a measure on the March 8th Los Angeles ballot.

Here is an excerpt:

The oil industry's unpopularity will indeed help Measure O, said Jessica Levinson...

"The more proponents use the phrases `oil companies' and `high profits,' the better they're going to do," Levinson said. "The way to make an initiative a winner is to say you want to stick it to oil companies, politicians or lobbyists."

Levinson added: "I would say, yes, they are targeting an unpopular group. But that, in and of itself, doesn't make it improper."

The oil-tax proposal is one of two measures on the March ballot that aim to raise revenue for the city. The other, Measure M, would impose a 5 percent tax on the gross receipts of medical-marijuana dispensaries. Measure M opponents say it's illegal to tax medicine and nonprofit organizations.

In the case of oil extraction, Levinson said, most voters are likely to conclude it's fair for Los Angeles to impose the same kind of tax that neighboring cities have.

"It's just a question of what the (amount) should be," she said.

"Maxed out on your campaign contributions? No problem, sort of, most of the time."

Jessica Levinson wrote this piece for

"New RNC Chairman Raises $3.5 Million in First Two Weeks on Job"

"Reince Priebus said Sunday he has been working with donors since his Jan. 14 election to repair relationships that fell apart under his predecessor, Michael Steele."

Fox News has this report.

Colorado to change its constitution?

"With the current rules, Colorado is one of the easiest states in the country to change its constitution. Colorado's state constitution has changed 81 times in the last 44 years; however, lawmakers are making another push to changes that."

Click here for more. 

A Los Angeles City Council Race Heats Up

" Huizar bringing up a 2005 LAPD investigation into Martinez's unauthorized possession of a police badge; Martinez airing an e-mail sent by a Huizar campaign aide that promised supporters he would put a 'political bullet' in the challenger's forehead."

The LAT has this report.

Who is donating to Rahm Emanuel's mayoral campaign?

"But it may be more telling that less than half of the almost $12 million accepted by the Chicago for Rahm Emanuel committee has come from Chicago and almost 30 percent of that total originated out of state, according to the Chicago News Cooperative’s analysis of state campaign-finance disclosure records."

Chicago News Cooperative has this report.

"New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu building up campaign chest"

"After cementing one of the most decisive political victories in recent memory, Mayor Mitch Landrieu last year collected more than $250,000 for his campaign fund from a who's who of local industry and political power brokers, records filed with the state his week show."

Click here for more. 

"The justices' junkets"

"Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have been in the news lately for attending events sponsored by conservative interest groups. But they are not the only members of the high court who routinely enjoy all-expenses-paid excursions funded by third parties, including some that may be considered controversial."

You can find an editorial from the WaPo here

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rep. Michele Bachmann calls the tax code "a weapon of mass destruction"

"Bachmann said the current U.S. tax code should be scrapped, calling it 'a weapon of mass destruction” that destroys America's work ethic: 'We need a radically different system.'"

The Spartanburg Herald-Journal has this report

What do Clarence Thomas' problems have to do with the rest of the Supreme Court justices?

"It would be comforting to think that Thomas' shady behavior was an anomaly, but it's actually just the most egregious example of trends that have made Supreme Court justices seem more like hypocritical and partisan politicians than disinterested jurists. If left unchecked, the court will seriously damage its public image.
The problem has two roots: changing social norms and lax ethical rules governing the Supremes. The former is beyond the scope of our government but the latter isn't, and Congress should act."

Bed Adler, writing in Salon, has more here.

"Janice Hahn Invites Debra Bowen To Take Pro-Israel Pledge"

"In the first broadside of the South Bay's hot new congressional race, L.A. Councilwoman Janice Hahn today invited her top opponent, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, to take a pledge of support for Israel."

LA weekly has this story.

"City Council candidate turns to appeals court in bid to requalify for ballot"

"Citing 'an extreme need for preventative action,' the attorney for City Council candidate Michael Fletcher on Saturday asked a Missouri appeals court to requalify Fletcher for Tuesday’s election.
In the appeal, Fletcher’s legal team contends Jackson County Judge Ann Mesle erred Friday when she disqualified the 3rd District candidate for failing to meet residency requirements contained in Missouri law and the city’s charter."

The Kansas City Star has this report.

GOP gets control of La. state Senate for first time since reconstruction?

If unofficial returns are correct, the answer is "yes."

The AP has this report.

Does the NRSC want Sen. John Ensign to bow out of a re-election bid?

The National Republican Senatorial Committee and some lobbyists may not be too keen on another Ensign term.

"Sen. John Ensign has yet another matter to add to his growing list of re-election problems. In addition to a Senate ethics probe and lagging poll numbers, a once-reliable base of support — D.C. lobbyists — has quietly started pushing party leaders to get the Senator to exit the race altogether."

Roll Call has this report.

Do you think Uganda's election results were fair?

"Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, won election to a fourth term in office by a huge margin on Sunday but the opposition said they rejected the result."

Reuters has more here.

How strange is Rahm Emanuel's campaign for mayor of Chicago?

How strange is the campaign that has seen Rahm Emanuel kicked off and then put back on the ballot?

Perhaps stranger things have happened in Chicago.

The Chicago Tribune has this report.

Is Rep. Gregory Meeks' campaign slogan, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?"

"...Meeks spent more than $8,000 late last year on hotels and food in Sin City — plus another $17,000 on fund-raising 'consultants' — but didn’t report taking in a single penny.
Worse still, he isn’t very forthcoming about the trips on his official financial-disclosure forms."

The NY Post has more here

Will North Dakota lawmakers have to disclose lobbyist-funded trips?

Short answer: Not right now.

"North Dakota's Senate on Thursday defeated a bill to require lawmakers to disclose any trips they take that are financed by lobbyists or outside groups, deciding instead to support a broader study of the state's disclosure laws for public officials.
Senators unanimously approved legislation to authorize the study, while voting down the trip-disclosure bill and two other measures on voter eligibility and reporting of campaign contributions and expenses."

The Crookston Times has more here.

South Carolina owed millions in ethics fines and late penalties

"A large group of current and former lobbyists, political candidates, university and elected officials owe the state more than $6 million in unpaid ethics fines and late penalties — an increase of about $4 million since 2009."

The Spartan Herald Journal has more here.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Several big donors to Hillary Clinton now facing criminal allegations"

"The indictment of a top Northern Virginia fundraiser last week marks the latest in a series of criminal cases that have ensnared campaign donors to Hillary Rodham Clinton, who relied heavily on wealthy bundlers in her failed 2008 bid for the presidency.
Federal grand jury indictments handed up in Alexandria allege that Galen Capital Group Chairman William P. Danielczyk Jr. and his treasurer illegally reimbursed nearly $190,000 in donations to Clinton's 2008 and 2006 campaigns, sometimes with corporate funds. "

The WaPo has more here

"Uganda Carries Out Its Elections in Largely Peaceful Fashion"

"The ballot looked like a rebus puzzle, with pictures of a bicycle, a boom box, a key, a soccer ball, a yellow rose, a giraffe, a hoe — all colorful symbols for Uganda’s various political parties. Moses Kibwami, a carpenter and the father of 12, stood there in his swamp boots on Friday morning, cast a quick look over them and then stamped his thumb onto the paper."

The NYT has this report.

"Lobbyists Retool to Win Money in No-Spend Era"

"The call to slash federal spending creates a new world for lobbyists, who've begun retooling strategies to win prizes for clients."

Anne Mulkern, writing for the NYT, has more here.

NJ Gov. Christie calls NJ's legislative maps unconstitutional

"'The map that was passed 10 years ago was unfair and unconstitutional,' Christie said."

Ginger Gibson, writing for the Star-Ledger, has more here

New York to create an independent redistricting commission?

"Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo introduced legislation on Thursday to create an independent commission to redraw the boundaries for Congressional and state legislative districts, promising to end the longstanding Albany practice of protecting incumbent lawmakers through creatively drawn districts."

Thomas Kaplan, writing for the NYT, has more here.

How much did the DNC raise in January?

Answer: $7.2 million.

Click here for more.  

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker got large campaign donations from Tea Party supporters, David and Charles Koch

"The Wisconsin governor who sparked a massive uprising by going after public workers gobbled up big bucks from a Manhattan moneyman who got the Tea Party percolating.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker's campaign got a $43,000 campaign contribution last year from a political action committee controlled by brothers David and Charles Koch, several news outlets reported, citing Wisconsin campaign finance filings."

Cory Siemaszko, writing for the NY Daily News, has more here.

RNC wants its wealthy donors back

"Some wealthy donors who deserted the Republican National Committee during Michael Steele's two-year reign as chairman are writing checks again as the party, with new Chairman Reince Priebus, embarks on a campaign to unseat President Barack Obama."

Patrick O'Connor, writing for the WSJ, has more here.

A federal judge finds Maine's campaign disclosure system constitutional

"The challenge was brought by the National Organization for Marriage, which spent $1.9 million dollars in a successful campaign to overturn Maine's same-sex marriage law in 2009. The Ethics Commission had determined that NOM was required to disclose the identities of its donors, but the group refused, and filed suit on grounds that Maine's requirements were unconstitutional on a number of fronts."

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network has this report.

Vermont to decrease large donations and increase disclosure?

"The legislation, Senate Bill No. 20, comprehensively revises Vermont's campaign finance laws. The measure states large campaign contributions reduce public confidence in the electoral process and increase the risk and appearance candidates will not act in the best interests of all Vermonters."

Chris Garolofolo, writing for the Brattleboro Reformer has more here

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Donald Trump gives campaign cash to both parties"

"Donald Trump says he is a Republican and believes in GOP principles such as fiscal restraint and a strong national defense. His checkbook tells a different, bipartisan story."

Catalina Camia at USA Today has more here

Will Britain establish "alternative voting?"

Click on the following news outlets for more. 

Financial Times, WSJ, BBC, and the Gaurdian

"Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker: Funded by the Koch Bros."

"Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker, whose bill to kill collective bargaining rightsfor public-sector unions has caused an uproar among state employees, might not be where he is today without the Koch brothers."

Click here for more from one view, click on this piece in Mother Jones by Andy Kroll.  

News from Maine: "GOP group fined $26K for campaign violations"

"The Maine Ethics Commission handed down the largest fine in the agency’s history Thursday against an out-of-state political action committee that spent nearly $400,000 on attack ads against five Democratic lawmakers last October."

The Bangor Daily News has more here

News from Wisconsin: "How about campaign finance reform instead of attrition on unions?"

"There is a likely undercurrent to why Gov. Scott Walker is tackling public unions – except politically valuable firefighters and cops – precisely as he is doing. This has to do with the unions’ alleged ability to buy politicians. According to the argument, Walker must somehow bypass the evil politicians in thrall to the unions at state and local levels because they are mere surrogates for the public employee unions, particularly WEAC.This, of course, neglects the effects of business-interest influence on elections." 

The Journal Sentinel has more here

"Judge expands access to Virginians' voting records"

"A Richmond judge has ruled that a state law restricting the release of information about Virginians' personal voting histories is unconstitutional."

The Virginian-Pilot has more here

"Ugandans vote after bitter presidential campaign"

"Ugandans are voting in an election that is widely expected to see President Yoweri Museveni win a fourth term.

The ruling party has been widely accused of paying people to support the president who has been in power for three decades."

Euronews has more here

"Administration Seeks Clarity From Judge on Health Ruling"

"The Obama administration asked a federal judge on Thursday to clarify whether his recent ruling against the new health care law was meant to block its implementation pending appeals."

The NYT has more here

"Lobbyists Ride Out Regime Change in Egypt"

"The government of Egypt has fallen, but its lobbyists in the U.S. soldier on.
K Street firms hired to lobby for the turbulent nation have remained active even after the collapse of the regime, due in part to their long-standing ties to the Egyptian military now running the country."

Roll Call has this report.

"The Thomas Issue"

"Last week, 74 Democrats in Congress cited the threat to the court’s authority when they asked Justice Thomas to recuse himself from an expected review of the health care reform law. This came after an announcement by his wife, Virginia, a lobbyist, who said she will provide 'advocacy and assistance' as 'an ambassador to the Tea Party movement,' which, of course, is dedicated to the overturning of the health care law."

You can find the NYT editorial here.

News from North Dakota--"Lawmakers defeat disclosure bill"

"North Dakota’s Senate on Thursday defeated a bill to require lawmakers to disclose any trips they take that are financed by lobbyists or outside groups, deciding instead to support a broader study of the state’s disclosure laws for public officials."

The Jamestown Sun has this report

"Religious groups come calling, lobbying at Capitol"

"A political sea change at the State Capitol has emboldened conservative religious groups, who believe they'll have the support to get on the 2012 ballot a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and woman. A bill to end taxpayer-funded abortions is also expected to get more traction now that Republicans control both houses of the Legislature."

The Star Tribune has more here

"2 Haiti presidential candidates start campaigns"

"The two candidates in Haiti's presidential runoff election launched their official campaigns Thursday, providing voters with a sharp contrast in tone and style.

Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old law professor and former first lady, sedately spoke to journalists on the grounds of an upscale hotel that was leveled in the capital's 2010 earthquake. She discussed her plans to improve education, contain cholera, and move hundreds of thousands of Haitians out of encampments where they have been living since the disaster.

Meanwhile, popular singer Michel 'Sweet Micky' Martelly, the longtime 'president of kompa' music and a pro-military populist, attracted thousands of supporters to the streets of Haiti's second largest city with a carnival-like atmosphere."

The AP (via the WaPo) has more here

Maine: "Clean Elections money not just for legislators"

"We would never accuse politicians of playing politics with election law, but excuse us if we are a little skeptical about the latest attempt to revise the Maine Clean Elections Act.

A proposed bill before the Legislature would repeal the law that provides public financing for candidates -- but not for everyone, just for people running for governor."

More from the Morning Sentinel here

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Proponents of D.C. voting rights visit House Speaker’s home"

"New Republican House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) got another welcome to Washington, D.C., this morning, though not one with the usual amenities. Protesters gathered at his apartment early Thursday to object to a GOP push to ban the city's needle exchange program, curtail abortion funding and weaken the city’s gun laws.

The protest, organized by the voting rights group DC Vote, reflects a new, more aggressive approach to objecting to congressional influence over the city. Last week, nearly a dozen demonstrators were thrown out of a House hearing on an abortion measure after staging a silent protest."

The Hill has more here.

Will the British adopt the "alternative vote?"

"The British Parliament, after a week or more of wrangling, voted Thursday to hold a referendum on replacing the U.K.'s first-past-the-post voting system with a new method known as the alternative vote, or AV. Under AV, voters will cast not one ballot, but several, in declining order of preference. As votes are tallied, the candidates with the fewest votes will be eliminated, and their supporters' second preferences counted toward the totals of the remaining candidates. This winnowing would go on until one candidate achieves more than 50% of the votes casts. The referendum is the result of a promise made to the Liberal Democrats in exchange for their participation in David Cameron's coalition government."

The WSJ has this report.

"Uganda: Tick Tock! Voting Starts in Hours"

"The much anticipated 2011 presidential poll is only hours away!"

All Africa has this report.

News from Chicago: "Early voting could reach 85,000 ballots"

"Nearly 60,000 Chicagoans have already cast early ballots in hotly contested city races, election officials said today.
By the time early voting ends today, the number could reach 85,000 ballots, nearly triple the early voting total from 2007 when Mayor Richard Daley cruised to victory."
The Chicago Tribune has this report.

"Senate approves photo ID requirement for voting"

"The Senate approved a measure today that would require photo identification to vote, in a move supporters lauded as a step toward addressing problems of voter fraud in the state."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch has more here

"SCOTUS needs its poker face"

"This week, advocacy group Common Cause raised questions about an appearance that Justice Clarence Thomas made at a political conference for well-heeled conservatives in Palm Springs, Calif., in 2008. The event was organized by right-wing activists David and Charles Koch, and Thomas’s trip was paid for by the conservative Federalist Society. Thomas, whom The New York Times reports hasn’t spoken a single word during court arguments in five years, appears to have been more verbally generous at that right-wing retreat than he is during his day job."

John Del Cecat, writing for The Hill has more here

"2012: The Year Of The Billion-Dollar Campaigns?"

"The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be a multi-billion-dollar contest. President Obama's re-election committee is expected to raise at least $1 billion, and Republicans have high hopes that their nominee will reach the 10-figure level as well."

NPR has more here

"Earmark Idiocy"

"I'd assumed that an earmark is a one-off, piddly program some Congressperson wants for his or her district--the glockenspiel hall of fame, or whatever. These don't amount to very much cash--and a great many of them are entirely worthwhile: a new wing for the local hospital, a new lab at the state university--but John McCain and others have had a great deal of fun over the years ridiculing the bridges to nowhere and the grants for the study of crab sexuality. This year, in the full-blown heat of our deficit-cutting passion, both Congress and the President have decided to swear off them." 

Joe Klein, writing in Time, has more here