Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Stephen Colbert launches ColbertPAC"

"Stephen Colbert, host of the eponymous Colbert Report has announced his own PAC, complete with over-the-top announcement video. Is he serious? Probably not. Is he funny? Absolutely."

WaPo has more.

"Video: Colbert Launches His Own PAC; Palin Creates Another New Word"

The National Journal has more.

Breaking News: "Ohio Union Bill Signed Into Law By John Kasich"

HuffPo has more.

"Fiesta Fiasco Opens Texas-Sized BCS Door for Cotton Bowl"

"With NCAA scandals rocking big-time college athletics programs such as USC and Ohio State in the last year, perhaps there is twisted symmetry and irony that corruption also be found among administrators of a major BCS Bowl Game."

Forbes has more.

"DOJ Investigation Finds DOJ Behaved Normally in Black Panther Investigation"

"For what it's worth, the DOJ's Office of Professional Conduct's report on the unending New Black Panther Party affair -- the charge that the Civil Rights Division failed to pursue more charges against two members of the hate group who held nightsticks outside a mostly-black polling place on Election Day 2008 -- clears the DOJ of any wrongdoing, and clears the Obama administration of any wrongdoing. A day after this came out, I can't detect any mellowing-out from the people who pushed for the investigation."

Slate has more.

"California Budget Setback Imperils Brown Agenda After Landslide"

"Jerry Brown, who reinvented himself from California’s 'Governor Moonbeam' of the 1970s into an elder pragmatist as the U.S.’s senior state leader, faces one of the toughest tests of his career after Republican lawmakers blocked his deficit-cutting budget plan.
Bloomberg has more.

What will Jerry Brown do next to try and solve California's budget crisis?

Jessica Levinson will be on www.kpcc.org, "AirTalk," at 11:06 PDT talking about California's budget.

News from Arkansas: "AG rejects ballot title of proposed medical marijuana amendment"

"State Attorney General Dustin McDaniel today rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize marijuana for medical use."

The Arkansas News has more

"In Ohio, instead of protests, a ballot-initiative push"

"If Ohio's bill is the most ambitious attempt to limit public workers' collective bargaining rights -- and it is, much more far-reaching than Wisconsin's -- where are the throngs of protestors?"

MSNBC has more.

"LA Tries an Anti-Wisconsin Approach to Unions"

Jessica Levinson was interviewed for a radio program, "Which Way, LA?," on this topic.

What do this week's oral arguments in the Supreme Court mean for the future of public campaign financing?

There is a debate raging in the comment section of Jessica Levinson's latest Huffington Post piece.

News from Florida: "Critics say lawmakers want to continue gerrymandered districts"

"Florida legislative leaders Mike Haridopolos and Dean Cannon have resubmitted the state's new anti-gerrymandering amendments for federal approval, but in a way that critics say seeks to allow the Legislature to continue drawing districts to benefit Republicans."

The Tampa Bay Online has more

Colorado "State House approves bill to ensure voting rights of deployed military"

"The Colorado House gave unanimous approval today to a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs that aims to ensure a uniform system of voting laws for overseas military personnel and civilians."
More here

"New Black Panther Party Case Not Going Away Though Many Wish It Would"

"The New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case dating back to 2008 was back in the news this week with the finding by federal government lawyers that politics played no role in the Justice Department's earlier decision to dismiss most of the charges in the case."

NPR has more.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What will the Supreme Court say re public campaign financing?

Check on the great comment debate on Jessica Levinson's latest Huffington Post blog.

"Will the Supreme Court Vote for speech?"

Jessica Levinson's Huffington Post on the Supreme Court's latest campaign finance case is here.

"Brown Faces Few Options After Breakdown of Budget Negotiations"

Jessica Levinson has this piece on the recent breakdown of budget talks in California.

Corporate interests support a local school bond measure

"Nearly 60% of the money raised to support passage of the $270-million school bond in the April 5 election has come from companies that have a financial stake in the measure’s passage, records show."

Jessica Levinson quoted in the article:

Jessica Levinson said the key is making sure the public is aware of where the money is coming from. “I think in this case, it’s just a smart business decision to try to help fund the passage of a measure that will financially benefit those businesses,” she said. “I don’t think there is something inherently evil about it. I just think it’s important for the people to know.”

California's Redistricting commission sets schedule to get public input

"The Citizens Redistricting Commission, which is charged with drawing new congressional and legislative districts, will hold dozens of public input meetings in communities across California, the body announced Tuesday."

The LAT has more.

"Virginia’s redistricting process gets underway"

" Northern Virginia’s rapidly growing outer suburbs would gain one new seat in the state Senate and three in the House of Delegates under proposed maps for the once-a-decade redistricting released by legislative leaders Tuesday night."

WaPo has more.

California's Redistricting Commission delays signing contract with newly-hired lawyers

"The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is withholding final signature on a contract with its newly hired federal voting rights lawyers after staff members discovered undisclosed political activities.

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher failed to inform the commission during mid-March interviews that the firm is a registered federal lobbyist with a federal political action committee, or that several of the attorneys assigned to the redistricting project team have contributed individually to presidential candidates."


The Contra Costa Times has more

News from Florida: "Civil Rights Group Says Rick Scott Violated The Voting Rights Act With New Restrictions On Felons"

The Broward New Times this blog.

"Proponents of DC voting rights to meet with Senate staffers"

"Advocates for D.C. voting rights will press the Senate Tuesday to oppose the House spending bill.
The DC Voting Rights Coalition opposes language in the House GOP bill that would prohibit the District of Columbia from using local tax dollars on public programs for AIDS prevention and access to reproductive healthcare. The language is included in legislation that would cut spending this year by $61 billion."

The Hill has more.

"Legislative committee approves major changes to new Alabama ethics law"

"The Senate Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections Committee voted unanimously Tuesday for the two bills. One would require lobbyists and the people who hire them to report to the State Ethics Commission how much they spend on lodging, travel and meals for public officials who attend approved events.

The other bill would add the word 'corruptly' to portions of the law that prohibit public officials and employees from soliciting anything to influence an official action. That change was recommended by the Ethics Commission and attorney general. Commission Executive Director Jim Sumner says it would cure problems with vagueness in the new law. The bills go to the Senate."

The AP (via the Republic) has more.

"Following Citizens United, corporation makes run for congress"

"Following a 2010 United States Supreme Court decision to consider corporations to be citizens with free speech rights in campaign financing, a corporation plans to run for Congress to test the decision."

The Badger Herald has more.

"Corporate Titans Fund Emanuel’s Political Group"

"In its first three weeks, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's newly formed political fund has raised more than $330,000 and spent more than $200,000 to aid allies in the April 5 runoff election for City Council seats, according to a Chicago News Cooperative analysis of state campaign-finance disclosure records.
Emanuel’s New Chicago Committee has accepted large donations from many of the same titans of corporate Chicago who had helped him easily outspend rivals in last month’s race to succeed retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley."

The Chicago News Cooperative has more.

News from Nevada: "Assembly Panel Hears Simplified Campaign Finance Reform Bill"

"A simplified campaign finance reform bill that would require most candidates to file their contribution and expense reports electronically was given a generally favorable reception today during an Assembly Committee hearing."

The Nevada News Bureau has more

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Fiesta Bowl Spending and Donations Questioned"

"Top executives at the Fiesta Bowl, the host of one of the nation’s pre-eminent college football games, funneled campaign contributions to local politicians, flew other Arizona elected officials around the country at the bowl’s expense, racked up a $1,200 bill at a strip club, and even spent $30,000 on a birthday party for the chief executive, according to an investigative report commissioned by the bowl’s board of directors."

Katie Thomas of the NYT has more

"Clean Elections Law in Maine Under Fire"

"The overwhelming majority of Maine lawmakers rely on the state's 10-year-old Clean Elections system to fund their campaigns, as are an increasing number of candidates for governor. But some legislators say Maine can no longer afford the public funding option, and say its time to redirect that money, as much as five million dollars a year, into more important state services."
The Main Public Broadcasting Network has more.

"Arizona election finance law reveals high court rift"

"The Supreme Court's conservative majority appeared to hold the cards Monday in a key campaign finance reform case involving an Arizona election law that would provide matching funds to underfunded candidates. The justices could continue a recent legal trend and strike down another effort at government restrictions on election spending."

CNN has more

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Supreme Court skeptical about Arizona’s campaign finance law"

WaPo has more.

"When it Comes to California's Budget, Who Will Take The Initiative?"

Jessica Levinson's post on KCET.org is here.

Jessica Levinson on the radio today talking about LA's budget crisis

Jessica Levinson will be on "Which Way, L.A.?" today talking about LA city's budget crisis, and recent concessions by labor unions.

Is California's redistricting commission really independent?

"Victory no longer is sweet for California Republican Party interests that helped strip the Democratic-controlled Legislature of the right to draw political districts."
The SacBee has more.

"Gov. Bobby Jindal weighs in on congressional redistricting"

NOLA has more.

Is a PAC-to-PAC transfer ban needed in Alabama?

"Before Friday, campaign finance reports showed that Republican gubernatorial candidate Bradley Byrne received money from four political action committees on the same day that those PACs received money from gambling interests."

The Montgomery Advertiser has more.

The Supreme Court hears oral arguments today in McComish v. Bennett

Click on the following news outlets for more: LAT, NPR, The Hill, and USA Today.

Jessica Levinson wrote about the McComish case in the Huffington Post here.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Gov. Jerry Brown hints at initiative for California budget resolution"

"California governor Jerry Brown hinted that he may take his budget resolution to voters in the form of a statewide ballot initiative."

The State Column has more
 

"Rhode Island voter-ID bill has support on both sides of the aisle"

"The unlikely tandem of state lawmakers is sponsoring House bill H-5680 at the request of Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis, who argues that the 'belief that voter fraud exists undermines the public’s faith in the fairness of our elections.'"


The Providence Journal has more.

News from Florida: "Developer's appointment to Planning Commission sparks outrage"

"A decision last month by the Washington County Commissioners to appoint developer Sassan Shaool to the Washington County Planning Commission has sparked outrage among members of a local citizens group."

The Miami Herald has more

"New Jersey legislative elections could be a proxy fight attracting out-of-state money"

"New Jersey politics, known for its partisan knife fights and big spenders, could become the playing field for even bigger, badder combatants from out of state."

The Philadelphia Inquirer has more

"Haley Barbour known for fundraising talent and tactics"

"As he ponders a run for president, Haley Barbour would not seem a natural fit for the anti-establishment political mood now brewing: the governor of Mississippi is a longtime inside-the-Beltway operator who lobbied for the tobacco industry and other powerful interests."

The Kansas City Star has more
 

"Supreme Court to decide Arizona’s unique campaign financing law"

The Christian Science Monitor has more.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Do Canadian voters care about political ethics and accountability?

Not surprisingly..."Canadian voters rank the economy as the top issue in this election campaign, far outpacing the question of ethics and accountability which helped bring down the Harper government..."

The Star has more.

News from New Jersey: "Tea Party group crafts proposed redistricting map"

"The Bayshore Tea Party Group map proposal (follow link for PDF version, or see JPG to the right here) endeavors to stick to basics as spelled out by the New Jersey Constitution, such as not splitting a county into more districts than absolutely necessary. The county-split rule basically isn’t followed any more, as districts are now municipal-based. It’s also difficult to do — believe me, I was trying before I ditched my map-making experiment in favor of my paying job. Even the Tea Party’s group’s map wasn’t able to maintain the minimum-split goal for three counties (which is far fewer than the 15 counties that could be considered overly split in the current, about-to-expire map)."

The Asbury Park Press has more.

News from Louisiana: "House redistricting plan gains panel approval"

"The state House and Governmental Affairs Committee on Friday passed a redistricting bill that increases the number of minority districts statewide and reshapes many of the existing election districts."

The Shreveport Times has more.

News from Oakland, CA: "a good old-fashion political scandal involving campaign contributions, committee votes and a city contract"

"City Auditor Courtney Ruby blasted a recent City Council committee vote on a $2 million security contract for having serious ethical challenges. Ruby's office believes that ABC Security made illegal contributions while bidding for the contract. Oh ... and by the way, city staff recommended another firm, Cypress Security, as a better choice"

The SF Chronicle has more.

"Mass redistricting panel to hear from public"

"The legislative committee assigned to redraw the state's political map is set to hear from the public for the first time."

The Boston Globe has more.

"Geraldine Ferraro, first female veep nominee, dies"

USA Today has more.

Is redistricting to blame for California's battle over the budget?

"It might sound crazy, but some political insiders think the budget impasse has less to do with anti-tax conservatives than redistricting."

The SF Chronicle has more.

Breaking political news: Geraldine Ferraro has reportedly passed away

The first female vice presidential candidate is reportedly dead at 75.

When will the FEC issue new campaign spending rules?

"A year after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision easing campaign spending restrictions for corporations and interest groups, the Federal Election Commission has yet to issue regulations spelling out the full implications of the decision."

Might be time to provide some guidance... 

WaPo has more.

Should Gov. Haley Barbour be allowed to use the state jet to go to political events?

"Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour has been drawing heavy criticism for his frequent flights to political events on his state's Cessna Citation jet. Barbour and his aides have defended the Republican governor who's considering a presidential run by saying that he's conducting the state's business on these trips."

NPR has more.

The NYT on public campaign financing and McComish: "Arizona’s Boon to Free Speech"

The NYT has more.

McComish and public campaign financing: "Free Speech Worth Paying For"

Charles Fried and Cliff Sloan, writing an OpEd piece in the NYT, have more.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"The importance of campaign-finance reform in one graph"

Ezra Klein of WaPo has more.

"Three candidates raise $100K-plus for San Mateo County supervisor seat"

"With the election just around the corner, one candidate for a seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors has pumped more than $300,000 -- two-thirds of it his own cash -- into his war chest, according to campaign finance statements filed Thursday."

The Mercury News has more

Corpus Christi city attorney recommends no action for mayor's alleged ethics violations

"The city's ethics commission accepted the mayor's explanation for possible ethics violations, along with recommending giving each candidate a copy of the code of ethics at a meeting Thursday night.
City attorney Carlos Valdez issued a report saying the mayor's office used city property and time to send out an e-mail that included a link to Mayor Joe Adame's campaign YouTube page, a violation of the city's code of ethics."

KRISTV has more.

South Carolina lieutenant governor facing ethics charges

"Less than three months into office, Republican Lt. Gov. Ken Ard has hired an attorney of his own. The State Ethics Commission on Friday released details of 106 alleged ethics violations against Ard, including using campaign money for personal purposes and failing to disclose campaign spending when he was running for lieutenant governor. He faces up to $212,000 in civil fines."

The State has more.

News from North Carolina: "More disclosure of GOP campaign money wanted"

"It's easy to find out who has given money, who has gotten money and how much has changed hands. It's all on the State Board of Elections website, but it has to be reported first. And in a non-election year, like 2011, lawmakers don't have to report until June 30."

ABC has more.

"Romney’s Ask: Raise $50 Million"

"About 100 fund-raisers gathered at Manhattan’s venerated Harvard Club this morning to hear former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney lay out his ambition: Raise $50 million fast."

The WSJ has more.

"Libertarian Party Lawsuit Against Campaign Finance Ban on Big Bequests to Political Parties Gets a 3-Judge Court"

Ballot Access News has more.

"Los Angeles, Unions Reach Deal"

Jessica Levinson quoted in the WSJ.

News from Florida: "Full legislature overrides Crist's campaign cash veto"

"It's a done deal. The legislature has overridden former Gov. Charlie Crist's veto of a bill that creates political fundraising groups controlled by the party leaders.

Proponents of the plan say that it adds transparency to a system that will inevitably be flooded with special interest cash. Under current law, large sums of money flow to political parties. When those parties spend the money there is no indication of which candidate is benefiting."

The Florida Times-Union has more.

Senator Ensign's former aide indicted on conflict of interest charges

"A former aide to Republican Senator John Ensign was indicted on Thursday on suspicion of trying to lobby and seek assistance from his former boss on behalf of his new employers, an airline and an energy company. Douglas Hampton, 48, was charged by a federal grand jury in Washington with seven counts of violating the criminal conflict of interest laws.
Ensign had an affair with Hampton's wife, Cynthia, who had worked on his campaign."

Reuters has more

"Office of Campaign Finance To Investigate SUV Driven by DC Council Member Harry Thomas, Jr."

"Another SUV is being questioned at City Hall. This time, it is the one that is driven by D.C. Council Member Harry Thomas, Jr.
It is not owned or leased by the District, but there are questions about where the money came from to pay for it. Thomas says he bought the vehicle through the company he owned before he became a council member, purchased with money he earned."

Fox DC has more

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Jessica Levinson quoted in the WSJ about unions and labor negotiations in Los Angeles

Thursday's deal was a sign that "unions are beginning to see which way the winds are blowing and it's not really in their favor when it comes to these bargaining points," said Jessica Levinson.... "As the economic crisis continues there's only so long that anyone can hold out without layoffs or significant concessions."

The WSJ has more

Jessica Levinson interviewed about redistricting, the electoral college, and more

Jessica Levinson recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Red Racing Horses. The site is a must read for those wanting thoughtful commentary from the right side of the aisle.

Click here to read part 1 of the interview. 

More on the selection of Gibson Dunn to advise California's redistricting commission

The SacBee has even more.

News from California: "Redistricting panel picks legal consultant despite partisan split"

"California’s independent redistricting commission chose a legal firm Friday to advise it on minority voting rights, but only after a partisan deadlock that ended when one of two finalists withdrew."

The SacBee has more

"Ohio House OKs bill to have voters show photo ID"

"Legislation requiring Ohio voters to show a government-issued photo ID before casting in-person ballots passed the House on a near party-line vote Wednesday after heated debate."

The Middletown Journal has more.

"Questions about donations to Oakland politicians"

"An Oakland security company gave campaign contributions to Oakland City Council members and candidates while seeking a $2 million city contract, a situation the city auditor says may violate the municipal code."

The SF Chronicle has more


 

Is California Rep. Maxine Waters in hot...water...?

"Government reform advocates called Wednesday for the House Ethics Committee to complete its stalled investigation of Rep. Maxine Waters, calling an indefinite postponement of the inquiry 'unfair' to the California Democrat and the House."

Roll Call has more here

"Madison intervenes in county's redistricting"

"The city of Madison has filed a motion to intervene in the U.S. District Court over Madison County's redistricting, saying the plan was 'tainted by the rushed restructuring of the elections based upon strategic political calculations of incumbent officeholders.'"

The Madison County Journal has more

"Feds Foil Maryland Redistricting Plan to Count Inmates by Former Home"

"A federal roadblock has stopped Maryland from counting all prison inmates at their pre-incarceration addresses in order to draw political boundaries."

Fox News has more

"A Plea for More Disclosure on Political Ads"

"Does the Federal Communications Commission have the power to require the disclosure of who pays for political ads?"

The NYT has more.

News from Arkansas: "Panel backs ‘Fayetteville Finger’ redistricting plan"

"A proposal for congressional redistricting that would put Fayetteville in the 4th District received an endorsement today from a House committee, though Republican committee members called the plan obvious gerrymandering and the state Republican Party threatened to file a lawsuit if the plan becomes law."

Arkansas News has more.

"Amendments, Emotion Dominate Texas Voter ID Debate"

"House Democrats unsuccessfully fired off a half-dozen points of order challenging several provisions in the Voter ID bill, SB 14, during the first three hours of floor debate today, all in an effort to halt or alter the controversial legislation."

The Texas Tribune has more

"Watchdogs: FCC Must Disclose Political Ad Funders"

"A public interest group wants the federal government to force the funders of political campaign advertisements to be publicly identified by name..."

NewMax has more.

News from Santa Monica: "Campaign contribution limit raised to $400"

"The landscape of political campaigns in Santa Monica changed slightly Tuesday night when City Council members voted to raise the limit on campaign contributions and consider charging a fee for candidates running for public office."

The Santa Monica Daily Press has more

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"So, What Is A 'Presidential Exploratory Committee,' Exactly?"

"As you may have already surmised, the process by which ordinary humans run for president is a byzantine one, shrouded in mystery and wonder. For instance, if you walked up to someone on the street and asked them, 'Is Mitt Romney running for president of the United States?' you'd probably elicit an affirmative answer. At that point, you could respond by saying, iBzzzzt! Nuh-uh! He hasn't even technically formed an exploratory committee yet.' You know, if you wanted to be a jerk about it."

HuffPo has more.

"Nebraska lawmakers grant first approval to close loophole in campaign disclosure law"

"Nebraska lawmakers advanced a measure Wednesday designed to close a state loophole that allows social advocacy groups to attack political candidates but hide what they spent."

The AP (via the Republic) has more.

"GOP freshman Pompeo turned to Koch for money for business, then politics"

"Last year, Pompeo turned to Koch for help again — this time to support his successful campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pompeo received $80,000 in donations from Koch and its employees, making him the top recipient of Koch-related money in the 2010 elections."

WaPo has more.

Santa Monica City Council increase campaign contribution limits

The Patch has more.

Santa Rosa city council candidate faces campaign finance complaint 11 years after election

"Eleven years after running for Santa Rosa city council, Bruce Codding is facing a campaign finance complaint over his failure to report how he's spent $3,400 in leftover political contributions."

The Press Democrat has more.

More on Cao: "Court Won't Hear Campaign Finance Rules Challenge"

"The Supreme Court won't hear a Republican-backed challenge of federal campaign finance restrictions.
The court on Monday refused to hear an appeal by former Louisiana Rep. Anh 'Joseph' Cao and the Republican National Committee.
Cao wanted the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the $42,000 federal limit on what state and national parties could spend in 2010 in coordinated efforts on behalf of a candidate in his race. Currently, the state and national parties cannot consult with each other on money spent beyond that limit."

The AP (via NPR) has more.

"Supreme Court says no to campaign finance review, yes to death row inmate appeal"

"The Supreme Court on Monday turned down the Republican National Committee’s latest attempt to knock out long-standing campaign finance restrictions.

Without comment, the justices rejected a challenge from the RNC and former Louisiana congressman Anh 'Joseph' Cao that sought to end federal restrictions on how much a political party can spend in direct coordination with a candidate. Cao lost a reelection bid in 2010."

WaPo has more.

Minn. Gov. Dayton announces proposed campaign disclosure reforms

"Gov. Dayton is holding a news conference this hour to outline changes he'd like to see made to the state's campaign finance disclosure system. Dayton is asking the Legislature to pass a law that would require elected officials, political campaigns and political committees that have received or spent more than $5,000 ina year to file quarterly campaign reports with the Campaign Finance Board."

Minnesota Public Radio has more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Brown considering other path on taxes as Republicans stand firm in talks"

"As Gov. Jerry Brown negotiates with Republican legislators on his plan to extend taxes, he is also weighing going it alone, sources said Tuesday."

The Mercury News has more

"S.C. Gov. Haley has appointed 26 campaign donors to posts"

Is it a problem?

"Of the 59 people whom Gov. Nikki Haley thus far has appointed to state boards or commissions, 26 donated to her campaign, according to state campaign finance records."

The State has more

News from Chicago: "We may never know source of campaign funds used to shape City Council"

"In another red-letter day for good government, the State Board of Elections ruled Monday that the group that poured the most dough into last month’s aldermanic races does not have to disclose where it got its money.
There’s nothing like official approval for secret campaign funds to make me feel all warm and fuzzy about our prospects for political reform in Illinois."

The Chicago Sun-Times has more.

News from Virginia: "College teams redraw political maps"

Should we just leave it up to college students?

"Virginia college students and political insider are heading for Richmond Tuesday to see the winning maps in a redistricting competition that offers voters a view of what the state's political boundaries could look like if state lawmakers weren't in control.
Nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate students from 13 different Virginia colleges and universities have spent months diving into mapping technology and fresh 2010 Census data to attempt to redraw the state's boundaries."

 More here.

"Miss. House leaders to join redistricting suit"

"House leaders say they are joining a lawsuit over the state's redistricting process in trying to prevent Mississippi taxpayers from having to foot the bill for an extra election."

Click here for more.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"New Wash. liquor privatization initiative filed"

"A new initiative to privatize state liquor sales has been filed with the Washington Secretary of State's office.
In November, Washington voters rejected two ballot initiatives to privatize liquor sales.
But conservative blogger Stefan Sharkansky says his new proposal would maintain tax revenue and impose tighter control on private liquor sales. He helped craft last year's Initiative 1100."

Business Week has more.

"Fiscal Policy Institute pulls 6 CO tax initiatives"

" The Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute has withdrawn six proposed ballot initiatives to establish a graduated income tax in Colorado, citing a lack of voter support and disputes over the best ways to fix the state's budget problems."

The AP (via Forbes) has more here.

"Did the State GOP Create a Workaround to the New Open Primary Election System?"

Jessica Levinson's weekly blog on KCET.org is here.

Breaking news: The Supreme Court declines to hear a challenge to political party spending limits

Click on the following news outlets for more: The Hill, NPR, and Politico.  

"Report claims vast gulf between business, labor spending"

"Business interests outspent organized labor 13 to 1 during the 2009-10 election cycle, according to a new report from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-partisan group that tracks campaign spending. Business interest shelled out about $18.8 million to statewide and legislative races – much of it to Democratic candidates – and union employees and union political action committees gave just $1.4 million."

Milwaukee Magazine has more

"Court Battles Over Campaign Disclosure Loom, Legal Experts Predict"

"A storm is brewing over political disclosure rules. And Donald McGahn, a Republican commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, predicted Saturday a flurry of litigation, at the state and national level. 'Who doesn't have to disclose?' McGahn asked. '[This question] is where the action is going to be in the future.'"

The Center for Responsive Politics has more

Springfield Mayor's campaign fund goes to Catholic Diocese

"The cash left in Springfield Mayor Tim Davlin's campaign fund when he committed suicide has been donated to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield."

The Chicago Tribune has more

"Florida faces fine lines of redistricting"

"Big changes are coming to Florida’s political maps after a decade of population shifts.
The upcoming round of redistricting promises to be particularly tumultuous when two new anti-gerrymandering laws are factored in with the political realities of partisan rivalry, incumbent self-preservation instincts and court challenges."

The Palm Beach Post has more.

"NAACP Sues Mississippi Over Redistricting"

"The NAACP claims in a federal class action that the Mississippi Legislature's redistricting plan unconstitutionally dilutes black voting strength. While an ideal redistricting draws districts with population variations of plus or minus 5 percent, Mississippi's state Senate districts vary by as much as 69 percent, and its House districts by as much as 134 percent, the NAACP says."

The Courthouse News Service has more

"Technology allows citizens to be part of redistricting process"

"Across the USA, college students, citizen activists and political junkies are using similar software to break a mapmaking monopoly held for decades by state lawmakers."


USA Today has more.

News from Louisiana: "Battles over voter redistricting maps begin as special legislative session convenes"

"Topping the fight card over the next three weeks: differences over the number of majority-nonwhite legislative districts and whether to fundamentally redraw existing congressional districts to create a district along the Interstate 20 corridor in north Louisiana."

More here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Iowa's Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission to receive public comments

The Des Moines Register has more.

Is California's "independent" redistricting commission biased?

"Frustrated by blatant gerrymandering and politicians protecting incumbents above all else, voters took the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts away from state lawmakers and handed it to a new independent body. But as the new Citizens Redistricting Commission hires key staff, it is becoming clear that partisans will not give up power without a fight."

The LAT has more

"Results of Government Transparency Initiatives a Mixed Bag"

The Center for Responsive Politics has more.

Georgia pushes (nudges) for a more open government

"With the legislative session nearing an end, it’s clear that this won’t be the year that Georgia finally fills the remaining big gaps in these areas. Yet there’s reason to be hopeful that government ethics and openness will be more fully addressed in 2012. Taxpayers should keep up the pressure to make that happen."

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has more.

South Carolina's Lt. Governor is charged with dozens of ethics violations

Whoops.

"State ethics investigators have charged Lt. Gov. Ken Ard with 69 counts of spending campaign money for his personal use and 23 counts of failing to disclose campaign expenses."

More from the Miami Herald.

Friday, March 18, 2011

"Where's the Sunshine on Senate Campaign Finance Reports?"

The Center for Responsive Politics has more.

"Pay to Play or More Transparency? Powerful Campaign Funds Revived"

"Florida political leaders could have a powerful new fundraising tool at their disposal just in time for the 2012 election. A legislative committee moved today to override former Gov. Charlie Crist’s veto of a bill that allows the top-ranking Republican and Democrat in the state House and Senate to set up so-called leadership funds."

The Herald Tribune has more

"The Race for 2012's Billions"

The Daily Beast has more.

New Mexico State Senate Passes Campaign Disclosure Proposal

The AP has more.

Nevada State Senate Panel OKs Campaign Disclosure Bill

The AP has more.

News from Massachusetts: "Ethics training for state lobbyists relies on the honor system"

The Salem News has more.

"How lobbyists rewrite Europe's laws"

More from Reuters.

"Former Lobbyists Return To Capitol Hill To Assist The Powerful Interests That Employed Them"

HuffPo has more.

"Congressional Fund-Raising Race Is On"

"Sometimes it helps – if only a bit — to be down. The House Democratic campaign committee out-raised its Republican counterpart for the second month in a row, according to numbers provided to Washington Wire, though Democrats still have nearly twice as much debt to pay off from last year’s election."


The WSJ has more

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Democrats charged in faux tea party plan

"...23 questionable election filings across Michigan — eight of them in Oakland County — involved an effort to create the illusion of an Independent Tea Party and its candidates on November's ballot.
The goal was to woo away voters in local elections who might otherwise vote for other candidates, presumably Republicans, authorities allege."



The Detroit News and USA Today have more.

News from the Ukraine: "U.S. pro-democracy group quits election law drafting council"

The National Democratic Institute has more.

News from Canada: "Tory senators charged with election law violations may escape sanctions"

The Vancouver Sun has more.

A stimulus for K street?

"For all his anti-lobbyist rhetoric, President Barack Obama has done more than almost anyone to help K Street fatten its wallet."

Politico has more

"Madison On The Potomac: Labor Protesters Storm Lobbyists' Lobby In DC"

TPM has more.

"California Budget in Crisis: Lawmakers Pass Spending Cuts, No Agreement on Tax Extensions"

Jessica Levinson blogs about California's budget crisis here.

"Prominent Donors Seed Emanuel Political Fund"

Chicago News Cooperative has more.

Florida reporter questions state senate president over campaign fundraising, and the exchange gets interesting

"Capitol reporter Gary Fineout is what most of us unlearned, flip-flop-wearing masses consider a campagn-finance expert. Yesterday, he questioned Senate President Mike Haridopolos on the powerful politician’s decision to keep raising big checks during the 60-day session."

The Orlando Sentinel has the exchange

Its over between Gaddafi and Sarkozy

Just when it seems like everyone is breaking up, the Australian has more on predictable end of the love affair between Gaddafi and Sarkozy.

"Colonel Gaddafi's son Saif said yesterday Libya had secretly paid for Mr Sarkozy's 2007 campaign and now wants its money back from 'this clown.'"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Developing Story: California lawmakers approve spending cuts, no agreement on taxes

The SF Chronicle has more.

"The California Legislature began voting on billions of dollars in cuts to state spending Wednesday, with both houses approving measures to slash the welfare-to-work program and funding for developmental disability services.
Those measures now head to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

Lawmakers voted into the evening on a package of bills that make up the budget plan to relieve the state from a $26.6 billion deficit. But they did not take up the measure that will undoubtedly be the most contentious: legislation that will put additional taxes before voters in a June special election."

Why would senators support a delay in a crackdown on fees that would bring billions to banks?

"On Tuesday, a group of nine senators led by Montana Democrat Jon Tester put their names behind legislation to delay the Federal Reserve's upcoming crackdown on the "swipe fees" that banks charge merchants for processing debit card transactions -- a huge moneymaker for the banking industry whose continuation is at the top of the industry's lobbying wishlist."

More from HuffPo. 

"Nuclear industry lobbyists' clout felt on Hill"

"Facing its biggest crisis in 25 years, the U.S. nuclear power industry can count on plenty of Democratic and Republican friends in both high and low places."

Politico has more

 

"Californians side with Jerry Brown in epic budget battle, poll says"

Jessica Levinson is quoted about California's budget crisis:

“The poll indicates that there seems to be a disconnect between lawmakers and the electorate,” says Jessica Levinson...“While much of the electorate lives in the center, politically, lawmakers are more strongly liberal or conservative. Clearly a large percentage of the electorate does not feel at home with either party.”

Developing Story: California Assembly Votes to Cut Services for the Blind, Poor and Elderly

There are no easy answers.

Can the RNC sell the TV rights to presidential primary debates?

It looks like the RNC will try.

"The Republican National Committee is considering sanctioning the GOP presidential primary debates and then selling the broadcast rights to news outlets, two Republicans with knowledge of the idea tell CNN."

We're off to the redistricting races in Massachusetts

"A legislative commission has unveiled a Web site and announced a series of public meetings as it begins carving new political districts in Massachusetts that will reflect the loss of a congressional seat."

My Fox Boston has more.

The NJ redistricting commission holds its final public meeting today

"Early in the testimony at today’s hearing, the topic turned to how to increase the representation of Hispanics in the Legislature — a debate that has shaped much of the process so far. This time, it was made in a heavily Hispanic city of Passaic, which is currently represented by three white lawmakers in the 36th Legislative District."

The Star-Ledger has more.

Gadhafi's son tells Sarkozy that Libya wants its campaign funds back

"Saif al-Islam Gadhafi has told France-based Euronews television that Libyan funds were poured into Sarkozy's 2007 campaign so France could help the Libyan people. But he said Sarkozy has disappointed them. Gadhafi said Libya has documentary evidence of the contributions and is ready to reveal everything."

Voice of America has more.

Should Obama overhaul the FEC?

Campaign finance advocates say "yes."

"Dear Legislators, Support Education and Avoid Being the Next Ozymandias, King of Kings"

This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

My parents should have named me Pamela, Pauline or Priscilla. Why? Because I like alliteration and I am a pessimist.

Perhaps that is why Percy Shelley's famous 1818 poem "Ozymandias," in part concerning the inescapably fleeting nature of political power, has long been one of my favorites. The piece is about the eventual decay of all humans, including our leaders, and the kingdoms they create.

"Ozymandias" is a cautionary tale of hubris, a lesson that those who rule or represent us, and the power they wield, is momentary.

Being not only a pessimist, but also a contrarian, I cannot fully accept this. There must be a way to exert influence beyond one's reign or term. And, of course, there is. Education.

I have had the privilege of teaching law students for three years. And to my former students, let me say, you knock my socks off. To use another cliché, you have taught me the true definition of the phrase "bursting with pride." You are friends, mentees, and mentors.

Each of you did something vitally important: you walked into a classroom. And listened. And questioned. After one, two or three hours, I think and hope we all learned something. Painful as it may have been at times, to me that's magic. That is also a legacy, for all involved.

So what's my point? Last week the Obama administration stated that 82 percent of America's public schools are considered to be "failing" under the No Child Left Behind Act. That's a failure of more than just three in four public schools.

Legislators, there is a way to avoid dear Ozymandias's fate. As the current, seemingly endless, wrangling over the budget continues, please remember, there is a route to strengthen and lengthen your legacies. Support smart, effective education programs.

What exactly is "smart" education? I don't know or pretend to know the details of how the federal and state governments can and should best support education. I do know that the "American Dream," becomes a tragically ironic catch phrase if education, like so much of politics, becomes pay-to-play.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

California Senate and Assembly will vote on the budget on Wednesday

More on the Senate vote, and more on the Assembly vote.

Will voters have to present identification at the polls in Aspen?

Yes.  


"The City Council voted 3-2 on Monday to reject an amendment that would have stricken the ID requirement from a new ordinance that implements various changes to the city's election rules. The amendment was offered by Mayor Mick Ireland — who argued passionately that requiring identification at the polls was a “solution in search of a problem” — and only found support from Councilman Steve Skadron."

Start your engines: "Ron Paul aide files complaint over Donald Trump's private jet"

"The back-and-forth between Trump and Paul has prompted a booster of the Texas congressman filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the billionaire potential 2012 hopeful."
 

Will there be a special election about the budget in California?

Maybe.

How much did lobbyists spend on Nevada lawmakers in February?

Answer: $31,000

Former Alaska lawmaker, Bruce Weyrauch, pleaded guilty in a corruption case

Weyhrauch essentially pleaded guilty to allowing unregistered lobbyists to lobby him. 

What do the nuclear problems in Japan mean for the nuclear energy lobby in D.C.?

Lobbyists for the nuclear energy industry are rushing to calm the rattled nerves of many on Capitol Hill.

Do Michigan's campaign disclosure laws need improvement?

This editorial says "yes!"


From 2000 to 2010, $65 million in mystery money was spent on campaigns for Michigan Supreme Court and governor, according to figures collected by the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, a watchdog group that monitors election spending.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Indiana SOS White appoints a new deputy

Time for the SOS to throw up the SOS distress signal?

"Former deputy secretary Sean Keefer resigned Friday after White appeared in a Hamilton County court to face seven felony counts including vote fraud. The charges stem from accusations that White voted in last May's Republican primary after moving from the address listed on his voter registration."

The AP has more

Does Arizona have a truly independent redistricting commission?

Apparently the Independent Redistricting Commission may be somewhat of a misnomer.

How will Mississippi draw legislative district lines?

The situation is "very fluid."

Will NY amend its constitution to require independent redistricting?

"The Republican majority called the constitutional amendment proposal the surest way to require independent redistricting."

AP has more.

"Sunshine Week: State lawmakers show financial ties to public sector"

"Thirty of Wisconsin's 129 legislators received family income of at least $1,000 within the past two years from public-sector employers such as cities, school districts, counties and state agencies besides the Legislature, Gannett Wisconsin Media found in reviewing lawmakers' most recent financial disclosure forms."


The Republic has more

"When a lobbyist's client is Egypt"

"Lobbyists show a country the ropes in the U.S. -- and how to pull them."


American Public Media has more

News from Texas: "Ethics unit clears lobbyist for education board"

"The Public Integrity Unit has cleared an active lobbyist to serve on the State Board of Education."


Is this a problem?


The AP has more

"Trump Adviser: No Campaign Finance Laws Broken on Iowa Trip"

"Michael Cohen, the Donald Trump adviser who traveled to Iowa last week in a private jet, tells ABC News he broke no campaign finance laws or regulations. His explanation: He wasn't there representing Trump, but as the co-creator of ShouldTrumpRun.com."


The Atlantic has more

Did former Nevada gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid circumvent campaign finance laws?

Click on the following news outlets for more: Washington Examiner, Fox News, and the Republic.

"Redistricting 2011: Californians, are You Ready for a Political Shakeup?"

Click here to read Jessica Levinson's post on KCET.org about the recent census data, the new independent redistricting commission, and what they mean for the future of politics in California.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Debate over Wisconsin's new union law continues

"Democrats and union leaders, emboldened by the huge outpouring of protesters who have rallied for weeks at the Capitol to oppose what they called a politically motivated effort to weaken unions, pledged to redouble their political, legal and legislative efforts to block measures that the governor had described as necessary to balance the budget."

The NYT has more.

Which police union broke a PAC law?

According to the Worcester Telegraph, "The Worcester Police Officials Union did not comply with campaign finance law when it received money from members for its political action committee, according to the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance." Click here for more.

Should lawmakers receive limited immunity from arrests?

"The majority leader, Scott Bundgaard, told Phoenix police officers that he was a state senator, and he cited a provision of the Arizona Constitution that gives lawmakers limited immunity from arrest, the police said. Police Department lawyers were consulted, and they ordered that Mr. Bundgaard be uncuffed and released."

The NYT has more

When do California lawmakers have to decide whether to call a June special election on the budget?

"Brown's office wants the election held June 7, to coincide with local elections in many California cities. That also would provide enough time to prepare for the planned expiration of some of the tax hikes on July 1. But it's not clear when the Legislature has to pass the budget to make that happen."

Business Week has more

Is Facebook to blame for an election loss?

Any who said we're a litigious society?

"Moughni, who came in fourth in the August primary, wants to know why Facebook shut down his page, cutting him off from his 1,600 friends, in June."

More here.

"Redistricting, the next chapter in the voting rights struggle"

"Since the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and penned the United States Constitution, the issue of voting rights has been very contentious. While the right to vote is the very cornerstone of democracy, poor white men, Blacks, women and others were initially denied this right. One could argue that while the United States held itself out as a democracy, it was very much an aristocracy until after the Emancipation Proclamation and passage of the 13th, 14th, 15th and 19th amendments and the Voting Rights Act. And even that wasn’t enough."

The San Francisco Bay View has more.

In Georgia, what is a lobbyist?

"The change proposed by House Bill 232 says in part that anyone who spends more than 10 percent of their time for a business lobbying or only those who spend $1,000 or more lobbying in a year are classified as lobbyists."

The Atlanta Journal Constitution has more.

"Five Things Charlie Sheen Can Teach Us About Politics"

This post by Jessica Levinson originally appeared in the Huffington Post.

1. No one is watching until there is a train wreck.

Certainly Sheen has been a famous figure in Hollywood for decades, but Sheenmania didn't hit a fever pitch until he started chugging tiger blood and winning, make that imploding right before our eyes.

Similarly, take the scandal-plagued city of Bell, California as a political example of this phenomenon. Few knew about this small, industrial city until allegedly greedy, crocked politicians started paying themselves absurd sums, And if you need more proof, who knew Nevada Senator John Ensign until he faced an ethics investigation based in part on an affair with a campaign aide? Which brings me to # 2...

2. Everyone loves a good sex scandal.

It isn't so much that Sheen seems to have launched himself on a self-destructive course with supersonic speed, it is also that he's bringing some "goddesses" along for the ride. Sheen's much-discussed purported love of porn and prostitutes hasn't hurt interest in his recent "Sheen-aningans."

There are so many politicians hit by sex scandals that its difficult to highlight just a few. However, I think John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Gary Hart, not to mention Bill Clinton would tell you that where there is a an affair and/or over sexual behavior, there is a reporter waiting to write about it, and an audience ready to read it.

3. New / social medial is increasingly the way to reach people.

Sheen's public relations nose dive may have begun on television, but it was amplified and perpetuated thanks to websites like YouTube. Also, lets not forget the popularity of his tweets, (he has 2.5 million followers, and counting) or his new freak, I mean web "show," "Sheen's Korner."

Politicians are increasingly tuned in to new medial and social media as a way to reach constituents. Many of our elected officials have set up Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the last presidential debates, candidates took questions submitted via YouTube. And after the protests in Egypt and Libya, it is hard to overestimate the power of social media over politics.

4. It doesn't hurt to talk about the kids.

Every time Sheen talks about the importance of gaining custody of his children, we're reminded that even if he is constantly #winning, he is a terrestrial being who is a father. Simply put, it humanizes him.

Please do not ask me to count the number of times a politician has trotted out his smiling family to help his image as a loving family man. A beaming, adoring child never hurt a politician's poll numbers.

5. Sometimes it is best to stop talking.

If dear Mr. Sheen had given one interview, he might have seemed mysterious. After a veritable media blitz he seems, well to put it politely, a bit loopy. It might be best to stop talking about things like getting and staying sober, and in the immortal words of Nike, just do it.

And finally to the politicians of the world, I would be ever so grateful if you would stop talking about what you did, want to do, and/or couldn't do, and just do something. I know it isn't easy, and I realize that it is easier to throw stones and that there is only so much time in the day. One way to alleviate that situation is to talk less and do more.

Is former Nevada gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid guilty of campaign finance violations?

"Reid created 90 PACs that received money from a larger Reid-created PAC and then donated it to his official campaign account."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal has more

Should the Colorado Republican Party waive a county's campaign finance fine?

"The Larimer County Republican Party has formally asked for the state to waive or reduce its $48,700 campaign finance fine, saying the party shouldn’t be heavily penalized for the failures of former Chairman Larry Carillo."

The Coloradoan has more.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Could the events in Wisconsin help Democrats?

"Even as the Republican governor of Wisconsin was signing a bill Friday that all but ended collective bargaining for state employees, Democrats nationally had put out advertisements and letters to use his own success against him."

NYT has more here.

"Citizens United and the battle for Wisconsin"

Salon has a short piece by Andrew Leonard here.

Salon's post refers to this article by Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker.

What is the FEC up to these days?

The NYT has this editorial.

"Gridlock is the name of the game at the Federal Election Commission, where all three Republican members routinely block any punishment of even the most blatant violators."

Which lobbying group spent the most money in New Jersey last year?

Answer: The Teacher's Union.

Business Week has more here.

News from Minnesota: Ready, Set, Redistrict

"We already know that the 2010 census results let Minnesota keeps its eight congressional districts, but how will those districts be drawn?"

Click here for more from the Minnesota Post. 

"Tiebreaking member of N.J. commission defends politics of redistricting process"

"Alan Rosenthal, the tiebreaking member of the commission charged with redrawing the state’s 40 legislative districts, didn’t say much today in his first public meeting with the panel. But this much he made clear: politics isn’t a bad thing."

The Star-Ledger has more here.

What does NYC's new campaign disclosure law mean for future elections?

"Tackling a highly charged topic that is likely to affect the 2013 race for mayor, the New York City Campaign Finance Board wrestled on Thursday with the contours of a new law requiring more disclosure of campaign spending by independent groups like unions and corporations."

The NYT has more here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Should ex-felons in Florida be able to vote?

"Florida Gov. Rick Scott and other Cabinet-level officials voted unanimously Wednesday to roll back state rules enacted four years ago that made it easier for many ex-felons to regain the right to vote."

WaPo has more here.

"Campaign 2012: The Kabuki phase"

"So it goes in the Kabuki theater phase of campaign 2012 in which none of the leading candidates will admit they’re candidates, their donor pitches and stump speeches are couched – sometimes barely – in the conditional, credulity straining denials such as Fehrnstrom’s are part of the press secretary’s vernacular, and an innocuous-sounding phrase such as 'testing the waters' has far-reaching legal implications."

Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico has more here.

How much money was spent on lobbying in New Jersey in 20101?

"A major campaign was waged across the state of New Jersey in 2010, even though nobody was up for election.
The state's largest teachers union poured $6.9 million into lobbying efforts, mostly through television and radio advertising, to fend off Gov. Chris Christie's attacks.
Overall, state spending on lobbying activities increased 13.9% to a record $65.6 million as groups from international corporations to local library associations fought for their share of the pie amid sharp budget cuts, according to reports released by the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, a state agency that monitors lobbying and campaign finance."

The WSJ has more here.

Goodbye Senator Ensign

Click on the following news outlets for more: NYT, Washington Times, and WSJ

News from Canada: "Tory government loses key ethics rulings"

"The Harper government has lost two key rulings by the Speaker revolving around whether it has breached the privileges of MPs, and the political setback is bound to heighten partisan tension and increase speculation about a spring election."


The Montreal Gazette has more here.

Should states allow ballot measure proponents to use electronic signatures?

Utah lawmakers say no.

"Electronic signatures will be prohibited through a bill passed by Utah lawmakers Wednesday night."

Is "ranked voting" confusing?

According to the SF Chronicle, those responding to a poll said  "yes."

"Despite ranked-choice voting being introduced for Board of Supervisors races in 2004 and used in every city election since, 55 percent of respondents to a recent poll commissioned by the Chamber of Commerce said they didn't know whether their vote counted once their first-, second- or third-choice candidate had been eliminated."

Will Kansas require voters to present identification?

"Kathy Perry, a Wichitan who worked as a provisional ballot judge in 2008, testified as the Senate began its consideration of a bill proposed by Secretary of State Kris Kobach to require voters to show government ID to vote and to require new voters to prove their citizenship.
Kobach said the legislation – House Bill 2067 — known as the Kansas Secure and Fair Elections Act – is needed to fight voting fraud in the state.
The Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections took up the bill, which passed the House on Feb. 25 by a vote of 83 to 36."

Click here for more.

Is the GOP waging a "war on voting?"

Some say "yes." Greg Sargent of WaPo has more here.

State Senator Carl Kruger and Assemblyman WIlliam F. Boyland Jr. surrender in corruption case

"State Senator Carl Kruger, Assemblyman William F. Boyland Jr. and an influential lobbyist were among eight people who surrendered on Thursday to face charges in a federal corruption case accusing the lawmakers of taking bribes over the course of a decade in schemes large and small, from pushing hospital mergers to extending business hours for liquor stores."
 
The NYT has more here

"Jerry Brown asks Legislature to delay budget vote"

"Gov. Jerry Brown, citing progress in his budget negotiations with Republicans, has asked the Senate and Assembly to delay voting Thursday so he can have more time to negotiate."

The Sac Bee has more here

Will redistricting cause major changes in California?

"On Tuesday, the Census Bureau released the detailed 2010 census data that the commission will use to draw new legislative and congressional districts, as well as four Board of Equalization districts, and the numbers confirmed that big changes are in the air.
In effect, the commission will be adjusting the district lines not only for the demographic changes of the last decade, but for those of the 1990s that were disregarded in the 2001 gerrymander."

The SF Examiner has more here
 

Wisconsin faces a tough battle over redistricting

"As state legislators are facing recalls in Wisconsin, the state's congressional delegation also has much to be concerned about in the coming months.
Many, if not most, of the state's congressional districts are generally considered "swing" districts, and we've seen a number of them change hands or be seriously contested in recent years."

WaPo has more here. 

Who will draw the legislative lines in Mississippi?

"Mississippi senators on Thursday are scheduled to debate a Senate redistricting plan sponsored by Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant.
Opponents say they might try to ditch the plan and replace it with one drawn by the chamber's own redistricting committee."

The AP has this report.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"L.A. Election Recap: Low Voter Turnout, Incumbents Stay Put, Most Measures Pass"

Jessica Levinson's latest post on KCET.org about the March 8th Los Angeles City elections is here.

Here is an excerpt:

"The City's dire fiscal situation clearly did not motivate Angelenos to head to the polls. The overwhelming majority of voters made a deafening statement, one of total silence. The one thing more than 88% of voters in Los Angeles could agree on is that they would not spend the time either at a voting booth or at their kitchen table with an absentee ballot to give an opinion on many issues facing our city's government. Though, of course, a failure to vote is a declaration in and of itself."

News from Southern California: "Building Industry Association (BIA) at controls of Oceanside housing panel"

Jessica Levinson was quoted in this piece in the San Diego Union Tribune.

"The Building Industry Association, which lobbied Oceanside to end its mandatory affordable housing program, appears to be leading a group the city formed to develop a voluntary housing program. ... 'Lobbyists aren’t evil people, they have a great deal of knowledge,' [Levinson] said. 'But they almost always have an agenda.'”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Is it a problem that Representative Lankford invited his campaign donors to testify at a committee hearing?

"Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) praised the panel of witnesses at a recent Transportation and Infrastructure Committee field hearing in his district, saying, 'The best ideas come from individuals who see and breathe the issues not just from Washington.' But it doesn’t hurt if those individuals are also campaign donors."

Roll Call has more here

"Canada government ethics woes boost election talk"

"Charges that senior officials broke campaign financing rules are causing headaches for Canada's minority Conservative government as speculation about an imminent election grows."

Reuters has more here

"State, local lobbyists push to save programs from budget ax"

"State and local government officials are flooding Washington to lobby against spending cuts that they say fall disproportionately on domestic programs."

The Hill has more here.

"Wis. Dems file ethics complaint against governor over prank-call conduct"

"The Wisconsin Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint against Republican Gov. Scott Walker over statements he made during a recorded prank call."

Salon has more here

"Government leading the way in Wash. lobbyist spending"

"The cost for lobbying at the state Capitol in 2011 is at its lowest in several years, but governments' hired hands are leading the way."

The Seattle Times has more here

"New Georgia rule: Anyone can be a lobbyist"

"All employees writing to or talking with a lawmaker about a bill affecting their profession are considered lobbyists under a new legal interpretation by the state ethics agency that took effect Monday." 

The Florida Times Union has more here.
 

"NY Senate Dems petition for redistricting hearing"

"New York Senate Democrats have petitioned the Republican majority to publicly air legislation for reforming the state's legislative redistricting process."

The AP (via the WSJ) has more here.

Free and fair elections in the City of Bell?

"Local political analyst Jessica Levinson tells KNX 1070 voters are also set to elect an entirely new council in the city of Bell in the wake of a corruption scandal that made national headlines."

Click here for more. 

Who was fined for failing to report lobbying?

"Washington state regulators have fined four government entities for failing to report staff time spent lobbying the Legislature."

The AP has more here.

"Tea party steeped in redistricting"

"After making a raucous national debut and helping to power a grass-roots uprising that swept conservatives into office, tea party activists are now taking on a more sophisticated and decidedly insider-oriented electoral frontier: redistricting."

Alex Isenstadt of Politico has more here.
 

Are Justices Thomas and Scalia unfairly plagued by ethical questions?

"The sharp questioning of the impartiality and ethics of Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and, to a lesser extent, Samuel Alito, represent the most concerted attack on a bloc of justices since the early 1970s, when conservatives waged a long campaign against the liberal justices of the Warren court, most notably Justices William O. Douglas and Abe Fortas."

Kenneth P. Vogel of Politico has more here.

Are members of the GOP attempting to disenfranchise liberal voters?

The Weekly Standard says no. Think Progress says yes. The Post explores the topic.

Can Georgia voters be required to show ID prior to casting a ballot?

Yes.

"The Georgia Supreme Court on Monday upheld a state law requiring voters to show identification before they cast ballots, dismissing objections from Democrats who contended lawmakers had no proof when they approved the new rules that anyone had tried to vote illegally."

The Savannah Morning News has more here.

Did Donald Trump break a campaign finance law?

Some say "yes."

"A lawyer for Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, told reporters in Iowa today that his trip -- on the Trump corporate jet -- had been financed by a business supporter and booster of Trump's, Stewart Rahr. The trip poses a serious campaign finance issue for Trump, experts say: If the trip was -- as Cohen explicitly suggested -- aimed at testing the waters for a presidential bid, it falls under a strict set of fundraising requirements that appear already to have been violated."

Ben Smith at Politico has more here