HomeEssential Ethics / August 26, 2022

Essential Ethics

August 26, 2022

Latest Developments:

  • The US Department of Justice arrested the former speaker of the Tennessee state House of Representatives Glen Casada as part of a larger corruption probe involving other legislators. PBS reports that Casada and a top aid stand accused of “exploit[ing] their positions of power by working with another unnamed lawmaker to funnel money to themselves using a political consulting firm that concealed their involvement… by submitting sham invoices to the State of Tennessee in the names of political consulting companies owned by Casada.” They face up to 20 years of prison.
  • A Federal Court in San Francisco proceeded this week with the sentencing of that City’s former Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru on bribery and corruption. Local media reports that Nuru was accused of “accepting more than $1 million of bribes over 12 years to steer city contracts to his friends. Also charged in the case — developers, contractors, a restaurant owner, two recology executives, and Nuru’s girlfriend, the former director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services.” At the proceedings, the “prosecution ask[ed] for a 9-year prison sentence; the defense wants three years.” The scandal is notable for its wide reach in the San Francisco business and political establishment, ensnaring even the mayor.
  • The New York State Board of Elections settled a campaign finance violation with the committee for New York Republican state senators and agreed to a $200,000 settlement related to “housekeeping” accounts, according to the Olean Times Herald.  As a general matter, state law caps corporate contributions to $5,000, making housekeeping accounts a popular recipient of support by the regulated community.  The committee was accused of having improperly used its housekeeping account funds during “the 2016 election by issuing a series of campaign-style mailers that allegedly crossed a line into expressly seeking election of GOP candidates… a[A] housekeeping account is supposed to be used to maintain a ‘permanent headquarters and staff’ for ‘ordinary’ party activities.” Contributions to the housekeeping accounts are otherwise uncapped. The state enforcement agents “pursued the case under the theory that — because Senate Republicans used the housekeeping account for campaigning — donations to the housekeeping fund in 2016 should be counted as contributions to the campaign account.”  Contributors in this settlement were not directly impacted. The settlement has not yet been provided to the public.


The Practising Law Institute presents the annual Corporate Political Activities Conference on September 8-9, 2022 in Washington, D.C.  The program comprehensively covers federal and national campaign finance, government ethics and lobbying disclosure laws, including panels on nonprofits (day one), compliance best practices (day two), government contracting, and several focused on state and local issues. Nielsen Merksamer’s Jason Kaune co-chairs the conference and Elli Abdoli participates as expert faculty. The conference is also hybrid online and on-demand, so it may also be viewed in segments. To sign up, use the following link:  PLI Two-Day Conference in Washington D.C.

In Case You Missed It:

  • The Anaheim Saga Continues…: The Anaheim City Council voted 4-2 to issue a response to the June grand jury report about the sale of the Angel’s stadium, a scandal currently embroiling that city. The response specifically pushes back on many of the report’s findings and recommendations for future ethics reforms. According to Epoch Times, for example, “Anaheim disagreed that it violated the ‘spirit’ of California’s Brown Act, an open meeting law that addresses, among other actions, how city councils can discuss real estate negotiations and payments,” arguing that all requirements were satisfied. Notably, it also differed with the report’s assessment that it was improper to appoint the former mayor (who resigned after being caught up himself in the stadium scandal) to the committee negotiating the sale and to then suggest adding more city council members to future similar committees. The response argues that “[a]dding more elected officials would further politicize the matter.”
  • Is “WinRed” in the Red?: Open Secrets reports on an FEC complaint filed against Republican affiliated contribution processing platform WinRed. The complainant, the Campaign Legal Center, allege that the company greatly underreported its operational costs relative to the political contributions they processed, disclosing “less than $2,700 in operating expenses since January 2019 despite processing over $2.8 billion in earmarked contributions – and $212 million in contribution refunds – during that period.” Good government groups claim that “[i]t is ‘virtually impossible’ that WinRed processed billions of dollars in contributions without incurring substantial administrative costs.” Further, they “did not disclose receiving any free goods or services as ‘in-kind’ contributions…[whereas] ActBlue [their Democrat equivalent] disclosed over $4.7 million to its affiliated company.”