HomeEssential Ethics / JUNE 29, 2018

Essential Ethics

JUNE 29, 2018

Latest Developments:

California Governor Jerry Brown appointed a new Chair of the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission last Friday.  According to the Sacramento Bee, Alice T. Germond joins the Commission after a lengthy political career that includes serving as the Governor’s Deputy Campaign Manager in his 1978 re-election.  Her term will expire in January.

In case you missed it:

  • No coordination allowed – but signals permitted: The Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint that a candidate’s public posts on his website that were subsequently copied by an independent expenditure committee were “coordinated.”  According to Politico, candidates signaled their desires this way during the 2016 elections.  The Commission found that similarities in ads were insignificant evidence of private coordination.
  • Kaiser Health News reports that when a drug company was faced with public pressure over the high cost of its products, it spent more on Washington lobbyists and its PAC spent more money on federal candidates, doubling its contributions over that of the previous year. Facing mounting criticism, including a lawsuit and a dropping stock price, Novo Nordisk, a Danish multinational, doubled what its American employee PAC spent on federal candidates and the company itself increased what it spent on lobbying to $3.2 million.
  • How do you know if you are a “foreign agent?” Bloomberg Government describes the conflicting advice often given by the federal Justice Department.  Bloomberg looked at the advisory opinions recently released by the Justice Department and found a very complex decision-making process as to who is a foreign agent and who is not.
  • Congressional staffers have first class seats on the gravy train. The Washington Examiner reports that one congressional staffer, Oliver Schwab who is chief of staff to Rep. David Schweikert, managed to spend more than $5,000 from congressional funds on a lavish Super Bowl weekend in 2015, which doesn’t include the many gifts of entertainment received over that weekend.  He spent over $800 per night on a hotel room and $660 for a rental car for the weekend.  Politico indicates that the House Ethics Committee has launched an investigation into Schweikert and Schwab’s spending of public funds and alleged illegal campaign contributions.
  • Don’t mess with Montana: The Missoula Current reports that, in a dispute between the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices and the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the association alleges that it has been fined $28,000 for stapling supporting documents to the wrong form.  The president of the association states that all forms were placed in one envelope, but that a list of candidates that should have been attached to Form C-2 was instead attached to Form C-7.
  • An Arkansas State Senator was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for submitting fraudulent bids through straw men to the Western Arkansas Economic Development District, which was responsible for administering state General Improvement Funds in his district, according to Arkansas Business. The now former Senator pocketed tens of thousands of dollars in state funds; the court ordered restitution.