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The News for 4/23/18 – Scott Pruitt’s scandals mount

April 23, 2018 | Adam Smith

EPA Administration Scott Pruitt’s questionable ethics didn’t start in the Trump administration, according to a report in the Times this weekend: “At the E.P.A., Mr. Pruitt is under investigation for allegations of unchecked spending, ethics lapses and other issues, including his interactions with lobbyists. An examination of Mr. Pruitt’s political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past.”

And remember his lobbyist-owned apartment in DC? The lobbying firm the owner’s husband chaired pushed him into early retirement after the bad publicity and hours after the announcement, a new disclosure report shows Hart “lobbied the agency while Pruitt was leading it, contrary to his and Pruitt’s public denials that he had any business before the agency, according to a Friday filing by his firm.”

In fact, Pruitt, “met personally last year with J. Steven Hart, the lobbyist whose wife had rented him a $50-a-night Capitol Hill condo, a disclosure that contradicts earlier statements that E.P.A. lobbying by Mr. Hart had not occurred.”

Tampa Bay Times editorial: “Pruitt was a terrible pick to protect the nation’s air, water and environmental health. But his anti-environmental agenda aside, his abuses of authority are a betrayal of public trust and an embarrassment even to this White House. The bubble of secrecy he has created and his tin ear to ethics has made him a poster boy of the swamp Trump promised to drain.”

Fox News’s Steve Hilton on Pruitt and everything else: “But there are far too many examples in this administration of exactly the kind of business-as-usual Washington swampiness that the president was elected to root out. In department after department, agency after agency, you see lobbyists for special interests now in positions of power to regulate those self-same interests. We will detail them for you in ‘Swamp Watch’ on Sunday. They should all be fired.”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Texas Tribune: Texas redistricting fight returns to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s what you need to know.
“In a case that could reshape political districts across the state, the U.S. Supreme Court this week will consider whether Texas for years has been conducting elections under maps that were drawn with the intent to discriminate against voters of color.”

Congress/Administration

TPM: Senate Dems Still Crushing Their GOP Rivals In Fundraising
“With less than 200 days to go to until the 2018 elections, all ten of the Democratic senators running in states President Trump won have major campaign cash advantages over their GOP opponents, according to numbers reported to the FEC. ”

Washington Post: Wealthy donors spend millions to boost top super PAC supporting Senate Democrats, filings show
“Wealthy Democratic donors are showing their muscle, as their seven-figure checks helped the top Senate Democratic super PAC post its best fundraising haul of the 2018 cycle last month, new federal filings show.”

The Hill: RNC raises record $13.9 million in March
The filing included a bunch of spending at Trump properties, but no refunds of Steve Wynn’s money: “The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced Friday that it raised $13.9 million in March, setting an RNC record for that month during a non-presidential election year.”

Politico: Pro-Trump groups spending big at Trump properties
It’s not just the campaign and RNC helping Trump profit off the presidency: “Political groups supporting President Donald Trump are doubling as big-spending customers for the business empire he has not divested from.”

And, “DNC raised $7 million in March, the lowest for an election year March since 2008.”

ABC News: Meet the top megadonors spending millions this election cycle
Interesting data point here: “So far this election cycle, 17 megadonors have given more than $100 million to candidates, party committees, super PACs, and outside groups. And six people have spent nearly more than $67 million so far this cycle in the battle to control Congress.”

HuffPost: 13 Billboards Call Out How Much Money Politicians Got From The NRA
Nice: “On Friday, grassroots gun reform group Survivors Empowered launched a campaign called ’30 Billboards Outside Cowardly Incumbents,’ inspired by the movie ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.’ The group bought ad space on 13 billboards in nine states, from California to Iowa to Alabama, and are fundraising for 17 more. Each sign lists the name of a local member of Congress and how much money they’ve received from the gun lobby group.

Daily Beast: The Democrats’ War Chest to Take Back the House Just Got Even Bigger
“The DCCC’s record March total outpaced its congressional competitor, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which raised $10.5 million in the same month. By comparison, in March of 2016, a presidential year, the DCCC raised significantly less than they posted for this past month.”

News18: Record Number of Indian Americans running for US Congress This Year
“A record number of 20 Indian Americans are running for US Congressional elections this year. Collectively they have raised more than USD 15.5 million, as per latest official figures, with seven of them raising over a million each.”

New Jersey Globe: Morris GOP nearly broke
LOL: “Morris County Republicans lost money on their winter fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club and have a paltry $13,956 in their warchest, according to a report filed with the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.”

Daily Beast: How Corey Lewandowski ‘F*cked Over’ a David Petraeus-Linked Socialite to Become the Polish Arms Industry’s Man in D.C.
Sounds about right: “Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s informal adviser and fired campaign chief, quietly facilitated a highly lucrative deal between Poland’s top military contractors and one of the most elite lobbying shops in Washington, D.C., The Daily Beast has learned.”

WTSB: ‘Zombie Campaigns’ reform ways after 10Investigates series
“After a joint 10Investigates/Tampa Bay Times investigation exposed 100 former Congressmembers exploiting a loophole in campaign finance law that allowed them to keep spending campaign donations for years after they left office and stopped campaigning, new campaign filings suggest some campaigns have changed their ways.”

In Pennsylvania last week, at a Democratic candidate forum in PA05 sponsored by NextGen, every candidate raised their hand when asked if they’d “refuse to take corporate PAC money” (go to the 21:25 mark). And a candidate in that race has this letter to the editor.

AP: Koch network success in Trump era draws Democratic pushback
Trump and Republicans have given the Kochs everything they want and : “Democrats are increasingly questioning how far the network’s influence extends into the White House, casting the groups’ backing by industrialists Charles and David Koch as puppeteers behind Trump’s agenda and hoping to rouse their own donors to fight back.”

Bloomberg: Facebook Set Lobbying Record Amid Cambridge Analytica Furor
“Facebook Inc. set a lobbying record in the first three months, just as an uproar flared up the leak of data on millions of users’ without their permission.”

Free Beacon: Mylan Executives Donate Big Money to Manchin
“Executives at Mylan N.V., the pharmaceutical company that drew controversy for increasing the price of EpiPen devices nearly 400 percent, donated heavily to Democratic senator Joe Manchin’s reelection campaign as the company planned to lay off more than 400 workers in his home state of West Virginia.”

States/Other

CT Mirror: Bysiewicz challenges Lamont over campaign financing
Ned Lamont is opting out of Connecticut’s public financing program for his governor’s race and at a candidate forum Sunday, another candidate – Susan Bysiewicz – asked Lamont if he “would limit his spending before the Democratic primary to the $1.25 million allotted to candidates who qualify for a public grant. Lamont, who is financing his campaign with personal wealth and grass-roots contributions, declined to make that promise.”

Sun Journal: Garrett Mason seeks to become Maine’s youngest elected governor
And in Maine, a Republican State Senator will use the Clean Elections program in hopes of becoming the state’s youngest governor: “Mason, the majority leader of the state Senate who has been a champion of the religious right, isn’t following the campaign calculus of his three GOP competitors, relying instead on a grassroots, church-focused strategy and funding from the state’s Clean Elections program.”

Tucson.com: Former Secretary of State Ken Bennett to challenge Gov. Doug Ducey in primary
In Arizona, former Secretary of State Ken Bennett will also seek to qualify for Arizona’s Clean Elections program to challenge incumbent Gov. Doug Ducey.

Times Free Press: Fundraising, ethics key in Alabama lieutenant governor’s race
In the Alabama Lieutenant Governor’s race, “ethics is a top issue in the race as the Legislature looks to review the state’s ethics law next year and lawmakers currently face corruption charges. GOP contenders are trumpeting their integrity and staunch conservatism.”

VTDigger: House committee debates limiting corporate influence in Vermont politics
In Vermont, “in a packed committee room on Friday, the House Committee on Government Operations heard testimony about a bill to limit the influence of corporations on Vermont politics.”

Columbus Dispatch: Lack of campaign fundraising caps, tracking issues at City Hall raise concerns
A look at campaign finance in Columbus: “A Dispatch review of more than 12,000 contributions made to elected officeholders at Columbus City Hall found that, although it’s easy to track down individual contributions, determining how much individuals and corporate interests give over time remains difficult.” And, “

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.

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