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The News for June 13, 2018 – Pruitt leans on donors to help wife land job

June 13, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt called on his donors who have business interests before the EPA to help his wife land a job, in just the latest of a string of ethics scandals: “The job hunt included Pruitt’s approaching wealthy party supporters and conservative figures with ties to the Trump administration. The individuals said he enlisted Samantha Dravis, then serving as associate administrator for the EPA’s Office of Policy, to line up work for his wife. And when one donor, Doug Deason, said he could not hire Marlyn Pruitt because of a conflict of interest, Pruitt continued to solicit his help in trying to find other possibilities.”

Love how Deason, a donor who gave $900,000 in 2016 to help elect Trump and Republicans and is the same donor Pruitt leaned on to pick EPA science advisors, is worried about conflicts of interest. Marlyn Pruitt landed a job with the Judicial Crisis network which spends millions including to groups associated with Pruitt to support the appointment of conservative judges.

In a sign of Pruitt’s growing unpopularity, the Republican dark-money group Americans Future Fund is running ads calling for Trump to fire Pruitt.

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Election Law Blog: Federal District Court Holds Colorado Law Allowing Private Individuals to File Campaign Finance Complaints Violates the First Amendment
Rich Hasen doesn’t pull any punches: “This opinion (by Obama appointee Raymond Moore) is perhaps the worst-written and reasoned election law opinion I’ve read from a federal court.”

Roll Call: Senators: Convicted Lobbyists Need to Disclose Their Record
“The mid-2000s might call, wanting their lobbying bill back. Though it sounds like a measure that could easily have been proposed during the height of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal more than a dozen years ago, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs panel will consider a bipartisan bill Wednesday that would require lobbyists to disclose certain convictions, including those for bribery.”

Rolling Stone: Watching the Deletion of Democracy Before Our Eyes
Great take on the Husted case that allowed Ohio to continue purging voters: “We must be explicit, as bigotry often hides in semantics. This voter purge is being done deliberately. As with any other form of discrimination, it doesn’t happen by accident. It is alarming to see men like Justice Samuel Alito act like it does.”

Talking Points Memo: Gerrymandering Reform Could Be Undone By Big Money In State Politics
Zachary Roth reports two Michigan Supreme Court judges who will consider an important gerrymandering case recently held a fundraiser with the Chamber of Commerce, a key backer of the lawsuit: “We don’t know how things will play out with the challenge to Michigan’s redistricting reform measure, and whether those contributions from the Chamber of Commerce will influence the two judges. But it would be darkly ironic if an effort to fix one major democratic defect — partisan gerrymandering — ended up a casualty of another: the distorting influence of campaign money on judicial elections.”

New Republic: Lessons From the Gilded Age
Sarah Jones: “All this worry about the prospect of a new Gilded Age can obscure the fact that there are solutions to many of the problems informing these comparisons.”

Congress/Administration

Huffington Post: DNC Quietly Adopts Ban On Fossil Fuel Company Donations
Yet another sign that politicians this election cycle feel the need to take strides to show voters they aren’t influenced by industry influence: “The Democratic National Committee voted over the weekend to ban donations from fossil fuel companies, HuffPost has learned. The resolution ― proposed by Christine Pelosi, a party activist and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s daughter ― bars the organization from accepting contributions from corporate political action committees tied to the oil, gas and coal industries. The executive committee voted unanimously to approve the motion.”

New York Times: Unscripted Moments Steal the Show at Trump-Kim Singapore Summit
Here’s an interesting detail to the Trump-Kim summit. Kim Jong-un’s sightseeing tour of Singapore included a stop at a hotel owned by Donald Trump’s biggest donor: “On the way up to view the Singapore skyline from the roof of the Marina Bay Sands, a hotel owned by Mr. Trump’s supporter Sheldon G. Adelson, Mr. Kim waved jovially at bystanders. Then he took the selfie with Singapore’s foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan.”

New York Times: AT&T’s Time Warner Takeover Wins Judge’s Approval in Defeat for Justice Dept.
Reminder that AT&T paid Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for “insights” into the Trump administration and spend $4.1 million on lobbying in the first quarter of this year alone.

Politico: Mueller unveils more proof Manafort led Ukraine lobbying in U.S.
“Special counsel Robert Mueller made public new evidence Tuesday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort directed an organized but unregistered lobbying campaign in the U.S. on behalf of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.”

Washington Post: John Bolton was paid $115,000 to participate in two panels sponsored by foundation of Ukrainian steel magnate
When you have a lot of money to throw around, apparently you can get the ear of high-ranking US officials. A Ukrainian steel magnate with the goal of creating closer ties between Ukraine has a habit of putting money in the pockets of American politicians: “National security adviser John Bolton was paid $115,000 in the past year to participate in two panel discussions sponsored by the foundation of an Ukrainian steel magnate — including one in Kiev last September, during which Bolton reassured the audience that President Trump would not radically change U.S. foreign policy.”

Bloomberg: Kushner’s 2017 Apartment Deal Shows Turn Toward Israeli Firms
“Jared Kushner has expanded his personal ties to Israeli financial firms as he oversees policy in the Middle East for his father-in-law, President Donald Trump. A line of credit Kushner and his father hold with Israel Discount Bank jumped to as much as $25 million during the past year, from under $5 million in late 2017″

San Diego Union-Tribune: Longtime Trump fixer Michael Cohen has been telling friends he expects to be arrested shortly
“Michael Cohen thinks he might soon have to swap his pinstripes for prison stripes. The longtime attorney and personal fixer to President Trump expects to be put in cuffs any day now, possibly opening up his top client to legal complications, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.” Cohen is facing a federal investigation including over campaign finance violations. A former White House official told Vanity Fair: “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”

States/Other

San Antonio Express-News: Wolff calls on legislators to reform campaign finance laws
“Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff has called on the state Legislature to reform Texas campaign finance laws during the 2019 legislative session.”

Houston Chronicle: Campaign contributions and the big dogs
In Texas where there are no limits on what donors can give to candidates: “The lack of any limits means a small group of wealthy individuals enjoy tremendous financial influence over all lawmakers — a reality that’s disturbing for any Texan who prefers to think we all have a say in the state capitol… The state should impose better limits on campaign finance, close disclosure loopholes and provide more information — voters deserve to see a bigger picture of who is underwriting campaigns.”

Associated Press: Taxpayers pick up tab in campaign finance dispute
And Rep. Pearce gained access to more than $700,000 he raised in Congress for his campaign for governor: “New Mexico taxpayers will cover up to $133,000 in legal fees in a dispute between state campaign finance regulators and the gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Steve Pearce under a settlement agreement.”

Laura Friedenbach

Laura is Every Voice's Deputy Communications Director

Every Voice and Every Voice Center have recently come under new leadership. We will be expanding and diversifying our efforts to promote a democracy that works for all of us and responds to the voices of everyday people. Watch this space for specifics later in 2019.