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The News for June 25, 2018 – Pruitt discussed hiring friend of lobbyist landlord, Trumps mix politics and business

June 25, 2018 | Laura Friedenbach

New emails released as a result of a lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club show that Scott Pruitt’s lobbyist landlord did in fact lobby the Environmental Protection Agency despite denials. The New York Times reports, “Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, discussed hiring a friend of a lobbyist family that owned a condominium he was renting for $50 a night, newly released emails suggest. The files also show communications involving the lobbyist’s client interests that have not previously been disclosed, suggesting a closer relationship between the lobbyist, J. Steven Hart, and the agency than previously known.”

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club: “We now have concrete evidence that Scott Pruitt offered to use taxpayer resources to do favors for the lobbyist who gave him a sweetheart deal on a D.C. condo”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Letter to the editor in Pennsylvania: “Across the country, the people elected to represent us sell their souls for campaign cash. Imagine how strong our country would be if the U.S. House and Senate spent their days working for the people who elected them instead of the people who buy them.”

Political Insights: The Trump Foundation Necessitates Campaign Finance Reform
On the recent charges filed against the Donald J. Trump Foundation: “While the suit, itself, is shocking and scandalous, it is the charity’s ties to the financing of political campaigns throughout the nation for decades that perfectly embodies the need for campaign finance reform. The intent of these actions – to subvert the American electoral system for personal, corporate, and partisan gains – should be of the greatest concern to American citizens around the world as the ways in which ‘dark money’ is funneled to and through campaigns changes by the day.”

Congress/Administration

New York Times: Trump Leaves His Mark on a Presidential Keepsake
President Trump has turned the tradition of handing out challenge coins into a promotion opportunity for his business by embossing them with an image of his private Florida club Mar-a-Lago. Watchdogs warned the coins should not be produced using government resources since as Norm Eisen said, they are effectively “a metallic tourist brochure”. And lol: “After The New York Times inquired about the coins, agency personnel abruptly canceled plans for a coin featuring the president’s signature Trump Tower in Manhattan and his golf course in Bedminster, N.J.”

Politico: Don Jr. storms the midterms
Meanwhile, a son who is running the Trump business is mixing business and politics by acting as a campaign surrogate: “Absent a visit from the president himself, a fundraiser or event with Trump Jr. is fast becoming red-state Republican hopefuls’ favorite way to boast Trump’s support. So while his sister Ivanka worked to pull strings in the White House, Trump Jr. logged half a dozen rallies and fundraisers this spring and is planning to add more to the books, according to a source close to him.”

Washington Post: Stormy Daniels meeting with prosecutors in Michael Cohen investigation is canceled
Here’s the latest development as prosecutors investigate Michael Cohen’s campaign finance violation: “Stormy Daniels had been scheduled to be interviewed Monday by prosecutors in the Southern ­District of New York, preparing for a potential grand jury appearance about a $130,000 payment from President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump, according to a person familiar with the investigation, but her lawyer said late Sunday that the meeting has been canceled. Michael Avenatti said he received a call late Sunday from two prosecutors who said they were concerned about media interest in the interview and canceled the meeting”

Wall Street Journal: Trump Associates Facing Mounting Legal Bills Turn to Financial Backers for Help
A GoFundMe page and the Patriot Legal Expense Fund Trust are helping ease the financial burden as investigators continue to interview Michael Caputo about Russian interference into presidential elections. We will learn more about donors to the legal fund soon: “Donors to the fund must be publicly disclosed quarterly to the IRS, with its first filing expected in mid-July.”

New Yorker: A Parlor Game at Rebekah Mercer’s Has No Get Out of Jail Free Card
lol, this story about big donors reliving the election with a parlor game is really something: “Robert Mercer, the New York hedge-fund magnate whose huge donations to pro-Trump groups in 2016 have been credited with putting Donald Trump in the White House, has kept a low profile since the election. But his daughter Rebekah, who runs the family’s foundation, now has a way to relive the thrill of the campaign with friends around her dinner table.”

After getting kicked out of a Virginia restaurant, Sarah Sanders violated ethics rules according to Walter Shaub by tweeting about it from her official account.

New Mexico In Depth: As immigration debate rages, private prison operators spread cash to NM pols
“Two of the nation’s largest private prison companies have given nearly $33,000 to New Mexico’s congressional representatives and state lawmakers over the last year and a half, a review of campaign finance records by New Mexico In Depth shows… Across the country [GEO Group, Inc., and CoreCivic] have spent considerable money to influence government policy and have made sizable profits from detaining immigrants in their facilities”. The reach of private prison cash even extends to critics of Trump’s policy to separate migrant families like Sen. Patty Murray.

Las Vegas Sun: A conditional welcome to President Trump
Brian Greenspun, editor, publisher, and owner of the Sun has this welcome to Las Vegas as President Trump visits for a fundraiser: “What you did at the border was just plain wrong and immoral. I hope your friends tell you as much in Las Vegas while you raise money. After all, what kind of friends — what kind of Americans — would they be if they just stood silently on the sidelines and said or did nothing while our president helps America lose its soul?”

Politico: Opioid bills could net millions for companies
“The House is touting passage of dozens of bills that could help combat the national opioid crisis — but a small handful of companies that have spent millions lobbying Congress could reap a windfall if any of the bills become law.”

Vox: Energy lobbyists have a new PAC to push for a carbon tax. Wait, what?
Interesting read: “This new PAC is a pure industry effort, a coalition of energy groups from almost every big energy sector except coal, backed by industry-friend lobbyists.”

Sludge: Facing Progressive Challenger, Crowley Embraces Corporate Cash
“As an increasing number of Democratic candidates pledge to reject corporate funding in an effort to appeal to progressive voters, the Democrat billed as a more liberal alternative to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi continues to rake in corporate money. Rep. Joe Crowley, who holds the fourth-highest ranking position in House Democratic leadership, has received roughly $1.1 million this election cycle from more than 250 corporate PACs, a Sludge analysis of thousands of campaign contributions filed to the Federal Election Commission this cycle found. Crowley’s left flank challenger, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, has received none”

States/Other

Arizona Daily Sun: To shine light on dark money, sign up
Letter to the editor: ” It’s about time for Arizona to bring campaign “dark money” out of the shadows. As an Arizona voter, I have long worried about making the correct choices when I fill out my ballot. If there are thousands of dollars from undisclosed special interests behind the candidate I’m considering, I feel I deserve to know that this may or may not affect that person’s voting record in the future. Fortunately, voters could have the opportunity this year to weigh in on this crucial issue if enough signatures can be secured to place the proposed amendment on the ballot. Volunteers are working hard to make petitions available to the public, and I urge everyone to sign.”

Associated Press: Group Wants Investigation of Rent-Free Campaign Offices
“A government watchdog group wants an investigation into whether a Rhode Island real estate developer tried to curry favor with politicians of both parties by giving them free campaign offices. John Marion, the executive director of Common Cause, filed a campaign finance complaint earlier this week against Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung after WPRI-TV reported that the Carpionato Group didn’t cash some of his rent checks during previous elections.”

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.