MI County Commissioner Supported Hiring of Contributor without Disclosure

Record Eagle (12/20): “Grand Traverse County Commissioner Larry Inman lobbied for a local attorney to represent the county in liability litigation, but didn’t disclose he received campaign contributions from the lawyer and his wife.
County board members during a Dec. 17 meeting discussed bids they received from two insurance and liability carriers: the county’s longtime carrier Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority — known commonly as MMRMA — and Municipal Underwriters of Michigan, Inc.

“Inman during the meeting raised questions about continuing to contract with MMRMA, because MMRMA does not let its clients choose their own attorneys in liability litigation. That means, in lawsuits involving the insurance provider, the county couldn’t be represented by Traverse City attorney Christopher Cooke, who along with his wife contributed $2,000 to support Inman’s successful run for a state House of Representatives seat this fall, according to campaign finance records.”

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Former FL AG Given High-Level Access for Lobbyist Clients, No Disclosure

The whole article is worth a read, it also has an overview of problems with Florida’s revolving door policies.

Tampa Bay: “When the cruise line Royal Caribbean sought to amend a 1997 consumer protection agreement with the Florida Attorney General’s office, it hired a lawyer familiar with the agency’s inner workings.

“Former Attorney General Bill McCollum called on the staff of his successor, Pam Bondi. Six months after the June 2013 meeting, Bondi’s office granted McCollum’s request.

“Royal Caribbean’s advertised rates would no longer have to include fees for services like baggage handling and loading cargo. The fees, which can inflate a trip’s cost by more than $100, could be listed separately from the company’s advertised rates.

“McCollum served as vice or acting chairman of the Washington D.C.-based group [the Republican State Leadership Committee] from June 2012 to January 2014, records show. During that period it contributed $650,000 to Bondi’s re-election campaign, more than 10 percent of what she raised, and chipped in another $16,000 in gifts so she could attend conferences with other Republican attorneys general.” [brackets added]

“Yet once he did contact Bondi’s office in 2013, McCollum didn’t register himself or list his clients with the state, which is a requirement for anyone who lobbies the executive branch.

“McCollum says that restriction — intended to ensure the public knows who is trying to influence public officials — doesn’t apply to him.

“‘I was wearing my lawyer hat,’ McCollum said. ‘I’m representing a client on a legal matter. I’m not trying to influence the attorney general. I’m trying to represent my client. That’s not lobbying.'”

NJ Mayor Declare He Won’t Provide Reports for Previous Inaugural Balls

Paterson Press: “Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres said he would ‘absolutely not’ file campaign finance reports detailing the contributions and spending on inaugural balls his hosted after his election wins in 2006 and 2002.

“‘Those accounts are already closed,’ Torres said. ‘I don’t even know if the reports exist.’

“Torres also was not planning to make public the finance reports for his 2014 inaugural party until Paterson Press last month sent him a copy of the state law requiring him to do so.”

Meet the Democrats’ Dark Money Networks

Slate: At the forefront is the nonprofit Patriot Majority USA, which is providing Democrats with a countervailing force against the political machine of conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch. This election cycle, Patriot Majority USA has spent more than $7 million on political advertisements, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That makes it the largest Democratic-aligned dark money operation in the country.”

“Between January 2011 and December 2012, Patriot Majority USA raised roughly $26 million, according to tax records. The source of most of that money is not publicly known. But a Center for Public Integrity review of Department of Labor, FEC, and Internal Revenue Service filings shows that 13 contributors have combined to give Patriot Majority USA about $4.7 million since January 2011.

“Among the newly identified contributors: the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare ($500,000), the International Longshoremen’s Association PAC ($50,000), the American Health Care Association ($25,000), and the American Association for Justice PAC ($10,000).

“Patriot Majority USA’s top known donor is the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care, which gave $1.25 million over two years.”

How American Crossroads Seemingly Violates Nonprofit Political Rules with Impunity

OpenSecrets: “In 2012, the year that Crossroads provided the lion’s share of its funding, ATR told the Federal Election Commission it spent nearly $15.8 million on “independent expenditures” — that is, direct advocacy for and against specific candidates. As OpenSecrets Blog first reported, that amounted to more than half of the total $31 million that ATR told the IRS it spent that year.

“Moreover, since the grant from Crossroads GPS made up 86 percent of ATR’s revenues that year, most of the money spent by ATR on political activity had to have been Crossroads’ money. Crossroads had already come close to spending about half of its own resources on politics, intending for its grants to other groups to fulfill its “social welfare” mandate. But by underwriting almost all of ATR’s budget, Crossroads, in effect, amplified and expanded its own political spending. And that’s to say nothing of Crossroads other grants to politically active groups.

“All this happened despite the fact that in 2012, Crossroads GPS claimed to have instituted more stringent requirements for how it selects grantees and how those grantees can use the funds.”

OH Gov Collected $513,000 in 2013 for Governing Fund that Does Not Disclose Donors, Bringing Total to $2.19M

The Detroit News: Fund does not disclose donors or itemized expenses.

“Set up by Snyder’s office to have private donors pay for some expenses associated with governing, the NERD Fund spent $713,727 on travel, meetings, management and legal bills in 2013 — a 20 percent increase from 2012 spending, records show.

“During its less than three years of existence, Snyder’s NERD Fund raised $2.19 million from undisclosed donors, according to 2011, 2012 and 2013 IRS records.”

MI Candidates Outspent by Dark Money

Midland Daily News: “In the race for Michigan Attorney General, incumbent Bill Schuette spent almost $1.8 million on television advertising as opposed to $358,500 for opponent Mark Totten, as reported by the Michigan Campaign Financial Network.”

“The Michigan Advocacy Trust spent an estimated $2.6 million for television ads in support of Schuette and against Totten. MAT’s founder, Richard McLellan, headed Schuette’s transition team after he won election in 2010 to the attorney general office.

“Totten’s campaign got a boost from the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, which spent an estimated $470,000 for ads that attacked Schuette.”