Gov Inaugurals Dependent on Corporate Money, Lack Transparency

Sun Herald (1/3): “Eleven new governors are taking office this month, and nearly two dozen others are renewing their oaths for second, third or — in the case of Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad — sixth terms. Many will celebrate with chart-topping bands and blowout balls, with much of the bill footed by the same supporters who bankrolled their victorious campaigns.

“In many states, corporate money that was banned before Election Day is allowed to cover the tab for inaugural parties.

“Critics see the events as another means for corporations and wealthy individuals to curry political favor with the state’s highest office, and in many cases without the transparency required by usual campaign finance laws.”

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.'”

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.”