Kate Ackley

House Democrats seek details of Trump ethics waivers
Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings launched investigation earlier this week

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, chairman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, wants a status update on the state of the swamp in the Trump administration.

The Maryland Democrat launched an investigation late this week into the administration’s use of ethics waivers, which allow former lobbyists to work on matters they handled in their previous private sector jobs. Cummings sent letters to the White House and 24 agencies and Cabinet departments requesting copies of their ethics pledges and details of any waivers that could expose “potential conflicts of interest.”

Confused by Congress’ bills? Maybe AI can help
House clerk is working on an ‘artificial intelligence engine’ that will compare legislation

As lawmakers grapple with how to shape legislation dealing with artificial intelligence, the clerk of the House is developing an AI tool to automate the process of analyzing differences between bills, amendments and current laws.

That’s according to Robert F. Reeves, the deputy clerk of the House, who on Friday told the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress that his office is working on an “artificial intelligence engine” that may be ready as soon as next year.

Lobbyists to Congress: Pay staffers better
Six ex-lawmakers offer recommendations on making Capitol Hill great again

K Street denizens and former members of Congress offered tips on Wednesday for making Capitol Hill great again to the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, including recommendations to help Congress keep pace with lobbyists like themselves.

Six ex-lawmakers — including Virginia Republican Tom Davis — suggested that Congress pay its staffers more money to better hold their own with experts from K Street and the executive branch. They also called for more civility on Capitol Hill, less emphasis on fundraising, and to invest more in technology and technological savvy within the legislative branch.

‘No corporate PAC’ pledges aren’t always so pure
Contributions sometimes go through other lawmakers or party committees

Corporate PAC money is yucky, but if it comes via contributions from other lawmakers or party committees, the taste seems to suddenly improve.

That’s the message from many incumbents in the club of 50-something Democratic lawmakers who refuse corporate political action committee dollars but still accept donations from colleagues and party committees that take the derided funds.

Trade, infrastructure, health care issues dominate K Street
Uncertainties in Washington haven’t dampened hopes for legislative deal-making

The renegotiated trade deal with Canada and Mexico, an elusive infrastructure package and debate over prescription drug prices dominated the lobbying agendas of some of the biggest spenders on K Street early this year, setting the legislative stage for the rest of 2019.

The tumult of the Trump administration and the uncertainty of divided party control on Capitol Hill have kept business interests on the defense while also looking for openings to help broker big-scope legislative deals before presidential politics takes hold by 2020.

K Street gets behind Mayor Pete Buttigieg
In contrast to some 2020 rivals, Indiana mayor takes a tamer tone on anti-lobbyist rhetoric

A collection of prominent K Street insiders has jumped behind the Pete Buttigieg campaign, helping the South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s bid in the Democratic 2020 presidential contest with fundraising and strategy.

It’s striking that longtime federal lobbyists, policy strategists and message makers are gravitating to the D.C. outsider’s campaign given the long list of sitting lawmakers who are also running. K Street denizens, though they often bring with them the baggage of working on behalf of corporate interests, offer campaigns a network of donors and fundraising expertise as well as policy chops and sway on Capitol Hill.

This mysterious 2012 super PAC donor may finally be revealed
The case dates to a $1.71 million donation to a super PAC supporting Missouri candidate Todd Akin

The Federal Election Commission may unmask the identities of a mystery political donor and trust, known only in public documents as John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, a federal appeals court said Friday.

The case stretches back to an October 2012 $1.71 million donation that ultimately went to a super PAC that at the time supported Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully against Democrat and then-Sen. Claire McCaskill. Akin was widely criticized for saying women who are victims of “legitimate rape” were unlikely to become pregnant.

Thanks to Mueller, foreign agents come under greater scrutiny
New focus on the influence business is no ‘flash in the pan’

The special counsel’s nearly two-year probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections may have let the president himself mostly off the hook, but one sector emerged positively scathed: international lobbying.

Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation resulted in the convictions of onetime lobbyists, of course, but more consequentially, it put an unprecedented glare on the sometimes shadowy foreign influence campaigns that play out on U.S. soil — and the disclosure rules of those engagements.

Former Rep. Robin Hayes indicted in North Carolina political money scandal
Indictment references a “Public Official A,” who allegedly met with those charged

A bribery, fraud and political money scandal in North Carolina rocked the state’s Republicans on Tuesday with federal indictments of party insiders, including former Rep. Robin Hayes, and the case may reverberate yet on Capitol Hill.

Federal prosecutors have charged Hayes, chairman of the state’s Republican party, and three others, including big donor Greg Lindberg, founder and chairman of Eli Global, in connection with an effort to bribe the state insurance commissioner with campaign donations, according to a federal indictment unsealed Tuesday.

Senate Democrats take up HR 1 battle cry
Udall: ‘Now the ball is in Sen. McConnell’s court’

Every Senate Democrat, taking their House colleagues’ cues, signed on to their chamber’s version of a major campaign finance, voting and ethics overhaul on Wednesday.

The measure, nearly identical to a bill that passed the House earlier this month, serves primarily as a campaign messaging document for the 2020 elections. That’s because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed not to bring it up for consideration in the chamber.

‘No PAC money’ pledges leave corporations in a partisan bind
Corporate PACs fear upending of their ‘balanced approach’ as more Democrats reject their cash

ANALYSIS — Hundreds of PAC people escaped Washington earlier this month for a South Florida resort, huddling over the latest trends in political money and seeking clues about the future of their beleaguered enterprises.

One breakout session, dubbed “Under Siege,” aptly portrayed the angst that hung over the crowd like the shade cast by palm trees over the hotel pool. These folks run the political action committees of corporations and business associations just when a growing contingent of lawmakers is rejecting their donations.

Small-dollar donors could hold the balance in 2020
Concerns about money in politics are empowering individual voters

Poll after poll shows that a wide majority of Americans denounce the role of money in the nation’s political campaigns — so their behavior in response might come as a surprise: More Americans are donating to candidates, particularly in small-dollar increments.

Molly McCloskey, a 27-year-old who works in advertising in Chicago, said she ponied up several donations, none larger than $40 and most closer to $15, in last year’s campaigns to support Democratic candidates. “There were times where I felt helpless, so I donated,” McCloskey said. “It felt like some sort of action, like I was doing something.”

Ex-Sen. Joe Donnelly Goes to K Street’s Akin Gump

Former Sen. Joe Donnelly, the Indiana Democrat who lost his re-election bid in November, is the latest ex-lawmaker to land on K Street.

He will join the lobbying and law firm Akin Gump as a partner on April 1, and no that’s not an April Fool’s joke, the firm’s spokesman confirmed.

‘Dead billionaires’ and a tech Peace Corps? Lawmakers float ideas to fix Congress
First hearing of new modernization committee turns into a brainstorming session

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer kicked off the first hearing of the new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress with a plea for a return of something from the past: earmarks.

The Maryland Democrat was the first among 30 lawmakers who offered ideas Tuesday to the temporary and bipartisan panel, which has been charged with making recommendations about how to update Congress for the modern era.

House passes HR 1 government overhaul, sending it back to campaign trail
With Senate not planning to take it up, Democrats plan to continue fight into 2020

With passage of HR 1, House Democrats’ political money, ethics and voting overhaul, the mammoth proposal now heads exclusively to the 2020 campaign trail, where candidates in both parties say they believe their message will woo voters.

The House passed the measure 234-193 Friday morning. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the bill’s foe in chief, has assured his side he plans to officially ignore it in his chamber, refusing to bring it for a vote even as the Kentucky Republican said Wednesday that he believed his party could win elections against people who support it.

HR 1 debate gets under way as GOP sharpens attacks
McConnell predicts electoral disaster for supporters, but will not allow vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell — who has led opposition to House Democrats’ campaign finance, elections and ethics overhaul, HR 1 — said Wednesday he believed lawmakers who support the measure may imperil their re-election chances.

Yet, the Kentucky Republican again pledged to give the measure, which the House is expected to pass along party lines on Friday, zero floor time in his chamber, declining then to give senators an opportunity to test his theory in their 2020 campaigns.

10 things you might not know about HR 1
Some significant changes have not been talked about much as the bill has advanced to the House floor

As the House begins debate Wednesday on HR 1 — the Democratic majority’s package overhauling voting, campaign finance and ethics law — some parts of the bill will likely get more attention than others, but several under-the-radar provisions in the 622-page legislation would nevertheless have sweeping impacts.

Here are 10 provisions that have not received much attention as the legislation advanced through committee hearings and markups on its way to the floor.

K Street mounts offensive to HR 1
McConnell, Trump join in opposition

The nation’s business and lobbying interests began publicly mobilizing Tuesday in a coordinated attack against House Democrats’ signature campaign finance, lobbying, ethics and voting overhaul, which the full chamber plans to vote on Friday morning.

More than 300 groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the top spending organization on federal lobbying — and numerous other state, federal and conservative-leaning organizations wrote to lawmakers attacking the bill for “pushing certain voices, representing large segments of the electorate and our economy, out of the political process altogether.”

House Democrats ready ethics overhaul for floor vote this week
HR 1, a sweeping ethics overhaul is expected to pass along party lines, amid intense opposition from Republicans

House Democrats, barely nine weeks into a majority they won in part with promises of an anti-corruption legislative agenda, will turn the spotlight this week to their signature campaign finance, ethics, voting and lobbying overhaul.

The House Rules Committee will take up the package Tuesday, setting the parameters for consideration on the floor. Lawmakers then will debate the measure on the House floor over the following days, with an expected vote on final passage Friday morning. Democrats and outside advocates pushing for the bill say they’ll be on high alert for GOP attempts, including amendments and motions to recommit, that could tank the overhaul.

Liberal outside groups lobby for campaign finance overhaul
A coalition of 71 hopes to persuade House members to approve campaign finance, ethics law overhaul

A coalition of 71 mostly liberal organizations is mobilizing to persuade House members to approve a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s campaign finance, ethics, lobbying and election laws.

The House Rules Committee, according to a notice on its website, is expected to consider the bill next week, priming it for the floor. The measure, which has widespread support among House Democrats, has no GOP backers and is expected to pass the House on a party-line vote as soon as next week. The Republican-led Senate is unlikely to consider the legislation at all.