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Yahoo! News/The Hill: Lobbying World

Virginia Kase Solomón will be the next president and CEO of Common Cause. Currently CEO of the League of Women Voters, she will start her new role in February and will be the first Hispanic person to lead the democratic watchdog. She succeeds Karen Hobert Flynn, who died this spring after three decades with the organization.

Money & Influence 12.17.2023

Los Angeles Times/Tribune News: Environmentalists investing in Big Oil? Inside the surprising stock portfolios of California lawmakers

“A lot of these people tell their constituents what they think they want to hear even if they don’t necessarily believe in it or they’re not doing necessarily what’s in the best interest of the public, but themselves,” said Sean McMorris, who focuses on transparency, ethics and accountability at California Common Cause, a government watchdog group.

Money & Influence 12.9.2023

Santa Fe New Mexican (Editorial): Increase the alcohol tax and save lives: It's that simple

It’s no wonder New Mexico hasn’t raised the excise tax on alcohol over the past 40 years. A report from citizens’ interest group Common Cause New Mexico lays out just why legislators are so reluctant to tax alcohol, both as a means of raising revenue and to reduce drinking. Called “Still Under the Influence,” the report successfully — as it intends — “connects the dots” from contributions to policy outcome. In 2023 alone, liquor lobbyists spent $74,968 on entertaining and wining and dining legislators, according to the Common Cause report. These are not campaign contributions. These are just dollars to grease the gears of government, and liquor lobbyists ensure there is plenty of grease. Their force showed during the 2023 session, when yet another attempt to increase the excise tax on liquor failed. It’s past time to act, with what has always been a crisis in New Mexico growing more acute. The Common Cause New Mexico report is clear: “Between 2019 and 2021, the state’s alcohol-related death rate increased by 31 percent.”

Indiana Public Media/Indiana Capital Chronicle: With gambling legislation on pause, some push for reform

The recent scandals show Indiana’s lobbying and campaign finance regulatory processes are a “complete failure,” said Julia Vaughn, leader of government watchdog Common Cause Indiana. “No state agency even recognized what was going on. … Thank goodness that the (Federal Bureau of Investigation) was paying attention,” Vaughn said — although she said Indiana Election Division and Indiana Lobby Registration Commission (ILRC) staff were “doing the best they can under the very bad structure” in place. “We need some sort of (review) process. I hate to be the person who says, ‘I hope this scandal blows up into the biggest thing ever,’ but that’s what spurs reform,” Vaughn said.

The Daily Beast: This Top GOP Recruit Has a Swampy Connection to a Trumpy Rep

Stephen Spaulding, vice president of policy at the good government group Common Cause, told The Daily Beast that the Sheehy-Zinke relationship—consisting of major campaign contributions, federal contracts, and favorable legislation—was the exact kind of “pungent mix” that gives voters the impression that elected officials put corporate money over the public interest. Americans, Spaulding said, are “rightly turned off” by such relationships. “It’s what gives rise to corruption and the appearance of corruption, and the perception that the public interest is taking a back seat to a corporation’s bottom line,” Spaulding said. “It is all too common in Washington and it’s why we need to strengthen laws to guard against pay to play politics.” Spaulding, of Common Cause, told The Daily Beast that he couldn’t think of any precedent where a sitting senator owned a private company that held federal contracts. Elected officials should observe “the highest ethical standards,” he said, and argued Sheehy’s constituents deserve to know whether he will cut all ties, including divestiture. “That should include severing any ties once in office from their former business that profits from government contracts,” Spaulding said.

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