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ABC News: Watchdog groups press embattled EPA chief Pruitt for transparency on legal defense fund

“There remains no record of the operations and fundraising of your legal defense fund,” the letter said. “If a legal defense fund is not carefully set up and administered, there are many ways the Fund may run afoul of executive branch ethics rules. Given the large number of ethics scandals now under investigation at the EPA, further scandals should be avoided by you and the agency.”

New York Times: Candidate for Georgia Governor Bought Condo From Lobbyist

Sara Henderson, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, a government watchdog group, said that such cozy relationships raised suspicions of pay-to-play. “Lobbyists and elected officials should never be involved in business deals together,” she said. “It gives the impression that the lobbyist and their interests will find favor with that official when it comes to awarding contracts and determining public policy that might financially benefit them.”

Money & Influence 06.14.2018

Reuters: New York sues Trump, his foundation, over 'self-dealing'

Paul S. Ryan, head of litigation at Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, said the New York filing provides details of actions that could also violate a federal ban on campaigns funneling “soft money” through nonprofits. “This involvement of the Trump campaign in the foundation’s disbursements right before the Iowa caucuses may very well violate the campaign finance law soft money ban,” Ryan said in an interview.

Politico: New Mexico governor candidate profited from high-risk insurance plans

Much of the enforcement of New Mexico’s conflict of interest and vote recusal rules revolves around voluntary compliance and having other legislators police each other, said Viki Harrison with Common Cause New Mexico, which advocates for stricter ethics laws. New Mexico legislators are not paid a salary and serve only part-time. “When you police yourselves there’s always going to be questions around transparency and cronyism,” she said.

New York Times: Trump Says Payment to Stormy Daniels Did Not Violate Campaign Laws

Paul Seamus Ryan, vice president for policy and litigation at Common Cause, said the latest explanation of the payment — that Mr. Trump reimbursed Mr. Cohen — does not eliminate the possibility that the payment violated campaign finance laws. “A lot of contradictions coming out of Team Trump this morning,” Mr. Ryan said in an interview with The New York Times. “This payment was to influence the election,” he added. And he said new details about the payment and repayment could raise additional legal problems because it might violate campaign finance laws about straw donors that prohibit making a donation in the name of another person.

Newsweek: Trump Made Stars Out of Ethics Experts. Can Richard Painter Turn That into a Senate Seat?

“As someone who has worked on these issues for decades, I have never seen such a public interest,” Karen Hobert Flynn, president of nonpartisan government watchdog Common Cause, told Newsweek. She credits ethics experts like Painter for contributing to that interest. “Having attorneys who specialize in this, that can explain what the law says and what the administration was doing, and could do it in ways that were accessible and understandable, I think people become hungry for it,” Hobert Flynn said. She added that her group has added 40,000 small donors since Trump took office and that fundraising is up 175 percent year over year.

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