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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.

Indianapolis Star (Op-Ed): Lax Indiana lobbying laws bring legislator ethics into question

From shameful loopholes to murky transparency, Indiana lags on lobbying ethics. It's time for the Statehouse to make sure legislators spend less time enjoying steakhouse dinners from the moneyed interests who pay for them - and more time listening to their constituents.

Indiana Capital Chronicle: A little-known nonprofit boosts Indiana’s economic development agency

“This is an area where a lot of money is involved. The state is offering big incentives involving our tax dollars to corporations, and Hoosiers deserve to know the backstory,” said Julia Vaughn, who leads government watchdog Common Cause Indiana. “But I think the IEDC and its foundation: their structure often stops that from happening.” Vaughn said her organization expressed transparency-related concerns when the state swapped its commerce department for the corporation-foundation combination. “I’m afraid our worst fears have come true,” she concluded. “… It’s simply another way for these corporate interests to flex their muscle, and in a way that happens completely in the dark.”

Money & Influence 07.28.2023

Baltimore Sun: Who paid lobbyists a total of $48.8 million to influence Maryland lawmaking, and what did they get?

"I'm shocked every time I see how much money is being spent," said Joanne Antoine, executive director of Common Cause Maryland. The nonprofit group does its own lobbying for "good government" bills, like those that expand ethics laws or transparency around money in politics. Antoine said the disclosures can help the public "connect the dots" on how both major institutions and grassroots advocates affect legislation. "Unfortunately, this is where they have the advantage over organizations like ours," Antoine said. "They do have a lot more influence and a lot more access than we do, and it's because of the amount of money they have."

Voting & Elections 07.9.2023

Cape Gazette: Seaford voting bill, bond bill pass house after some maneuvering

Common Cause of Delaware along with the American Civil Liberties Union both oppose the legislation that they say will dilute votes of minority residents. “We’re horrified and disappointed that this bill passed. Corporations have no place in our elections – full stop,” said Claire Snyder-Hall, executive director of Common Cause Delaware. “In a state with more registered businesses than residents, this bill gives wealthy outsiders the power to override the actual people of Seaford. Hopefully, it will not make it through the Senate.”

Money & Influence 07.3.2023

Omaha World-Herald: Spending on lobbyists climbs past $21 million in Nebraska

The report, released by Common Cause Nebraska, showed that the businesses and organizations that hire lobbyists spent more than $21.4 million on their lobbying efforts during 2022. That’s up 5.5% from the year before and 10.6% from 2019, before the pandemic hit. “It’s pretty dramatic, I think,” said Jack Gould, the Common Cause issues chair. “This report shows the ever-growing influence of lobbying and why Nebraskans must demand better.” Gould said the figures are a concern because the groups that can afford to hire lobbyists gain more clout in the legislative process than the average Nebraskan. Among other things, lobbyists are able to build relationships with senators and become key sources of information for them.

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