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NBC Op-Ed: Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's lobbying just the tip of the iceberg for Washington influence peddlers

Along downtown Washington’s famous K Street — where you can’t travel a block without bumping into a half-dozen lobbyists — some people are struggling to understand why the unfolding saga of President Donald Trump “fixer” (and personal lawyer) Michael Cohen is such a big deal.

Washington Post: In new financial disclosure, Trump reports apparent payment through his personal attorney to adult-film star

Paul Ryan, a vice president at Common Cause, a government watchdog group, said Trump’s disclosure bolsters its Federal Election Commission complaint that the payment should have been reported by the campaign. Whenever Trump learned of the payment to Daniels -- which is still unclear -- he should have directed the campaign to report it, Ryan said. “Donald Trump’s reimbursement of Michael Cohen puts him in the middle of a campaign finance violation that he once denied knowing anything about,” Ryan said. “It’s a criminal violation because his payment amounts to knowledge that Cohen made this payment on his behalf, and campaign finance law violations become criminal violations when they are done knowingly and willingly.”

Reuters: Trump reimbursed attorney who paid porn star Stormy Daniels: disclosure

Common Cause, a nonpartisan watchdog group in Washington, has filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Election Commission, claiming Trump broke the law when his campaign excluded details about the $130,000 payment in legally mandated filings. Trump’s acknowledgment that he reimbursed Cohen puts the president “at the middle of all of the campaign finance violations,” said Paul S. Ryan, head of litigation at Common Cause. “He knowingly and willfully caused his campaign to not disclose this expenditure, and that’s a criminal violation.”

Media & Democracy 05.16.2018

Broadcasting & Cable: Senate CRA Vote Gets D.C. Buzzing

"Despite the influence from big cable and telecommunications companies who have poured oceans of money in their attempt to kill net neutrality rules, the Senate stood on the side of the American people in voting to pass this resolution," said Michael Copps, special advisor to Common Cause and former Democratic FCC chairman.

Money & Influence 05.14.2018

Center for Public Integrity: Politicos beware: Court ruling could prompt more transparent campaign spending

Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause, said the decision has bearing on the Trump matter. Common Cause has filed complaints with the DOJ and FEC alleging that “violations by Trump, Cohen … and others of the same statutes violated in the criminal convictions upheld by the Eighth Circuit in this case,” he said in an email. Ryan added: “The Eighth Circuit’s decision makes clear that when you lie to the federal government about election spending, you can be prosecuted and convicted not only for violating campaign finance law reporting requirements, but also multiple other federal criminal statutes that prohibit making false statements and filing false paperwork with the government.”  

Associated Press: Cohen's ties to Trump, corporate clients pose questions

Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause said Cohen had plenty of wiggle room to help his corporate clients, which included AT&T and pharmaceutical giant Novartis, without running afoul of lobbying rules. Those rules, for instance, require that lobbyists register as such only if they've spent at least 20 percent of their time with a client over a three-month period doing lobbying work. "There is a whole lot of influence peddling that Michael Cohen could do without falling into the scope of federal lobby legislation," said Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at the good government group. He added, though: "It's slimy. It looks like an effort to personally profit from his relationship with the president, and hide it all from the public through a shell company."

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