Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Ring’
Monday, January 3rd, 2011 by Vbhotla
Last year saw Executive Orders and court rulings and legislative movements and the passing of some of the profession’s most dearly-loved members. Here is a look back at the top headlines of 2010:
- Trials, convictions and releases – Kevin Ring was convicted on five counts of corruption November 15 and awaits sentencing, after a 2009 trial resulted in a hung jury. Paul Magliocchetti pleaded guilty in September to making illegal campaign contributions. The justice department is seeking a 57 month imprisonment for what prosecutors are calling “one of the largest criminal schemes in U.S. history to violate federal campaign finance laws.” Jack Abramoff, initially sentenced to six years for fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials, was released from federal prison in June, and his term at a work-release-like program at a Baltimore pizzeria ended in early December.
- Court rulings – In January, the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission corporate funding of independent campaign ads could not be limited under the First Amendment. Many consider the March Speechnow ruling to be a follow-up to Citizens United; the spring case allowed for unlimited giving to “independent expenditures committees.” Both cases, however, upheld disclosure requirements while lifting spending restrictions.
- Legislative Bullying – Congress sought to “fix” the Citizens United ruling with the DISCLOSE Act, which would require organizations that back federal election campaigns to disclose the names of large donors, as well as list said donors in any campaign ads the organizations run, and ban foreign governments, government contractors, and TARP recipients from donating to campaigns. The act passed in the House in June, but failed in the lame duck session in the Senate. In addition, a proposed ban on earmarks failed in the Senate November 30.
- Executive Orders – In June, President Obama issued an order banning lobbyists from advisory boards of federal departments and agencies. It also banned all gifts from lobbyists to executive branch appointees, appointees-turned-lobbyists from lobbying the branch for the duration of his administration, and tightened revolving door policies.
- Deaths – Patti Jo Baber, executive director of the American League of Lobbyists, passed in December. She was described as the “backbone” of the organization and a prominent member of the lobbying community.
Tags: American League of Lobbyists, Citizens United, DISCLOSE Act, earmarks ban, Executive Order on lobbying, Jack Abramoff, Kevin Ring, Paul Magliocchetti, Revolving Door, Speechnow.org v FEC
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Top Headlines of 2010
Friday, November 19th, 2010 by Vbhotla
In this, the week of ethical trial decisions, proceedings did not fare well for the defendants.
- The trial of Kevin Ring, the only Abramoff associate to try his luck in court, came to an end Monday, when a jury found him guilty of five felony counts of corruption. Ring took eleven congressional aides and Bush administration officials down with him, along with nine others.
- Tom DeLay, the former Speaker of the House charged with money laundering and conspiracy, did not take the stand in his own defense before his attorney rested his case. Though the case is largely circumstantial, several witness testimonies have implicated DeLay as having been involved in, or at minimum knowledgeable about, the transactions. Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
- Rep. Charles Rangle (D-NY) was found guilty of 11 charges, including improperly soliciting lobbying funds and failing to disclose income and assets.
- Though facing investigation, and not actually on trial, conservative backers of American Principles in Action received negative press for not disclosing funds spent on Latino outreach this past election. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is concerned that the group may have exploited the Citizens United decision beyond the Court’s initial intent.
Tags: American Principles in Action, Charles Rangel, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethic in Washington, Citizens United, corruption, CREW, Jack Abramoff, Kevin Ring, Tom DeLay
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly News Round-Up
Friday, November 12th, 2010 by Vbhotla
This week was full of developments, in the wake of several ethic investigations and a massive effort on K Street to prepare for the new Congress. Among the top stories we followed:
- Congresswoman in deep “Waters” over contributions – Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has recently been accused of penning legislation in favor of a firm whose lobbying arm paid her husband $15,000 in consulting fees. Waters was already knee-deep in an ethics scandal regarding her attempts to steer money into her husband’s bank.
- Jurors in the Kevin Ring ethics trial are having difficulty deciding whether or not Ring violated lobbying laws, specifically whether or not he intended corruption. The judge in the case has assisted with definitions, instructing jurors to further deliberations.
- Legislators in New Jersey are discussing whether or not lobbyists should be eligible for pension plans and health insurance. The State Assembly is set to vote on a bill to deny these benefits later this month, citing a new belief that lobbyists are not “genuine state employees.” With jurisdictions nationwide looking to cut spending, there is speculation as to whether or not this could become a national trend.
- Monday, Lobbyists testified in the ongoing money laundering trial of former Rep. Tom DeLay. Lobbyists for Bacardi and Reliant Energy admitted to $70,000 in donations to DeLay during his 2002 election campaign, but his lawyer claims these donations were simply “politics as usual.“
Tags: corruption trials, Kevin Ring, Rep. Maxine Waters, Tom DeLay
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Lobbying News Round-up
Monday, October 25th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The prosecution of Kevin Ring, the former lobbyist and Jack Abramoff associate, has called into question privacy matters in ethics investigations. Relying heavily on evidence of “behind-the-scenes dealmaking” outlined in personal emails, prosecutors are seeking to convict Ring of bribery.
According to a Washington Post report, Ring sent e-mails discussing his preference for working with “amoral pond scum,” because “the ethics thing is a real turn off.” Defense attorney Andrew Wise suggested that the words were being taken out of a context that was more “bravado” and “bragging” than admission of ethics breach; Wise said the words were “obvious jokes.”
Ring maintains that his actions were in accordance with legal lobbying provisions, and that the sporting event tickets he provided to Congressional staffers between 2003 and 2004 did not violate the lobbying laws in place at that time.
In a Roll Call article, Prosecutor Nathaniel Edmonds disagrees, insisting Ring and Abramoff intentionally set out to “corrupt the political system,” adding, “The defendant’s actions were not just lobbying, they were corruption… They were crimes.”
This is Ring’s second trial – his first, in October 2009, ended in a hung jury. Ring is the only one of Abramoff’s associates to go to trial instead of pleading guilty.
In other Abramoff-related news, a federal appellate court is grappling with whether or not David Safavian, former top Bush Administration procurement official, received a fair trial in the second hearing related to the Abramoff lobbying scandal, according to the Associated Press.
Tags: dealmaking, Kevin Ring, lobbying ethics, political corruption
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Emails center-stage in Ring trial
Monday, September 13th, 2010 by Vbhotla
As former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, who is accused of bribery, moves to the jury selection phase of his retrial, federal Judge Ellen Huvelle is allowing the jury selection team to ask some interesting questions of prospective jurors.
Though it’s not unusual to ask jurors of their political beliefs should the trial relate to a political matter, in this case the jurors are being asked their opinions of the profession of lobbying as a whole. The seven-part question that’s drawing attention asks:
“48. Which of the following, if any, fits with your view of lobbying? Answer either yes or no.
- Lobbying is the exercise of the democratic right of American industries, businesses, and individuals to influence lawmaking, government policy and decision making that affects their interests.
- Lobbying is influence peddling on behalf of wealthy people or businesses.
- Lobbying, whether on behalf of rich people, the middle class, or poor people, should be prohibited.
- Lobbying can help ensure that government officials make decisions that are in the best interests of the United States.
- Lobbying is a fancy term for trying to get government officials to do what the lobbyist wants even if it is not good for the country.
- Lobbying is paying off politicians and government officials to get them to do something.
- Lobbying is legitimate business.
- Lobbying is a necessary part of democratic society based on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”
One wonders if the same would be asked if a truck driver or fire fighter stood accused. (And as a sign of the times, they’re also being asked if they tweet or have a Blackberry). Ring’s trial is expected to last until the end of November.
A post from the Blog of Legal Times has the whole questionnaire that jurors were required to fill out. Read more about Kevin Ring in our archives.
Tags: jury selection, Kevin Ring, Lobbying
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Ring Trial Highlights Public Opinion of Lobbying
Friday, August 27th, 2010 by Vbhotla
As former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, who is accused of bribery, moves to the jury selection phase of his
Kevin Ring (Photo credit: National Journal; Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
retrial, federal Judge Ellen Huvelle is asking some interesting questions of prospective jurors.
Though it’s not unusual to ask jurors of their political beliefs should the trial relate to a political matter, in this case the jurors are being asked their opinions of the profession of lobbying as a whole.
Here’s the seven-part question that’s drawing attention:
48. Which of the following, if any, fits with your view of lobbying? Answer either yes or no.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is the exercise of the democratic right of American industries, businesses, and individuals to influence lawmaking, government policy and decision making that affects their interests.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is influence peddling on behalf of wealthy people or businesses.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying, whether on behalf of rich people, the middle class, or poor people, should be prohibited.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying can help ensure that government officials make decisions that are in the best interests of the United States.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is a fancy term for trying to get government officials to do what the lobbyist wants even if it is not good for the country.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is paying off politicians and government officials to get them to do something.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is legitimate business.
[ ] Yes [ ] No Lobbying is a necessary part of democratic society based on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
One wonders if the same would be asked if a truck driver or fire fighter stood accused. (And as a sign of the times, they’re also being asked if they tweet or have a Blackberry).
Blog of Legal Times has the whole questionnaire that jurors were required to fill out, if you’re interested. (PDF) Ring’s trial is expected to last until the end of November.
Tags: corruption, jury selection, Kevin Ring, Lobbying
Posted in From the Eyes of the Editors, Lobbying News | Comments Off on For Re-Trial Of Ex-Lobbyist, Jurors Questioned on Opinion Of Lobbyists
Friday, August 13th, 2010 by Vbhotla
As Norm Eisen departs for Prague, the White House announces his replacement: nobody. Well, technically, Bob Bauer will take over Eisen’s “portfolio” at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and Steven Croley will also join the ethics team. Article at the Washington Post. Also: the Sunlight Foundation doesn’t take kindly to the announcement, listing several ethics promises on which they have yet to see follow-through from the Obama Administration. CREW (which Eisen co-founded) is also not enthused.
Some lawyers think Paul Magliocchetti’s indictment may truly mark the end of the PMA pay-to-play scandal.
Federal Judge Ellen Huvelle refused to throw out charges against accused Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring this week. Ring’s attorneys had asked Huvelle to vacate the charges after the Supreme Court’s decisions in three recent cases diminished the power of the honest services fraud statute, one of the statutes under which Ring was charged.
Rep. Maxine Waters‘ ethics charges were revealed – and she plans to fight back. Most of the charge appears to focus on the actions of Rep. Waters’ chief of staff, Mikael Moore, in trying to secure federal funding for OneUnited Bank, an entity in which Rep. Waters’ husband held financial stake. This case, in which Waters is being reprimanded for the actions of her staff, bears some resemblance to Rep. Charlie Rangel’s getting in trouble for his staff’s knowledge about the infamous trip to the Caribbean.
Speaking of Charlie Rangel, if you haven’t seen the rambling 30-minute House floor speech that he gave earlier this week, it’s time for a little Friday afternoon work-break.
Are you a corporation planning to use the Citizens United case to spend massive amounts of money in federal elections? Let what happened to Target Corp. in Minnesota be a lesson to you.
GOP Reps. Mike Castle (Dela.) and Bob Platts (Pa.) have teamed up to offer more power to the Office of Congressional Ethics. A new bill by the two Congressmen, titled the Accountability and Transparency in Ethics Act, would give subpoena powers to the mostly investigative body. Read more at Roll Call, “Castle, Platts Propose Tougher Ethics Measures.”
Interesting little tid-bit from K Street Cafe: How and why does Congress use Twitter (video).
Quote(s) of the Week:
“With Mr. Eisen headed to Europe as an ambassador, his move from the White House ‘is the biggest lobbying success we’ve had all year,'” – Tony Podesta, Washington Post, Aug. 6
“Violations of campaign finance laws are clear cut and lend themselves to easy proof beyond a reasonable doubt… It sounds like this is both the beginning and possibly the end of the PMA matter in terms of prosecution.” – Jan Baran, on the Paul Magliocchetti indictment, Roll Call, Aug. 9
Tags: Bob Bauer, Citizens United, Jan Baran, K St. Cafe, Kevin Ring, Norm Eisen, Paul Magliocchetti, pma group, Rep. Bob Platts, Rep. Charlie Rangel, Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Mike Castle, Target Corp., Tony Podesta
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up
Friday, July 30th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The Congressional Cigar Association got some (probably) unwanted attention from the Huffington Postlast week.
Former Bush White House Spokesman Dana Perino has joined a lobbying firm. Perino is listed on the lobbying disclosure form for Hamilton Place Strategies. She’s listed on the form for Mina Corporation, which, according to their form, is interested in “Congressional Investigation” and “Department of Defense Contracts.” Although, also according to their form, the firm is making less than $5,000 on the contract.
Roll Call reports on ex-lobbyist Kevin Ring, and the impact of his trial on the future of Honest Services suits. (Roll Call subscription required).
Ethics (or lack thereof) update: Rep. Charles Rangel has been charged with 13 counts of violations against the House ethics rules. Read about it at Roll Call, or read the statement from the Ethics Committee here. (PDF)
DISCLOSE fails in the Senate. Will Harry Reid bring it up again after the August recess? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, you can get your fix of stories on the final cloture vote here at Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog.
Politico reports on Sen. Richard Shelby’s earmark policy, and staffer connection to those earmarks.
The American League of Lobbyists and the Sunlight Foundation are teaming up to lobby on getting the 20% threshold lowered. OMB Watch blog notes the development, and it’s referenced in this Politico story, “Lobbyists call bluff on ‘Daschle exemption.'”
Quote(s) of the Week:
A little legal humor for you: “While the statute does not speak of business before a particular committee (as opposed to the House generally), it bears noting that the one committee that touches everyone is the Ways and Means Committee. There being no committee on death, the only other certain thing in life is covered within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee.” – Ethics Committee on the accusations regarding Charlie Rangel, 7/29/2010
Tom Daschle, you’re ruining it for everyone: “You don’t know what they’re doing, and they have an incredible amount of power and access that no average American would ever have and that no average American can find out about either. It’s a double whammy.” – Dave Levinthal, Center for Responsive Politics, on lobbyists who aren’t registered, Politico, 7/26/2010
And this is why the public does not trust lobbyists: “One corporate lobbyist who worked as a regulator, asked whether he believed he had an inside edge in lobbying his ex-colleagues, said: ‘The answer is yes, it does. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to justify getting out of bed in the morning and charging the outrageous fees that we charge our clients, which they willingly pay.’ … The lobbyist, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns about alienating government officials, added that “you have to work at an agency to understand the culture and the pressure points, and it helps to know the senior staff.” – New York Times, 7/27/2010
Tags: American League of Lobbyists, Congressional Cigar Association, corporate lobbying, CRP, Dana Perino, Dave Levinthal, DISCLOSE Act, Earmarks, Hamilton Place Strategies, honest services, Kevin Ring, Sen. Richard Shelby, Tom Daschle
Posted in Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up | Comments Off on Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up
Monday, July 12th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The public corruption statute, which has been used by the federal government to prosecute lobbyists in the JackAbramoff case (among myriad other bribery and kickback cases), was narrowed in definition by the Supreme Court on June 24.
The decision, according to Roll Call, “limit[s] the use of a public corruption statute known as the ‘honest services’ law to only those cases involving bribery or kickback schemes.” The Court decided on three separate cases: Skilling v. United States, Black v. United States, and Weyhrauch v. United States. According to Covington & Burling, a DC law firm, the fraud statute is now “co-extensive with existing bribery and kickback statutes, meaning that the Government will need to prove that gifts, political contributions, or other things of value were provided to federal officials as a quid pro quo for specific official acts.”
Judge Ellen Huvelle, US District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the re-trial of former Abramoff associate Kevin Ring to be delayed until October, citing the Supreme Court decision in Skilling as narrowing the scope of the applicable statute under which Ring was charged. But the Department of Justice isn’t changing their approach to prosecuting Ring, who was mis-tried in the fall and re-scheduled for trial this summer. Ring’s prosecution is for a bribery scheme. Federal prosecutor Peter Koski said the high court’s ruling in Skilling v. United States has “no impact whatsoever” on Ring’s prosecution.
Because the prosecutor must now prove specific quid pro quo actions in order to correctly use the Honest Services Fraud statute, Huvelle told prosecutors that they must outline specific official actions and their intended outcomes in the next few weeks; she also ordered Ring’s attorneys to file a new motion to acquit.
Roll Call article is here; Covington & Burling update is here. (PDF) See our previous post on Skilling, et. al, here.
Tags: bribery, Bruce Weyhrauch, Conrad Black, Covington & Burling, honest services, Jeffrey Skilling, Kevin Ring, kickbacks, lobbyists
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Honest Services Fraud Statute Diminished by Supreme Court Ruling