Kate Ackley

Shaub: Trump’s ‘Wall of Secrecy’ Could Extend to Ethics Report
Financial disclosure forms could offer clues about Stormy Daniels, ex-Ethics head says

Updated 8:56 p.m. | President Donald Trump filed his annual financial disclosure to a government ethics watchdog on Tuesday, but it’s not yet clear whether he reported reimbursing his attorney for payments made to Stormy Daniels or when the public will see the document. 

Walter Shaub Jr., a frequent Trump critic who ran the Office of Government Ethics until last summer, said the disclosure may well document loans to Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen, who has said he made a $130,000 payment to Daniels, an adult film actress who alleges she had an affair with the president years ago.

Women Reaching New Levels in Political Donations
Rise parallels similar surge in female candidates for public office

An unprecedented rise in female donors to political campaigns, fueled largely by opposition to President Donald Trump, continues to grow in the run-up to the 2018 elections.

The number of women donating to federal candidates has surged by 182 percent when compared with this time in the 2016 cycle, according to new data from the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. Much of the activity has been among Democratic donors, a trend that first began to appear after the Women’s March on Washington the day after Trump’s inauguration.

Few Retiring Lawmakers Disclose Plans to Lobby
Only 17 have filed public notices of employment negotiations since 2007

On the cusp of a potentially historic wave of congressional retirements, few public records offer clues about which lawmakers have entered negotiations for lobbying and other private-sector gigs.

“There’s not usually much interest in those,” a staffer in the House Legislative Resource Center said with a shrug.

Oliver North, From Iran-Contra to the NRA
In long career, former White House staffer also ran for Senate in Virginia

Oliver North, the retired Marine lieutenant colonel known for his role in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, will become president of the National Rifle Association of America within weeks, the gun rights organization said Monday.

North, a longtime member of the NRA board of directors and a former Senate candidate in Virginia, plans to immediately leave his role as a commentator for Fox News.

Mulvaney Backlash May Drive Political Money Changes
Even lobbyists distanced their industry from remarks by the White House budget chief

Advocates for tougher campaign finance regulations say comments from Mick Mulvaney seeming to describe a pay-to-play style of politics on Capitol Hill will boost their long-term effort to overhaul the rules and could benefit like-minded candidates in the midterm elections.

Mulvaney, the White House budget chief and acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, told a group of bankers Tuesday that when he served in Congress, his office refused meetings with lobbyists who did not provide political contributions. Mulvaney, a Republican, represented a South Carolina district from January 2011 to February 2017, when he became director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Spending Bill, Tariffs Drive Lobbying as 2018 Elections Approach
Future uncertainty also plays major role

An omnibus appropriations package, steel tariffs, regulatory work on the new tax law and general uncertainty about the nation’s direction on policy and governing fueled K Street business during the first three months of this year.

The politics of the coming November midterm elections will consume the Capitol for much of the rest of 2018, as lawmakers debate a farm bill, possible new disclosures for social media companies and federal spending beyond Sept. 30.  

Who Can Fill Paul Ryan’s Shoes in the House GOP?
He may be retiring from Congress, but that doesn’t mean he’s going away

The brain drain from departing House Republicans with policy expertise had sparked worry among party insiders even before Speaker Paul D. Ryan announced his plans to retire.

Now, the extraordinary attrition, along with a potentially brutal upcoming midterm campaign, is enough to send the GOP into panic mode.

Heritage Action Poised for Transition Amid CEO’s Exit
Michael Needham is leaving to become Sen. Marco Rubio’s chief of staff

Change is coming to Heritage Action for America, the political arm of one of the nation’s best known, and often controversial, think tanks.

Heritage Action for America has boosted its presence on Capitol Hill during CEO Michael Needham’s tenure, and his upcoming departure from the conservative outfit has fueled speculation about whether the uptick in advocacy will continue.

Wanted: Prolific Fundraiser to Boost House GOP After Ryan Exits
Speaker’s retirement announcement sparks scramble to find a donor-friendly successor

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s retirement announcement Wednesday sparked a public scramble for a successor to match his fundraising prowess and to serve as the House GOP’s political and policy chief in the age of President Donald Trump.

Though the Wisconsin lawmaker has pledged to stay in office through the end of the term in early January 2019, some GOP insiders on and off the Hill question whether he can remain an effective fundraiser and political leader during a nearly nine-month lame-duck period.

Facebook’s Lobbying Team Faces Test With Zuckerberg on Hill
Zuckerberg intends to approach appearance in a contrite and humble manner, sources say

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s highly anticipated debut as a congressional witness this week marks an unprecedented step in the company’s decade-long effort to wield influence in the nation’s capital.    

The social media titan is leaning on an expanding roster of well-connected lobbyists and message shapers at his company, as well as a team of outside consultants, to prepare for a host of questions from senators on Tuesday and House members Wednesday. Lawmakers plan to probe everything from a scandal involving Facebook users’ data to the secretive sources of campaign ads on the platform.

Controversy Swirls as Lawmakers Eye Campaign Finance Changes
Possible Johnson amendment repeal is among most-watched developments

Lawmakers continue to debate major changes to political money regulations as part of a year-end spending package, despite opposition from numerous congressional Democrats and campaign finance watchdog groups.

Even with congressional primaries already underway, the proposals could play out in the November midterm elections if enacted, campaign finance experts on both sides of the debate say.

Conor Lamb Helps Democrats Raise Campaign Cash
Pennsylvania special election results spurs fundraising pitches

Democratic candidates and liberal organizations are seeking to capitalize on Conor Lamb’s apparent win in Pennsylvania, invoking his name in fundraising pitches nationwide.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers from Michigan to Nevada, along with groups focused on everything from political money to Social Security, are trying to seize momentum from Lamb’s showing in Tuesday’s special election to help them woo donors and to validate their policy views.

Tariff Fallout Could Shape Midterm Battlegrounds
Political observers in both parties are taking stock of potential effects

The Trump administration’s controversial plan for new tariffs may seep into the debates of competitive House races — well beyond Pennsylvania steel country — that will determine in November which party controls the chamber.

Opponents of the tariffs on steel and aluminum also warn that if the administration carries through with the proposal and if other nations retaliate, the issue could spill into even more congressional districts, including in Republican-leaning farm country.

House Committee Leadership Is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs
Term limits, fundraising pressure and reduced clout are taking a toll on GOP chairmen

No matter what happens in the November elections, the House of Representatives will be a body transformed.

At least eight of the chamber’s sitting committee chairmen are quitting Congress — and two additional chiefs have already given up their gavels. These exits come at a cost to the institution, as House Republicans will lose policy expertise, political savvy and procedural prowess.

Conservative Groups Warn Tariffs Could Cost Republicans
Trump proposal exposes rift between White House and usual allies

With primaries underway, conservative groups are stepping up their campaign against President Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to levy new steel and aluminum tariffs — warning that it could cause political peril for Republicans.

“We’re deeply concerned. We’ve made it clear to the administration that imposing tariffs is an enormous mistake,” said Tim Phillips, who runs Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group funded in part by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch. “It will undercut their political chances in what’s going to be a challenging election year.”

Companies, Nonprofits Put Brakes on Foreign Lobbying Bills
Despite momentum to revamp foreign lobbying disclosures, opposition remains

A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday introduced an overhaul to foreign lobbying rules, while a similar, once fast-moving measure appears temporarily stalled in the House amid pressure from outside interests.

The new bill from Texas Republican John Cornyn and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein indicates that momentum to revamp foreign lobbying disclosures persists as the Russia probe has kept concerns about international influences in the spotlight. But opposition remains.

GOP Lobbyist to Host Fundraiser for Rick Gates
Ex-Trump campaign aide pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators

The swamp looks out for its own.

A Republican lobbyist said Tuesday he was organizing a fundraiser next month to help pay the legal bills of Rick Gates, the former K Streeter who pleaded guilty last week in the expanding special counsel probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections.