RIP, Rep. Don Young
The longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, Rep. Don Young (R-AK), died on his way home from Washington. Young, serving his 25th term, was first elected to the House in a special election in 1973. He chaired the House Natural Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001, and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2001 to 2007. At the time of his death, he was the senior Republican member of both committees. It’s hard for us to imagine the House without him. We extend our sympathies to his family, friends, and staffers.
PAVE Task Force recommends appraisal changes
The Interagency Task Force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE), a 13-agency initiative to fight bias in home appraisals, published a 21-point Action Plan. PAVE Executive Director Melody Taylor told the Senate Banking Committee that the planned and recommended actions fall into six categories: enhancing oversight and accountability; empowering consumers; preventing algorithmic bias in home valuations; cultivating a well-trained, diverse appraiser profession; coordinating enforcement to keep the industry accountable; and leveraging federal data and expertise to inform policy, practice, and research about appraisal bias. James Park, Executive Director of the FFIEC Appraisal Subcommittee, said that the number of appraisers nationwide had been declining since 2009, and current certification requirements present unreasonable barriers to entry for new appraisers.
SEC proposes climate-related disclosure rule
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is requesting public comment on a proposal that would require registrants to disclose information about “climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on its business, results of operations, or financial condition.” Required disclosures would also include registrants’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and information about the registrants’ climate-related targets, goals, and transition plan, if any. The SEC said that the proposed disclosures are similar to those that many companies already provide, “based on broadly accepted disclosure frameworks.” SEC Chair Gary Gensler said that the proposed rule would help issuers meet investors’ demand for this information, and would improve consistency and comparability. Comments are due to the SEC by May 20.
CFPB issues guidance on consumer review practices
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants to stop companies from suppressing or manipulating customer reviews, and issued guidance on the subject. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said that posting fake reviews, attempting to enforce “gag” clauses, deleting bad reviews or manipulating reviews for deceptive purposes might all be violations of the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The CFPB’s guidance follows a warning from the Federal Trade Commission last October about steep penalties for the use of endorsements to deceive consumers.
FDIC seeks comments on regulatory framework for mergers
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation published a request for information that asks for stakeholder comments on the regulatory framework for merger transactions involving one or more depository institutions, and particularly for those involving insured institutions and noninsured institutions. The RFI notes that “more than three decades of consolidation and growth . . . have significantly reduced the number of smaller banking organizations and increased the number of large and systemically-important banking organizations.” It also noted a recent Executive Order that directs regulatory agencies to consider the effects of consolidation on competitive marketplaces. The window for comments is open for 60 days.
Fed officials share thoughts on CBDCs
Leaders within the Federal Reserve System are curious but still unconvinced of the need for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), as voiced in different public appearances. Speaking to a group of finance professionals last Monday, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Thomas Barkin said the decision would ultimately be up to Congress, but the central question posed by CBDCs is “What problem are we solving?” At the BIS Innovation Summit last Wednesday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman pro tem Jay Powell said that they were looking forward to reading responses to their request for comments on a discussion paper about the pros and cons of a CBDC—but added that the US system was already well on its way to instant, low-cost payments. Federal Reserve Board Governor Christopher Waller, already on the record as a skeptic, said at a conference today that he was still not convinced of the need for a retail CBDC. The comment period on the Fed’s discussion draft ends on May 20.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) was convicted last week on federal charges of concealing information and making false statements to authorities about accepting illegal campaign contributions. He will be sentenced on June 28, but has not yet suspended his reelection campaign. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said today that he would ask Fortenberry to resign.
Martha Legg Miller, the first director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of the Advocate for Small Business Capital Formation (OASB), will leave the agency at the end of April. Sebastian Gomez Abero, currently the Deputy Director of the OASB, will serve as acting director until a successor is named.
The Week Ahead in Washington
The Government Printing Office and the Office of Management and Budget will release President Biden’s budget for fiscal year 2023 today. Anyone interested will be able to download the budget from www.govinfo.gov or www.omb.gov/budget.
March 28 at 12:00 pm The White House holds the first of a three-part virtual workshop for state, local, tribal, and territorial government leaders on how to help taxpayers access the tax benefits available to them. State and local government officials and agency staff can register here.
March 29 at 10:00 am Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions holds a hearing on “Rise and Shine: Improving Retirement and Enhancing Savings.”
March 29 at 10:00 am Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs holds a hearing on “Economic Impact of the Growing Burden of Medical Debt.”
March 29 at 10:00 am House Committee on Financial Services holds a hearing on “Devalued, Denied, and Disrespected: How Home Appraisal Bias and Discrimination are Hurting Homeowners and Communities of Color.”
March 29 at 10:00 am House Committee on the Budget holds a hearing on “The President’s FY 2023 Budget.”
March 29 at 10:00 am House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access holds a hearing on “Catalyzing Economic Growth through SBA Community-Based Lending.”
March 29 at 10:30 am House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change holds a hearing on “Trusting the Tap: Upgrading America’s Drinking Water Infrastructure.”
March 30 at 10:00 am House Financial Services Task Force on Artificial Intelligence holds a hearing on “Keeping Up with the Codes—Using AI for Effective RegTech.”
March 30 at 11:00 am Senate Committee on the Budget holds a hearing on the President’s FY 2023 Budget Proposal.
March 30 at 1:45 pm Senate Small Business Committee holds a hearing on “The Supply Chain Crisis and the Implications for Small Business.”
March 30 at 2:00 pm House Financial Services Subcommittee on Investor Protection, Entrepreneurship, and Capital Markets holds a hearing on “Oversight of America’s Stock Exchanges: Examining their Role in Our Economy.”
March 31 at 10:00 am Senate Banking Committee holds a hearing on “Affordability and Accessibility: Addressing the Housing Needs of America’s Seniors.”
March 31 at 10:00 am Senate Special Committee on Aging holds a hearing on “Preventing Tragedies and Promoting Safe, Accessible, and Affordable Homes.”
March 31 at 10:00 am House Financial Services Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Financial Institutions holds a hearing on “The End of Overdraft Fees? Examining the Movement to Eliminate the Fees Costing Consumers Billions.”
The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis reports on political news
Alabama: A new Cygnal poll for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (3/16-17; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters) projects retired “Black Hawk Down” pilot and Alabama business owner Mike Durant and former Business Council of Alabama president & CEO Katie Britt heading for a Republican open US Senate runoff election in late June. The Cygnal results find Mr. Durant, after spending more than $4 million on various media blitzes, leading Ms. Britt 35-28% with early leader, US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), dropping to just 16% support.
As we turn toward April, the signals point to Mr. Brooks being the odd man out after the May 24 primary. If no candidate receives majority support in the primary, the top two advance into a June 21 runoff election. The Republican nomination appears tantamount to election in November.
Former President Donald Trump then announced he is rescinding his endorsement of Rep. Brooks. Though a reason is not stated, Mr. Trump’s action is largely due to Rep. Brooks dropping precipitously in polling since jumping out to early leads. Sen. Richard Shelby is retiring after serving what will be six full six-year terms.
Arizona: The Fabrizio Lee survey research firm tested the Arizona Republican US Senate electorate on behalf of the Saving Arizona PAC, an organization that billionaire Peter Thiel largely funds. Mr. Thiel supports venture capitalist Blake Masters. This survey shows a much larger undecided factor, 52%, than other pollsters have detected.
According to Fabrizio Lee (3/13-14; 800 AZ likely Republican primary voters; live interview and text), Mr. Masters would lead the group, but with only 16% support, closely followed by both Attorney General Tim Brnovich and former solar company executive Jim Lamon, who both recorded 14% preference.
The Arizona primary is not until August 2, so this race has several months in which to develop support patterns. The Republican winner will face incumbent Mark Kelly (D) in the general election in one of the most important Senate races on the 2022 political board.
Missouri: Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who resigned from office in 2017 after an extra-marital sex scandal became public, accompanied with sexual assault charges that were later dropped largely because of prosecutorial misconduct, is again on the hot seat. This time, in a custody hearing involving their children, his ex-wife, Sheena Greitens, claims that Mr. Greitens physically abused she and their children.
Quickly, both Sen. Josh Hawley (R), a former Missouri Attorney General, and current Attorney General and US Senate candidate Eric Schmitt, both called for him to exit the race, each saying he should not be running but “should be in jail.”
Nevada: Former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt holds a large Republican primary advantage over disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown according to a new WPA Intelligence poll that the Club for Growth organization commissioned. The survey (3/13-15; 500 NV likely Republican primary voters; live interview) sees Mr. Laxalt, who served one term as Attorney General but lost the 2018 Governor’s race to current incumbent Steve Sisolak (D), leading Mr. Brown by a 57-19% clip.
The winner of the June 14 GOP primary will then face Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) in what promises to be a competitive general election race.
Oklahoma Special: Scott Pruitt (R) is a former Environmental Protection Agency Director under President Donald Trump and two-term ex-Oklahoma Attorney General. Reports are surfacing that he is gauging his potential support to enter the special election to replace the resigning Senator Jim Inhofe (R).
Officially in the Republican primary Senate race are US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville), former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon, state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), and ex-Inhofe chief of staff Luke Holland, who the outgoing Senator has endorsed. Former US Rep. Kendra Horn is likely to become a consensus Democratic candidate. The state primary is June 28. Without majority support, an August 23 runoff will be held for the top two finishers.
AK-AL: The Dean of the House serving 49 consecutive years, Alaska at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), passed away during a flight back to his home state, thus ending a congressional career that spanned almost 80% of the time that Alaska has been a state. Mr. Young, 88 years of age, is the fifth 2020 congressional election winner who has since passed away. A special election will be called to fill the remainder of the term, the first time the at-large seat has been open since the 1973 special election that elected Mr. Young.
Decisions have been made about the special election calendar to replace Mr. Young. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) has set June 11 as the special primary election day, and the vote will be conducted through the mail.
The new top-four jungle primary system will be utilized, meaning that four competitors will advance into the special general election, regardless of party identification. The special general will be run concurrently with the August 16 regular primary election, meaning candidates will be placed separately on the ballot for both the special election and the regular full term.
FL-24: Former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, accusing incumbent US Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Miami) of not being fully engaged in her job, announced that she will challenge her in the August 23 Democratic primary. While saying she largely agrees with Rep. Wilson on the issues, Ms. Edmonson criticized the Congresswoman for being the leading user of the proxy voting method the House adopted at the beginning of the COVID shutdown, which remains a current option for members. She called Rep. Wilson an “absent member of Congress.”
NV-1: Not mentioned as a potential candidate against Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in a new 1st District that is much more Republican, former 4th District Congressman Cresent Hardy (R) filed at the deadline to officially enter the race. Rep. Titus has expressed displeasure at the configuration of her new district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization reports went from a current D+22 rating to a D+4 under the new plan. As many as four other Republicans may qualify for the primary ballot, but Mr. Hardy appears to be the most formidable.
NV-2: Frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian (R), who last year was elected to the Douglas County Commission after a long string of electoral defeats, is again running for Congress. This will be his fourth quest for the US House in a third different district, in addition to two Senate races. Previously, he lost a pair of campaigns in the 3rd CD and one in the 4th District. This time, Mr. Tarkanian is challenging six-term Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) in the northern Nevada 2nd District Republican primary. It is likely he will return to his losing ways, as Rep. Amodei is a heavy favorite for re-nomination.
NY-16: Freshman Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers), who himself won a Democratic challenge campaign against then-Rep. Eliot Engel (D) in 2020, now finds himself on defense. Westchester County Legislator Vedat Gashi announced his own primary challenge against the new Congressman, and now the other two contenders, pastor Michael Gerald and activist Manuel Casanova, have both dropped out to give the former man a clear shot at defeating Rep. Bowman. The New York primary is June 28, and this could become a primary worth watching.
NY-18: Last month, New York state Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R-South Salem) released his own BK Strategies internal survey posting him to a one-point, 38-37%, slight advantage over Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) who is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Now, Rep. Maloney counters those results with his own Global Strategy Group poll. The GSG study (3/10-13; 500 NY-18 likely general election voters) posts the Congressman to a 49-37% advantage.
The 18th CD should be competitive in 2022, though the seat did become slightly more Democratic in redistricting. It is now rated as D+3. Rep. Maloney was re-elected in 2020 with a 56-43% margin in what was then an 18th CD that carried an EVEN rating.
WV-2: The two public polls released since the first of the year found Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) leading fellow Rep. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) in their West Virginia paired Republican primary contest. A newly released survey from North Star Opinion Research for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce (3/13-15; 400 WV-2 likely Republican primary voters) reverses that trend and finds Rep. McKinley holding a 38-33% lead.
The West Virginia primary is May 10, and, as the polls suggest, a close result is expected. This is the first of six redistricting induced incumbent vs. incumbent US House pairings during the current election cycle.
Ohio: Since the Ohio state Supreme Court has several times rejected the state House and Senate map with no clear conclusion in sight, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) told the county clerks to remove the state House and Senate races from the May 3 partisan primary ballot. He said a second primary would have to be called for those offices.
With the primary date looming in the near future, action had to be taken to print ballots in preparation for early and election day voting. In Ohio this year, early voting begins on April 5.
Alabama: The new Cygnal statewide survey conducted for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (3/16-17; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters) finds Gov. Kay Ivey falling to 46% support in the contested Republican primary scheduled for May 24. Businessman Tim James, son of former Alabama Governor Fob James, is a distant second with 12% followed closely by ex-US Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard with 10% preference. Previous polling that the Ivey campaign released pegged the Governor’s support at more than 60%.
Should this challenge turn more serious, a runoff election would be possible. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers would advance into a June 21 runoff election. Gov. Ivey is still favored to win outright, since the combined defined support for a contender other than the incumbent is only 32% according to the Cygnal survey. Therefore, virtually all of the undecided vote would have to break against Gov. Ivey for a runoff to occur.
Maryland: The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (GQR) Research firm tested the Maryland Democratic electorate (3/8-14; 807 MD likely Democratic primary voters; live interview) for candidate Rushern Baker, the former Prince George’s County Executive, and found state Comptroller Peter Franchot leading the Democratic field, but with only a 23% preference score. Mr. Baker was second with 15%, as former Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez and Afghan War veteran and author Wes Moore trailed with 11 and 10%, respectively.
The candidates have more time to campaign since the state’s primary, due to a redistricting lawsuit, was postponed from June 28 to July 19. Though Mr. Franchot holds an advantage, his lead is not particularly substantial.
Nevada: The aforementioned WPA Intelligence poll for the Club for Growth (see Nevada Senate above) also tested the GOP gubernatorial primary. Here, WPAi projects Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo as leading former US Senator Dean Heller and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, 28-22-13%, among the candidates posting double-digit support figures.
Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling also went into the field (3/7-8; 580 NV likely Republican primary voters) and found a similar result, with Sheriff Lombardo leading Messrs. Heller and Lee, 26-13-13%. The Nevada primary is June 14.