House Energy & Commerce seeks feedback on data privacy compromise
Representatives of the tech industry, consumer groups, small businesses, and other stakeholders about draft legislation that would create a comprehensive data privacy framework to give consumers control of their personal data. The bipartisan “threads the needle,” said Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), by preempting state laws, with notable exemptions; preserving a narrow private right of action; and exempting small businesses from certain requirements. Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said that the draft represented a “balanced, thoughtful approach,” recognizing data privacy as a civil right. Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said she hoped they could amend and pass the bill as quickly as possible.
House Ways & Means Chair asks for GAO report on cryptocurrency and retirement savings
Rep. Richard Neal (D-NC), Chair of the House Committee on Ways & Means, has for a report on whether and how major defined contribution savings plans are offering opportunities for retirement savers to invest in cryptocurrencies, and on what oversight those investments are receiving. He specifically wants to know how defined contribution plan administrators are valuing these investments, how they’re assessing fees, and how they’re exercising their fiduciary obligations to participants and beneficiaries.
Custodia Bank sues Fed for master account access
Custodia Bank, a Wyoming state-chartered bank that specializes in digital asset custody and payment services, over what it called the “wholly unlawful” nineteen-month delay in approving Custodia’s application for a Federal Reserve master account. The lawsuit accuses the Federal Reserve Board of intervening in the Kansas City Fed’s decision-making process in “a black-box bureaucratic process with no clear rules or standards . . . no clear lines of accountability or responsibility . . . and no clear end to Custodia’s application saga in sight.” Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), a member of the Senate Banking Committee and vocal advocate of cryptocurrency, has asked Federal Reserve officials about this application whenever they’ve appeared before the Committee, and is likely to ask Chair Jerome Powell again when he testifies on Wednesday.
CFPB asks for comment on improving bank customer service
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is developing policy guidance to implement Section 1034(c) of the Consumer Financial Protection Act, which explicitly grants consumers the right to get information about their accounts from large banks or credit unions with more than $10 billion in assets. CFPB Director Rohit Chopra that the Bureau wants to “revitalize relationship banking,” and is asking for comment on “how people can assert their rights to better customer service.” The, which is open for comment for 30 days, asks consumers what kind of information they’re seeking from their financial institutions, whether they receive this information in a timely manner, and what obstacles might prevent that.
House approves bill to add equity to Fed’s responsibilities
The House of Representatives voted to approve , the Financial Services Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Economic Justice Act introduced by Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA). The bill would add a “duty to minimize and eliminate racial disparities” to the Federal Reserve Board’s mandate as it conducts monetary policy, regulates and supervises financial institutions, administers the payments system, implements the Community Reinvestment Act, and enforces fair lending laws. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced a companion bill as last year, but it is unlikely that the Senate will act on it.
Confirmations, Nominations, Departures
The Senate confirmed the nominations of Mark Uyeda and Jaime Lizarraga to the Securities and Exchange Commission, bringing the agency’s leadership to its full complement of five Commissioners.
Mayra Flores (R) was elected to fill the unexpired term of Rep. Filemon Vela (D) in Texas’s 34th Congressional district. Flores describes herself as “a pro-Trump conservative,” and is married to a Customs and Border Patrol officer. Because of redistricting, she will face Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D) in November’s general election.
The Week Ahead in Washington
GrayRobinson’s Washington office is closed today in observance of the Juneteenth holiday.
The Ellis Insight
Jim Ellis on Political News
AK-AL: Alaska held its first election under the state’s new top-four jungle primary format and former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin (R) finished in first place. The special election is held because veteran Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) unexpectedly passed away in March.
At this writing, Ms. Palin has recorded 28.2% of the vote within the huge field of 48 candidates. Republican Party endorsed candidate, Nick Begich III, is second with 19.2%, followed by Dr. Al Gross (12.7%), the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee who is running under the Non-Partisan label in this election. Democratic former state Representative Mary Peltola, from the tribal Bethel region, appears in the best position to secure the fourth and final run-off position with her 8.9% vote total. She led the fifth place finisher, former US Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Tara Sweeney (R), by just over three percentage points.
Twenty-five of the 48 candidates, including all top four finishers, also filed for the regular election. Six individuals, none of whom appear to be a major contender, filed only for the regular term. The jungle primary process for that election then begins again in a separate vote, also on August 16.
Nevada: Last Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo scored a 38-28-13-8% Republican primary win over retired professional boxer Joey Gilbert, ex-US Senator Dean Heller, and North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee to set the general election card. As polling predicted, former Attorney General and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt claimed the Republican US Senate nomination, defeating Afghan disabled veteran Sam Brown and several others. The GOP primary sets up a key Senate map between Mr. Laxalt and first-term Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto.
WPA Intelligence, polling for the Club for Growth organization just before the Nevada primary but released a day after (6/4-6; 502 NV likely voters; live interview) projects Clark County Sheriff Lombardo taking a one-point, 48-47%, edge over Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak. The poll appears to undercount the non-affiliated voters, which is the largest of the party division segments. It is already clear, however, that this race begins as a toss-up.
In the 1st Congressional, investment advisor Mark Robertson claimed the Republican nomination defeating former Congressman Cresent Hardy among others. He advances to challenge Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) in the general election.
Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City) turned back a challenge from perennial GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian in the state’s northern congressional district’s party primary with a 54-33% victory margin. In competitive District 3, the Republican establishment’s choice, attorney April Becker, easily won the GOP nod and will oppose Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) in the November election.
Insurance agency owner and Army veteran Sam Peters was projected the winner of the 4th District Republican primary a day after the election, with a 48-41% victory spread over Nevada state Assemblywoman Annie Black (R-Mesquite). Mr. Peters now advances to challenge incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in a seat that rates D+5, but is staged to be competitive in 2022.
South Carolina: The first of six Republican House members who are seeking re-election and voted to impeach former President Trump went down to defeat in the June 14 primary. South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach) lost outright to Mr. Trump’s endorsed candidate, state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Murrell’s Inlet). Mr. Fry defeated Rep. Rice, 51-24%, with the remaining 25% being split among the other five candidates.
Elsewhere, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) defeated Republican primary challenger and 2018 congressional nominee Katie Arrington by a close 53-45% that proved a defeat for a Trump endorsed candidate. Fourth District Rep. William Timmons (R-Greenville), in a race that Mr. Trump did not particularly affect, was also renominated but only by a 52.7% vote share opposite three challengers.
Statewide, both Republican incumbents, Sen. Tim Scott and Gov. Henry McMaster, were easily re-nominated. Gov. McMaster will now face former Congressman Joe Cunningham (D), who won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination outright with 56.5% of the vote, while the Democratic Senate candidates fell into a tight three-way finish. Two of the contenders, author Catherine Bruce and state Rep. Krystle Matthews (D-Ladson), will advance to a runoff election on June 28. Both Gov. McMaster and Sen. Scott are prohibitive favorites for re-election.
TX-34: Republican Mayra Flores, a health care professional, won the open special election in a 51-43% spread over former Cameron County Commissioner Dan Sanchez (D) and two others. The district was left vacant when then-Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) resigned from the House to accept a position with a legislative advocacy firm.
Ms. Flores’ win will boost the Republican count to 214 in the House when all of the special elections are complete, just four away from creating a new majority. For Rep-Elect Flores, winning a full term in November, however, is a more difficult challenge. The new 34th is rated 12 points more Democratic than the seat she won in the special and will face 15th District Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) in the unfolding general election.
Mr. Gonzalez chose to seek re-election in the new South Texas 34th when Mr. Vela announced his retirement, and thus won the party primary in March. We can expect the Republican national political apparatus to pull out all of the stops in an attempt to re-elect Ms. Flores in the Autumn, thus making the 34th CD a political battleground.
Georgia: East Carolina University tested the Georgia electorate (6/6-9; 868 GA registered voters) and finds Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and Republican challenger Herschel Walker tied at 47% apiece. The Peach State race will be one of the key battleground contests in the 2022 general election cycle.
North Carolina: Survey USA, polling for WRAL-TV in Raleigh (6/8-12; 650 NC likely voters; online) projects former North Carolina state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley taking a 44-40% lead over US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance). It is probable that we can expect to see close polls like this all the way through the general election.
Ohio: After the May 3 primary, Suffolk University was first in the field (5/22-23; 500 OH likely voters) and found Republican J.D. Vance leading US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) by a slight 42-39% spread. Now, a new study from Democratic pollster Grow Progress (conducted for the Innovation Ohio organization; 5/30-6/3; 2,018 OH registered voters; online) finds Rep. Ryan holding a 44-41% edge. The Ohio electorate typically polls close and these surveys indicate that such a pattern continues in 2022. We can expect toss-up survey research results to continue well into October. At that point, a victory trend will develop for one candidate or the other.
Pennsylvania: A new Suffolk University survey looks to be the first poll taken after the marathon Republican primary finally settled for Dr. Mehmet Oz by a total of 951 votes of 1.345 million ballots cast. The Suffolk poll (6/10-13; 500 PA likely voters; live interview) produces interesting and mixed results. On the ballot test, Democratic nominee John Fetterman, the state’s Lt. Governor, leads Dr. Oz 46-37%, but a full 50% of the respondents said they want their vote “to change the direction President Biden is leading the nation.”
While President Biden is upside down in job approval, 39:54% favorable to unfavorable, Dr. Oz surprisingly records an equivalently bad 28:50% ratio. On the other hand, Mr. Fetterman, at home recovering from a stroke suffered from a blood clot to the heart, records a positive 45:27% favorability index.
NY-23: While New York Republican Party chairman Nick Langworthy will likely be the NY-23 party nominee for the regular election, the group of local county chairmen who have the power to choose the special election nominee have selected Steuben County Republican Party chairman Joe Sempolinski as the party standard bearer for the August 23 special election to replace resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning).
Democrats have tabbed retired Air Force officer Max Della Pia for both the special election in the current 23rd CD and for the new 23rd in the regular election. According to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the new NY-23 rates as R+23, so Mr. Langworthy is the clear long-term favorite. Mr. Sempolinski will not be a candidate in the regular election.
Georgia: The aforementioned East Carolina University poll (see Georgia Senate above) finds Gov. Brian Kemp (R) leading ex-state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D), 50-45%, in another race that is expected to go down to the wire. The two fought to a 50.2 – 48.8% finish in 2018.
Michigan: Former Detroit Police chief James Craig, who was disqualified from the ballot because of submitting a lack of valid petition signatures, said that he would launch a write-in campaign for the Republican nomination. With half the GOP field rejected for the same reason, the race against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) has radically turned.
Pennsylvania: The aforementioned Suffolk University poll (see Senate section above), while finding Republican nominee Mehmet Oz trailing Lt. Gov. John Fetterman well outside the polling margin of error, shows state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville) trailing Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) by only a 44-40% margin.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s job approval is a very poor 38:60% favorable to unfavorable. And, by a 29:54% ratio, the respondents believe Pennsylvania is on the wrong track. Though Sen. Mastriano is viewed by many as being extreme, the sour taste voters apparently have for the current gubernatorial administration and their poor perception of how the state is performing economically is putting the new Republican nominee in competitive position despite whatever perceived negative baggage he might be carrying.
Texas: A new Democratic Blueprint Polling survey of the Texas electorate (6/8-10; 603 TX likely general election voters) finds Gov. Greg Abbott (R) re-establishing a huge polling lead. In this survey, the ballot test breaks 56-37% over former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso). Gov. Abbott is seeking a third four-year term.
Quinnipiac University, in their most recent Texas survey (6/9-13; 1,257 TX registered voters; live interview), found a much different result, however. The Q-Poll sees Gov. Abbott’s lead over O’Rourke closing to just 48-43%, with the Governor possessing an upside down job approval rating of 46:48% favorable to unfavorable. More data will be required to see which of these two pollsters, surveying basically during the same sampling period, is the most accurate.