Category Archives: Corruption

Chamber of Commerce organizations continue their assault on worker’s benefits in court

The Chamber of Commerce organizations lost their battle to overturn Prop. 206, the 2016 minimum wage and paid time off initiative in court, but they are not done using their lickspittle servants in Arizona’s Tea-Publican controlled state legislature to try to reverse citizens initiatives voters approved for paid time off and worker’s benefits.

Howard Fischer reports, State seeks to block cities from regulating private workers ‘benefits’:

Attorney General Mark Brnovich is asking a judge to rule that the word “benefits” in a voter-approved measure is not the same as “fringe benefits.”

And the goal of this judicial war of words is a bid by Brnovich to block local governments from telling private companies what benefits they have to offer their workers.

Assistant Attorney General Rusty Crandell, writing on behalf of Brnovich, is trying to preserve a 2016 measure [HB 2579] adopted by Republican legislators to block local governments from telling private companies everything from how much time off they will offer workers to vacation mandates and even how far ahead of time workers need to be told of schedule changes.

Note: Both the Minimum Wage Act, Prop. 202, approved by voters in 2006, and Prop. 206 approved by voters in 2016, provide for local governments being able to require “benefits” for employees. Prop. 206 was specifically designed to supersede HB 2579 by mandating paid time off benefits.

I explained this lawsuit last year. Arizona sued for unconstitutional attempt to preempt the Arizona Minimum Wage Act.

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AZ Tea-Publican legislature aids and abets our corporate overlords in restricting your constitutional right to make laws

The Chamber of Commerce organizations got their lickspittle servants in our Tea-Publican controlled legislature and our “Koch-bot” governor to do their bidding in making it damn near impossible for citizens to exercise their constitutional right to make laws by citizens initiative. Buying a legislature and governor to do your bidding is the exclusive provence of our Plutocratic corporate overlords, and you will obey!

The ink hadn’t even dried on the bill before Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signs bill banning pay-per-signature for initiative petitions:

Gov. Doug Ducey late Thursday signed into law a bill that will reshape how citizen-initiative campaigns are conducted in Arizona.

The measure, House Bill 2404, was [fraudulently] promoted as a way to fight fraud in petition-signature gathering by banning the paying of circulators for each signature they collect. Instead, they would most likely earn an hourly wage.

Critics denounce it as an attempt to throttle the citizen-initiative process, arguing it will remove the incentive for circulators to gather the thousands of signatures needed to qualify a measure for the ballot.

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Latest on the Trump-Putin campaign investigation (updated)

While the White House has sought to distance itself from campaign staff with ties to Russia this past week by suggesting those under scrutiny were fringe players — including Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort — the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon connections tightened this morning with the New York Times reporting that the Senate Intelligence Committee wants to question Trump son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner as part of their broad inquiry into ties between Trump associates and Russian officials or others linked to the Kremlin. Senate Committee to Question Jared Kushner Over Meetings With Russians:

The White House Counsel’s Office was informed this month that the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, wanted to question Mr. Kushner about meetings he arranged with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, according to the government officials. The meetings included a previously unreported sit-down with the head of Russia’s state-owned development bank.

Until now, the White House had acknowledged only an early December meeting between Mr. Kislyak and Mr. Kushner, which occurred at Trump Tower and was also attended by Michael T. Flynn, who would briefly serve as the national security adviser.

Later that month, though, Mr. Kislyak requested a second meeting, which Mr. Kushner asked a deputy to attend in his stead, officials said. At Mr. Kislyak’s request, Mr. Kushner later met with Sergey N. Gorkov, the chief of Vnesheconombank, which drew sanctions from the Obama administration after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia annexed Crimea and began meddling in Ukraine.

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Democrats will filibuster the stolen seat on the U.S. Supreme Court

With all the craziness going on in Washington this week, one of the critical stories that got buried in the news was the confirmation hearing for Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This was partly due to the fact that Judge Gorsuch is a good actor and he stuck to the well-rehearsed script by being purposefully vague in his answers about his judicial philosophy.

A classic scripted moment was when he was asked the set-up question whether Donald Trump had asked him if he would overturn Roe v. Wade if appointed to the court. Gorsuch put on his most sincere morally righteous face and said “I would have walked out of the room.”

Maybe Judge Gorsuch will be nominated for an Emmy Award this year for best dramatic performance in a television series on C-Span.

The fact is that there are 52 Tea-Publican senators and not one of them is going to vote against Judge Gorsuch. Tea-Publicans purposefully engaged in an unprecedented and unconstitutional blockade of President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, even before they knew the nominee, in order to steal this seat on the Supreme Court. They fully intend to complete their crime against democracy.

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House Intelligence Committee chairman has undermined the credibility of the committee

On Thursday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes Apologized to Intel. Committee Members—But Won’t Explain His Stunt:

On Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the House intelligence committee, blew up the congressional intelligence oversight process. On Thursday morning, at a private committee meeting, he apologized to his colleagues. But, according to a committee source, Nunes would not say what he thought he had done wrong or explain his actions.

Without consulting with the members of his committee—Republicans and Democrats—Nunes on Wednesday held two press conferences, during which he claimed he had been given information indicating that members of Donald Trump’s presidential transition team, including possibly Trump, were picked up during lawfully authorized intelligence surveillance of other targets and that their identities were disclosed in intelligence reporting based on these intercepts. Nunes also rushed to the White House to share this information with Trump.

Note: House Intelligence chair partially backs off claim about surveillance of Trump transition team: “The head of the House Intelligence Committee partially backed away from his dramatic claim [on Wednesday] that officials in President Trump’s transition team had been subjects of surveillance by U.S. intelligence agencies, with an aide saying that Chairman Devin Nunes did not know “for sure.” “Until Nunes sees the actual documents, he does not know whether any of the transition officials were actually part of the surveilled conversations or were just talked about by others, spokesman Jack Langer said Thursday.” “He’ll have to get all the documents he requested from the [intelligence community] about this before he knows for sure,” Langer said.

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‘All the president’s men’: following the Russian money and the Foreign Agents Registration Act

The Washington Post reported on Thursday that Paul Manafort is gone, but his business associate remains a key part of Trump’s operation:

The White House on Wednesday sought to again distance itself from President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who is under increasing scrutiny over his connections to Russian business interests.

But even as Trump officials downplay Manafort’s role, his ­decade-long business associate Rick Gates remains entrenched in the president’s operation. Gates is one of four people leading a Trump-blessed group that defends the president’s agenda. As recently as last week, he was at the White House to meet with officials as part of that work.

Through Manafort, Gates is tied to many of the same business titans from Ukraine and Russia, including Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch with strong ties to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin. On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Manafort had a multimillion-dollar contract with Deripaska between at least 2005 and 2009 that was aimed at helping the political interests of Putin.

Manafort has acknowledged the contract with Deripaska but denied that it, or any other of their dealings, had anything to do with the Russian government. In a brief interview, Gates described his work as being focused on “supporting the private equity fund started by the firm and democracy building and party building in Ukraine.”

Gates also acknowledged a role in at least two recent, controversial deals involving separate Putin-connected oligarchs, including one other with Deripaska. Both led to lawsuits in which Gates was listed as a partner to Manafort, though Gates said he holds no equity interest in the firm.

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