Category Archives: Election Integrity

Politicizing the Census Bureau for GOP authoritarianism

Steve Benen warns of an ominous development at the U.S. Census Bureau. Trump eyes radical choice for the Census Bureau:

The Census, conducted every 10 years by constitutional mandate, is one of those incredible important tasks that most people probably find rather dull. That’s a shame because getting this right has an enormous impact on everything from federal spending to representation in Congress.

With that in mind, it was disappointing when Census Bureau Director John Thompson, in the midst of a funding fight, decided to resign unexpectedly in May. Making matters worse, we’re just now getting a look at the replacement Donald Trump apparently has in mind. Politico reports:

The Trump administration is leaning toward naming Thomas Brunell, a Texas professor with no government experience, to the top operational job at the U.S. Census Bureau, according to two people who have been briefed on the bureau’s plans.

Brunell, a political science professor, has testified more than half a dozen times on behalf of Republican efforts to redraw congressional districts, and is the author of a 2008 book titled “Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.”

Some Trump personal choices are alarming, some are disheartening, and some belong in the you-have-got-to-be-kidding me category.

As Slate explained earlier this year, “The decennial census is critical to ensuring that Americans are fairly represented in Washington, since it’s used as the basis for congressional redistricting. A mishandled census could undercount poor and minority populations, putting some states and many cities at a demographic disadvantage.”

It’s against this backdrop that Trump is eyeing someone who has not only played a direct role in helping Republican gerrymandering efforts, but who quite literally wrote a book criticizing competitive elections.

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The GOP has become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump (updated)

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake was overheard saying to Mesa Mayor John Gileson on a hot mic on Saturday that “[If we] become the party of Roy Moore and Donald Trump, we are toast.” Flake, on hot mic, says GOP will be “toast” if it’s the party of Trump and Moore.

Sunday evening, Mr. Trump took to Twitter to call the senator “Flake(y)” and lambasted him for “saying bad things about your favorite President.”

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After multiple women came forward accusing Moore of inappropriately pursuing or sexually touching them when they were teens, Flake said he would “run to the polling place to vote for the Democrat” if he was an Alabama voter.

The accusations against Moore have put the White House in a difficult situation politically, as at least 16 women have accused Mr. Trump of behaving inappropriately toward them. [UPDATE: Meg Kelly at the Washington Post breaks down President Trump and accusations of sexual misconduct: The complete list.]

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Mr. Trump has yet to personally address the accusations against Moore, although White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said he believes Moore will do the “right thing” and step aside “if” the allegations are true. Sanders has refused to answer further questions about the president’s own accusers.

That was until Monday, when White House counselor Kellyanne Conway went on FOX & Friends (aka Trump TV) to signal that the Trump White House was now going all-in in its support of this serial child sexual predator because Moore is a member of the GOP tribe. Kellyanne Conway on Roy Moore’s candidacy: “We want the votes in the Senate” for tax bill:

During an interview in which White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was attacking Alabama Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones, she was asked by Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” whether she was saying Alabamans should vote for Moore.

“Folks, don’t be fooled. He’ll be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He’s strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway told Fox & Friends. “And Doug Jones is a doctrinaire liberal, which is why he’s not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.”

Co-host Brian Kilmeade [appearing bewildered] asked her, “So, vote Roy Moore?”

“I’m telling you, we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

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‘Dark money’ lawsuit, ‘dirty money’ initiative

A lawsuit has been filed to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some organizations to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns. Howard Fischer reports, Lawsuit challenges dark money growth:

A voter advocacy group, a union and Democrat lawmakers are asking a judge to void a new Arizona law expanding the ability of some groups to make anonymous “dark money” contributions to political campaigns.

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court charges the Republican-controlled Legislature acted illegally earlier this year in exempting some organizations from laws that require them to register before they can spend money to influence who is elected. More to the point, it also allows them to avoid disclosing to voters who provided that cash in the first place.

But attorney Jim Barton said there are other legal flaws in the measure.

One, he said, is that the exemption lawmakers provided to certain nonprofit organizations applies only to those that also are registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. But Barton said the legislation denies the same privilege to unions which, while organized as nonprofits, do not register with the commission.

Potentially the most sweeping, Barton said lawmakers violated a constitutional provision that requires the legislature to have laws that tell the public about all of the contributions to and expenditures by campaign committees and candidates for public office.

He said SB 1516 allows nonprofits and similar entities to make unlimited contributions to political parties. Then the parties can spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their nominees.

“Since the reporting of these particular contributions are not required, then built-in disclosure safeguards (required by the Arizona Constitution) are broken,” Barton wrote.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which enforces the campaign finance laws, said the lawsuit is being studied.

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PDA Tucson Clean Elections Forum Nov 16 (video)

Clean ElectionsWhat is Clean Elections all about? Why would anyone choose to run for office using Arizona’s Clean Elections system– rather than run a “traditional” political campaign fueled by as much cash as you can rake in? How does the Clean Elections system work? What are the advantages and disadvantages to running a publicly funded campaign vs a privately funded campaign?

Please join former Arizona Senate Minority Leader Phil Lopes and I at the PDA Tucson Clean Elections Forum, Thursday, Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ward 6 office (Facebook event here.) Phil ran clean and won every election. I ran clean and won in 2016, and my 2018 re-election campaign is also a clean campaign.

If you think that big-money politics and special interests are destroying our democracy, come on down and learn about Clean Elections. Have you been toying with the idea of running for office but can’t stand the idea of making hundreds of fundraising phone calls to raise the cash the consultants say you need?

Clean Elections is a grassroots system of organizing and funding a political campaign; it was created by the Citizens Initiative process.

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Secretary of State Michele Reagan is disenfranchising voters

Last month we learned that Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan violated the law when her office failed to mail publicity pamphlets to hundreds of thousands of voters in time for the May 2016 special election, a state-appointed investigator has concluded.

But, the investigator found, there is no provision in state law to punish anyone for not delivering the pamphlets on time and Reagan and her staff did not act criminally.

That’s the outcome of a long-awaited investigative report released Wednesday by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Michael Morrissey, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice, led the review as an appointed special investigator.

Reagan responded “mistakes were made and we were responsible,” then tried to pass the buck to vendors and her staff.

Last week the Secretary of State was sued for illegally denying thousands of Arizonans the right to vote in federal elections because they registered using the federal voter registration form. Arizona, lawsuit contends voters are being disenfranchised:

Legal papers filed Tuesday in federal court here acknowledge that state law requires would-be voters to produce certain identification when registering. That requirement has been upheld in prior court rulings.

But attorneys for the League of United Latin American Citizens and the Arizona Students Association point out that the U.S. Supreme Court has said that state law does not — and cannot — prevent people from registering to vote for federal elections using a federally approved registration form. And they contend that those whose state registrations are rejected for lack of citizenship proof are not informed of that option.

“At least 26,000 voters in Maricopa County alone have been disenfranchised by these policies,” the lawsuit states. But the problem is not limited there.

The lawyers say they’ve sampled more than 2,000 state registration forms that were rejected because applicants had failed to provide the required proof of citizenship. Of that group, fewer than 15 percent successfully registered after receiving notice of the rejection.

“Therefore, many eligible voters across Arizona have been disenfranchised by these unnecessary bureaucratic policies,” the lawsuit states.

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Wikileaks is at the center of Trump-Putin campaign investigation

Wikileaks is a non-state actor intelligence agency hostile to the United States. Wikileaks founder Julin Assange has a program on Russian Television International, a Russian propaganda network. Assange frequently attacks the United States while pulling punches for Vladimir Putin’s autocratic kleptocracy in Russia.

WikiLeaks was the conduit the Russians used to disseminate the DNC, DCCC and John Podesta emails. This is the unanimous assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies.

Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog summarized, Did Nigel Farage Serve as Roger Stone’s Intermediary?:

The Smoking Gun wrote up an extensive article on their contacts with Guccifer 2.0, the “online persona that U.S. officials say was created by Russian government officials to distribute and publicize material stolen during hacks of the DNC, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Gmail accounts used by Clinton staffers like John Podesta, the campaign’s chairman.”

The main focus of their article was Roger Stone, however, who had significant online contacts with the Guccifer 2.0 persona, called him a hero, and defended him extensively against accusations that he wasn’t who or what he claimed to be. It’s a fascinating article, and it just became much more urgently interesting this morning after BuzzFeed News reported that they essentially busted Nigel Farage coming out of a meeting with Julian Assange today in Ecuador’s London embassy.

Longtime Trump confidant and GOP ratfucker Roger Stone admitted to having a “back channel” to Julian Assange during the campaign. Roger Stone claims he has ‘perfectly legal back channel’ to Julian Assange. And Stone admitted to speaking privately with Guccifer 2.0, an alleged Russian cyberspy.

Today The Atlantic reports that Donald Trump’s son, Donald Jr., also had a back channel to Julian Assange. The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks:

Just before the stroke of midnight on September 20, 2016, at the height of last year’s presidential election, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent a private direct message to Donald Trump Jr., the Republican nominee’s oldest son and campaign surrogate.

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The next morning, about 12 hours later, Trump Jr. responded to WikiLeaks. “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around,” he wrote on September 21, 2016. “Thanks.”

The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

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