Category Archives: Elections

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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Rep. Martha McSally, Donald Trump’s ‘twin sister’

Remember this from this past July? Rep. Martha McSally reveals her uncomfortable position in the Trump era:

A secretly recorded tape of U.S. Rep. Martha McSally talking to potential donors offers a rare glimpse into what the two-term Tucson Republican is thinking in the current political climate.

During the 63-minute recording made in late May at a closed-door meeting in Tucson, McSally tells the Arizona Bankers Association that since January, her critics have painted her with the same brush as President Trump.

“There’s just an element out there that’s just, like, so against the president. Like they just can’t see straight. And all of a sudden on January 20, I’m like his twin sister,” she said, in audio that was recently posted online by a grassroots political group called Indivisible Southern Arizona.

That was then, this is now.  Apparently McSally has been to a Breitbart reeducation camp, because she is now making an explicit effort to appear to be Trump’s twin sister in a sadly pathetic attempt to gain Trump’s fickle endorsement for Senate.

Tim Steller of the Arizona Daily Star reports, Steller’s Friday Notebook: McSally pivots to pro-Trump position:

For some time, I’ve suspected that Rep. Martha McSally is angling for an endorsement from President Trump as she considers jumping into the U.S. Senate race — maybe even as a condition for running.

That would give her a big advantage over the top GOP candidate in the race now, Kelli Ward, who is a devoted fan of the president and was endorsed by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

I can’t say I’ve confirmed this is what McSally is doing, but on Thursday, she offered one more piece of evidence for the theory. McSally’s Twitter account put out a picture of her with Trump, each with an arm around the other, each giving a thumbs up.

McSally’s text said: “Great meeting with President @realDonaldTrump this a.m. to discuss our tax cuts that will bring relief to hard-working American families!”

This was the fourth tweet naming the president that McSally has posted since Nov. 8; her entire Twitter history shows only one Tweet naming Trump before that.

On Nov. 8, a day I think we may look back on as the day McSally actually began running for Senate, she posted a picture of herself with the president’s older daughter. The text of the tweet said, “Discussing our plan to cut taxes, create jobs & deliver relief to American families w/@IvankaTrump. Let’s get it to @realDonaldTrump’s desk.”

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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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House passes GOP ‘tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats’ bill – last line of defense is the Senate

The GOP “tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats” bill is deeply unpopular with the American people. The most recent Quinnipiac University poll found:

Asked about the tax plan, the numbers for President Trump were bleak. While a third of Americans approved of his handling of taxes, only a quarter approved of the Republican proposal. That includes only 60 percent of Republicans.

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Despite being deeply unpopular, the House Tea-Publicans today passed the GOP  “tax cuts for corporations and Plutocrats” bill on a largely party-line vote of 227-205, with all Democrats unified in opposition and only 13 Republicans voting against the measure. Roll call vote.

Arizona’s Congressional delegation voted: AYE: Biggs, Franks, Gosar, McSally, Schweikert; NAY: Gallego, Grijalva, O’Halleran, Sinema.

Those members voting in favor of this bill should be defeated next year. Democrats must run credible candidates against each of them. No seat should go uncontested next year.

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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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