Daily Archives: August 21, 2018

‘Super Tuesday’ in the federal courts – Cohen pleads, Manafort found guilty (Updated)

Donald Trump’s consigliere (fixer) Michael Cohen once said he would “take a bullet for Donald Trump.”

But today Michael Cohen entered into a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and agreed to be a cooperating witness. Just call Mikey Flipper today.

The big news: in counts seven and eight to which Michael Cohen plead guilty, involving payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, Donald Trump is effectively identified as an unindicted co-conspirator, for the first time since Richard Nixon.

Bloomberg News reports from the courthouse, Cohen Faces December Sentencing on U.S. Charges: Plea Update:

Cohen Acted for Candidate in Violating Campaign Law (4:43 p.m.)

In acknowledging the charges against him, Cohen said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office. At the same candidate’s direction, he said he paid $130,000 to somebody to keep them quiet, which was later repaid by the candidate. He didn’t identify the candidate or the person who was paid, but those facts match Cohen’s payment to Clifford [Stormy Daniels] and Trump’s repayment.

Cohen Payment Was to Hide Alleged Affairs: U.S. (4:47 p.m.)

The prosecutor told the judge the purpose of the payments was to ensure that the individuals did not disclose “alleged affairs with the candidate.” Besides the $130,000 payment, Cohen admitted to making an illegal contribution of $150,000, which was how much McDougal received from the National Enquirer’s publisher to quash her story.

Lawfare Blog has a copy of the Michael Cohen plea agreement. Michael Cohen Plea Agreement (Scribd).

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LD 11 Incumbents Support for Public Ed

Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am a campaign manager for a candidate challenging Mark Finchem for the AZ House in LD 11.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this year, you probably know that this is an election year where K-12 education has been on center stage, at least here in Arizona. Here in LD 11, where I live, both Representatives Mark Finchem (running for reelection to the AZ House) and Vince Leach (running this year for the AZ Senate), have intimated they are supporters of education and have worked to restore funding back to 2008 levels.




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First of all, I believe that if a politician doesn’t specify they are a supporter of PUBLIC education, they probably aren’t. Secondly, funding for Arizona public education is still almost $800 million short per year from 2008 levels, even with the plus-up in budget approved this year. And oh by the way, bringing our funding back up to 2008 levels isn’t exactly something to brag about, and the 5 percent raises promised teachers in 2019 and 2020 don’t count until they actually happen. For now, they are just promises that future legislators will need to make good on. Continue reading

Outlaw Dirty Money initiative challenged in court

The same legal arguments being made by the GOP’s voter suppression team and its “dark money” allies (e.g., APS and “Kochtopus” tentacles) against the Invest in Education Act initiative and the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative were made against the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative on Monday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith last week, reviewing the Invest in Education Act initiative, ruled that state legislators acted illegally in enacting a requirement in 2017 that all efforts by voters to enact their own laws must be in “strict compliance” with each and every election statute.

But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Kiley reached the opposite conclusion in reviewing the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative.

The conflicting rulings mean the Arizona Supreme Court will have to determine who is right — and soon as what the justices rule ultimately could determine what will be on the November ballot. Initiatives may not be decided at the ballot box but by seven justices of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Another issue the Arizona Supreme Court will have to decide is the constitutionality of the 2014 law that requires judges to toss signatures from circulators who don’t show up in court. Failure to show up in court in response to the subpoena means a judge must invalidate all the signatures collected by that individual – even if valid.

This 2014 voter suppression law is more directly at issue in yesterday’s review of the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, ‘Dark money,’ renewable energy ballot measures in court:

The question of whether voters get to decide whether to outlaw “dark money” could depend on whether a judge voids a law that throws a hurdle in the path of initiative organizers.

GOP attorney Kory Langhofer who represents groups that now do not disclose the source of their funds contends that the Outlaw Dirty Money committee does not have sufficient valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. At a hearing Monday, Langhofer told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders there are flaws with many of the signatures.

But much of Langhofer’s case rests on the fact that he issued more than a dozen subpoenas to people who circulated petitions, people who he contends were not legally qualified. These include people who Langhofer contends have felony convictions or did not provide a proper address.

None of those subpoenaed showed up in court on Monday.

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