Connect with us


Voting Groups Sue Georgia Over Law’s Absentee Restrictions

Voting Groups Sue Georgia Over Law’s Absentee Restrictions

A coalition of groups whose work involves expanding voting access has filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia’s elections chief in response to the state’s new voting restrictions that include barriers to mail-in ballots.

VoteAmerica, the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information filed the suit on Wednesday against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in an effort to block the state from implementing new restrictions on how vote-by-mail applications can be distributed in the state.

The groups claim in the lawsuit that the restrictions are unconstitutional, saying that distributing vote-by-mail applications is a right of core political speech.

Georgia’s Republican-controlled legislature passed SB 202 last month, which was signed into law by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. The law’s restrictions will create barriers to voting, particularly for people of color, rural residents and young voters, many of whom helped contribute to recent record turnout, flipping Georgia blue with votes for Democrat Joe Biden for president in November and for two Democrats as U.S. senators in January runoffs.

Republicans in favor of blocking voting accessibility, including Kemp, justified the law by claiming lawmakers want to prevent voter fraud. Former President Donald Trump spread the lie that he lost reelection because of widespread voter fraud, although Raffensperger was among those who debunked that claim.

“In the 2020 general election and 2021 runoff elections, millions of Georgians requested, received and cast their votes by mail and even Secretary of State Raffensperger declared that both elections were conducted safely,” VoteAmerica founder Debra Cleaver said in a statement. “It is painfully clear that the actual goal of SB 202 is to suppress minority votes.”

“It disregards the voice and the will of Georgia voters who turned out in unprecedented numbers in 2020 and 2021,” she added. “It ignores the objections of national voter protection, pro-democracy and civil rights groups. SB 202 is egregious, it perpetuates disinformation and it blatantly targets communities of color.”

Part of the changes in the new law, labeled “Jim Crow 2.0” by critics, include a provision banning the secretary of state, county election officials and other government officials from directly sending out vote-by-mail applications unless a voter specifically asks for one. The law also bans anyone from helping a voter by pre-filling their information in a vote-by-mail application ― an important tool that many online voter assistance platforms use to make absentee voting more accessible.

In addition, the new restrictions impose a $100 penalty for every duplicate application sent to a voter who has already requested, received or cast an absentee ballot. The law “makes it virtually impossible to run vote-by-mail application programs that help Georgians cast their ballots,” said Tom Lopach, president of the nonpartisan Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information.

“These new requirements are not only costly and burdensome on nonprofit organizations who work to encourage political participation and facilitate access to absentee voting for Georgians ― in some cases they are impossible to comply with or would present such prohibitively expensive financial burdens that some groups … may have no choice but to cease their operations in Georgia altogether,” the lawsuit states, adding that organizations whose missions focus on expanding voter participation through distributing absentee ballot applications are “an essential piece of our civic society.”

According to the groups, many Georgians rely on third-party organizations to provide them with the pre-filled and pre-printed absentee ballot applications that they can review and submit to their county election official without needing a broadband internet connection or access at home to a printer or scanner. This was especially the case during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, when Georgia voters cast a record 1,320,154 absentee ballots in the 2020 general election and a record 1,070,596 absentee ballots in the 2021 runoff races.

But the need to rely on such organizations still applies to Georgia’s rural residents, young voters and communities of color, who often disproportionately don’t have the resources to obtain and fill out an absentee ballot application on their own.

“Georgia’s recent election experience demonstrated the overwhelming support for election laws that allow voters to cast their ballot safely and freely, whether they live in a small town or big city, so that every voice is heard and elections in the state reflect the will of the voters,” said Paul Smith, vice president for litigation and strategy at Campaign Legal Center, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the groups.

Several civil rights groups have already filed a lawsuit in Georgia challenging a list of provisions in the law ― including the restrictions on absentee ballot applications. The lawsuit on Wednesday by three additional groups increases the pressure on Georgia’s Republican officials to expand the vote-by-mail access they just blocked.

“Absentee voter fraud in Georgia ― the justification for these restrictive measures ― virtually non-existent,” said the March 26 lawsuit filed by the New Georgia Project, Black Voters Matter Fund and Rise Inc.

“According to the Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism, there have been only eight instances of voter fraud in Georgia since 2000 that resulted in a plea, consent order, or conviction ― a negligible rate of fraud in absentee voting totaling 0.00003%.”

Source link

Click to comment


Trump Will Be Able To Keep His ‘Save America’ PAC’s Spending Secret Another 3 Months

Trump Will Be Able To Keep His ‘Save America’ PAC’s Spending Secret Another 3 Months

WASHINGTON ― Former President Donald Trump, who raised some $76 million after last November’s election under false pretenses, will be able to keep how he is spending that money secret until mid-July, thanks to Federal Election Commission rules.

Trump claimed in dozens of texts and emails to his small-dollar donor list that money he was collecting for his “Save America” committee would be used to challenge the results in states he had lost to Democrat Joe Biden and also to help the Republican candidates in two Georgia Senate runoffs.

In fact, he spent none of that money for those purposes and instead kept it for his committee, which can spend it on almost anything he wants, including paying his personal expenses or even giving him an eight-figure salary.

FEC rules allow “non-candidate committees” to file as infrequently as every six months, and with the quarter deadline passing Thursday, it appears both Trump’s committee and the related Trump Make America Great Again Committee have chosen to file semiannually rather than quarterly, as they had been doing.

Trump raised “several million” for his PAC in the days after telling his supporters at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando in late February that they should not donate to GOP committees, but instead give their money to Save America, according to an associate who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Among the information that will remain under wraps until July 15 is how much Trump is paying his PAC’s employees, including top aide Jason Miller, who is in a long-running child support battle with the mother of their son, Miller’s former subordinate on the 2016 Trump campaign.

On the 2020 campaign, Miller was “chief strategist,” but his name never showed up in the campaign’s FEC filings. Instead, his $35,000-a-month salary was funneled through Jamestown Associates, a former company of his, potentially making it more difficult for the Florida family court to determine how much he was earning.

The former president was impeached a record second time for inciting a violent mob to attack the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in his last-ditch attempt to hold on to power.

Trump spent weeks attacking the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election after he had lost, lying that it had been “stolen” from him and that he had actually won in a “landslide.” Those falsehoods continued through a long string of failed lawsuits challenging the results in a handful of states. After the Electoral College finally voted on Dec. 14, making Biden’s win official, Trump began urging his followers to come to Washington on Jan. 6 to intimidate his own vice president and Congress into overturning the election results and installing Trump as president for another term anyway. The mob he incited attempted to do just that as it stormed the Capitol. His supporters even chanted “Hang Mike Pence” after Pence refused to comply with Trump’s demands.

A police officer died the day of that insurrection, and two others took their own lives soon afterward.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referenced a letter mistakenly cited by the Federal Election Commission.

Source link

Continue Reading


Trump EPA Official Blocked Warning About Carcinogenic Pollution In Illinois: IG Report

Trump EPA Official Blocked Warning About Carcinogenic Pollution In Illinois: IG Report

A former top Environmental Protection Agency official appointed by former President Donald Trump withheld warnings to an Illinois community about a toxic gas linked to several cancers that was being emitted by local plants, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General revealed in a news report.

Bill Wehrum was the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office for Air and Radiation in 2018 when EPA officials in Illinois became concerned about elevated levels of ethylene oxide at the Sterigenics sterilizing plant in Willowbrook.

The federal government has linked the gas to lymphoma, leukemia, and stomach and breast cancers. The local administrator “wanted to immediately release” air monitoring results to the public by posting them on the agency’s website to “avoid another public health emergency like the Flint, Michigan, drinking water crisis,” according to the IG report, which was released Thursday.

But Wehrum, who had been an attorney for gas, oil and coal companies, ordered officials to “not release monitoring results to the public,” said the investigative report, which was requested by Congress.

When one local EPA official apparently ignored Wehrum’s directive and posted the air quality results online, the website was shut down by another official apparently loyal to Wehrum.

“The fact that senior Trump administration EPA officials impeded the release of information to communities regarding the health risks of ethylene oxide exposure is about as contradictory to the agency’s mission of protecting the public as you can get,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), who chairs the Senate committee overseeing the EPA, said in a statement.

Wehrum could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Wehrum resigned in 2019 amid an ethics investigation. The House Committee on Energy and Commerce had launched a probe just two months earlier into allegations that he and a top deputy used their EPA posts to aid utilities they had previously represented at a law firm.

While at EPA, Wehrum met with a former client, the Utility Air Regulatory Group, an umbrella organization funded by several companies that opposed stricter limits on pollution from coal-fired plants, investigators found.

He also worked on an EPA directive that direct affected DTE Energy, a top utility company his former firm had represented in a case against the agency, according to The Washington Post

Sterigenics shut down in 2019.

Source link

Continue Reading


‘Nativist Crap’: Critics Erupt In Fury Over New Conservative ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus

‘Nativist Crap’: Critics Erupt In Fury Over New Conservative ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Caucus

Stunned critics erupted in anger Friday amid reports of the pending creation of a congressional Frankenstein with a Third Reich mustache: An “America First Caucus” aimed at pushing “uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions.”

“The America First Caucus (AFC) exists to promote Congressional policies that are to the long-term benefit of the American nation,” says a caucus document circulating among lawmakers and the media.

The group aims to “follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation,” according to its platform.

“History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country,” the document notes.

The caucus calls for limiting legal immigration “to those that can contribute not only economically, but have demonstrated respect for this nation’s culture and rule of law.” It bizarrely supports infrastructure “that reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture.”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), an immigrant, pointed out to reported caucus organizers Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) that he served in the military to “defend your right to say stupid stuff.” Nevertheless, he added, “Take your nativist crap and shove it.”

Surprisingly, the new group was quickly bashed by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (and quickly endorsed by GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida). McCarthy is a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Greene and her “traditions” right from the start. But McCarthy slammed Greene’s proposed caucus as a “nativist dog whistle.”

In a striking indication of what could be a devastating division among the hard-right Republicans in Congress, Freedom Caucus member Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) slammed the “hatefulness” of the new group’s perspectives.

Wyoming GOP Rep. Liz Cheney said flatly: “Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil.” Republicans, she tweeted, “believe in equal opportunity, freedom, and justice for all.”

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) pointed out that Republicans’ current favorite author, Dr. Seuss, connected “America first” (a phrase long associated with the Ku Klux Klan) directly to Hitler’s Nazi Party.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) warned the nascent caucus to not “dare” contact him to support any of its legislation. “Wouldn’t want my non Anglo, Colombian, Mexican indigenous blood to corrupt you,” he angrily tweeted.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) demanded that anyone who joined the caucus should be stripped of their committee positions. “While we can’t prevent someone form calling themselves Republicans, we can loudly say they don’t belong to us,” he said on Twitter.

Source link

Continue Reading


‘Climate Change Doesn’t Have a Political Party.’ Conservative Environmentalist Benji Backer on Crossing Partisan Lines to Solve The Climate Crisis

‘Climate Change Doesn’t Have a Political Party.’ Conservative Environmentalist Benji Backer on Crossing Partisan Lines to Solve The Climate Crisis

The conservative environmentalist Benji Backer wants to change how the climate movement has long been synonymous with the liberal movement. The president and founder of the American Conservation Coalition, a non-profit organization working to mobilize young conservatives around environmental action, Backer is working to engage members of the Republican Party on climate change.

“Climate change has been seen as a democratic issue while Republicans have been seen as the denialist party,” Backer tells TIME in a TIME100 Talks interview debuting Friday. “And while that has been painted that way, it couldn’t be further from the truth.”

Far-right Republicans and outspoken climate deniers have “dominated the airwaves,” says Backer, noting how in 2015, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe presented a snowball to the senate floor as evidence against climate change, and pointing to former President Donald Trump, who has referred to climate change as a “hoax invented by the Chinese.”

“While there are some very loud voices on the right who have been denying climate change for many years, there have also been a lot of quieter voices who I believe represent the majority of conservatives behind the scenes working towards a brighter future,” Backer says.

In 2019, Republican Indiana Sen. Michael Braun and Democratic Delaware Sen. Chris Coons formed the Bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, in hopes that both parties could find common ground to address climate change.

According to the Pew Research Center, 52% of millennial and younger Republicans think that “the federal government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change” compared to 31% of older Republicans. The study also found that 78% of young Republicans were in favor of the development of alternative energy sources compared to 53% of older Republicans.

“As a young person, I believe that our generation will solve climate change,” Backer, 22, says.

Backer hasn’t always been an environmentalist. At age 12, he didn’t consider climate change as a serious topic, he says. “I, in fact, thought that climate change might not even be real,” he says. “I thought that climate change is just a political tool.”

“It wasn’t until I was exposed to the science and exposed to the dangers of not fighting climate change, that I truly engaged on the topic,” Backer says.

Backer notes that some of the “most climate friendly states,” in regard to reducing their carbon footprint, are led by Republicans, including Vermont, New Hampshire and South Dakota, which are governed by Phil Scott, Chris Sununu and Kristi Noem, respectively. These states have some of the lowest CO2 emissions in the U.S. Between 2005 and 2017, Maryland, led by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan, saw the largest decrease in CO2 emissions in the country, reducing emissions by 38%.

“We honestly are just focused on finding common ground on climate change solutions,” Backer says. “Just because we have a different approach to solving climate change doesn’t mean that we are the bad guys, or that we’re evil. It just means that we have a different set of principles that we’re applying to solving the climate crisis.”

As a college senior at the University of Washington in 2019, Backer testified in front of Congress alongside environmental youth activists Greta Thunberg, Jamie Margolin, and Vic Barrett. “It was one of the greatest moments of my life,” Backer says. “I felt incredibly honored to be sitting next to three incredibly influential activists on a different political spectrum than my own, and to be able to present at Congress with a right-of-center and three left-of-center voices saying the exact same thing, which is that we need to do something about climate change. It was a perfect example of how powerful uniting in this generation can be.”

Backer, along with the American Conservation Coalition, has drafted a conservative, market-focused response to The Green Deal — the American Climate Contract.

He’s also looking forward to working with President Joe Biden’s administration on climate policy, “in whatever way they want to cross ideological and partisan lines.”

“Climate change is a decade-by-decade long issue, and it doesn’t have a political party,” he says. “With innovation and bold youth action, we can solve the climate crisis across partisan boundaries.”

Source link

Continue Reading


Business PAC Donations Tanked To Republicans Who Challenged Biden Vote: Report

Business PAC Donations Tanked To Republicans Who Challenged Biden Vote: Report

Political action committee contributions from businesses, industry groups, trade associations and unions plunged about 80% to Republican politicians who objected to certifying states’ Electoral College votes for Joe Biden as president, a Wall Street Journal analysis found.

PACs for those groups gave $1.3 million in the first quarter of the year to the campaigns of the 147 Republicans who objected to counting every states’ electoral votes for Biden on Jan. 6, according to the Journal’s examination of quarterly reports filed by Thursday’s deadline.

That was down about 80% from the $6.7 million donated by the same groups to the same lawmakers in the first quarter of 2019, a comparable postelection quarter, according to the newspaper.

The same contributions to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who voted to certify the results were down about 35%, and contributions to Democrats dropped 30%, the Journal reported.

Donations often slack off the first quarter after a national election. But the figures indicate that most companies and trade groups that threatened to suspend donations after the siege of the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters “have done so,” the newspaper noted.

Some high-profile lawmakers who challenged the Electoral College count — including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — don’t rely heavily or at all on PAC business contributions. But the significant drop in the donations is a strong indication of where business stands on the upheaval and divisiveness driven by the GOP.

Check out the entire Journal PAC contribution story here.

Source link

Continue Reading


Justice Department Sues Trump Crony Roger Stone For Alleged $2 Million In Unpaid Taxes

Justice Department Sues Trump Crony Roger Stone For Alleged  Million In Unpaid Taxes

Longtime political operative and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone has been sued by the Department of Justice for alleged millions in unpaid federal income taxes.

The suit, filed Friday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says Stone and his wife, Nydia, used a limited liability corporation called Drake Ventures to “shield their personal income … and fund a lavish lifestyle despite owing nearly $2 million in unpaid taxes, interest and penalties,” Reuters reported. 

In January 2019, Stone and his wife used Drake Ventures funds to purchase a home in Florida’s Broward County, and registered it under another entity, The Hill reported. According to the lawsuit, the couple was in “substantial debt” to the IRS at the time of purchase.

Stone could not immediately be reached for comment.

Stone, a longtime GOP political operative and confidant of the former president, served as Trump’s 2016 campaign adviser. His actions leading up to the siege of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 are reportedly being investigated by the FBI. Videos show Stone in the company of members of key extremist groups who stormed the building. 

In a Washington rally a month before the storming of the Capitol, Stone, surrounded by members of the violent extremist Proud Boys, urged the crowd to “never give up and fight for America” — in other words, by overturning the democratic election. The night before the Capitol attack, Stone spoke at a Washington rally and called the conflict a battle between the “godly and the godless,” between “good and evil.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Source link

Continue Reading

Recent Posts