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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, June 23, 2018
Out For Your Kids, Your Privacy, and Your Blood: 'BradCast' 6/22/18
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Ziva Branstetter, Cyrus Farivar, Ken Auletta, John Carreyrou...
Death and Taxes at SCOTUS:
'BradCast' 6/21/18
Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Abuse reported at child immigrant detention centers; Trump's trade war dangers; Much more...
'Green News Report' 6/21/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Blocked study released, reveals contamination; More CO2 reduces food nutrition; Trump rescinds BP spill protections; PLUS: 30 years since Congress warned about climate change...
Previous GNRs: 6/19/18 - 6/14/18 - Archives...
Trump Lie Collapses, Migrant Child Policy Reversed (Sort Of): 'BradCast' 6/20/18
Also: DC, AR election results; Why 'both sides are the same' argument from progressives is pathetic; Canada legalizes recreational pot...
Judge Nixes KS 'Proof of Citizenship' Voting Law, Slaps Humiliating Sanction on Kobach: 'BradCast' 6/19/18
Guest: ACLU trial atty Sophia Lin Lakin; Also: Trump's border 'crisis' worsens for Repubs...
'Green News Report' 6/19/18
Storms moving slower; EPA changes could kill thousands; China tariffs hit US energy; McDonald's dumping plastic straws; PLUS: Climate change eroding home values...
Sunday 'Giving Peace a Chance' Toons
Just a glimpse of the past week via the eyes of the world's political cartoonists, as one of them lost his job this week for being too critical of Donald J. Trump...
Sessions 'Can't Do That': Immigration Atty on Admin Denial of Domestic Abuse Asylum: 'BradCast' 6/15/18
Guest: Law Prof Karen Musalo; Also: 1000s ripped from parents, warehoused by US Govt...
'Green News Report' 6/14/18
GOPers turn on Pruitt; Antarctica melting 3x times faster; DNC bans fossil fuel donations; Floods doubled over 30 yrs; PLUS: Energy Dept: E-cars cheapest to drive...
Ranked Choice Voting is a Terrible Idea; Election Results/Fails, Trump's GOP Cult: 'BradCast' 6/13/18
NV's new voting systems fail; WI seat flipped; Scheme to break CA up on 2018 ballot...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


News on several massive Election Day failures in L.A. and some more noteworthy results in CA and elsewhere; Also: The continuing jaw-dropping kleptocracy of Trump's shockingly still-employed EPA chief...
By Brad Friedman on 6/7/2018 5:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We continue our coverage of fallout following this past Tuesday's midterm primary elections in eight states, as the counting and canvassing moves forward. [Audio link to show follows below]

In California on Wednesday night, Sec. of State Alex Padilla (D) sent a stern letter to Los Angeles County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan demanding answers and actions following a still-unexplained "printing error" that resulted in the names of more than 118,000 registered voters (including Fonzie!) being left off the printed rosters at more than 1,000 polling places.

Voters found missing from the rolls were to have been given provisional ballots on Tuesday, according to Logan, but there are questions as to whether all of them were. Also, there are concerns about whether those provisional ballots will all, in fact, be counted (or tossed for bad reasons, as some provisional and vote-by-mail ballots are), and if those ballots will be included in the county's 1% post-election manual "spot check", meant to determine whether hand-marked paper ballots were tallied as per voter intent by the county's computer tabulators. A new state law adopted last year exempts both provisional ballots and late vote-by-mail ballots post-marked by Election Day (which may arrive several days after the election and still be included in tallies) from that mandated 1% "random audit". We've got a bit of exclusive news on that front today.

That disaster was not the only problem for voters on Tuesday in L.A., the nation's largest voting jurisdiction. One blind voter reports on her failed attempt to vote on four separate audio voting systems for disabled voters at three separate polling places. All four machines failed to work, echoing a very similar problem that I had while attempting to vote on those very same systems in L.A. ten years ago. In a 2008 primary, 4 out of 12 of my own votes were misprinted by the computer-marked paper ballot audio voting system. (Luckily, I'm not blind, so was able to notice the computer-printed failure before casting the ballot!) Two years later, in 2010, when I tried the system again, it failed to work altogether on two different machines.

Also in CA on Tuesday, voters in a recall election successfully removed a state judge who had issued a controversially lenient sentence to a Stanford University athlete last year following his sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Another recall election, engineered by state Republicans, resulted in the removal of a Democratic state Senator for having voted in favor of a gas tax hike last year. The successful recall strips Dems of their two-thirds super-majority in the state Senate, which is required for the passage of any new state taxes or fees.

In Alabama, the unbalanced Republican Sec. of State John Merrill --- who blocked me on Twitter last December for being correct about the state's computer tabulation systems, before sending a barrage of insanely bizarre emails to me last week --- won his primary for re-election on Tuesday.

And Joseph Siegelman, son of the former Democratic AL Gov. Don Siegelman, (both guests on the show over the years) won his primary for Attorney General in the state. Depending on the results of a primary runoff on the GOP side, Siegelman may be running this November against a former AL Attorney General who was part of the GOP cabal who helped imprison his father on seemingly trumped up bribery charges more than a decade ago. (Tune in for a wild summary of the incredible GOP corruption in that state around all of that, which still echoes throughout state politics today. And, with all of the madness I quickly summarized on the show, I now realize I forgot to mention, incredibly enough, that the George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who convicted and sentenced Gov. Siegelman was later forced to resign after being arrested for beating his wife!)

And, in South Dakota, some remarkable fallout from a Sheriff's race in one county, underscoring, yet again that elections have consequences and that so-called "Right-to-Work" states are anything but.

Then, after a smart observation from longtime BRAD BLOG reader "Dredd", who points out that more Americans appear to have been killed by one climate event --- Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico --- than in our (so far) 17-year long war in Afghanistan, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. Among other things in today's report, still more outrageous corruption news revealed from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. But, we had more on that front than we could fit into our GNR today --- and more that has broken since recording it Wednesday morning --- so we follow up with that additional news about Trump's kleptocratic EPA chief, including a Republican U.S. Senator who has some choice words for the shockingly still-employed Pruitt...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Slate legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern on 'having cake and eating it too'; Also: Probs for voters in CA and SD, as eight states hold primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/5/2018 6:05pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As voters head to the polls in eight states (CA, AL, IA, MS, MT, NJ, NM and SD) on Tuesday, we cover a few "sorta victories" elsewhere for now, including at the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Reports of problems at the polls have already cropped up, however, in South Dakota, where electronic pollbooks failed in eight counties, and here in Los Angeles, where a "random issue with the print job" on paper rosters at polling places, according to the County Clerk, has led to some voters needing to cast provisional ballots.

As we await election results and likely reports of more problems elsewhere, a "sorta victory" for Twitter users who had sued the President after he blocked them on Twitter. Those seven plaintiffs were finally unblocked by Trump after a federal court found last month that he was violating their Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights. But, on the same day those seven were unblocked, the Dept. of Justice appealed the court's ruling anyway.

In Alabama, another "sorta victory" as the story of Sec. of State John Merrill blocking folks on Twitter for pointing out his errors as the state's top election official, has finally been picked up by the corporate media in the state. That, just hours before voters headed to the polls, with Merrill himself on the ballot. The coverage comes after we first reported on Merrill's behavior months ago (when he blocked me for being right about the state's computerized election tabulators), and again last week after he sent me a flurry of insane emails [PDF] in response to a simple query as to whether he planned to unblock followers now that a federal court has found his behavior to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The Montgomery Advertiser's weak coverage, however, largely serves to offer the Sec. of State a platform to call election experts and journalists "trolls" (for being correct and polite), while still refusing to unblock them.

In Arizona, a lawsuit against the state for keeping tens of thousands of registered voters off the rolls for failing to provide "proof of citizenship" before being allowed to vote has now been settled with a consent decree that will enfranchise many voters, even if it will still result in thousands being disallowed from voting in state and local contests. So, a "sorta victory" there as well.

And, at the U.S. Supreme Court this week, a "sorta victory" for both anti-gay bigots and civil rights advocates as the long-awaited ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. CO Civil Rights Commission, a case involving a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a same-sex couple's wedding reception is finally decided by a narrow 7 to 2 ruling in favor of the baker...sorta.

Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain how Justice Anthony Kennedy, with his majority opinion. tries to "have his cake and eat it too," by largely kicking the can down the road for another day, while ostensibly siding with the baker against the state Commission on rather dubious religious freedom grounds.

The decision, however, also appears to strengthen the existing right of states to bar discrimination by similar businesses on the basis of sexual orientation. So much so, that, under the ruling, the two plaintiffs, according to their ACLU attorney, should be able to walk into Jack Phillip's Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, CO today and purchase a cake for their wedding anniversary, if they wished. If they are blocked, that would be in violation of the Constitution. Nonetheless, a definitive opinion from SCOTUS on the issue of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will have to wait for another day.

"If the Supreme Court applied the same standard to the [Trump] travel ban case as they have applied to Masterpiece, the Court would have no trouble striking down the travel ban as a violation of First Amendment religious freedoms," Stern tells me, when I ask whether Kennedy's weak religious liberty argument here may apply more to some religions than others. "Unfortunately, I do not think the court is going to be consistent. I think, instead, the Court's going to wind up applying a much stricter standard when it's Christians' rights on the line, than when it's Muslims' rights on the line. And we're all going to be very disappointed in this kind of inconsistent religious liberty --- 'for me, but not for thee.'"

Stern offers smart insight on the Court's opinion(s) --- which were widely misreported elsewhere on Monday --- as well as another decision this week from the Court on the Trump Administration's failed attempt to punish the ACLU for supporting a teen immigrant who sought a lawful abortion after being detained at the border. That ruling, at least, was a complete victory, he explains, not just a "sorta" one.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on two deadly volcanoes in Guatemala and Hawaii, the Administration's new scheme to bail-out the coal industry, Canada's new scheme to nationalize a controversial pipeline, and more distressing fossil fuel and climate change news...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Alex Doukas of Oil Change Int'l; Also: Trump's trade war, Bad news for CA Repubs, Bad news for TX voters, listeners aghast at AL Sec. of State's crazy emails...
By Brad Friedman on 6/1/2018 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Both Trump in the U.S. and Trudeau in Canada have revealed schemes to prop up dying elements of the fossil fuel industry by having their respective governments spend billions "picking winners and losers," which Republicans, at least, used to pretend to abhor. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, however, just before Tuesday's primaries in eight states, one of them, California, announces record voter registration numbers including the fact that, for the first time, registrations for "No Party Preference" voters now outnumber registration for the Republican Party in the state.

As California has made registration far easier for voters in a number of ways, Texas continues to do the opposite. A federal court last week found the state in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA or "Motor Voter Act") as well as the Constitution's Equal Protection clause, and ordered them to implement online voter registration for those who renew drivers licenses online within 45 days. Of course, TX appealed the ruling to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has now temporarily blocked the lower court ruling. That is likely to block online registration for Texans until at least after the crucial 2018 midterms, as the case filed by voting rights advocates in 2016 continues to languish.

Also today, Donald Trump has managed to infuriate allies, adversaries, and even his own party, as longtime U.S. trading partners Canada, Mexico and the EU began to push back against steep tariffs imposed, as of today, by the Trump Administration on imported steel and aluminum. In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, has announced a dollar for dollar retaliation in what is quickly turning into a full blown global trade war, likely to increase prices for Americans on many consumer goods.

At the same time, a new scheme by the Trump administration to pick winners and losers in the energy industry, by forcing electric operators to use coal and nuclear power under the pretext of a 70-year old, Cold War-era "national security" provision, was revealed today by Bloomberg News.

And, up in Canada, PM Trudeau is facing criticism after announcing his government's plan to purchase the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline from Kinder Morgan. A massive extension of the pipeline, to send dirty tar sands oils from Alberta to British Columbia for export overseas, has been long opposed by environmentalists and indigenous groups. But Trudeau's nationalization of the pipeline is meant to overcome both the protests and legal barriers.

Our guest today, ALEX DOUKAS of Oil Change International (a Canadian himself) explains what "these egregious and terrible decisions that Trump and Trudeau have taken over the last few days" mean for the U.S., Canada, and our dangerous fossil fuel future. Doukas heads up the group's Stop Funding Fossil Fuels program and observes that Trump is "setting up consumers to pay vastly more for more polluting forms of electricity, just to give handouts to his corporate cronies and his buddies in the coal industry."

That, as Trudeau, who claims to favor the reduction of fossil fuel emissions to curb global warming, has, with his plan to purchase what Doukas describes as the "doomed" Kinder Morgan pipeline, "gives the lie to the idea that the Trudeau Government is really serious about tackling climate change."

Trump and Trudeau, Doukas argues, are "actually a lot more alike than I would have hoped, because they're both willing to step in and nationalize parts of the fossil fuel industry to keep the dollars flowing to the petro-state." He adds: "Pretending that the tar sands is a long term industry, is the same thing that's happening in the U.S. --- lying to coal miners that coal is going to make a comeback, that we're going to make coal great again. It's not going to happen."

But, while he argues that Kinder Morgan, the Houston-based "successor of Enron," has "basically pulled one over on the Canadian government for a failing project they they knew wasn't going to get built," establishing the precedent of government intervention in the dying industries may come back to haunt the supporters of the petro-chemical industries in both countries.

Finally, we've received a lot of feedback following Thursday's program, in which we shared some of the insane emails [PDF] sent over the past week to me by Alabama's seemingly unbalanced Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in advance of his state's (and his own) primary elections next week. We share a bit of the response from listeners, computer experts and election integrity advocates who were, by and large, flabbergasted by Merrill's behavior, as revealed in those emails...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Univ. of Kentucky law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' President nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our last show before a long holiday weekend packs a wallop and finds not just the President of the United States in violation of the Constitution, but also Alabama's Secretary of State. Also: zombies! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, President Trump found an excuse today to bail out of the planned June 12th nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, stunning allies in South Korea with a letter to Kim that sounded not unlike a bad breakup letter from a "needy" boyfriend, meant to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him first --- while begging her to come back. We share the bizarre letter in full, along with both reactions to it and reasons behind it.

Then, it's been an interesting week for the First Amendment and those who claim to be "Constitutional conservatives", as Scott Pruitt's EPA locked out mainstream media outlets, such as AP and CNN, from a major water contamination forum, and as a federal judge in New York ruled that Trump was personally violating the Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights of seven plaintiffs who sued after he blocked them on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs earlier this year, legal journalist Rebecca Showalter-Poza, is here.) The Dept. of Justice is said to be reviewing the court's ruling and may appeal.

While those plaintiffs were purportedly blocked from seeing or responding to Trump's Twitter feed, because he disagreed with their political points of view, the case echoes a similar matter that we discussed some months ago, after I was blocked on Twitter by Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in the midst of a bizarre conversation [PDF] in which I politely corrected the Secretary for erroneous public statements made about his state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

We're joined today to discuss both of those free speech matters and more by University of Kentucky College of Law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, who was also blocked by Merrill on Twitter last year after mentioning to him that "blocking people on Twitter, blocking his own constituents on Twitter, could violate the First Amendment".

Douglas, whose assertion was bared out by the federal judge in New York this week, explains the ruling and what may happen next in the case (will Trump end up pushing the case and violating a federal court order and then attempt to pardon himself as a test run for the future?), and I share an emailed response to my query from Merrill this morning in full, as the blocks continue on Twitter in apparent violation of the Constitution.

The central part of Merrill's response to me today [emphasis added]:

I will continue to use my social media forums the way that I have in the past. They will not be utilized by other users to express their political views or promote their agendas.

While I don't think Merrill actually owns Twitter quite as much as he seems to think he does, there was actually no political view or agenda expressed in my conversation with him that resulted in the block. More importantly, as Douglas notes in response to Merrill's remarks today: "Once someone like Donald Trump or John Merrill begins to use his Twitter account in a governmental capacity, then he can't pick and choose and block someone because he thinks, in his own view, that that person is promoting some sort of political agenda. That's really what the core of the First Amendment is all about, and that's what this court said."

Douglas, a Constitutional law and elections expert in Kentucky, also offers his thoughts on this week's upset victory by political newcomer Amy McGrath over DCCC-recruited Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the primary contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Andy Barr (R) this November in Douglas' own district. His take, particularly on the "conservative" bent of the two Democratic candidates, is somewhat different than the one offered by BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein on yesterday's program.

Then, we're joined by Desi Doyen for an incredibly news-chocked and, at times, quite troubling Green News Report. And, finally, to lighten things up just a bit before a long holiday weekend, an actual story about a "ZOMBIE ALERT!" issued in south Florida this past week. No, really!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guests: AUDIT USA election expert John Brakey, attorney Chris Sautter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rudy Giuliani works his magic as he settles in as the newest attorney on Donald Trump's personal legal defense team --- and it appears to have exploded spectacularly. And Ohio's Sec. of State and two largest counties are slapped with an election transparency lawsuit just days before next Tuesday's primary in the Buckeye State. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: On Wednesday night, the former NYC Mayor stunned Sean Hannity of Fox "News" when he told him on air that Trump reimbursed his embattled "fixer" and personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, which Trump had long denied making himself, was meant to cover up an alleged affair Trump had with the porn star. Then, on Thursday morning, Giuliani dug the hole deeper by making clear, once again on Fox "News", that the payment was meant to protect Trump's candidacy.

All of which means that Trump is likely in even more --- and perhaps even criminal --- trouble, regarding serious campaign finance violations which Giuliani seems to have thought he was helping Trump avoid. We discuss and try to clarify the President's newly revealed legal peril on that front today, even as Trump (or his attorneys) took to Twitter to reverse his own previous denials by admitting that he did, in fact, reimburse Cohen for the payments to Daniels.

As Politico's Jack Shafer wryly tweeted today: "Having Giuliani in the mix is almost like having a second Trump."

Then, as we try to stay focused amidst all the noise, we're joined by election transparency expert JOHN BRAKEY and longtime election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER, both of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT USA) about their lawsuit just filed in Ohio in advance of the state's 2018 mid-term primary next Tuesday.

The suit echoes a similar one filed last December in Alabama before that state's much-watched U.S. Senate Special Election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. (That suit was successful in a lower court, before the state's woeful Sec. of State John Merrill convinced their Supreme Court to stay the ruling at the last minute.) The new complaint seeks to force Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted and its two most-populous counties, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), to retain digital ballot images created by the counties' computer scanners as hand-marked paper ballots are initially scanned during tabulation.

Those images, as Brakey explains, allow the public to safely examine the accuracy of election results without disturbing the original paper ballots and, according to Sautter (and several court rulings in other states), complies with federal election law requiring the retention of all election materials for 22 months after federal elections.

The pair detail why preventing the destruction of the images in question is at the center of the multi-partisan suit filed in Ohio, and why they plan to continue pressing election officials in Ohio and in many other states and counties around the country to ensure that digital ballot scanners are set to retain all such images for public oversight after Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with still more bad news for corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt and for the planet itself, but also with a bit of good news for NYC, Hawaii, and even one of China's major cities...

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Guest: Journalist Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza on her suit against Trump: Also: Another bomb in TX; Another school shooting in MD; Another storm in the Northeast...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2018 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: What happens when the President of the United States blocks you on Twitter? How about when the President blocks a journalist? Does that violate an American's First Amendment free speech rights or Constitutional protections granted to the press? Our guest today thinks so, and is one of seven plaintiffs now suing Donald J. Trump in federal court for having blocked them on the social media platform from viewing or replying to his tweets or participating in discussion about them on the site. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, a few breaking news items, beginning with the fifth package bomb to explode in Texas this month, as an apparent "serial bomber" continues to terrorize the Austin community in what may be a deadly spree targeting minorities in the area. Today, Donald Trump and his White House finally made their very first comments on the bombings, that have, so far, killed two and seriously injured several others.

Then, there was another school shooting today, the 17th since the beginning of the year, this time at a high school in Maryland where, just last week, many of its students participated in a national walkout to demand reform of our nation's gun laws. The shooter in today's incident is now dead after a school resource officer fired on him (though it remains unclear if the 17-year old student shot himself and if one of the victims may have been shot by the officer.) The two student victims, a 16-year old female and 14-year old male remain in the hospital. The girl is reportedly in critical condition.

But, we also have some encouraging news on that front out of Florida, where a recent gun safety reform package was adopted by the state in the wake of the Parkland, FL massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The new measure allows, among other things, law enforcement officials with a court order to temporarily seize weaponry from those judged to be a threat to themselves or others. The first such court order was granted last week in Broward County, resulting in four firearms and 267 rounds of ammo being taken from a 56-year old man who, under a separate state law, was involuntarily institutionalized by police after what the judge described as a series of delusional episodes by the man. Naturally, right-wingers are both freaking out about it and not informing their audience about why those steps were actually taken.

Next: My guest today, REBECCA BUCKWALTER-POZA, judicial affairs editor at Daily Kos and a contributor to Democracy Journal, is one of seven plaintiffs now suing Donald J. Trump in federal court for having blocked them on Twitter from viewing or replying to his tweets or participating in discussion about them on the site. The attorney and journalist turned plaintiff joins us today to discuss her lawsuit and the recent hearing in federal court on the landmark case.

As Buckwalter-Poza, who is still blocked by Trump on the social media platform, explains: "It turns out the President really doesn't like it when you suggest that Russia was involved in the 2016 election. He tweeted something about having won the White House, and I all I did was quote that and say, 'To be fair, you didn't win it --- Russia won it for you.'" She says there were "no obscenities, no threats, absolutely nothing more than a reference to Russia's involvement in the election."

As part of its defense case, the U.S. Department of Justice (yes, we, the tax-payers, are footing the bill to defend Trump in this case!) has admitted that plaintiffs were blocked for no other reason than they were critical of the President. "They've conceded that it's 'viewpoint discrimination', which is the legal term for when you are, in this case, blocking someone from Twitter because you don't like what they're saying. There's no other justification. It's just the content. It's a criticism. That definitely violates my First Amendment rights," she argues.

Explaining how she sees those rights as being violated, Buckwalter-Poza tells me: "As a journalist, there's the immediate fact of not being able to follow Trump, not being able to engage other people, not being able to respond. To put it into First Amendment terms, though, I have a right to be part of this public forum, to engage other people, and to have my point of view be heard. And I have a right to try and catch the President's attention. Unfortunately, in this case I did, but his response was to block me instead of to respond."

I can attest to the difficulties in covering stories when the focus of the story blocks you on Twitter, as I reported last week regarding recent false comments about torture made by Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), who now apparently blocks me on Twitter for reasons unknown, and an incident at the end of last year which resulted in Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill blocking me as well, after I politely corrected [PDF] his inaccurate statements about the state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

After a recent hearing with an apparently very well-informed federal judge, Buckwalter-Poza says the case could now result in a settlement. But that still remains to be seen.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on the first day of spring, as extreme winter weather continues to pummel the nation, including with what could be a fifth back-to-back Nor'easter for the East Coast over the weekend (they are currently facing their fourth), and as the Trump Administration continues to make "climate change" disappear, even from FEMA's natural disaster recovery plans...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas of Univ. of Kentucky...
By Brad Friedman on 1/3/2018 6:29pm PT  

We're back on today's BradCast after a brief New Year holiday break! But it wasn't entirely a break, as Alabama's Secretary of State John Merrill decided to launch a bizarre Twitter exchange with me over the holiday weekend. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The conversation included the state's chief election official repeatedly (and inaccurately) insisting that Alabama's paper ballot computer scanners do not "capture" scanned ballot images that can be retained by the system for review by the public after an election. He is wrong, as I politely noted during the conversation.

In fact, Merrill almost certainly knows he is wrong, since he actually went to the State Supreme Court to block an order by a lower court, issued the day before the December 12th U.S. Senate Special election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore, to instruct all county election officials to set their computer scanners to retain all captured ballot images! [We discussed that multi-partisan lawsuit with one of the organizers, John Brakey, before it was filed, and again with one of the plaintiff attorneys, Chris Sautter, after the order was blocked by the state Supreme Court, allowing counties to destroy their captured ballot images.]

Nonetheless, after I questioned Merrill about the inaccurate information he was offering to the public, he decided to block me on Twitter, rather than admit that he had misinformed the public. Here's a PDF that reconstructs as much of the conversation as I could, given that I'm now blocked by him, so can't easily see his Tweets. Moreover, he also deleted a number of his own Tweets after he blocked me, and he repeatedly broke the conversation thread throughout. So, that PDF reconstruction will have to suffice for now to give you an idea of what at least one Twitter user accurately described as a "bonkers" exchange!

It wasn't the first time Merrill would block journalists, election law experts, or even his own constituent voters on social media after someone dared to suggest that he was wrong about AL election procedures. We're joined today by JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, professor of election and constitutional law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. He, too --- like me, and like UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen --- was blocked on Twitter by Alabama's Republican Sec. of State after asking a question, in November, about the state's election code.

"I said, it's not about lying, it's about asking questions of a public official running their elections, and the next thing I knew, I was blocked myself. So, kind of ironically, Merrill blocked me for questioning whether he should be allowed to block others on Twitter who were trying to interact with him about the election," Douglas explains. He wrote about the incident and why it matters at AL.com.

We discuss all of this bizarre behavior, and whether or not it's a violation of the Constitution when folks like Merrill and, yes, the President of the United States, block citizens from being able to read their social media comments. All of which makes what we do --- as journalists, legal professionals and, yes, voters --- more difficult and even Constitutionally problematic in a number of ways.

Also today: Despite Merrill's odd behavior before, during and after the election (Merrill supported Roy Moore), Doug Jones was sworn in to the U.S. Senate today after (apparently) defeating Moore to become the state's first Democratic U.S. Senator in some 25 years, narrowing the GOP majority to just 51 to 49. And, King of the Twitter Trolls, Donald Trump threatened nuclear war again with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and social media had a huge laugh at Trump's comments about having a "much bigger" nuclear button than Kim. But is any of it --- including the threat of war between two nuclear-armed nations --- really all that funny?...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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