On today's BradCast: More shameful GOP responses to America's continuing mass shooting epidemic; one step closer to some accountability for our corrupt former President; the Republican Party's shameful response to a very close primary election in Pennsylvania; and an unmitigated election disaster for voters continues to hold up a critical U.S. House race two weeks after Oregon's midterm primaries. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]
Among the stories covered on today's program...
- This week in Uvalde, Texas, 19 fourth graders and two teachers were murdered after the shooter at Robb Elementary School had no problem purchasing two semi-automatic rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammo just days after his 18th birthday this month. The state's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott --- who is up for reelection this November --- declared after the massacre that the problem was mental illness and Texas must "do a better job with mental health." But last month, Abbott slashed $221 million from the department overseeing mental health programs in the state which, according to a new study, ranked 50th last year for access to mental health care. That, after Abbott signed bill after bill making it easier for Texans to buy, carry and kill as many people as possible, with high-powered, military-style weapons. (Did I mention that Abbott is up for reelection this November?)
- It's not only Texas Republicans working hard to make it as easy as possible to kill fellow Americans. Just days after back-to-back-to-back mass shootings in America, Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked a bill in the U.S. Senate meant to help to prevent domestic terrorism. The measure was already adopted by Democrats in the House. Not one single Republican Senator voted in favor. (Several of them will be on the ballot this November.)
- In somewhat brighter news, a federal judge on Wednesday rejected a lawsuit by gun manufacturers, distributors and retailers which had attempted to block New York's new law allowing those in the firearms industry to be sued by the state, cities and individuals for endangering the public's safety and health. NY Attorney General Letitia James said the judge's ruling offers "a moment of light and hope" following the American carnage of the past two weeks. The trade group representing the domestic terrorism industry, The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), vowed to appeal.
- In more good NY/Letitia James-related news, a four-judge state appeals court panel today upheld a lower court ruling that Donald Trump and his children Ivanka and Don Jr. must sit for a deposition in James' civil investigation examining the Trumps' "fraudulent" valuation of properties in bank, tax and insurance filings. The Trumps claimed their comments under oath could be used against them in a parallel criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney into many of the same issues. The court agreed. But noted that that's why the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination exists. If the Trumps want, they may invoke it during their depositions, in the same "disgraceful" way, according to Trump, that "only mobsters" use it. Some difficult choices await in the very near future for our disgraced former President.
- In Pennsylvania, nearly two weeks ago, Trump-endorsed celebrity TV doctor Mehmet Oz and former hedge-fund CEO Dave McCormick battled to a virtual tie for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination. The winner will run against Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. As of today, Oz leads McCormick by fewer than 1,000 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast in the Keystone State's GOP primary. This week, McCormick sued in federal court to assure that all legal ballots are counted, including mail-in ballots that arrived on time but have a missing or incorrect date on the secrecy envelope. Another court recently ruled such ballots are valid and must be tallied. The RNC and Pennsylvania Republican Party, however, are intervening against McCormick to prevent those lawful, valid ballots from being tallied in the U.S. Senate primary and are attacking their own candidate, McCormick, for daring to enfranchise all Republican voters. On Wednesday, the state announced there will be an automatic statewide recount in the race, with about one-tenth of one percentage point currently separating the two leading candidates in the unofficial results. The official winner should be named by June 9.
- Another midterm primary election held on the same day in Oregon, on May 17, has far worse problems. The closely watched U.S. House race in the state's 5th Congressional District between grassroots-supported Democrat Jamie McLeod-Skinner and conservative Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader caused much excitement on Election Night, when McLeod-Skinner appeared on her way to unseating the incumbent Congressman. Then, with about 68% of the vote in, pretty much all of the counting stopped and hasn't moved much, if at all, since then.
What happened? We're joined today by one of Oregon's longtime Election Integrity activists SHERRY HEALY --- co-founder of the California Election Protection Network, and, more recently, the Chair of the Oregon Democratic Party's Election Integrity caucus --- to explain the disaster in Clackamas County, OR which has held up the tally.
As she details, a printing problem on the barcodes (used to identify party and precinct) on tens of thousands of the County's vote-by-mail ballots means they cannot be run through the computerized tabulation system. But, rather than count those ballots publicly by hand, the County's longtime beleaguered County Clerk, Sherry Hall (pictured above), decided that those tens of thousands of otherwise valid ballots should be "remade" by hand --- duplicated by election officials --- on separate ballot sheets so they can then be running through the optical scanners for tabulation.
"This county clerk has a long history of bungled elections," Healy explains. "But this is the Hiroshima of botched elections." Healy details how Hall failed to adequately test the ballots for this problem after receiving them from the printer before sending them out to voters. Moreover, the decision to remake tens of thousands of ballots, rather than simply count them by hand, "imperils" the entire election, she charges.
Healy calls Hall's decision "absurd" and "insane," explaining that a simple hand-count "would take less time and be more efficient and accurate" than recreating "in excess of 66,000" ballots.
Hall, a Trump supporter elected to the job back in the Tea Party days about a decade ago, has a long history of problems in her office. Way back in 2012 we reported on an election official in Clackamas who was indicted on six felonies and two misdemeanors after she was found to have secretly filled in unvoted races for Republican candidates on incoming mail-in ballots.
When Hall announced that the printing error on the ballots made them unscannable, she claimed that it was new deadlines adopted by the state legislature for the receipt of incoming mail ballots that would hold up her county's tally, as opposed to her own failure to test ballots before sending them out. More recently, she denied that she gave permission for a Schrader campaign observer to enter the counting room an hour early, before observers from the McLeod-Skinner campaign had arrived. Then security camera footage was obtained through a public records request revealing she had lied about that.
It's unknown when the tabulation in Clackamas will finally be complete. The 5th Congressional District primaries on both the Democratic and Republican side remain uncalled, with just over 70% tallied in each almost two weeks after Election Day. (More have come in since air time today.) For now, McLeod-Skinner remains almost 15 points ahead of Schrader. But that could change. In the meantime, there are a whole lot of lessons to be learned from this entire mess, as we discuss with Healy today. (And, yes, Hall is also up for reelection this November.)
- Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some disturbing news about this year's hurricane season (it officially begins next week, buckle up). But she's also got some encouraging news about accountability for an upcoming climate fraud trial for ExxonMobil, and the Biden Administration's EPA putting what may be the final nail into the coffin on a longtime controversial proposed mining project in Alaska...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)