On today's BradCast: Why does Indiana's Secretary of State Connie Lawson believe her emails with other Secretaries of State, and potentially voting system vendors, should be exempt from disclosure via public records requests? She is claiming her discussions about those systems with members of the private National Association of Secretaries of State (and any private vendors they may discuss or hear from) should somehow be protected due to exemptions for trade secrets and national security that cannot be exposed to the public. A judge in Indiana, however, seems to believes she is wrong. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]
But, first up today, a few items of breaking news amid our ongoing dystopian American nightmare...
- A federal appeals court panel agreed today with a lower court judge that Donald Trump violated the law when he commandeered $2.5 billion in tax-payer dollars appropriated by Congress for the military in order to build his wall under the phony guise of a "national emergency". That, after Congress had specifically refused to allocate such funds. Bill Barr's corrupt Dept. of Justice will likely be appealing that one all the way up to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court if necessary;
- As we have been warning for weeks (months?), the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. In particular, as we've demonstrated, many of the hardest hit regions where infection rates, ICU usage and deaths are skyrocketing are places where Republican politicians have been successful in joining our maniacal conman President in pretending the virus would simply go away if we just reopened our doors for business. That strategy has failed miserably and tragically. So much so, that the very Trumpy Republican Governors in two of the hardest hit states, Florida and Texas --- which were among the first to prematurely reopen --- were forced to re-close bars, restaurants and other businesses today as infections rates surge to record numbers in their states, and as ICU beds in some locations are quickly filling to capacity;
- That, at the same time Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force (remember them?), held their first press briefing in weeks to continue the Administration's attempted gaslighting of America to declare "very encouraging news" in the case numbers which are going straight up now in a majority of U.S. states;
- Today's grim record COVID-19 numbers come just days after our failed President lied to his supporters at his latest maskless Death Rally inside a Phoenix church on Tuesday that "it's going away". It's not. It's getting worse. That was the same day in which internal White House task force documents, according to an NBC News exclusive, told both Trump and Pence that new case numbers in Phoenix --- which "had the highest number of new cases among the 10 metropolitan regions where the week-over-week change in infection rates spiked the most" --- was up some 150 percent over the past week. And, yes, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rates are rising as well, according to the White House's own numbers. That is not, despite the lies from both Trump and Pence, caused simply by "more testing".
With unabashed criminals like this now running our country --- and hopefully facing charges of criminal negligence if not mass murder someday soon --- we turn back to our "last firewall": our electoral system. There, we've got a bit of good news today, as Indiana Judge Heather Welch has rejected most of the claims made by the state's Sec. of State Connie Lawson (formerly a member of Trump's failed and phony "voter fraud" commission) to try and obscure her emails with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).
The judge's ruling stems from a lawful request filed under Indiana's public records act. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Election Defense Council (NEDC) by Free Speech for People (FSFP), seeks those records in which Lawson was discussing voting systems with fellow Secretaries around the nation, NASS staffers, and, very likely, according to our guest today, private voting system vendors who wine, dine and lobby our nation's elections officials. In turn, those officials buy the unsecure, overly-expensive, error-prone computer voting and tabulation systems from the companies, and then parrot their talking points when the systems fail or when the public seeks to learn how they actually work (or don't.)
We're joined today by FSFP Legal Director RON FEIN to explain the court's recent ruling [PDF] in which the Judge rejected most of Lawson's claims to things like copyright and trade secret exemptions for her official Sec. of State emails. The judge is also demanding to privately review in her chambers those emails about which Lawson is claiming statutory exemption on the basis that disclosing those emails to the public would pose "a reasonable likelihood of threatening public safety by exposing a vulnerability to terrorist attack."
Lawson [pictured above with her newly purchased unverifiable computer voting systems] served as President of NASS from 2017 to 2018. She falsely testified [PDF] in 2017 before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, that America's "voting machines are not connected to the Internet or networked in any way." That claim has been proven to be an out and out lie, over and over and again.
Nonetheless, if true, what possible "vulnerability to terrorist attack" could Lawson be referring to? Fein offers his thoughts, and explains why the judge's ruling that "access to public records is an important statutory right," is already a victory in this little known, but potentially very important case.
"The fact that the Indiana Secretary of State has fought so hard to keep these materials private suggests that at least some of them have something that's embarrassing that they don't want the public to see," Fein tells me, suggesting that, "In some cases, the [voting system] companies are either outright bribing or engaging in extremely unethical practices with election officials."
"One of the most essential elements of democracy is a free and fair election. And the free and fair election requires that it be secure and trustworthy...And we have misinformation out there about the security of these systems. When that misinformation is being spread by election officials whose job is supposed to be to spread accurate information and, if anything, tamp down misinformation, then it means that we have a crisis of legitimacy in the election," Fein explains. "What we're hoping through this public records access lawsuit is that, if we can shine a light on the processes by which election officials end up as vehicles for misinformation about the security and reliability of our election systems, then that will provide an opening for reform."
Please tune in for the full conversation, as we cover quite a bit of ground. And, just for the record, Lawson also misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when she insisted under oath that "no votes were changed in 2016." In fact, nobody actually knows one way or another, because nobody ever bothered to check.
Finally today, after yet another hellish week in Trump's America, we close with a smile and a song "celebrating" his under-attended Death Rally last weekend in Tulsa...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)