Well, the good news on today's BradCast, is that he won't be California's Secretary of State anymore. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]
Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced he is appointing his long time friend, CA Sec. of State Alex Padilla, to fill the seat being vacated in the U.S. Senate by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The ambitious Padilla has risen up through the ranks of CA politics, from the Los Angeles City Council to the State Senate to becoming a twice-elected SoS, and now to his appointment to the U.S. Senate. He will serve out the rest of Harris' term through 2022 as the state's first Latino Senator.
In his official announcement today, the Governor detailed a long list of accomplishments by Padilla during his career in the Golden State. In turn, we share a number of Padilla's disturbing failures both before and during his tenure as SoS, as we have covered at The BRAD BLOG over the years. In 2013, for example, while he was still a state Senator, we highlighted Padilla's dishonest and misleading campaign for a major election reform bill (SB 360) which ended the long-standing requirement for federal testing and approval of new voting systems in the state and transferred sole power for certification testing and approval of new systems to the SoS. As it happens, Padilla was the leading candidate for the office at the time and eventually became SoS in 2014.
In selling the measure to the public and the media --- it was eventually passed along partisan lines in the CA legislature and signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown --- Padilla claimed the bill was needed to allow counties in the state to create and own their own voting systems. "Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections," he told the public. The remarks echoed his early announcement of the bill [PDF] in which he deceptively explained that "A public voting system will be more transparent, instill public trust and be more accountable than our current systems."
At the time, Los Angeles County had been developing a new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system. It was finally implemented (disastrously) for the first time this year. What Padilla failed to make clear in his deceptive sale of SB 360 was that L.A. County had already owned its current voting system at the time, and didn't need the radical new measure to do so. While Padilla's office had initially asked for our input on SB 360, they stopped communicating with us entirely once we asked about his dishonest sales pitches.
Moreover, after 10 years in development, when L.A.'s new, $300+ million voting system was found to be in violation of more than 40 California Voting System Standards late last year, Padilla certified it for use anyway, rather than simply mandating verifiable hand-marked paper ballots for every voter in the nation's most-populous County. The first roll-out of L.A.'s Padilla-approved "Voting Solutions for all People" (VSAP) system was a disaster during this year's March 3rd Super Tuesday primaries. Problems cited by testers (but ignored by Padilla) contributed to long lines for voters that stretched, in some cases, until after midnight. The same failed systems were again re-certified for use in the general election, though they fared better overall with much less use after the Governor mandated absentee ballots to be sent to all registered voters in the state during the pandemic.
Those are just some of the concerns that Election Integrity advocates in the state have had about Padilla. But the good news is that he'll likely be a reliable Democratic place-holder vote in the U.S. Senate while, perhaps, a more competent Sec. of State can be named to replace him in the Golden State. We'll see.
Also today, Rita Hart, Iowa's Democratic former state Senator and 2020 U.S. House candidate in the state's 2nd Congressional District, filed an election challenge in the House under the Federal Contested Elections Act. Iowa certified Hart's Republican opponent, Mariannette Miller-Meeks, as the winner of the open seat by just 6 votes out of nearly 400,000 cast in the November election. Hart's contest, however, notes that at least 22 legally cast votes for her were wrongly excluded from the final tally, including many which state election officials agree were lawfully cast but excluded from the count because they were discovered after the initial canvass. State law bars the inclusion of such ballots in the final tallies. She also argues that the state recount which narrowed the margin from 47 votes to 6 --- and included a number of major counting errors along the way --- was unconstitutionally conducted, as the 24 counties of the District used disparate counting methods. Some used machines, others hand-counted, others used a combination of both. She is seeking a full, uniform hand-count by the Government Accountability Office and hopes to eventually be seated by the Democratic-majority U.S. House Administration Committee under the Act. The investigation is likely to take months.
In other elections-related news today, rightwing propaganda outlet Newsmax joined fellow rightwing propaganda outlet Fox "News" on Monday by attempting to walk back their false assertions regarding the private elections vendors Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems. The two competing vendors have been targeted with baseless, evidence-free claims by Team Trump attorneys and others from the MAGA Mob --- which have been shared and parroted by both outlets, as well as One America News (OAN). Last week, Smartmatic sent a legal threat, demanding retraction for the outlets' claims that Smartmatic was involved with Dominion in a worldwide conspiracy --- with Venezuela and its dead President Hugo Chavez, China, Cuba, the Clinton Foundation and George Soros, among others --- to flip the results of the election and steal it from Donald Trump in several swing-states. As we explained recently, the baseless allegations are taken, in part, from my own accurate investigative exclusives about the ownership of Dominion and Smartmatic from more than a decade ago.
In response to the possibility of facing a defamation lawsuit, over the weekend Fox "News" ran a bizarre, three-minute segment on shows hosted by rightwing conspiracists Lou Dobbs, Janine Pirro and Maria Bartiromo, featuring a disembodied voice asking questions of Eddie Perez of the Open Source Election Technology foundation. Perez, who has recently been a guest on our show, is seen denying largely all of the claims that the wingnut outlets have been making to advance Trump's false claims that he won the election.
On Monday, Newsmax joined Fox by running its own version of an attempted retraction, to "clarify" that, in fact, they have absolutely no evidence to support myriad claims the stations has aired regarding Smartmatic and Dominion during the weeks since Election Day. The "clarification" will supposedly run across all Newsmax shows, according to its CEO and longtime Trump supporter, Chris Ruddy. Given that Smartmatic has hired one of the nation's top defamation attorneys --- who won a case for $177 million in 2017 --- its little wonder that both outlets are now running very scared. We'll see if OAN buckles soon as well, in the face of someone attempting to hold them accountable for countless lies meant to undermine our democratic system in support of Trump's attempt to steal the election from Joe Biden and the American people.
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our last Green News Report of 2020! As Biden-Harris round out their historic climate team nominations; long-overdue climate legislation is included along with Congress' long-overdue COVID emergency relief package; and as the Trump Administration triumphantly ends the tyranny of efficient showerheads....
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)