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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, May 25, 2024
Alito's an Insurrection Supporter. So, What Are Dems Gonna Do?: 'BradCast' 5/23/24
Also: SCOTUS allows SC racial gerrymander; OH still blocking Biden from ballot; Smartmatic says Newsmax destroyed evidence; Biden cancels still more student debt...
'Green News Report' 5/23/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Extreme weather unleashes disasters from Iowa to Mexico; DeSantis signs 'Don't Say Climate Change' law in FL; PLUS: Study finds microplastics in human testicles...
Previous GNRs: 5/16/24 - 5/14/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Costello Fails, Trump Bails, Defense Rests: 'BradCast' 5/22/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: Election results and problem reports from KY, OR, GA, CA and MD...
Trump Dark Money Group Dumping Tens of Millions on Racist, Transphobic Disinfo Ads: 'BradCast' 5/21/24
Guest: Victoria Cadostin; Also: Rudy arraigned in AZ; Trump defense rests in NY; More...
Sunday 'I Scream Cohen' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unethical Lying Sleazebags ... The Death of Satire ... Trains are Real ... And many more primal screams in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, 'Smoking Gun', 'Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
Canada's fire season erupts; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Recount in Tied House Primary Reveals Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
Tornadoes across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
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...


Guest: Investigative journalist Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo; Also: Another huge Special Election night for Dems in NY, PA; WI inches closer to fair legislative maps; MI 'fake elector' says GOP lied to him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2024 6:24pm PT  

A tranche of newly unearthed documents offer a clearer understanding of Team Trump's failed attempt to steal the 2020 election on today's BradCast, in which we also cover yet another better-than-expected Special Election Day for Democrats on Tuesday. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First, some of the breaking headlines on today's horrific mass shooting at the end of the victory rally for Superbowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. Not much is known as of airtime, beyond one dead, more than 15 injured and two (now three) said to be in custody, according to Missouri state officials.

Then, the House GOP, on behalf of the disgraced, twice-impeached former President was finally successful on Tuesday in passing Articles of Revenge Impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The do-over vote follows their embarrassingly botched effort at same last week. This week, they were able to pass the Articles by one single vote, 214-213, against three Republican defectors and a unified Democratic caucus for "charges" that are not even close to the "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" mandated by the Constitution. Both Articles are expected to die, one way or another, over in the Senate, where even Republicans have shown little interest in the charade.

GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson had to get those Articles passed yesterday, however, given what New York voters did on Tuesday, when the seat in the state's 3rd Congressional District, formerly held by disgraced, expelled and indicted con-artist, Rep. George Santos, was flipped from "red" to "blue" by former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi. He easily defeated Republican Mazi Pilip by almost 8 points in Tuesday's hotly-contested Special Election, according to the latest reported numbers. That was almost twice the margin predicted by even the most optimistic pre-election polls. The Dem victory in New York (and another in Pennsylvania on Tuesday night --- by 36 points!), again underscores the dearth of issues that Donald Trump's dysfunctional Republican Party has to run on or offer voters this year. Had House Repubs waited just one more day to vote on Articles of Impeachment, they would have lost again.

More apparent good news for voters and Democrats this week in Wisconsin, as the Republicans who control the wildly gerrymandered state Senate and Assembly have passed legislation to adopt new legislative district maps in advance of the 2024 elections, as ordered by the state's Supreme Court. The new maps are ones created by Democratic Governor Tony Evers. And though they don't promise a Dem majority for this year's elections, they do appear to be much fairer for voters. For more than a decade the GOP's gerrymandered maps resulted in nearly twice as many Rs as Ds in the state legislature in the otherwise very closely divided state. State Republicans approved Evers maps because they fear if the High Court selects a map it will be even worse for them. Evers has suggested he plans to sign the legislation.

Meanwhile, as Democrats continue to out-perform in 2024 elections, Republicans are busy in court defending their criminal efforts to steal 2020. A fake elector in Michigan on Wednesday testified that he was lied to by party officials that state legislators could select the phony Trump slate of electors over those for Biden, who state voters actually chose. This particular fake elector has decided to cooperate with prosecutors while 15 others are now facing serious jail time for their alleged conspiracy to forge phony Elector certificates.

And this week, we've got new news from the man who invented the fake electors scheme in the first place. A massive trove of emails, text messages and other documents have been turned over to Michigan prosecutors by former Team Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro and obtained by our guest today, investigative journalist JOSH KOVENSKY of Talking Points Memo. He has been detailing the documents in a new multi-part series this week at TPM which explores the attempted coup, hoped-for chaos, and the plan to pressure friendly members of SCOTUS.

Chesebro first dreamt up the fake elector plot for his own home state of Wisconsin in 2020, before he was asked by Team Trump attorneys, such as the disgraced John Eastman and Boris Ephstyn, to apply the same scam for phony electors in about seven swing-states following Trump's loss in November. They would be instrumental to the Trump team's failed legal efforts to steal the election.

The Chesebro documents shed new light on the failed "legal coup" which, as Kovensky reports, was not meant to be a one-day insurrection on January 6th, 2021, but to result in enough legislative chaos and trumped-up "questions" about the veracity of certified election results to force the U.S. Supreme Court to eventually settle the election themselves, ala Bush v. Gore twenty years earlier.

"What they really wanted was a stalemate in Congress" on January 6th, Kovensky explains. "And in that time, they would have used that stalemate to draw the country's attention to Congress, and then use that attention to put forth the campaign's completely nonsensical theories of voter fraud. That was the idea."

"If you talk to people who were around this, they'll say, 'Yeah, the invasion of the Capitol on January 6th destroyed that plan. Because it did draw attention to Congress, but there were no members of Congress there to make the case that there was voter fraud in the election," he tells me.

"The way the legal coup was meant to proceed was by halting the count," as detailed in the new docs obtained and reported out by Kovensky. "That's the key similarity between what the rioters on Jan. 6 ended up achieving by violent means and what the lawyers were trying to achieve just by procedural means. Which was that the count would have been stopped, [but] it would have been stopped indefinitely until potentially the Supreme Court stepped in to act and appoint Trump the winner."

So how did Chesebro --- who, until now, has not appeared, at least, to be a hard-right partisan ideologue along the lines of Eastman and Ephsteyn --- find his way into the vortex of Team Trump and the "legal coup" they were hoping to pull off? What is he hoping to accomplish by turning over these documents to prosecutors in MI and elsewhere since pleading guilty to one felony charge with no jail time in Georgia last year in exchange for testifying against his fellow conspirators? Will Trump be able to use Chesebro's documents and testimony to help himself in his own trials regarding his attempt to steal the 2020 election?

All of those questions and many more asked and answered about "The Cheese" and his documents on today's BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Last week's GOP Caucuses in NV, V.I.; This week's U.S. House Special Election in NY-3; Callers ring in on Trump's threat to NATO allies...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2024 6:25pm PT  

Some days these days on The BradCast, it's hard to believe we're covering what we are covering. I'd say that's the case on most days, these days. Today is, yet again, one of those days. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

FIRST, we try to bring you up to date following Donald Trump's rigged GOP Caucuses in Nevada last week. Given that he and some guy named Ryan Binkley were the only two on the ballot, Trump won with Saddam Hussein-like or Vladimir Putin-like numbers, taking 99.1% of the vote and all of the state's available RNC delegates in the bargain. Nikki Haley, having competed in the state-run Primary just two days earlier, was not allowed to participate in the state's GOP-run Caucuses.

The Virgin Islands also held a GOP Caucus on the same day. Trump won there as well, defeating Haley (who was allowed to be on that ballot) by about 74% to 26%. Only about 250 voters bothered to show up, so don't read too much into it.

On the Dem side of the aisle, Joe Biden's only noteworthy competitor on the Nevada Primary ballot last Tuesday (which he handily won), was self-help guru Marianne Williamson. She dropped out of her run for the Democratic nomination the next day.

Tomorrow, however, expect an actual contest in the 3rd Congressional District in New York, where voters on Republican-leaning Long Island will select a replacement member of the U.S. House for the recently expelled pathological liar and Republican con-artist, Rep. George Santos. The polls suggest a close race for the seat between conservative Democrat and former Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi and his Republican opponent, the Ethiopian-born Israeli-American Mazi Pilip. The winning party will explain why the contest in the district should be seen as a bellwether for November's elections. The losing party will insist that it isn't.

THEN, it's back to the last few mad days since we last spoke, during which Trump (just before airtime today) filed his appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping that his friends and appointees on the High Court will agree, unlike anyone on the lower courts, that U.S. Presidents have complete immunity to commit any crime they like while in office; Robert Hur, a former Trump-appointed DoJ prosecutor tapped by A.G. Merrick Garland to be a Special Counsel, ended a year-long nearly 400-page investigation [PDF] by finding there were no crimes to charge President Biden with concerning his possession and return of some classified documents following his two terms as Vice President. But, Hur took pains to also note, Joe Biden is old; and, our disgraced former President attacked Haley, his final GOP opponent, because her husband, Maj. Michael Haley is in the Horn of Africa for a year-long active duty deployment with the South Carolina National Guard. (No word on the whereabouts of Trump's wife Melania. Though it's a safe bet that she, like the entirety of the Trump family going back generations, is not out serving her country as a member of the military.)

But it was Trump's remarks about NATO at that very same South Carolina rally over the weekend that have, appropriately, received the most coverage since then. (If nothing near the absurd coverage that the corporate media has given to Special Counsel Hur's inappropriate insinuations regarding Biden's mental fitness.)

Trump relayed a story at the rally in which he claims that, when he was President, he told the leader of a NATO nation that, if they hadn't "paid their bills" to NATO, and were attacked by Russia, the U.S. would NOT come to their defense. That, in defiance of the NATO Treaty's Article 5 agreement that states that if one member is attacked, “each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked".

NATO nations, however, don't "pay" to be in NATO. In 2014, President Obama led an agreement among the treaty's 30+ member nations to work toward each spending a minimum of 2% of their annual GDP on defense. That's the "bill" for which Trump (who has been sued thousands of times personally for not paying bills) claims that many of those countries are "delinquent".

Making matters worse --- unimaginable just a few short years ago, in fact --- Trump also claims to have told that NATO leader that while the U.S. would not come to their defense, he would also encourage Russia "to do whatever the hell they want" to such countries.

NATO's Secretary-General, as well as the governments of several NATO nations, including Germany and Poland, issued unusual and harsh rebukes on Sunday in response to Trump's astonishing --- once unthinkable --- remarks.

FINALLY today, we open up the phone lines to listeners to get their thoughts on all of the above and anything else they may wish to ring in on today. And so they do. And so we're delighted, as always, to hear from those listeners who may not agree with us. Those are always the best calls after all, right?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Is Brad actually dead?; Why has the U.S. 'paused' gun exports?; Does the new House Speaker have a bank account?; Also: Santos expulsion fails (for good reason); A five-dollar question for Nikki Haley...
By Brad Friedman on 11/2/2023 5:58pm PT  

Join us on today's BradCast, as we dig deep to explore several fascinating, mysterious stories, some of which may remain a riddle for all time. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the mysteries and other news stories we either solve, or do not, on today's program...

  • No matter what you may read on the Internet, I am not actually dead...At least to my knowledge.
  • Why did the U.S. Commerce Department quietly "pause" gun exports for the next 90 days almost a week ago? (The answer may be here.) And why haven't I heard about it until now?
  • Why does newly elected GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson appear to have no bank accounts or assets of any type? Is that even possible? And, if so, is it a good or bad thing?
  • Why did 31 House Democrats vote against expelling serial liar and federally indicted New York Republican Rep. George Santos on Wednesday? The answer may satisfy you.
  • Why does Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report always air at the end of The BradCast? Even when it contains good news about the Biden Administration's massive new environmental investment in rural America?

Those mysterious stories and other questions asked and occasionally answered on today's program! (But, seriously, I'm not dead!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Also: WI Supremes to hear gerrymander challenge; Another GOP sports celeb to run for U.S. Senate; RFK, Jr. to run for Prez as independent...
By Brad Friedman on 10/10/2023 6:33pm PT  

We begin again on today's BradCast with the latest developments in what AP is now calling the latest Israel-Palestinian war, before catching up with a number of political and climate related issues here at home. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

ISRAEL v. HAMAS:

  • On Monday, the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, the U.K., and the U.S. issued an unusual joint statement condemning the "terrorist actions of Hamas" over the weekend, declaring "steadfast and united support to the State of Israel" and recognizing "the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people".
  • Today, an at-times visibly angry President Biden expressed similar sentiments, decried the weekend’s "atrocity on a appalling scale"; warned against adversaries both at home and abroad who might be tempted to take advantage of the situation for political violence; vowed to help secure the release of American hostages around the world; declared this "a moment for the United States to come together, to grieve with those who are mourning"; promised to uphold the "laws of war", and reiterated that the U.S. "stands with Israel" while condemning the "indiscriminate evil" of the weekend’s attack. He also confirmed that 14 Americans are now confirmed to have been killed as a result of Saturday's surprise assault by Hamas.
  • Beyond that, we cover the latest, including escalating death tolls, with at least 1,000 dead in Israel, and at least 800 dead in Gaza, as Israel continues its fourth day of pounding neighborhood after neighborhood in the Gaza Strip with air strikes. More than 200,000 Palestinians have reportedly fled their homes for U.N. shelters, as deliveries of food, fuel, water, electricity, medicine and other supplies to Gaza have been cut off by Israel, as hospitals are said to be running out of supplies, surgical equipment and antibiotics.
  • Back home in Congress, the U.S. House remains crippled thanks to Republicans having removed their own House Speaker last week. Given our recent history and the current situation in the Middle East, that might not actually be a terrible thing.

2004 MISCELLANY:

  • On Friday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, after a 4 to 3 vote, scheduled a hearing next week on a voter petition to draw fair legislative maps for the state Senate and Assembly, for the first time in more than a decade. Justice Janet Protasiewicz, whose recent election gave liberals a majority on the High Court for the first time in 15 years, has decided to not recuse herself from the case, even as GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' threat to impeach her if she did so has shown no sign of materializing yet.
  • Out here in California, 74-year old former L.A. Dodgers All-Star Steve Garvey announced today that he will be running as a Republican next year to fill the seat held by Dianne Feinstein, who recently passed away. He will be vying for one of the two spots up for grabs in next year's March Primary, in hopes of going on to compete in the November general election. He will have to face off with at least three Democratic all-stars hoping to become the state's new Senator, including Congressmembers Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff --- and potentially against Laphonza Butler should she decide to run, after having been tapped by Gov. Gavin Newsom to fill the rest of Feinstein's term.
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., with much support from Republicans, announced on Monday that he plans to drop out of his Democratic primary bid and run for President as an independent next year. In theory, he will join Cornel West who plans to do the same after leaving the Green Party, and a potential candidate put up for 2024 by the right-leaning "centrist" group calling itself No Labels.

LATE-BREAKING AND FINALLY:

  • Republican Rep. George Santos (NY), already facing 13 federal campaign finance-related charges, now faces an additional 10 related to identify theft for stealing donor credit cards to make unauthorized charges.
  • Hurricane Lidia spun up quickly before airtime to become a major Category 3 storm as it headed toward landfall on Mexico's Pacific coast near Puerto Vallarta. (Since we've gotten off air, Lidia has spun up even more, making landfall as a Cat 4 with 140 mph winds!) It is the second tropical storm to slam the Pacific coast in two days, following landfall by Max on Monday.
  • Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with good news for both striking auto workers and Electric Vehicles, and bad news for India, the children of the world, and your olive oil...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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, Pandora, TuneIn, Google, Amazon or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance on that and new fake electors news; Also: Santos charged with 13 federal felonies...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2023 6:27pm PT  

It's been quite the GOP crime wave this week on The BradCast. But today, in addition to that we've got some disturbing --- if not entirely unrelated --- kinda mind-blowing exclusive news out of a federal courtroom in the great state of Georgia. [Audio link to full show follows at the bottom of this summary.]

After quickly covering today's news on the 13-count federal indictment [PDF] filed in New York against Rep. George Santos (R-NY) for charges including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds and making false statements to Congress, it's back to Georgia.

We have, for years now, been covering the long-running federal lawsuit challenging the use of the state's expensive, unverifiable, and --- according to one of the nation's top experts --- wildly vulnerable and insecure touchscreen voting systems.

The touchscreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) systems made by Dominion Voting, currently in use in Georgia, were selected for use in 2020 by Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger. He did so against the strong recommendations of cybersecurity and voting system experts following a ruling by a federal judge, in 2019, barring the further use of the state's previous touchscreen voting systems made by Diebold. U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg found the previous systems to be unverifiable, insecure and, thus, unconstitutional. Unfortunately, instead of moving to a hand-marked paper ballot system at the time, as strongly recommended by experts, Raffensperger chose new touchscreen systems that had many of the same problems as the old ones.

The plaintiffs in the original federal case, Curling v. Raffensperger, quickly moved to bar the Dominion systems from being forced on every voter at every polling place in the state, as Raffensperger demanded. That suit continues. As part of it, Dr. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, an expert for the plaintiffs, was allowed to examine the Dominion touchscreen systems and found vulnerabilities so serious that Judge Totenberg sealed his complete findings, even from the plaintiffs! The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), however, was allowed to review Halderman's sealed report and made a list of critical software and physical security recommendations for the continued use of those systems in the battleground state.

Now, according to the transcript [PDF] from a hearing in Judge Totenberg's court last week in the Curling case, an attorney for the Sec. of State's office explained that while Dominion has completed CISA's recommended upgrades to the software and has had them certified for use by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) in late March, the state will not be installing those software upgrades until after the 2024 Presidential election.

As explained to the judge by the State's attorney Bryan Tyson, after spending hours "with the technical staff in the Secretary's office" and "hearing from folks with Dominion", it was determined that upgrades to the state's 35,000 touchscreen voting machines would be delayed until 2025.

"No jurisdiction has yet installed that upgrade...It has not been used in any election yet," Tyson told Judge Totenberg. "The upgrade process is a very intensive multistep process that involves multiple pieces of media, multiple components, and it involves touching every piece of the election system."

He explained that "every ballot-marking device has to have three different pieces of media installed on it to complete the upgrade. Every precinct scanner has to be upgraded. Every central count scanner has to be upgraded. And every election management server also has to either be replaced or upgraded. So, the implementation process for doing that is very involved."

According to our guest today, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, one of the plaintiffs in the Curling case, plaintiffs were stunned by the news. "You could hear gasps in the courtroom," she tells us today. "2025?! Immediately everyone thought, 'Presidential election, Georgia swing state.' We will have no way of knowing who won. And let's don't forget how much of a tinderbox Georgia was after the 2020 election. I believe it was a key part of the tinderbox that led to the insurrection. We're asking for it again."

There is, obviously, a lot to discuss on this matter with Marks today, including the most obvious point that, had Raffensperger listened to the experts and gone with hand-marked paper ballots, upgrading just one scanner per precinct for security reasons would have been a hell of a lot easier, faster, and cheaper, than upgrading every single voting machine --- 35,000 of them --- across the state.

"And we're not even beginning to talk about all of the warranty costs, maintenance costs, and printer costs and all that this system involves, when we're talking about just being a substitute for a ball-point pen," laments Marks. In addition to the time the State claims it will now take, she estimates the cost for upgrading the otherwise brand-new, $150 million system just purchased for first-time use in 2020 is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars. "I don't think that $50 million and upwards is going to surprise anyone."

So, there is much more to discuss about all of this with Marks. Please tune in for the full conversation. But there was one more stunning bit of related breaking news from Marks today...

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Guest: Campaign finance expert Brendan Fischer of Documented; Also: My ridiculous, couldn't-possibly-be-true George Santos theory...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2023 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast we focus on two different rightwing scammers: The Heritage Foundation and George Santos. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

The Heritage Foundation's decades-long effort to suppress the vote received a multi-million dollar boost following the 2020 election. Also, there is some new news today on what appears to be a fairly huge campaign finance violation by newly-elected Republican pathological liar, Rep. George Santos. But is it possible that Santos' scam is larger than anybody seems to yet appreciate?

We're joined today to discuss both scammers by BRENDAN FISCHER, one of the nation's foremost campaign finance experts who now serves as Deputy Executive Director for Documented, an investigative watchdog and journalism organization.

For some time, Fischer's group has been digging into and exposing the multi-state, multi-million dollar campaign by the rightwing Heritage Foundation's political action offshoot, Heritage Action. The "dark money" group has been pushing new voter suppression bills through swing-state legislatures with copy and paste "model legislation" in the wake of false claims of fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. Their work is often disguised --- as Executive Director Jessica Anderson was caught boasting to donors about in a 2021 video tape --- to have that "grassroots, ya know, from the bottom-up type of vibe."

Documented recently unearthed Heritage's four-page "Election Integrity Plan" [PDF] from 2021. It details the effort to push restrictions on voting through state legislatures after "in some cases, we actually draft" the bills for them, as Anderson, a former Trump official, is seen bragging to donors on that tape.

"Iowa's the first state that we got to work in," she explains, "and we did it quickly and we did it quietly. Honestly? Nobody noticed!" Anderson also cites "eight key provisions" the group supposedly was able to get into Georgia's controversial 2021 voter suppression measure, SB202, which was quickly signed into law --- supposedly at Heritage's urging --- by Gov. Brian Kemp.

IA and GA were two of "19 states [that] passed 34 laws restricting access to voting" in 2021, according to the Brennan Center for Justice that year, more than in any year since they began tracking such legislation in 2011.

Earlier this month, in addition to obtaining and publishing Heritage Action's "Election Integrity Plan", Fischer joined with Ed Pilkington at The Guardian to detail the organization's previously-unreported tax filings from 2021 [PDF], detailing more than $5 million in outside lobbying services in at least 24 states. That, after spending $0 on outside lobbying the previous year. The anti-democracy "dark money" outfit also spent more than $6 million on contractors for "marketing and advertising" in 2021, a substantial increase from the year before. The expenditures including more than a million dollars spent in support of GA's bill alone. In all, as Fischer and Pilkington report, Heritage's "Election Integrity Plan" earmarked at least $24 million to push these measures in at least eight swing-states over the past two years.

In addition to efforts to adopt restrictions on voting in the states, Heritage also worked to block legislation that would protect voting rights at the federal level. "The millions of dollars that Heritage Action spent in 2021 included substantial expenditures to pressure [Senators Joe] Manchin and [Kyrsten] Sinema in order to not reform the filibuster and thwart democracy reform legislation," Fischer tells me today.

"In West Virginia, in particular, they also did it with drummed-up fake grassroots activity," he explains. "Heritage Action and other groups organized buses to bus activists from out of state to West Virginia for a rally that was intended to 'save the filibuster' and protest Manchin's potential openness to changing the filibuster rules." It worked. Manchin and Sinema refused to reform the Senate's anti-democratic filibuster rule to pass the landmark Freedom to Vote Act in 2021. That measure would have been the most comprehensive voting rights and campaign finance reform measure since the 1960s. And, yes, as Fischer notes, the bill would have also "ended dark money!"

We've got a lot more to discuss along those lines with Fischer today. But, as long as he was here, there was an unrelated matter I wanted to get his thoughts on.

On Tuesday night, newly elected Republican Congressman and unrepentant liar George Santos amended several of his campaign finance disclosure documents. Santos had previously claimed in FEC disclosures that he had loaned his own campaign some $700,000. That was already suspicious, given that two years earlier, Santos claimed to have been making about $50,000/year. But, as The Daily Beast's Roger Sollenberger noticed on Tuesday, his amended forms now claim the funds did not come from him personally --- though they don't explain where the money actually did come from. Any campaign donation that large from someone other than the candidate would be an unlawful contribution.

While the Santos campaign seems to be admitting to what Josh Marshall characterizes as "major crimes" in their new filings, I have a different, completely ridiculous, couldn't-possible-be-true theory to ask Fischer about today: Is it possible that nobody actually gave $700,000 to Santos' campaign? That it was a paper claim only? There was no such loans at all?

Of course, that seems absurd, but this is George Santos we're talking about. More to the point, it should be noted that last year Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) successfully won a case at the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court which held that personal loans made to campaigns by candidates could actually be paid back after the election, in unlimited amounts, by anyone else. Lobbyists, etc. Is it even possible that Santos could have claimed to have made those personal loans to his campaign but that no money was actually ever given to his campaign at all? Allowing him to be "repaid" later by others after the election? It would certainly be a swell way for a wayward conman like Santos to make a cool $700,000, no?

I pose the question about this to Fischer with the full expectation that I'll be told there's no way something like that could have happened without it being discovered by officials long ago. Tune in to hear his response...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Government Affairs lobbyist Craig Holman; Also: VA's Youngkin kills new Ford EV battery plant, 2,500 new jobs; Kobach fined by FEC as he takes seat as top law enforcement official in KS...
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2023 5:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With so many referrals of Republican members of Congress to House ethics investigators of late, is it any wonder the GOP and Kevin McCarthy just voted to gut the critical Office of Congressional Ethics (or OCE) as part of their new rules package for taking over the majority in the 118th Congress? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

At the end of last year, the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the Trump-incited insurrection on January 6, 2021, recommended Congressional ethics investigations of then-Minority Leader, now-Speaker McCarthy (R-CA); Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) for their failure to respond to lawful Congressional subpoenas. More recently, there have been calls for an ethics investigation of New York's newly seated Republican Rep. and pathological liar, George Santos.

Naturally then, as their first order of business when approving the chambers Rules Package last week, which will now be used to govern for the next two years, Republicans moved to all but kill the only investigative ethics body in the House with actual teeth, the OCE.

We're joined today for insight on all of this by longtime Government Affairs lobbyist on ethics, lobbying and campaign finance rules for good government group Public Citizen, CRAIG HOLMAN. He helps us understand the difference between the House Ethics Committee and the totally separate and independent Office of Congressional Ethics, and explains how Republicans have just implemented a "one-two punch to shut down" the latter and any real ethics investigations along with it.

"The ethics process in Congress, in both the House and the Senate, has historically been run by members of Congress themselves," Holman explains. "So we've got this permanent committee called the House Ethics Committee that is run by members of Congress who are very, very reluctant to be critical of their fellow colleagues. They operate in secret. They will do their investigations, sometimes, but we never really know what they found or what they ended up recommending because they operate in secret. The House Ethics Committee is literally designed to sweep ethics matters under the rug, so that the public doesn't know what's going on."

On the other hand, "In 2008, as part of the huge ethics and lobby reform package that we passed in the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, we created an outside, independent Office of Congressional Ethics," he continues, explaining why the OCE is so critical. To be on its eight-member Board, you can't be a lobbyist or Congressional member. You must be a bona fide outsider. "It's staffed by eight board members --- four Republicans, four Democrats --- and it's done a phenomenal job at opening up the whole ethics process."

"Even though OCE doesn't have any actual enforcement authority, it does an actual investigation and then publishes the results of that investigation. And when it becomes public record, that has compelled the House Ethics Committee to actually do something." Holman observes that, since OCE's creation, actual enforcement actions by the House Ethics Committee has literally quadrupled.

Now, however, new rules adopted last week by House Republicans will force almost every Democratic member of the OCE's Board to step down, any replacements for them must be approved by at least four existing Board Members (which would now be 3 Rs and 1 D). Critically, Dems will have just 30 days find and to appoint those new members, hire staff and have it all approved by the Board. That, he explains, will be virtually impossible. "After that 30-day window, there's no staff. There's no investigators. There's no one able to do the work of OCE. It will effectively shut down OCE."

"It's a very strategic one-two punch to close down the ethics process," Holman argues. So, what does all of this mean for ethics investigations under GOP House rule over the next two years? And is there any way to either reverse the newly adopted rules or re-interpret them somehow in the GOP-majority Rules Committee? We discuss. But Holman describes the outlook as "grim" at this point.

Also on today's show...

  • Virginia's Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin has killed a new Ford Motor Co. project to build electric vehicle batteries in his state. The new plant would have brought at least 2,500 new jobs to a rural area of the commonwealth which has been under development for years in hopes of attracting new industry. But the plant was to have been a partnership with a Chinese company. Youngkin, who is believed likely to run for a Presidential nod in 2024, claims the company is a secret front for the "Chinese Communist Party" and poses a threat to the security of Virginians somehow. Meanwhile the new Ford employees will be hired in a different state, and the 3,500-acre megasite in VA remains vacant after 15 years and more than $200 million in public development funding. Desi Doyen suggests that the oil industry's efforts to put the brakes on the EV boom also plays a part in this fiasco.
  • Last week, Kansas' Democratic Governor Laura Kelly was sworn in for a second term in the usually "red" state. This time, however, she was joined by longtime immigration opponent, vote suppressor and GOP "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach, who was sworn in as the state's new Attorney General. Kobach's long-sought political comeback --- after losing the Governor's contest to Kelly in 2018 and the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020 --- comes along with a $30,000 fine from the Federal Election Commission for election law violations during his failed 2020 election when he received unlawful help from a fraudulent private border wall group called "We Build the Wall". After embarrassing the state of KS, Kobach served as Board Member and General Counsel for the group which is, itself, facing fraud charges at both the federal and state level in New York (along with Board Member Steve Bannon). Other than that, of course, and the federal court sanctions he received while serving as SoS --- including orders to attend law school classes at the time --- there's a new sheriff in town in the great state of Kansas. I'm sure it will go very well...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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