On today's BradCast, the grifts continue --- huge new ones that few yet know about --- but too many are focused on Donald Trump's latest distractions to notice. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up today: Please stop taking Trump's bait. His tweet on Thursday suggesting the postponement of the November election was little more than an attempt to distract from the day's very real news, including the horrific numbers from the Commerce Department (finding that the U.S. economy had plunged a record, unprecedented, staggering annualized 33% in the second quarter.). It worked. Media fell for it, and so did you, even though the President of the United States has no power to change the date of the Presidential election. The tweet not only helped to flip the entire day's news cycle, it also further terrorized the nation and helped to reinforce his desperate narrative that the 2020 election will be "the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history."
Democrats need to stop cowering in fear at Trump's wannabe dictatorial pronouncements. As Josh Marshall correctly wrote in response, "I understand everyone is afraid. But this is loser talk." The anti-Trump Republicans at the Lincoln Project ain't buying it. And the co-founder of the far-right Federalist Society has called for Trump's immediate impeachment because of it. Media need to learn to stop allowing Trump to hijack the news cycle and Americans need to learn to stop cowering in fear of Trump, despite his only actual talent: masterfully tricking both you and the media into falling for his pathetic manipulation.
Next up, the powerful Republican Speaker of the House, Larry Householder, who was arrested and charged last week by federal prosecutors in a massive, $60 million bribery, money laundering and racketeering scheme, has now been removed from the Speaker position in a unanimous bipartisan vote of the Buckeye State's House of Representatives. Householder and four others (including a senior aide, a former state GOP chair, and two top energy industry lobbyists) were charged in a racketeering scheme funded by FirstEnergy. The scheme was used to force a wildly unpopular bill through the state legislature last year that raised electricity bills on Ohio ratepayers to bail out two failing, hyper-polluting coal plants and two failing nuclear plants, while gutting the state's successful renewable energy and efficiency programs.
Despite the felony charges and lost speakership, Householder has yet to resign, the corrupt $1.5 billion House Bill 6 is still on the books, and Ohio's Republican Governor, Mike DeWine, who quickly signed the measure, still has some explaining to do. But while that scheme, described by federal prosecutors last week as the "the largest bribery, money laundering scheme ever perpetrated against the people of the state of Ohio," allegedly netted Householder some $60 million in bribes from FirstEnergy, laundered through a non-profit front group, it may pale in comparison to what one good government group now charges the Trump reelection campaign is doing.
Earlier this week, the non-partisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center (CLC), headed up by a former Republican Chair of the Federal Elections Commission, filed a new complaint with the FEC charging that the Trump Campaign and a joint fundraising committee is violating federal law by "laundering" nearly $170 million in campaign spending through firms headed up by Trump's former campaign manager, Brad Parscale (pictured above). The money, according to my guest today, CLC's Director of Federal Reform, BRENDAN FISCHER, is secretly being funneled to Trump associates and even family members.
"We've never seen anything like this. The scope and scale of this secrecy scheme is unprecedented," Fischer says, explaining how tens of millions of dollars in campaign ad buys and other large campaign expenses are all being run through two companies created by Parscale. One is called American Made Media and the other is Parscale Strategies. The campaign has claimed the companies are being used to save money by cutting out middle-man vendors, but CLC has discovered that the companies are being used as pass-throughs, and that sub-contracted vendors are making ad buys on behalf of the Trump Campaign anyway. Moreover, those vendors are not being disclosed, as required by campaign finance law, on the Campaign's financial disclosure forms. That, as Fischer tells me, means that payments are being hidden for campaign work, including potentially millions of dollars siphoned to groups with whom it is unlawful for the Campaign to coordinate efforts, and even to Trump associates and family members like Lara Trump (Eric Trump's wife) and former Fox "News" host Kimberly Guilfoyle (Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend).
"These two Parscale firms are being used only as pass-throughs to disguise the ultimate recipients of the money," Fischer and the CLC complaint alleging civil violations of campaign finance laws charge. "If the Trump Campaign gets away with this, it's just going to become a common practice. It's going to get replicated by campaigns, both Democrat and Republican, to disguise all of their political spending," he warns, adding that "if there was evidence that the violation was knowing and willful, there potentially could be criminal penalties."
Fischer offers many more details on what CLC knows and, due to the purposeful obfuscation through campaign finance records, what they still don't know, but hope that FEC investigators will be able to find out. We also discuss the dysfunction of the impossibly broken FEC and how that may affect action on this new and very serious complaint.
Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report on Trump's visit to Texas to help sell dirty oil while undermining the state's growing wind industry and lying about Joe Biden. Also, we cover the latest storm now barreling towards Florida as this year's record Hurricane Season continues and those "mystery seeds" that many are reporting as showing up in the mail from China...
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)