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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, July 16, 2019
The Weekend Disasters That DIDN'T Happen (and Some That Did): 'BradCast' 7/15/19
Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrant community faces down Trump raids together; Plus callers!...
Sunday Underage Toons
PDiddie's weekly toons never get old...though they do tend to get just about as dark as our nation these days...
'When Harry Met Barry': 'BradCast' 7/12/19
Guest-host Nicole Sandler with actor/filmmaker Harry Shearer on NOLA disasters past (Katrina), present (Barry), future; WH journo Brian Karem on his Rose Garden troll scuffle...
He's Running!:
'BradCast' 7/11/19
Guest-host Nicole Sandler w/ 2020 Presidential hopeful, Sen. Mike Gravel; Also: Trump's Census 'cave' and more...
'Green News Report' 7/11/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barry may test NOLA levee system; FEMA is understaffed as storm season begins; Climate activist Steyer running for Prez; PLUS: World's most powerful oil cartel is afraid of a little girl...
Previous GNRs: 7/9/19 - 7/2/19 - Archives...
Barr Grants Self Imperial Power Over Immigration Courts: 'BradCast' 7/10/19
Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Gulf storm aims at already-flooded NOLA...
Counting Coal Mine Canaries:
'BradCast' 7/9/19
Trump Twitter blocks blocked again; Perot dies; Steyer's in; Amash blasts Pelosi; Judge blocks DoJ lawyer swap; Dems subpoena Trump Org, set subpoena 'blitz'...
'Green News Report' 7/9/19
Trump touts his environmental accomp-lishments. Yes, that really happened; PLUS: Record heat waves in Europe and the Arctic make June 2019 the hottest ever recorded...
San Fran Promotes Smoking, Death With E-Cig Sales Ban: 'BradCast' 7/8/19
Guest: David Pasch of Voices for Vaping; Also: A mountain of news from over the holiday weekend...
Sunday 'America's Greatness' Toons
Celebrate the end of the holiday weekend and all-out USA awesomeness, with the great PDiddie's latest, greatest weekly toon collection...
Happy Independence Day Toons
"Until we are all free, we are none of us free." A friendly reminder in a bonus holiday toon collection from the very patriotic 'PDiddie'...
'Green News Report' 7/2/19
GNR Special Coverage: Climate change finally gets air time in the first 2020 Dem Presidential Debate in Miami; PLUS Extreme weather wreaks havoc around the world...
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: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: Acting SecDef withdraws nomination; S. America power grid collapse did not prevent voting; Swing district Rep. Porter calls for impeachment proceedings...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2019 6:24pm PT  

I've had a lot of legal questions swirling through my head in recent weeks as Trump and his minions have expanded their attempts at blocking all Congressional investigations of his many crimes. On today's BradCast, despite the unprecedented and ever-changing nature of what Trump is attempting, I get a bit of clarity from a guest with a long background in legal, legislative and executive matters regarding all three branches of the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, however, some quick news of the day. Donald Trump's Acting Sec. of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has withdrawn his formal nomination after reported difficulties obtaining a standard FBI background clearance due to a history of domestic violence with his former wife. Former Raytheon lobbyist and Trump's Sec. of the Army Mark Esper has been tapped, for now, as the new Acting SecDef.

The widespread --- and still-unexplained --- failure of the electrical grid in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend that affected tens of millions in South America, did not, at least, prevent gubernatorial elections from continuing on Sunday in Argentina, where they wisely use HAND-MARKED paper ballots. The election was uninterrupted despite the outage, as voting was able to continue as usual, even if voters needed to rely on mobile phone flashlights in order to see their ballots while filling them out by hand. That, by way of contrast with the utter havoc and chaos that would result from a similar outage or cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid during an election next year, with dozens of states relying on computer voting systems and electronic poll books, including a number of jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County (the nation's largest), which are set to move from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary elections. What could possibly go wrong?

Freshman Democratic U.S. House Rep. Katie Porter announced on Monday night that, after weeks of careful consideration, she has decided to call for an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Her announcement is significant in that Porter narrowly won election last year in Republican-leaning Orange County, California, defeating her incumbent GOP opponent by just over three points. With more than 65 Democratic members in the House (and one Republican) now calling for impeachment proceedings, Porter is one of only two Democrats from closely divided swing districts where GOP incumbents were ousted last November to call publicly for beginning the Constitutional process of impeachment of our criminal President.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has spent months following the release of the damning, redacted Special Counsel's report from Robert Mueller [PDF], exercising all manner of legal schemes and Presidential tricks to try and obstruct the Congressional investigation of the many criminal obstruction offenses by Trump detailed in Mueller's report. The Administration, with the aid of his new Attorney General and fixer William Barr, has invoked so-called Executive Privilege over the entire report (even the already released material) in an attempt to prevent the unredacted report and its underlying evidence from being disclosed to Congress and the American public. They've also used Executive Privilege to try and block lawful Congressional subpoenas of current and former White House officials, many of whom cooperated as witnesses with the Mueller probe, in hopes of preventing them from testifying in the House or turning over subpoenaed documents. Barr's DoJ has gone so far this week as to offer a legal claim that the IRS need not turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee in defiance of a decades-old statute requiring the IRS to do so. Trump's private attorneys have attempted to block Congressional subpoenas for the President's financial documents at his accounting firm Mazars and at Deutsche Bank, and, during a recent interview with ABC News, Trump said his own FBI Director was "wrong" for insisting that candidates contact the FBI if they are approached by foreign nationals with opposition research on their political opponents.

Those, of course, are just some of the ways that Trump continues to obstruct justice and defy the rule of law. But what are the chances that he will ultimately succeed in his attempts to obstruct Congress? We're joined today by LISA GRAVES, who has worked as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal Government, to help us better understand some of the key elements of Trump's crimes and his attempts to invoke measures to block accountability for them.

Graves, the co-founder of the non-profit Documented, formerly served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the Dept. of Justice, General Counsel in the US Senate, and former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. On today's program, she explains the seriousness of obstruction crimes; how "Executive Privilege" has been invoked by Presidents (successfully or otherwise) in the past, and what the privilege really is and isn't (hint: it's not actually a statutorily or Constitutionally defined thing); whether it's actually possible or justifiable to prevent the disclosure of Trump's tax returns under the DoJ's new pretext; and whether she believes Trump should be impeached.

On criminal obstruction, says Graves: "The fact is that obstruction is a very serious crime. I suppose that if they really wanted to know how serious obstruction is, they could call Nixon back from the grave to ask him how serious this is."

On Barr's collusion with Trump: "It's truly a shame, quite frankly, that under the broken Senate led by Mitch McConnell, that Barr was confirmed to this role that he was most undeserving to hold. And that he now holds basically as a lapdog to this President, willing to his bidding, and to really subvert the true mission of this Justice Department."

On Trump's broad attempted use of Executive Privilege: "The idea that any President could somehow assert privilege over revealing evidence of his own potential obstruction of justice, the crime of obstruction, is simply astounding...There's simply no way that any reasonable interpretation of whatever that privilege might or might not be, would allow a President to hide from Congress --- which expressly has powers under our Constitution to impeach a President and to try a President --- to hide evidence from that Congress that has those express powers to hold a President accountable."

But, on that last point, she offers some "hesitation" thanks to "this Supreme Court which has been stacked by McConnell and the dark money which backs him." I'm also happy to hear her correctly note that "this court is not truly conservative, they are radically reactionary."

Graves also responds to my question about the recent statement from the chair of Federal Elections Commission, Ellen Weintraub, issued in response to Trump's assertion that he needn't contact the FBI if approached by a foreign national with dirt on a political opponent. Weintraub's statement clarified that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election." But, isn't that precisely what the Hillary Clinton Campaign (and a Republican primary campaign before it) did during the 2016 election by soliciting oppo-research on Donald Trump from former British spy Christopher Steele? I discuss that and much more with Graves today.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more details on Sunday's South American power grid failure, news of a reported U.S. cyber-offensive against the Russian power grid, bad climate change-related news for the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone", and some very good news from outgoing conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May who is vowing to commit the UK to the world's most aggressive targets to combat our climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the nation's economy at the very same time...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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A spate of GOP pol scams, indictments and inappropriate pardons from D.C. to GA to MI and beyond; Also: Are Congress and corporate media finally waking up to our woefully insecure, non-overseeable elections?...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2019 7:04pm PT  

It's hardly breaking news at this point, but the GOP and its politicians now represent little more than a complete culture of corruption from top (Donald Trump) to bottom (find a state, pick an elected Republican). Among the tiny sampling of new stories covered on today's BradCast which bear that out. [Audio link to full show is posted below]...

  • The EPA's Office of Inspector General finds that disgraced former EPA chief Scott Pruitt owes tax-payers at least $124,000 for improper first-class flights and fancy hotels from during just 10 months of his reign before he was ultimately forced to resign. That, among nearly $1 million misappropriated for unnecessary, improperly approved security personnel and staff travel. The agency says it has no intention of asking Pruitt, who is now working for coal companies, to repay the money, of course;
  • But, since a fish rots from the head down, it's only appropriate to note that Donald Trump, on Wednesday evening, pardoned his billionaire pal and business partner, Conrad Black, who spent three years in jail on fraud and obstruction of justice charges after bilking millions from investors in his media company. But, he then said nice things about Trump in 2015 and has since written a book that fawns over the President titled Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. So, he's now officially pardoned by the President! Trump also pardoned Patrick Nolan, a former GOP leader of the California state assembly yesterday. Nolan was convicted on federal racketeering charges, but he recently criticized the Mueller investigation on behalf of the American Conservative Union, where he now works, so he gets a pardon too!;
  • The Republican Culture of Corruption hardly ends in D.C., however. On Tuesday, Georgia's newly elected Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck was indicted on 38 felony counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Before reportedly being elected on Georgia's 100 percent unverifiable voting systems last November, Beck allegedly used a fraudulent scheme to embezzle money from a state-run insurance association he ran through several private companies he ran and then to the Georgia Christian Coalition. He has refused to resign but, on Thursday, the state's new (and similarly corrupt) Republican Governor Brian Kemp "suspended" him, whatever that means, while Beck fights the 38-count federal indictment;
  • In Michigan on Wednesday, state Rep. Larry Inman was indicted on charges of attempted extortion, soliciting a bribe and lying to the FBI. (Trump better have plenty of ink in his pardon pen!) According to text messages included in the indictment, the GOP super-genius texted a union rep for contributions in exchange for his and his colleagues votes against a measure that would repeal a law requiring union wages, along with the text message: "We never had this discussion";
  • But, of course, there are dirty Dems as well. But Republicans are so corrupt these days, they are even letting THEM off the hook...for some odd reason. A high-profile law firm in Boston was found by Federal Elections Commission staff investigators to have unlawfully reimbursed its attorneys for campaign contributions to Democrats to the tune of more than a million dollars in donations. The FEC lawyers recommended a further investigation to the FEC Commissioners, but they voted 2 to 2 on party lines to end the case without any further probe. You'll be shocked to learn the 2 Republicans on the Commission voted AGAINST the further probe, while the Democrat and Independent appointees both voted in favor of it. FEC Chair Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, the lone Democratic appointee, told the Boston Globe: "In every case, it doesn't matter whether Democrats or Republicans are subject of the complaint, the Democrats want to enforce the law and the Republicans don't. It's an ideological opposition to enforcing the law." That sounds about right. It's a Republican Culture of Corruption;
  • Next, a bit of a follow-up to our interview yesterday with 30-year Leon County, Florida Election Supervisor Ion Sancho, after news broke this week that the election systems of two Florida counties were said to have been penetrated by Russian Intelligence prior to the 2016 Presidential election, according to the FBI. The Bureau is currently forbidding state officials, and now members of Congress, from informing the public about which counties those are and if, in fact, there are more of them. Florida's U.S. House delegation is hopping mad about it all, as was Sancho yesterday. It should also be noted here that Florida's Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was told about much of this last year, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, but said nothing even as his fellow Senator from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, also then an Intel Committee member, was excoriated before last year's election for noting publicly that Russia had penetrated the Sunshine State's electoral system. He was right. But Rubio said nothing as Nelson was portrayed as an insane old conspiracist. In the bargain, Nelson ended up narrowly losing (according to FL's unverified results) to Rick Scott, the state's then Republican Governor;
  • All of this mess, at least, has resulted in at least a few Republican and Democratic officials suddenly becoming alarmed about the dangers posed by vulnerable computerized voter registration and tabulation systems that cannot be overseen by the public to assure they have not been manipulated by hackers and have reported election results as per the voters' intent. George W. Bush's former cybersecurity czar Richard Clarke appeared on yesterday's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell to make that case, and to warn about the dangers of electoral manipulation from foreign sources that awaits in 2020. We share a clip and note that it's not only foreign sources such as Russia we must be concerned about. But, hey, after more than 15 years of our yelling and screaming about exactly these issues, at least a few elected officials and folks in the corporate media are finally beginning to notice. A little. Whether they have any clue regarding what to do about it is a separate matter all together. So, we'll keep shouting;
  • Finally Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with disturbing news following last year's historic deadly fires in California, new evidence that our climate crisis is worsening (and that Exxon knew precisely about where we'd be today decades ago), and some other "impossible" news worth tuning in for...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Investigative journalist Dave Lindorff; Also: U.S. House contests in NC-9, FL-15, ME-2; Schiff says Trump may face prison time...
By Brad Friedman on 12/10/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The boondoggles continue --- from the Pentagon to the U.S. House and American elections --- as we can't look ahead to the new year without the continuing unresolved muck from this year. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

When Democrats take the majority in the new Congress after the first of the year, one of their first orders of business will be determining who actually is allowed to be seated following the November 2018 midterm elections. There could be as many as three (and possibly more) seats challenged in the 116th Congress, thanks to the burgeoning GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal in North Carolina, an admission by a newly-elected Florida Republican that he "may have" violated federal campaign finance laws, and a lengthy hand-count process in Maine's first-ever Ranked Choice Voting election for a U.S. House seat.

In NC's 9th Congressional District, Mark Harris --- the GOP candidate whose uncertified 905-vote "victory" is now being probed by state and federal officials after the emergence of evidence of absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor Harris hired in both the primary and general elections --- has said he'd agree to a new election, but only if evidence surfaces that the fraud in question would have changed the final results. That's a much higher bar than called for by state law, which allows the State Board of Election to take any necessary actions to "assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption."

In FL, Ross Spano, the Republican who is said to have won the race in the state's 15th Congressional District, now admits he received nearly $200,000 in personal loans for his campaign from two friends, in violation of the $2,700 per person federal contribution limit. One of those friends, despite having no official government role, is today reported to be helping to select Spano's Congressional hires. In both the NC and FL cases, it's not just Democrats crying foul. Tthe Republicans who were defeated in the primaries by Harris and Spano are also joining the public outcries.

In ME, a "recount" request by ousted Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin in the 2nd Congressional District could result in a vacant seat for a while, as a hand-count of the complicated RCV counting process --- initially carried out after the election by a computer algorithm --- is a lengthy and onerous one that could stretch beyond January 3, when the new Congress is sworn in.

In non-election related news today, Donald Trump will reportedly call for an unprecedented $750 billion budget next year for the Pentagon after his previous increases to military spending. That, despite his description of Defense Department spending last week as "crazy" and previous vows to cut DoD's budget by 5 percent. The Administration's proposal for $750 billion is reported to be a "negotiating tactic" to ensure the $733 billion requested by the Pentagon, which is a far cry from the $700 billion Trump had called for previously and a substantial bump from the "crazy" $716 billion allocated for the current fiscal year.

We're joined today by investigative journalist DAVE LINDORFF to discuss the decades-long "accounting fraud" being carried out by the Pentagon, as detailed in his new exclusive exposé for The Nation. Citing whistleblowers, Inspector General's reports and a recent admission by the private accounting firm Ernst & Young that the Pentagon's books were so poorly documented that they simply cannot be audited, Lindorff explains how the DoD continues to seek --- and receive --- more tax-payer dollars year-after-year, even without needing or spending all they received in previous years. Rather than returning unpsent funds to the federal Treasury, DoD accounting gimmicks ("nippering" and "plugs") ensure endlessly increasing budgets and payments to Defense Contractors. The unchecked spending --- which amounts to trillions of dollars --- also helps to ensures that services Americans may actually need and want --- like healthcare, education and maintenance for infrastructure --- continue to be on the chopping block every fiscal year, even as Defense spending now accounts for 54 cents out of every federal tax-payer dollar collected.

"What the Pentagon does is they ask for more money than they need. They don't spend it all, and then they tuck away what isn't spent in ways that it won't be found --- violating the Constitution, by the way --- then that unspent money becomes a slush fund that's available to use however they want," Lindorff tells me.

"They've known about this stonewalling by the Pentagon for 26 years, which includes a lot of Democratic Congresses. Nobody has ever called them to the carpet on this," he charges. Despite Inspector General reports detailing the gimmicks and unaccounted for budget holes, "Nobody has been prosecuted for this. Nobody has been fired for this....If it's signed off on by the proper authority in the chain of command then it's 'supported' whether or not there's evidentiary material to back it."

Lindorff also argues that, with one recent exception, Democrats --- including progressives from Bernie Sanders to Beto O'Rourke --- have been largely silent on what he describes as a massive account fraud.

Finally today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), who will chair the U.S. House Intelligence Committee after Dems take over Congress next year, argued over the weekend that new filings from federal prosecutors on Friday suggest "There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him" and "that he may be the first President in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time." Schiff was referencing, among other things, details from a sentencing memo filed by federal prosecutors in New York on Friday charging that Trump "directed" a criminal conspiracy with his former attorney Michael Cohen to pay hush money to two women with whom Trump had affairs, in order to effect election results in violation of federal campaign finance laws...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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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, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest hosted by Angie Coiro, with wisdom from historian Adam Hochschild; Abortion rights update; John Roberts vs. Donald Trump; Saudi Arabia torture reports; urban housing insights, and more!...
By Angie Coiro on 11/21/2018 6:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad today --- Angie Coiro, host of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Quite the contrast between all the news Brad and Desi had to fit in yesterday, and the relatively quiet developments today; everyone's hitting the road. Except Donald, who's hitting Twitter, and SCOTUS chief John Roberts, who's hitting back.

We start with a round-up of news, including three abortion stories (yes, politicians in Ohio want you dead if you get or give an abortion); three tales of adults adulting, even in DC; and a story out of Saudi Arabia that makes it even more astounding that Trump loves the Crown Prince (and Saudi-tied profits) so dearly. Plus a look at Robert Reich's antitrust take on Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

Then long-time historian/journalist ADAM HOCHSCHILD discusses his book, Lessons from a Dark Time --- a collection of his work from over the decades. (A warning here for those who are sensitive to sexual assault discussions, as that does come up.) We talk about prison reform, redefining gun issues, and how far the Nazi Germany metaphor might play out in the US.

Housing activist and journalist RANDY SHAW has a book, too, and it has an unusual take on the urban housing crisis: it's a generational thing. Generation Priced Out documents his investigations in twelve major US cities, seeking both factors and fixes. In addition to the more universally-recognized culprits, he sees a less-discussed one: Baby Boomer resistance to housing the next generations.

And at the very tail end of the hour, a little something to make you smile --- to get you into the Thanksgiving spirit of gratitude. I'll let you check it out for yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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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, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!




Also: Toxic environmental disaster begins after Florence; AL SoS sued for Twitter blocking; Bad news for 'dark money', good news for voters...
By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2018 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Except for our Florence coverage, it's all about November 6th, including the GOP's rush to seat another alleged sexual predator on the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a quick update on the still-ongoing disaster of Hurricane Florence, with the human death toll rising to 37 and the poultry and pork death tolls in the millions, after three feet of rain fell on parts of the Carolinas, thousands remain in shelters, and the environmental disasters --- including toxic human waste and animal waste now streaming into swelling rivers and floodwaters --- may just be beginning.

Next, the reason why Republicans are in such a panic to minimize the allegations of attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh, their nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, in any way they possibly can in advance of the quickly arriving November 6th midterm elections. That minimization includes avoiding both time and an FBI investigation at any cost. The White House could have already requested one, which Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) insisted was "the very right thing to do" --- at least during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the 1991 sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill against then-nominee, now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Then, you may recall at the beginning of the year I reported on a strange conversation I had on Twitter with Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill regarding the state's voting systems, resulting in Merrill blocking me on the social media site. It wasn't the first time Merrill had blocked election experts or journalists or his own constituents. But, even after a federal court later in the year found that Donald Trump was violating the First Amendment rights of his constituents by blocking them on Twitter, Merrill still refused to unblock anybody. A query to his office about that, just before the state's May primary elections, resulted in a bizarre and unhinged exchange via phone and email with the Secretary. Today, Merrill is being sued by the ACLU of Alabama for violating his constituents' First Amendment rights for blocking them and, of course, that means that AL taxpayers will likely be on the hook to pay for the so-called "conservative" Merrill's knowingly unconstitutional behavior.

Also, speaking of transparency and the rule of law, the U.S. Supreme Court, just weeks before the 2018 midterms, has allowed a lower court ruling on "dark money" to take immediate effect, meaning that some political non-profits will now have to disclose the names of wealthy donors who spend more than $200 per year in hopes of buying elections. The Koch-sponsored hit squads, including their ringers on the FEC, are none too happy it.

Finally, we've got some good news for voters in California, where the Governor has now signed a bill requiring election officials to notify voters when local officials believe signatures on Vote-by-Mail ballots don't match the one on their registration file. Such voters will now be notified at least eight days before any results are certified, so they have a chance to fix the problem, which could happen for many reasons, before the ballot is simply discarded (as tens of thousands have routinely been tossed in previous elections).

Also, good news for Democrats in Wisconsin, where the "gold standard" of Wisconsin polling outfits finds divisive, two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker now trailing Democrat Tony Evers in this year's Gubernatorial race.

And, in Kansas, yet another top former Republican official has endorsed Laura Kelly, the Democratic candidate for Governor, in her race against controversial GOP nominee Sec. of State Kris Kobach...

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Guest: Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center; Also, new numbers in OH-12, KS GOP Guv primary, Puerto Rico's Hurricane Maria death toll...
By Brad Friedman on 8/9/2018 5:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Understanding two new, seemingly conflicting directives on "dark money" in campaigns --- one of them very encouraging --- and a new complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission charging several GOP Senators unlawfully colluded with the NRA during the 2014 and 2016 elections. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, adjusting some numbers! In this past Tuesday's very close U.S. House Special Election in Ohio's (previously, very Republican) 12th Congressional District, the Trump-endorsed GOP candidate Troy Balderson was reportedly up over Democrat Danny O'Connor by just over 1,700 votes out of about 200,000 tallied on election night in the closely watched, bellwether race. On Wednesday, however, Franklin County's Board of Elections discovered an electronic cartridge from one precinct, with 588 votes stored on it, had not been included in the original unofficial tallies. With those ballots now added, O'Connor has netted 190 additional votes over Balderson, lowering the current unofficial margin in the contest to just 0.8 points. A margin of 0.5 or less would trigger an automatic "recount", as thousands of provisional and late vote-by-mail ballots are still being processed.

In Kansas, Tuesday's even tighter race between Sec. of State Kris Kobach and Gov. Jeff Colyer for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, saw its margin cut by more than half, from 191 votes to just 91, out of some 311,000 cast. The adjustment appears due to an incorrectly entered number by the Sec. of State's office on Tuesday night. The controversial, hard-right Kobach's razor-thin lead may further erode (or expand) as some 10,000 provisional and late mail-in ballots are still to be processed. A recount in that contest is all but certain.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico, in an official statement to Congress, now acknowledges that at least 1,427 were killed during and after Hurricane Maria last year, a vastly different figure than the island's still-official death toll of 64. The new numbers place Maria's death toll much closer to the 1,833 said to have been killed during and after 2005's Hurricane Katrina. We discuss why it has been so difficult for Puerto Rican officials to acknowledge those far-higher numbers, long ago estimated by many experts.

Then we're joined by BRENDAN FISCHER, Associate Counsel at the Washington D.C.'s Campaign Legal Center (CLC), to help explain several important, if seemingly conflicting, pieces of campaign finance related news. About two weeks ago, the Treasury Department announced that non-profits who spend money on political campaigns --- so-called "Dark Money" groups --- would no longer be required to disclose the names of their donors to the IRS. The timing of that new policy, Fischer notes, "was pretty terrible. It happened on the same day that federal prosecutors charged Maria Butina with being an unregistered Russian agent who tried to influence American politics through the NRA, which had spent at least $35 million through its 501c4 [non-profit political action committee] arm during the last election cycle."

"So, if you're concerned about foreign money in elections, you should be really concerned about the Treasury Dept. stating that 501c4s, like [Karl Rove's] Crossroads GPS or the NRA, no longer have to disclose their top donors to the IRS."

Then, a week or so later, last Friday, a federal judge ordered the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to rewrite their current rules, within 45 days, in order to require the disclosure of the names of donors to many of those same "dark money" groups. Fischer details how the new mandate from Judge Beryl Howell, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, differs from the Treasury Dept. directive and, in fact, could be very good news indeed for those who believe in transparency and public oversight of elections!

"If the FEC was doing its job, then it wouldn't matter quite so much if the IRS was not collecting this information," Fischer tells me. "Judge Howell said that the FEC has been failing at its job, and it needs to go back to the drawing board and draft new rules that are going to ensure effective donor disclosure for certain types of political advertising."

"Judge Howell's decision is a reminder that the FEC is largely to blame for the rise of dark money. It's not just the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United, it also is in large part the fault of the FEC for failing to enforce the laws that are on the books. The Supreme Court has endorsed donor disclosure, and the laws passed by Congress say that donors to politically active dark money groups must be disclosed. It falls to the FEC to draft the rules that interpret laws passed by Congress and to enforce those rules. But what the FEC has done is draft rules that narrow the donor disclosure laws passed by Congress, and then they failed to enforce even those narrow rules."

While acknowledging the new ruling as "a very big deal", Fischer explains why questions remain as to whether the ruling will be (or even can be) appealed and how the current vacancies on the FEC may prevent them from being able to act within the time ordered by Judge Howell.

In a separate, if somewhat related matter, Fischer details CLC's recently filed complaint with the FEC charging that the campaigns of four different Republican U.S. Senators unlawfully coordinated with the NRA's political action committee in violation of long-standing campaign finance laws during the 2014 and 2016 elections. The GOP Senators named in the complaint: Ron Johnson (WI), Tom Cotton (AR), Cory Gardner (CO) and Thom Tillis (NC).

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with still more record heat, pushback from California against the Administration's attempt to undermine state mileage and emissions standards, and the extraordinary revelation that Trump's EPA is actually attempting to bring deadly asbestos back! Seriously!...

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Guest: Legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Happy birthday, Mr. President! To celebrate today, the New York Attorney general filed a civil lawsuit [PDF] against Donald J. Trump, his so-called "charitable foundation", and his children Eric, Don Jr. and Ivanka, charging that his foundation was used as little more than a personal and business slush fund, and to benefit his 2016 Presidential campaign. [Audio link to show follows below.]

All of that, NY Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges in her suit, is in violation of both state and federal law. Many of the allegations against Trump's unlawful use of his foundation were reported in the run-up to the election, though much more self-dealing was discovered in the course of the AG's 2-year investigation, including that the Trump Foundation's board of directors had not met since 1999, that some board members had no idea they were even on the board, and that Trump's then-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski personally directed checks to be written from the foundation for campaign purposes.

Underwood's petition seeks nearly $3 million in reparations and to bar both Trump and his children from sitting on the boards of other nonprofit charitable organizations. She also refers the matter [PDF] to the Federal Elections Commission and the Internal Revenue Service for further investigation.

In other important news today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7 to 2 opinion finding that Minnesota's polling place ban on t-shirts and buttons with political slogans, such as those worn by 'Tea Party' members at the polls in 2010, is overly broad and violates Constitutional First Amendment free speech protections. Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN joins us to explain the Court's opinion, as well as the far more disturbing ruling from the GOP's stolen SCOTUS earlier this week, when the Court found 5 to 4 in favor of Ohio's voter roll purge scheme by Republican Sec. of State Jon Husted.

That scheme begins the process for removing voters from the rolls after a voter fails to vote in one single federal election. Stern discusses the troubling opinion which overturns the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal's 2016 finding that the Buckeye State's scheme directly violates the 1993 National Voter Registration Act's restriction against removing a voter from the rolls "by reason of the person's failure to vote."

On today's ruling, I am somewhat less sanguine about what the Court ruled than Stern is, but it's a close call. On the Ohio case, I think we're both in agreement. As he notes: "First, you are identified for a purge because you didn't vote just one single time, and second, you are purged because you failed to cast a ballot. Again, that would seem to go against not just the text but the express purpose of both [the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Law]. So for Alito to claim that he's just following the text of the law, and dissenters are trying to enact their own policy --- that rings absolutely false to me."

Sterns explains the largely semantic trick that Justice Samuel Alito used to, essentially, flip the provision written by Congress onto its head on behalf of the court's five Republican appointees; how the state's massive purges have disproportionately affected minority and low-income voters; and how Trump and Jeff Session's Dept. of Justice has reversed an unprecedented number of positions on federal laws since taking office.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as even some Republicans appear to finally be turning against wildly corrupt fossil fuel industry "swamp monster" and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt...

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Guests: AUDIT USA election expert John Brakey, attorney Chris Sautter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2018 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Rudy Giuliani works his magic as he settles in as the newest attorney on Donald Trump's personal legal defense team --- and it appears to have exploded spectacularly. And Ohio's Sec. of State and two largest counties are slapped with an election transparency lawsuit just days before next Tuesday's primary in the Buckeye State. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: On Wednesday night, the former NYC Mayor stunned Sean Hannity of Fox "News" when he told him on air that Trump reimbursed his embattled "fixer" and personal lawyer Michael Cohen for the $130,000 in hush money paid to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 Presidential election. The payment, which Trump had long denied making himself, was meant to cover up an alleged affair Trump had with the porn star. Then, on Thursday morning, Giuliani dug the hole deeper by making clear, once again on Fox "News", that the payment was meant to protect Trump's candidacy.

All of which means that Trump is likely in even more --- and perhaps even criminal --- trouble, regarding serious campaign finance violations which Giuliani seems to have thought he was helping Trump avoid. We discuss and try to clarify the President's newly revealed legal peril on that front today, even as Trump (or his attorneys) took to Twitter to reverse his own previous denials by admitting that he did, in fact, reimburse Cohen for the payments to Daniels.

As Politico's Jack Shafer wryly tweeted today: "Having Giuliani in the mix is almost like having a second Trump."

Then, as we try to stay focused amidst all the noise, we're joined by election transparency expert JOHN BRAKEY and longtime election attorney CHRIS SAUTTER, both of Americans United for Democracy, Integrity and Transparency in Elections (AUDIT USA) about their lawsuit just filed in Ohio in advance of the state's 2018 mid-term primary next Tuesday.

The suit echoes a similar one filed last December in Alabama before that state's much-watched U.S. Senate Special Election between Democrat Doug Jones and Republican Roy Moore. (That suit was successful in a lower court, before the state's woeful Sec. of State John Merrill convinced their Supreme Court to stay the ruling at the last minute.) The new complaint seeks to force Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted and its two most-populous counties, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), to retain digital ballot images created by the counties' computer scanners as hand-marked paper ballots are initially scanned during tabulation.

Those images, as Brakey explains, allow the public to safely examine the accuracy of election results without disturbing the original paper ballots and, according to Sautter (and several court rulings in other states), complies with federal election law requiring the retention of all election materials for 22 months after federal elections.

The pair detail why preventing the destruction of the images in question is at the center of the multi-partisan suit filed in Ohio, and why they plan to continue pressing election officials in Ohio and in many other states and counties around the country to ensure that digital ballot scanners are set to retain all such images for public oversight after Election Day.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with still more bad news for corrupt EPA chief Scott Pruitt and for the planet itself, but also with a bit of good news for NYC, Hawaii, and even one of China's major cities...

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Another school shooting leaves at least 17 dead in S. Florida as corporate 'dark money' continues to undermine our nation; Also: Still more stormy weather for the White House...
By Brad Friedman on 2/14/2018 6:43pm PT  

Once again on today's BradCast, we must lead with breaking details of yet another mass shooting. This time, at a high school in South Florida where, by the end of today's show, authorities report that 17 had been killed, with a 19-year old former student in custody. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The horrific tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL led Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) to take to the Senate floor to note, yet again, that these this "epidemic of mass slaughter...happen nowhere else other than the United States of America", where Republican officials, controlled by the funding of the massacre-enabling National Rifle Association, refuse to take even the slightest action, year after year, massacre after massacre, to try and curb the nation's gun violence epidemic.

Murphy, who represented Newtown, Connecticut as a U.S. House member during the 2012 Sandy Hook Massacre, where 20 elementary school children and 6 adults were killed by a 20-year old with an assault weapon, notes that the South Florida shooting was the 19th school shooting since the beginning of this year, which is not even two months old.

The Republican Party is, in fact, controlled from top to bottom by big money corporate donors. And, where many Democrats are similarly enthrall to corporate donations, at least a number of the leading Presidential hopefuls are finally beginning to swear off of corporate "dark money" PAC donations. As we have argued for years --- and do so again today, in light of this latest tragedy, get money out of politics, particularly anonymous "dark money" from corporate PACs like the NRA, and most of our nation's problems, including the 'American Carnage' from our worsening gun violence epidemic, can finally be dealt with.

We cover a number of stories today that underscore that necessity. In one, House of Delegates candidate Lissa Lucas in West Virginia is physically dragged off the floor during a Public Comment period on new fracking legislation, because she dared to list the donations from the fossil fuel industry received by the Delegates who were preparing to vote on the bill.

In another, Republicans in the Arizona statehouse are moving a bill forward that would bar cities from requiring that "dark money" donations be disclosed. The state legislation comes after the City Council in Tempe voted unanimously for a ballot initiative that, if approved by local voters, would require such disclosure. Voting on that local transparency measure began on Wednesday, even as the state government moved to nullify its effect.

And, speaking of money in GOP politics, new disclosures from Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen suggest he used his own personal money to buy the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels regarding an alleged affair she had with Donald Trump. A statement from Cohen, first reported by the New York Times, seems to suggest the $130,000 paid to Daniels, just weeks before the 2016 Presidential election and days after the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape was released, came "out of his own pocket".

But a closer look at his statement reveals he may not have admitted any such thing. In the meantime, attorney Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause, who filed complaints with both the Federal Election Commission and the Dept. of Justice in January (he discussed the complaints on The BradCast at the time), stands by his belief that the payout was an unlawful, unreported, in-kind campaign donation.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with still more news on the dangerous and deadly effects of corporate money polluting our air, water and, yes, politics...

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Guest: Paul S. Ryan of Common Cause; Also: KY school shooting, Trump supporter threatens CNN, Dems' tough decision as next shutdown nears...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2018 6:08pm PT  

Did Donald Trump or the Trump Campaign or the Trump Organization violate federal law in a hush money payoff to a porn star? On today's BradCast, we speak with the lawyer from a good-government group that has now filed complaints with the Federal Elections Commission and Dept. of Justice to that end, which he describes as "a very obvious and very clear violation of federal campaign finance law." [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But first up today, the latest news on the latest school shooting, this time in rural Kentucky, where 12 students were shot, two of them killed, after a 15-year old student unleashed a barrage of gunfire at Marshall County High School just before classes were set to begin on Tuesday morning. It was the first fatal school shooting of 2018, though reportedly the 9th since the first of the year, and 283rd since 2013. In related news, a 19-year old apparent Trump supporter was arrested after repeatedly threatening CNN's Atlanta headquarters earlier this month on the heels of the President's continued targeting of the news network as "fake news".

Then, we discuss some of the newly reported details outlining how it is that Senate Democrats caved on Monday in their government shutdown standoff with Trump and Republicans in regard to protecting some 800,000 "Dreamers" from deportation, including evidence to strongly suggest we are quickly heading towards another shutdown and/or cave in just over two weeks time when the stop-gap spending measure passed on Monday night runs out.

Next, we're joined by PAUL S. RYAN, Vice President of Policy & Litigation at Common Cause, to discuss the two complaints filed on Monday with the FEC [PDF] and with the DoJ [PDF] regarding the payoff made via a shell company set up by Trump's attorney Michael Cohen, allegedly to buy the silence of adult film actress Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) just before the 2016 Presidential election. Trump is alleged to have had an affair, according to the Wall Street Journal, with Clifford/Daniels in 2006, shortly after his wife Melania had given birth to their son.

Ryan and Common Causes' complaints contend that the $130,000 payout appears to have been an unlawful, unreported in-kind donation to the Trump campaign, funded either by the Trump Organization, another person or corporation or Trump himself which, in any of those cases, would be a violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA). The longtime campaign finance attorney explains the law in question and handicaps the odds of whether the FEC or DoJ will take action in response.

"At a minimum here," Ryan tells me, detailing who may be culpable, "we seem to be looking at a campaign finance disclosure violation --- because the Trump Campaign Committee didn't report any of this --- and, unless the money came from Trump's own pocket, then we're also talking about a contribution violation, as well."

While the question of who put up the $130k is still unknown, he argues that there is no legitimate way to argue that the payout --- given its timing, shortly after the Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape came out, and the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct from nearly 20 women --- was not meant to influence the election by keeping Daniels from talking to the press. "The timing, with the imminent threat by Stormy Daniels that she was going public with her story, to me, makes this clearly stand as a payment that was all about the election and keeping her quiet up to and until the election."

In related matters, Ryan also offers a few quick takes in response to some questions I had on several other recent news events from the past 24 hours or so, including whether the Trump Administration violated the law with their partisan outgoing voice message on the White House comment line during the shutdown over the weekend; whether any laws were violated by a Monday night dinner meeting on what are said to have been "important issues facing our country", between several Republican Senators, members of Trump's cabinet and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; and whether Republicans in Pennsylvania have a leg to stand on in their promise to make a federal case out of a Monday ruling by the state Supreme Court ordering the GOP-controlled state legislature to immediately redraw the state's U.S. House district maps, in time for the 2018 primaries, after the maps were found to have been illegally gerrymandered under Pennsylvania's Constitution to discriminate against non-Republican voters.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on Monday's natural gas rig explosion in Oklahoma, new tariffs on solar panels instituted by Trump, and environmental fallout from the Congressional battle over a government spending bill. [Photo above via MySpace/Stormy Daniels.]

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Guest: ACLU's Theresa Lee | Also: Trump Jr.'s legal probs; Senate GOP health care repeal; 'Green News Report' returns for another heat wave...
By Brad Friedman on 7/11/2017 6:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we're still trying to keep our eye on the ball, as Trump and the Republicans work to take away both health and voting rights even as the nation is otherwise consumed with new breaking news in the ongoing criminal investigations of Team Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, a few comments on the news regarding Donald Trump, Jr.'s meeting with a Russian attorney during the campaign last year and the federal election laws he may have violated in the bargain. But, with everyone else in the world covering that story today, fewer are covering the ongoing plans by the Senate GOP to try and repeal the health care for millions of Americans in exchange for tax cuts for the wealthy, possibly as early as next week, according to a top Senate Republican. And, if not next week, shortly thereafter, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now cancelled much of the August recess in hopes of jamming both ObamaCare repeal and a major tax cut scheme through Congress before Summer ends.

Similarly, with all of the noise regarding the incompetence and/or corruption of Team Trump, it's important to keep an eye on their ongoing efforts at voter suppression via Trump's so-called "Election Integrity" Commission which has already resulted in voters around the nation removing themselves from registration roles for fear that Commission Vice-Chair and notorious "voter fraud" fraudster Kris Kobach will publicly release the personal information of registered voters, such as birthdate, social security number, military status, etc., as he recently promised in a letter to all 50 states seeking that data.

But, as Kobach has made a career out of pretending there is a massive voter fraud epidemic and threatening prosecution against voters for small and often inadvertent violations of the law, you'd think his Commission would follow the rule of law to the letter. That does not appear to be the case, however, as at least four different legal complaints, alleging violations of federal law, have already been filed against Kobach and the Commission over the past week, even as even more notorious GOP 'voter fraud' fraudsters are being quietly added to the Presidential panel.

THERESA LEE, staff attorney at the ACLU's Voting Rights Project, one of the groups which have filed legal complaints against the Commission, joins us to explain their lawsuit [PDF] charging multiple violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), how this Presidential Commission on elections is wildly different from those created in the recent past, and what it is that Kobach and friends are really up to under the sham Commission's pretext of combating 'voter fraud'.

"One of the main purposes of the Act was public accountability, the idea that if the government is getting advice, it should not be biased advice, and the public should know what's going into it," Lee tells me, describing the extraordinary imbalance of the Trump-Pence-Kobach Commission and the secrecy under which it has so far been operating.

Finally today, it's the return of the Green News Report with Desi Doyen after a week off over the holidays, and just in time for another heat wave across much of the country, embarrassment at the G-20, and both good news and bad in California...

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Guest: Attorney Mark Joseph Stern of Slate...
By Brad Friedman on 2/22/2017 5:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast, as dark as yesterday's show was, today is somewhat the opposite, with a whole bunch of encouraging news from the courts and the people across these United States. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Attorney and legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate joins us to break down the full 4th Circuit Court of Appeals' potentially landmark decision upholding the state of Maryland's ban on semi-automatic "weapons of war" and the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling today on a race-based death penalty case out of Texas.

On MD's ban on military-style assault weapons, enacted by the legislature following the 2012 Sandyhook Elementary school massacre, the full court's majority ruling, including a number of Republican-appointed judges, soundly rejected the opponents argument that, as Stern says, "once enough people own a certain type of gun, the 2nd Amendment magically begins to protect it." He explains what may happen next with this case as it moves toward the Supreme Court and offers his thoughts on why GOPers and the NRA are suddenly unconcerned with their "states rights" arguments when it comes to guns.

On the SCOTUS death penalty case, granting a repreive, for now, to a Texas man on death row since 1997, Stern explains how the case underscores that "people who are sentenced to death in this country get the worst lawyers sometimes...It's really quite shocking." Incredibly enough, Chief Justice John Roberts eloquently agreed --- at least in this case.

And more encouraging news also covered today...

  • A federal court in Texas blocks the state's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood;
  • North Carolina's Democratic governor moves to withdraw the state's appeal to SCOTUS, filed by his Republican predecessor seeking to overturn a federal appeals court finding that the state's election reform law unconstitutionally discriminated against African-Americans "with surgical precision";
  • An FEC commissioner refuses to back down in the face of legal threats from Koch Brothers'' funded group after her demand to see Trump's alleged evidence of thousands of illegal votes cast in New Hampshire's 2016 Presidential election;
  • Another new poll finds Trump's approval ratings "sinking like a rock";
  • A Muslim group raises $90 thousand (so far) to help repair the desecrated Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, MO;
  • A people continue to exercise democracy, whether Republicans and Donald Trump like it or not, by showing up in huge numbers at Congress member town halls across the country...

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Shame and scandal before new Admin even takes office; Plus: Guest Fred Karger, activist and former GOP Presidential candidate, charges Comcast blocking new anti-Mormon ad in Utah at behest of LDS Church...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2017 6:06pm PT  

On today's BradCast, resignation and evidence of corruption continue to dog the wildly unpopular incoming Trump Administration just days before his Inauguration; And is Comcast/NBCUniversal doing the bidding of the Mormon Church in Utah? [Audio link to show follows below.]

As we barrel towards what is certain to be an incredibly bizarre (to say the least) Inauguration Day for the historically unpopular Donald Trump, the Obama Administration has reportedly transferred out another 10 Gitmo detainees to Oman. In the meantime, a senior Trump White House appointee (and former Fox "News" contributor) has already resigned after revelations of massive plagiarism, as new questions about financial improprieties continue to mount for a number of Trump cabinet nominees and for the Trump Campaign itself.

Then, we are joined by former GOP Presidential candidate and gay rights activist Fred Karger, to discuss his latest campaign against the Mormon Church, which he believes should lose their tax exempt status revoked by the IRS due to participation in a number of anti-gay political campaigns and other corruption. Karger is charging that Comcast/NBCUniversal has blocked the airing of his new TV ad for MormonTips.com, after the media behemoth had previously agreed to run the 30 second spots in the state of Utah.

"I know how the Mormon Church operates," Karger explains, describing his claim that the Church is behind Comcast nixing the spots. "They are all powerful, particularly in the state of Utah. It's a virtual theocracy. They exercise a tremendous amount of power."

"They don't like me," he notes. "I'm the guy that discovered their vast involvement in California's Prop 8 in 2008 to take away gay marriage. I got them investigated and prosecuted by [California's] ethics office because they only admitted to spending $2,078 on the campaign. Turns out it was hundreds of thousands of dollars they ended up reporting. Much more likely millions. So I've learned they are very dishonest, and they've have done things very secretively." He argues that they've used their muscle to convince Comcast (which, he says, "controls something like 90% of the [cable television] market in Utah") to kill the ads. "So they're using censorship to quash our free speech and I'm going to be fighting back against them."

Finally today: Is the Trump Administration planning to shut down the White House Press Room after taking office? Esquire reported over the weekend that the matter is under serious consideration and, in response, Trump's top officials are not denying it...though they do appear to be lying about their reasons for it...

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GUEST: Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy...
By Brad Friedman on 10/26/2015 5:28pm PT  

Last week at the Center for Media and Democracy, their general counsel Brendan Fischer warned "Darkness descends upon Wisconsin." Today, on The BradCast, Fischer joins me to explain the three new pieces of legislation being quickly rammed through the Republican-dominated state legislature in the Badger State, which, taken together, are set to serve an unprecedented blow to transparency, elections, and democracy. (Audio link to complete show follows below.)

Formerly, one of the most transparent states for election oversight and the ability to either prevent corruption or, at least, discover it and hold those accountable for it after it is found, WI is now set to become the very opposite unless something happens to prevent this full package of election reform bills from being enacted. Yes. Darkness descends upon Wisconsin and, frankly, the rest of the nation if these laws are all passed and signed by Gov. Scott Walker (R-Koch) expected.

One of the bills has already been adopted by the legislature and was hastily signed over the weekend by Walker. That one bars state prosecutors from investigating political corruption under the state's "John Doe" provisions. A WI John Doe investigation is akin to a grand jury process, but allows prosecutors to carry out criminal probes under the auspices of a state court. Such investigations in the past, for example, resulted in the conviction of six top aides and allies to Walker. A more recent John Doe probe into illegal campaign coordination between the Governor and his Koch Brothers-funded allies during the 2012 recall elections in WI, was shut down earlier this year by the same state Supreme Court justices elected and funded by those very same Koch Brothers-funded groups who stand to benefit from this entire package of "reform".

The other two bills were passed in the Assembly last week and are now pending in the state Senate. One replaces the state's non-partisan Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) --- the commission of retired judges convened to oversees state elections following a massive campaign finance scandal by both Dems and Republicans (uncovered by a John Doe probe!) back in 2007 --- with a new commission of partisan appointees modeled after (incredibly enough!) the entirely broken Federal Elections Commission!

Finally, saving the worst for last: The last of these three bills would allow unlimited undisclosed financing of political groups and campaigns in Wisconsin, as well as allow the millionaire and billionaire funders of those campaigns to remain completely secret to everyone but the candidate whose campaigns the funders would be supporting with unlimited cash payments!

"This is not something that voters in Wisconsin are calling for, neither Republicans nor Democrats," Fischer explains. "The only groups lobbying in favor of these three bills are the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity and other organizations with deep ties to Americans for Prosperity and Koch-tied groups. It's almost like a wish list of the Koch Brothers or other wealthy billionaires who want even more influence in elections."

"It's going to allow unlimited money from billionaires and corporations to political parties and legislative leaders. It's going to allow unlimited coordination between candidates and dark money groups," he tells me. "The implication of that is a candidate could form a non-profit group --- even have it operated out of its campaign headquarters --- and politicians can say to donors: 'Give to this dark money group I am working with. You can give as much as you want.' It can come from anywhere. It can come from Koch Industries corporate treasury. The money could even come from foreigners and the politician is going to know where the money is coming but the public will not."

And, of course, the existing non-partisan commission meant to oversee elections won't be able to block it (because they likely will not exist) and if there is anything left that is still illegal in such campaigns, state prosecutors will have much of their ability taken from them to be able to investigate it. It's a breathtaking set of reforms that, arguably, makes Walker's gutting of collective bargaining back in 2010 look like child's play. And all of this legislation and its provisions are being watched very closely by the GOP nationally, as this gutting of democracy is exactly what the party now hopes to see in every state, as well as at the federal level. Citizens United was not even the beginning of their scheming to undermine fairness and transparency in elections and campaigns.

Fischer goes on to note that, "with rightwing Republicans in control of a lot of state legislatures," similar "reform" is likely to be pushed forward elsewhere after it takes effect in WI, "even though it's not voters who are calling for it."

Please listen to today's program and pass it along to others! This matter needs a lot more national attention than it is currently receiving!

Also on today's program: Death and destruction over the weekend from Oklahoma to British Columbia to Pakistan and Afghanistan, even as Mexico and the U.S. may have dodged a bullet, of sorts, after the most powerful hurricane on record barreled ashore as a Category 5 storm.

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guests: Politico's Tarini Parti; American-Statesmen's Chuck Lindell...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2015 5:10pm PT  

Last week, Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosures for the 2016 Presidential contest confirmed that wealthy Super PAC donors are now spending more than three times as much as small donors. As Politico describes the "gusher of cash" now pouring into American elections from millionaires and billionaires, the "67 biggest donors, each of whom gave $1 million or more, donated more than three times as much as the 508,000 smallest donors combined."

At the same time as that obscenity plays out, a select few GOP Presidential candidates auditioned for the Koch Brothers and rich friends over the weekend in California, where Charles Koch compared their political fight to the Civil Rights Movement. Seriously. Politico's Tarini Parti, joins us on today's BradCast to discuss all of the above and Politico's own controversial role in the weekend confab.

Then, Chuck Lindell of the Austin American-Statesman joins us to discuss today's indictment and arrest of Texas' brand-new Attorney General Ken Paxton (R-Tea Party) on three felony counts related to securities fraud. Thanks to a law Paxton helped pass when he was a member of the TX House, he could now be facing life in prison if convicted on the charges being brought by Special Prosecutors (one of whom was formerly Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's defense lawyer). The indictment is in response to a complaint filed by one of Paxton's fellow GOP statehouse members. None of that, of course, has kept the state's Republican Party from declaring the entire matter to be a partisan witch hunt.

Lindell also updates us on the status of Texas' even more notorious felony indictment, the one against the state's former Governor and current GOP candidate for the 2016 Presidential nomination, Rick Perry. The trial in that case, Lindells tells me, "could take place as early as December --- or right before primary season opens up" in January.

Finally today, President Obama unveiled the new EPA rules for cutting carbon emissions at power plants in all 50 states by some 30% over 2012 levels. Can you hear the wingnut heads exploding?...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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