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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Warnock Wins GA; Nightmare Election Law Case Heard by SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 12/7/22
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Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
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Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Sue Wilson of Media Action Center; Also: DoJ recommend six months for Bannon; Rightwing '2000 Mules' fraudsters face FBI, IRS referrals from AZ's GOP A.G.; And, Could Grassley actually lose in IA?!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2022 6:55pm PT  

We are finally beginning to see the start of some real accountability for so many of the countless rightwing hoaxsters, fraudsters and scam artists who enjoyed their hey days during the Trump Era. Specifically on today's BradCast, we're beginning to see accountability for rightwing hoaxsters Steve Bannon, Alex Jones and the fraudsters calling themselves True the Vote. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

WE KICK THINGS OFF today with Donald Trump's former aide Steve Bannon, a guy willing to allegedly hoax millions of Trump's own supporters to raise money to build a border wall, while secretly keeping millions for himself and his fellow hoaxsters. He will face trial for those charges in New York. But this week he's facing sentencing after being found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress for failing to respond to subpoenas for documents and testimony from the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection and Trump's failed attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election. The DoJ is recommending 6 months of prison time and a $200,000 fine. The sentencing hearing will be before a Trump-appointed federal judge this Friday.

NEXT UP, we're joined by award-winning broadcast journalist turned media activist SUE WILSON of Media Action Center to discuss the dangerous lies of rightwing hoaxster Alex Jones. Last week in Connecticut, Jones was ordered to pay $965 million in damages to parents of children killed in 2012's Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. Jones was previously held liable in Texas in a separate defamation suit by other parents who also lost children in the mass shooting that resulted in the murders of 20 first graders and 6 adults.

Jones, as Wilson reported at The BRAD BLOG last week, denied that anyone was ever killed at Sandy Hook, claiming the parents of the children were "crisis actors" and that it was all a hoax by those who support gun safety measures. After years of using our public airwaves to repeat those false claims, many of the parents in question were traumatized, confronted by Jones' supporters and were forced to move, thanks to continuous harassment from some of Jones' deranged fans.

But the critical point Wilson asked in her piece was why it is that Jones is still broadcasting over our public airwaves at all? She notes today that some activists have complained to radio stations to successfully have his show removed from the air. But, she says he still remains on about 25 stations which are licensed to broadcast in exchange for "serving in the public interest". As Wilson details on today's show, there are still FCC regulations on the books barring the use of our public airwaves to promote hoaxes that involve crimes such as murder. Nevertheless, no action has been taken by the federal government against Jones or the stations who air him. We discuss why that may be, how listeners can take action to change that and the First Amendment issues surrounding the matter.

THEN, we've spent too much time on past shows already detailing how the GOP "voter fraud" fraudster group calling itself True the Vote (TTV) attempted to hoax the nation by creating a fake documentary with fellow hoaxster (and convicted election fraudster) Dinesh D'Souza called 2000 Mules.

The premise of the film is that TTV claims to have purchased third-party cellphone geolocation data that supposedly reveals thousands of phone users repeatedly visiting absentee ballot drop-boxes in multiple battleground states in 2020 to cast hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes. Moreover, the group claims they have thousands of hours of surveillance camera video footage revealing the same "mules" visiting these drop-boxes over and over to cast the phony ballots.

The film was thoroughly debunked as nonsense almost immediately upon its release earlier this year. In fact, it includes no actual footage of anybody casting fraudulent votes. But certain rightwing dupes, including the former President, falsely insist that it does. Just last week, for example, in response to the House J6 Committee voting to subpoena Trump, he responded with an absurd 14-page reply [PDF] citing dozens of (long-ago debunked) instances of fraud in the 2020 election. He cited TTV's 2000 Mules film, claiming the group "collected over 4 million minutes of ballot drop box video, showing ballot stuffing at a level not seen before." The result, he falsely asserted, proved that "millions of ballots were stuffed...an Election-changing number many times over."

All of it, of course, is nonsense. And, as it turns out, even the office of Arizona's far-right, voter-suppression friendly Attorney General Mark Brnovich has now noticed. On Friday, the Criminal Division in his office referred TTV to the FBI and IRS for investigation. The AZ A.G. explains in their two-page referral letter [PDF] that, despite multiple meetings with the group's founder Catherine Engelbrecht and researcher Greg Phillips, who both claimed to have video evidence of fraud they promised to turn over, they never actually did. Furthermore, as the letter explains, the pair also met with FBI officials in Phoenix and claimed to have turned over the data to Brnovich's office. They later met again with Brnovich's office and claimed they gave the data to the FBI!

"Given TTV's status as a nonprofit organization," the Chief Special Agent in Brnovich's criminal division office wrote to the FBI and IRS on Friday, "it would appear that further review of its financials may be warranted."

FINALLY, on one of our programs last week, I broke down the five Republican U.S. Senate seats (in PA, OH, WI, NC and FL) that appear to have a plausible possibility of flipping to Democratic in November's critical midterm elections, and the two Democratic seats (in GA and NV) that could plausibly flip to Republican. But over the weekend, the Des Moines Register poll --- considered the Gold Standard for political polling in Iowa --- released an eyebrow raising survey finding that the state's 89-year old seven-term Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, now running for his eighth term, is only three points ahead of his Democratic challenger, retired U.S. Navy Admiral Mike Franken, among likely voters. The poll shows Grassley leads with 46% of the vote to Franken's 43%. Could that seat really be up for grabs in the Hawkeye State next month?!...

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Also: Elections results from ME, NV, ND, SC, TX; Vote system prob leads to IA recounts; MAGA County Commission in NM refuses to certify June 7 primaries...Just cuz...
By Brad Friedman on 6/15/2022 6:13pm PT  

With the bipartisan January 6 Committee having postponed today's hearing, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to spend some time rebutting the disgraced former President's supposed rebuttal to the two damning hearings held to date. But, of course, we've got much more as well, including election results from Tuesday and evidence of both voting system problems and bad faith elected MAGA officials already trying to disenfranchise 2022 voters. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • An error caused by paper jams during ballot scanning on Election Day at the precincts on the state's computer tabulators in Iowa during their June 7 primaries has reportedly resulted in a whole bunch of recounts across the state. Cedar Rapid's KCRG cites an email from the Sec. of State's office which has lead to those recounts, in hopes of reconciling the number of ballots misreported by the scanners as cast with the number of voters who actually signed in to vote.
  • Noteworthy election results from four states which held primaries on Tuesday (Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina) and one (Texas) which purposely held a low-turnout U.S. Special Election yesterday, instead of at the same time as their regular primaries in March or primary runoffs in May. While we cover a lot of Tuesday's races, and why they matter (or don't), the most disturbing one is likely the Secretary of State's race in Nevada, where a 2020 election denialist by the name of Jim Marchant has apparently won a 38% plurality to become the GOP's nominee to become the critical swing-state's chief election official in advance of the 2024 election.
  • The dangers of an election denier like Marchant, who served as one of the state GOP's fake electors in 2020, and who has said he wouldn't have certified Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump that year had he been SoS at the time, is a stark warning of what lies ahead. But we're already seeing the dangers of brain-poisoned MAGA Mobsters in positions of elected authority. The three-person County Commission in a very right-leaning rural county in New Mexico, is refusing to certify results from their June 7 primary. Even though votes are cast on hand-marked paper ballots across the state, the County Commission unanimously voted against certification of primary results, citing distrust of the County's digital ballot scanners made by Dominion Voting. They have no evidence of fraud, which might otherwise allow a court to order the hand-count they are seeking. They just don't trust the results in the County where Trump won 62% of the vote in 2020. The Republican County Clerk is furious and the Democratic Sec. of State is now suing the County Commission ahead of this Friday's deadline for County certification. Expect much more of this in the months and years ahead. We've long warned about exactly this type of fallout from our irresponsible rush to the use secret vote casting and counting systems made by private vendors and the avenues it opens for opportunists to claim fraud without any evidence of same.
  • On Monday night, after the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol and other efforts by Trump to steal the 2020 election, our corrupt former President issued a 12-page rebuttal [PDF] to the Committee's first two hearings. We rebut his dumb rebuttal today. It leans heavily on tired, long-ago debunked nonsense, such as his lead in some swing-states on Election Night "inexplicably" disappearing (after heavily-Republican polling place ballots were quickly tallied before the arduous task of opening and verifying and counting heavily-Democratic vote-by-mail ballots one-by-one) and how thousands attended his rallies, while Biden chose not to hold super-spreader events during the worst pandemic in 100 years. Much of Trump's (ghost-writer's) claims were already debunked during the Committee hearings to date, which he seems to presume that his supporters didn't watch or are too dumb to understand.

    Trump's ghost-writer spends most of the rebuttal ink citing what is laughably described as "indisputable proof" of "Ballot Trafficking" presented in the repeatedly debunked 2000 Mules movie. That's a pretend documentary film created by a long-discredited GOP "election integrity" group named True the Vote and a rightwing activist named Dinesh D'Souza who actually pleaded guilty himself to several federal election fraud crimes before he was later pardoned by Trump.

    As noted, the film has been repeatedly debunked, including by us, several times by now. Months before it was even released, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) and FBI concluded the group's claims about cell phone data purporting to reveal evidence of "ballot harvesting" by "mules" of tens or hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots cast in drop-boxes, in fact, reveals no crimes at all. A GA state Board of Elections investigation after the movie's release found that supposed "ballot mules" in Atlanta, shown via security camera footage in the film, were just regular voters legally casting their own ballot and those of direct family members. None of the "mules" are ever seen in the film visiting a drop-box or multiple boxes more than once.

    But, perhaps the most stinging rebuttal came from Trump's own Attorney General, Bill Barr this week. During sworn testimony to the J6 Committee, shared by the panel on Monday, Barr laughed out loud at even the mention of the name of the film, before going on to explain how he found it to be "singularly unimpressive," "indefensible," and that it failed to "establish widespread illegal harvesting." That, of course, is a long way from the "indisputable proof" Trump's dumb rebuttal claimed it to be.

  • Finally, speaking of the House J6 Committee, Republican Vice Chair Liz Cheney released a video teaser on Tuesday for its next upcoming hearing scheduled for Thursday. This one will focus on the pressure Trump placed on Vice President Mike Pence to help him steal the 2020 election by tossing out valid Electoral College votes on January 6, 2021. Cheney's teaser video includes testimony from one of Trump's top White House attorneys who says he warned outside lawyer John Eastman, who developed the scheme for Pence to toss out the votes, to "get a great f'ing criminal defense lawyer," adding "you're gonna need it."

Special Coverage of tomorrow's J6 Hearing, of course, on tomorrow's BradCast!...

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Guests: Lynn Bernstein of Transparent Elections NC, John Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: GA law enforcement, election officials debunk 'voter fraud' claims in Trumpy propaganda documentary, '2000 Mules'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2022 6:50pm PT  

Compare and contrast on today's BradCast. Shoddy treatment of real election observers versus velvet glove treatment of wingnut con-artists claiming the 2020 election was stolen. In one case, longtime non-partisan election integrity observers are locked out from overseeing public election processing before this past week's critical primary elections in a North Carolina county. In the other, longtime phony GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters pretending to be election integrity advocates see their false claims in a propaganda film expensively debunked by both law enforcement and state election officials in Georgia. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, it's the fraudsters who recently released a propaganda documentary into theaters called 2000 Mules. We debunked the film's central claims in detail on this program when it was first released about two weeks ago, as it began trending in rightwing social media circles along with claims from many easily-duped folks that the film proves the election was stolen from Donald Trump.

A number of media outlets explained at the time why it doesn't even come close to doing any such thing. The film relies on cell phone geolocation tracking data and some security camera footage of absentee ballot drop-boxes in several swing states won by Joe Biden to claim that thousands of "ballot mules" illegally "harvested" tens of thousands of fake ballots (from somewhere or other) and deposited them unlawfully to steal the election from Trump. Supposedly, all of those ballots were unlawful votes for Biden, but there is no evidence for that either.

The film was produced and directed by a longtime rightwing activist named Dinesh D'Souza (who pleaded guilty to actual federal election fraud crimes some years ago, before being pardoned by Donald Trump). D'Souza highlights the claims of a longtime, dark money-funded, many times discredited, fake "election integrity" group from Texas calling themselves True the Vote. But, apparently, not mentioned in the film is that their cell phone "evidence" of repeated visits within 100 feet of drop-boxes and security camera footage was already reviewed and rejected by both the FBI and the Director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) before the film was even released earlier this month. A September 30, 2021 letter from GBI Director D. Victor Reynolds explains that, after a full investigation, and consultation with the FBI, the data submitted "does not rise to the level of probable cause that a crime has been committed."

That finding was further buttressed this week when Georgia's state Board of Elections dismissed the groups allegations of fraud by tracking down those shown on camera as depositing multiple ballots into drop-boxes. As Washington Post reports, state investigators tracked down the voters shown in the film and were able to confirm the ballots they deposited were actually those of direct family members, which is perfectly lawful in the state.

It's unknown how many tax-payer dollars were wasted by state (and federal) officials on these wild goose chases into perfectly legal voting, based on D'Souza and True The Vote's absurd claims.

Meanwhile, things were very different this past week in North Carolina, where actual election integrity advocates were prevented from doing their work of overseeing elections on behalf of the public and were even threatened with arrest in Wake County, the closely divided swing-state's most populous county.

We're joined today by two guests we've known for a while and who have been on the show in the past. LYNN BERNSTEIN is the founder of Transparent Elections NC and JOHN BRAKEY is the Director of AUDIT-USA. (Listeners will remember Brakey as the guy who originally exposed on this program, and later in video that went viral, that election denialists in Maricopa County, Arizona last year were examining paper ballots under microscopes for evidence of bamboo fibers to prove their false claim that thousands of fraudulent ballots were somehow cast from someone or another in Asia. Brakey served for months as a public observer of that failed "forensic audit" by the now-defunct Cyber Ninjas in Phoenix.)

This week, the groups of both Bernstein and Brakey published a press release announcing that the two had been barred from the grounds of the Wake County Board of Elections in advance of last Tuesday's midterm primary tabulation. The announcement charged they "were threatened with arrest and prevented from observing routine election administration activities by Wake County election administrator Gary Sims, in violation of North Carolina State Election Law."

We've got audio clips today of the pair being told they were not allowed on the grounds of the Wake County BOE, and of Bernstein's husband Nick being escorted out during the public comment period by law enforcement at a BOE meeting on Monday.

So, what's going on here? Bernstein, an aerospace engineer, trained international election observer and longtime election integrity advocate, claims that "Sims has personally harassed me at Board of Elections meetings in front of the Board and he also threatened to call the police on me when I came to observe on Election Night for the 2020 primary, when I was an at-large observer for the Wake County Democratic Party." She says she and Brakey arrived outside the Wake BOE last week for only minutes before "the police arrived and said we were banned forever" from the grounds of the public facility.

Brakey, who was in town to help oversee tabulation and other often dull, but incredibly important public election oversight procedures, says "It's election time, and this is what I do. I travel the country and I try to work with and mentor other election transparency activists." He tells us that Sims was "out there in four minutes" after they arrived at the BOE and "he was steaming just having [Bernstein] there."

But why was all of this even happening? And why is Wake, according to Bernstein, the only county in the state that does not allow observers of the tabulation on Election Night? "If there's a motive behind all of this, it is not election fraud or anything like that," Brakey tells me. The pair speculate it has something to do with Sims hoping to move the County from their current hand-marked paper ballot system to an expensive, unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computerized system for voters. Bernstein has long opposed moving to that type of system, as has Brakey (along with most cybersecurity and voting systems experts.)

Tune in for many more details on all of this, but I wanted to give this incident and both of these folks the highlight they deserve for what seems to be an outrageous attempt to prevent their important work bearing witness for the public when it comes to our public elections. "The actual act of voting is a secret process," Brakey notes. "Counting is a public process. It used to be, and it must be again."

We are more than happy, of course, to welcome Wake's Election Administration Gary Sims to respond on the program with his side of the story as well if he chooses to do so. We'd love to have him!

Finally, we close today with a few thoughts on all of the above, and a bit of listener email regarding trillions of tax-payer dollars in subsidies ("socialized welfare") to fossil fuel companies --- the most profitable companies in the world --- even as clean, renewable energy companies continue to struggle without the same kind of financial support from the government...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Convicted election fraudster D'Souza makes a pretend documentary on 2020 election fraud; Also: Actual white GOP voter fraud criminal gets no jail time for voting twice; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2022 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The lengths Donald Trump's supporters will go to to justify his sore loser attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election is amazing. Now they've got a pretend documentary in hundreds of actual movie theaters which turns out to prove nothing. All of it, naturally, is nonsense. We explain why today. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]

Folks on the right were celebrating on social media over the weekend in the wake of the release of a film named (somewhat offensively) 2000 Mules. It was somehow released into more than 250 theaters across the nation last week. The film was made by Rightwing activist Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty to federal election fraud crimes back in 2014 --- before being pardoned for them by Trump in 2018. That's the guy who has now made a "documentary" claiming millions of votes were stuffed into absentee ballot drop-boxes in swing states to steal the election for Joe Biden in2020. Sounds legit.

The claim is made along with fellow GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters from a long-discredited Texas group named True the Vote. Apparently, the group paid millions to obtain publicly available, anonymized cell phone geolocation data that purportedly shows where cell phones were from October 1 through Election Day in 2020. Using that data, TTV claims in the film that thousands of so-called ballot "mules" were being paid by unnamed non-profit organizations (why didn't they name them?) to collect illegal ballots for Joe Biden and deliver them into ballot drop boxes in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

If all of this sounds absurd, it's because it is. The data can't actually be tied to any voter --- and is only accurate to about 100 feet, according to experts --- meaning that anytime someone drove past a drop box, or walked passed it (the drop-boxes are often placed in high traffic areas) on their way to and from work or something, they are a "mule" for stuffing ballot boxes for Joe Biden! Sorry about that delivery guys and mail men and election workers and students who just happen to walk or drive by each day on their way to classes! You're all now "mules" for Biden!

Who paid all of these "mules"? And how did this conspiracy involving tens of thousands of people stay so quiet without any participants blowing the whistle? And what actual, ya know, evidence do D'Souza and True the Vote have that crimes were actually committed here? Well, that's where it gets a bit dicier. And, by dicier, I mean made up out of whole cloth with no actual proof of anything whatsoever. But they have video of people dropping ballots into those drop-boxes! (Which, of course, is perfectly legal. In most states, folks can delivery ballots of family members and disabled voters, etc. Perhaps that's why the filmmakers thought it wise to blur out the faces of those voters?) There seems to be no actual proof of crimes here, including who supposedly paid these people (or even that anybody was paid at all!)

Still, it was enough to cause easily-duped Rightwingers to become very excited about over the weekend, as the #2000Mules hashtag trended on social media. So today, we debunk the nonsense in some detail with an assist from AP, who finds "gaping holes" in the film's claims, and from Greg Palast, who explains the "belly laughs" provided by the film's "proof" of fraud.

"D’Souza’s charge is mind-blowing. He claims that there are as many 54,000 mules that were organized and paid in at least five big cities. In Fulton County (Atlanta), he tells us 92,670 ballots were stuffed illegally into drop boxes," Palast reports. "That’s astonishing --- because there were only 79,000 ballots cast in drop boxes in Fulton County!"

"And in Detroit, it was worse," he adds. "'Mules' stuffed 226,590 ballots into Detroit area drop boxes --- way more than the total number of all mail-in ballots --- about three times the number of ballots in drop boxes."

Of course, none of these facts kept Trump from holding a fancy premiere screening at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and declaring the pretend documentary exposed "great election fraud"! It's all so ridiculously silly, that we'd rather ignore it. But since it's in 270 theaters, brought in a million bucks on its first day, and has a bunch of duped wingnuts declaring they finally have "evidence" that the election was stolen in 2020...it seemed a good idea to help you understand this latest con so you can explain it to your duped friends, families, neighbors and co-workers in turn when they shout "2000 Mules!" at you in the days ahead.

As to actual election fraud (not unlike the type that the filmmaker D'Souza admitted to committing), last week a women in Arizona was sentenced on voter fraud charges after being convicted by the state's Republican Attorney General. She cast two ballots in 2020, one for herself and another for her dead mother. They were both Republicans. And when interviewed by investigators she claimed she didn't do it, but was certain that massive voter fraud was definitely going on and that the criminals who do it should be locked up!

Well, the nice white Republican voter fraudster woman was found guilty and, despite the prosecutors asking for at least 30 days in jail, the judge let the woman, 64-year old, Tracey Kay McKee --- who knew she was violating the law and then lied to officials about it --- off the hook with probation, some fines and community service.

Compare her case to Crystal Mason's --- a black mother of three in Texas --- who had the book thrown at her last year. She was on federally supervised release from jail and was never told she couldn't vote while on release. When she went to her precinct to vote, she was told she was no longer on the rolls. A helpful poll worker directed her to fill out a provisional ballot, which she did. The ballot was never tallied, but Mason was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison last year for attempting to vote while on supervised release when she believed she could do so legally. That'll teach her to be black and to try to vote in this country!

We've got some time for a few quick calls at the end of today's show too. Enjoy!...

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Alabama's election chief lashes out in advance of midterm primaries, after previously blocking journalists, election law experts on Twitter...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Just days from Alabama's mid-term primaries next week --- in which Sec. of State John Merrill (R) will be on the ballot himself --- we share a wild, and often inexplicable, string of bizarre emails sent sent to me over the past week by the state's chief election official. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The weird story begins late last year, with the contentious and closely watched December U.S. Senate special election in Alabama between Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones. On election night, following the state's computer-tallied results reported a narrow victory for Jones, Merrill inaccurately stated on CNN that "any candidate can ask for a recount and if they pay for it, they can receive a recount."

After UC Irvine's highly-regarded election law expert, Rick Hasen, noted on Twitter that Merrill appeared to be in error, that AL's state election code appeared to allow only candidates in NON-federal races to request and pay for a recount if the margin was larger than 0.5%, Merrill blocked him, rather than correct his own error or cite a different section of the state law to support his assertions. That pattern would be repeated as Merrill blocked other election law experts on Twitter.

Days later, the Secretary of State injected himself into a Twitter exchange I was having with others, to insist, repeatedly and inaccurately that Alabama's computerized paper ballot scanners "do not capture or preserve digital ballot images." In fact, they do, as made clear during a successful state court action just before the election. (My interview at the time with one of the organizers of the lawsuit is here). Merrill, however, was able to have the ruling stayed by the AL Supreme Court the night before the election. (My election day interview, with one of the plaintiff attorneys is here.)

Rather than cite evidence during the, extremely bizarre Twitter conversation [PDF], Merrill ended up blocking me there as well.

All of which brings us to last week, when a federal court in New York determined that public officials --- in that case, the President of the United States --- was in violation of the Constitution's First Amendment for blocking perceived "political opponents" on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs in that case is here.)

Before we covered the ruling on a BradCast last week with University of Kentucky College of Law constitutional expert Joshua A. Douglas, who had also been blocked by Merrill (my interview with him on that earlier last year is here), I sought comment from the Secretary as to whether he intended to restore those he'd blocked, given the federal court ruling.

The subsequent string of bizarre emails [PDF] and phone calls I then received from the state's top election official is remarkable, and we share those on today's show, in the interest of Alabama voters who head to the polls next week.

In addition to steadfastly refusing to unblock the election law experts and journalists he's blocked on Twitter, Merrill unleashes a number of unhinged and often inexplicable rants in response to polite queries about both the Twitter blocks and whether Merrill has asked county election officials to set their vote tabulation computers to preserve scanned ballot images in the upcoming primary, in order to make public oversight of results somewhat easier.

At several points, Merrill's Deputy Chief of Staff and Communications Director John Bennett attempted to intercede via both email and phone. As I explain on the show today, the call from Bennett was very pleasant and he seemed to me, in truth, somewhat embarrassed by his boss' behavior. But he promised to get back to me after looking into both the Twitter ruling and the issue of Alabama's ES&S computer tabulation systems capturing digital ballot images. A note he sent shortly thereafter confirmed that they do. (See the PDF linked above for details.)

But, then Merrill blew things up again, with another string of emailed rants. Among the odd attacks from the emails in which the first term Sec. of State describes himself as "a nationally recognized expert in the field of elections", Merrill charges that I have a "problem...bigger than one that I have the ability to solve" (but refuses to specify what that "problem" might be), that I live with my mother (I don't), "has absolutely no idea what [I'm] talking about" (despite some 15 years of covering elections and voting systems as a journalist), and should try to "get a job with an elections program system" so I can "contribute to the discussion as an expert in the field". That's just a taste.

As noted today, I didn't even want to cover this at all, in truth, because it's largely just embarrassing for Merrill. But when I realized he was actually on the ballot next week, it seemed this was information that voters in Alabama deserved to know before making their decision. For the record, Merrill is being challenged in the Republican primary by Michael Johnson. On the Democratic side, two candidates, Heather Milam and Lula Albert-Kaigler. (She ran unsuccessfully against Merrill in 2014, though I can't find an official campaign website for her now.)

Also today: A new book by a longtime senior adviser to President Obama reportedly reveals that he feared sanctions against Russia before the 2016 election might have resulted in hacked computer tabulation systems (despite public assertions by the Administration before and after that Presidential results could not be easily manipulated by foreign attack), and election officials in a number of states are now reportedly very concerned about hacking --- or the perception that results were tampered with --- in advance of the crucial 2018 midterm elections (just as we've been warning, non-stop, for more than a decade.)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as climate change wreaks havoc with a number of deadly storms over the Memorial Day weekend...

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By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2015 1:30pm PT  

As our friend Digby noted after re-tweeting this genius/grifter/federal felon: "I just wanted to share some thoughts from the intellectual wing of the conservative movement"...

I had retweeted him as well. With comment. Those comments, and one from an actual scientist, follow below...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---



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