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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Good News, Bad News!
It's 'The Caveat Show!':
'BradCast' 10/20/20
All sorts of reasons for Dems to feel good about Biden and re-taking the Senate...And plenty of reasons to remain concerned about both...
'Green News Report' 10/20/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Massive CO wildfires; Trump flip-flops on disaster aid to CA; Wind, solar energy now the cheapest energy in the world; PLUS: Biden talks clean energy at ABC Town Hall...
Previous GNRs: 10/15/20 - 10/13/20 - Archives...
Voting is Not Enough: How YOU Can Help Oversee and Protect Our Elections!: 'BradCast' 10/19/20
Guest: Emily Levy of Scrutineers.org; Also: Bad news for MI voters; FL voting website fails...
Sunday 'A Bigger Boat' Toons
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the voting booth...PDiddie offers his latest collection of the week's best toons...
2020's Federal Court Voting Rights Roller Coaster: 'BradCast' 10/16/20
Guest: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
'Deranged Power Grab': Barrett SCOTUS Hearings Conclude: 'BradCast' 10/15/20
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: E-Pollbook systems fail in GA; FBI reports 'unauthorized access to elections systems'...
'Green News Report' 10/15/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Barrett sure sounds like a climate denier during Senate hearings; Sen. Whitehouse breaks down dark-money polluter capture of judiciary; PLUS: Sept. 2020 hottest ever recorded...
Previous GNRs: 10/13/20 - 10/5/20 - Archives...
'Hypocrisy in Daylight? Look for Power in the Shadows': 'BradCast' 10/14/20
Guest: Lisa Graves on Sen. Whitehouse's revelations of GOP's $250M SCOTUS-packing coup; Also: Good voting news in VA, TX, AK!...
Barrett's Hypocritical, Scalia-Fueled 'Originalist' Hoax: 'BradCast' 10/13/20
Also: Touchscreens fail on 1st day of Early Voting near Houston; Trump judges okay absentee suppression in TX; Online registration fails on deadline day in VA...
'Green News Report' 10/13/20
Cleanup, recovery in battered LA in wake of Hurricane Delta; PLUS: Climate change in the spotlight (sort of) at the one and only 2020 Vice-Presidential Debate...
Judge Finds 'Serious Security Vulnerabilities' in New GA Vote Systems, Allows Them Anyway: 'BradCast' 10/12/20
Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks; Also: GA systems fails on first day of early voting...
Federal Court Upholds NJ Canvass of Mail-In Ballots Prior to Election Day
Also upholds counting of mail-in ballots received by 11/5, two days after Election Day, even without a postmark...
Sunday SuperSpreader Toons
Look! Up in the sky! It's COVID-19 being spread by the goddamn President of the United States! That and many more sick toons in PDiddie's latest weekly collection...
Tyranny Loves Company:
'BradCast' 10/9/20
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 'Strongman' author Kenneth C. Davis...
Buzz-worthy, But Otherwise Refreshingly 'Normal' VP Debate: 'BradCast' 10/8/20
Special Coverage with Heather Digby Parton, David Faris; Also: Suspended on Twitter for tweeting completely accurate news about GA's flawed voting system...
BRAD BLOG Suspended by Twitter for 100% Accurate Tweet About GA's New Touchscreen Vote Systems
The tweet in question and federal court evidence proving it's true. [UPDATED x 2!] ...
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: Univ. of KY election law Prof. Joshua A. Douglas; Also: Trump's CA wildfire emergency disaster relief roller coaster...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

If you're feeling a bit nauseous of late, hopefully it's not COVID. But it could very well be the effects of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of federal court rulings we've been reporting on The BradCast of late. Or it could be due to trying to keep up with the President of the United States changing moods every few hours these days, as he vacillates between vindictiveness and desperation just over two weeks from Election Day. [Audio link to today's full show follows below summary.]

On Thursday, Donald Trump refused a request from the Governor of California for a Major Disaster Declaration following the spate of record wildfires we've seen in the Golden State over the past month, amid record heat and drought fueled by climate change. Some 8,500 fires this year have resulted in more than 4 million acres burned this year alone --- twice the all-time record for the state --- with nearly 2 million acres scorched in six major wildfires over just the past month. A thousands structures have been leveled and 31 people have died in recent blazes, as five of the six largest fires in California history have taken place this year.

But Trump --- who despises California because we don't vote for him --- has long threatened to cut off FEMA emergency funds to the state, dismissing climate change as a cause, citing leaves and dead trees as the reason for the massive fires and demanding better forest management in the state. That, despite the fact that the vast majority of California's forests are federal lands, which are supposed to be managed by....the Trump Administration.

White House spokespeople spent Friday morning explaining that California's request for federal aid "was not supported by the relevant data that States must provide for approval and the President concurred with the FEMA Administrator's recommendation" against it. That recommendation, however, according to Trump's former DHS Chief of Staff Miles Taylor over the summer, was ordered by a cruel and vindictive Trump himself. But by Friday afternoon, just before air time, someone must have pointed out to Trump that more of his voters live in California than in any other state in the union. Or, they just told him how bad he looked, just over two weeks from Election Day, in refusing federal aid to people who have lost everything due to no fault of their own, especially in a state which had been running a $5.6 billion budget surplus until Trump's disastrously bungled response to the coronavirus resulted in a $54 billion deficit here instead.

It's clear that Donald Trump doesn't even care about his own voters, if they live in a state that won't help him win a second term. He cares about only himself. Period. But, whatever it takes. We're happy for the late breaking news that he finally reversed his cruel idiocy moments before airtime today.

Keeping up with the roller coaster of Trump's mood swings, however, is only marginally less nauseating than keeping up with the roller coaster of recent federal court rulings on voting rights this year! As we've been reporting over the past several weeks, in state after state after state, lower courts have general found in favor of efforts by Democrats and voting rights advocates to make voting easier and safer during the pandemic, as the Trump Campaign and Republican Party have sued virtually everywhere to prevent that from happening. But time and again, well-reasoned, Constitutionally sound rulings by U.S. District Court judges have been overturned at the appellate and Supreme Court levels, often in deference to state legislatures, or simply because SCOTUS has decided its too late to change an election rule or law, even not doing so might disenfranchise tens of thousands of voters in violation of federal law and the Constitution itself.

As University of Kentucky election law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, author of Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting, asks this week in a CNN editorial, if the courts are supposed to protect the right to vote, why aren't they doing so?

Good question, which Douglas joins us to discuss on today's program. He also has some good, if troubling answersto that question, which Amy Coney Barrett will not be making any less troubling when her SCOTUS confirmation is rammed through the U.S. Senate to seat her on the High Court before Election Day.

"It is frustrating," he tells me, "because the Constitutional right to vote is supposed to be one of our most foundational precious rights, and the courts are supposed to be a check on legislative majorities that try to rig the system, rig the rule of the game to keep themselves in power. That's the whole point of judicial review in these Constitutional cases involving voting rights, and the courts are refusing to do that right now."

But Douglas has good suggestions as well, for how we can begin to correct this sickening course that has resulted, in no small part, from the packed rightwing courts which have been stripping more and more rights from voters over the past decade or so.

"Congress does have the Constitutional authority to regulate elections in a lot of ways under Article 1, Section 4 of the US Constitution, referred to as the Elections Clause," he argues, "which gives states the first right in regulating elections, but says Congress may also alter or amend those regulations." Moreover, he continues, "we have to think on a long term strategy on enshrining the Right to Vote as a textual matter in the US Constitution. Because if these judges are 'textualists', then having explicit language conferring the right to vote, which the Constitution does not currently have, is a much stronger legal argument."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, which --- speaking of Barrett --- examines the apparent climate science denialism of the Justice-in-Waiting, as revealed during her Senate confirmation hearings this week. And, just before we finish up today, the breaking news that the U.S. Supreme Court will be deciding whether Trump may violate the Constitution by excluding undocumented immigrants from Congressional apportionment following this year's decennial U.S. Census...

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

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Guest: Investigative journalist Art Levine: Also: No charges for Breonna Taylor killing; FBI issues curious 'Announcement' on election fakery...
By Brad Friedman on 9/23/2020 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: So, Donald Trump's campaign, as well as the National Republican Committee and the Pennsylvania state GOP, are battling it out with state Dems and the state's Democratic Secretary of State over pretty much all aspects of absentee mail-in voting in the key battleground state. But, for some reason, as our guest reports today, Trump and the GOP are actually joining forces with Dem Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to defend the use of brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the most Democratic-leaning part of the state. Now why would they be doing that?

Before we get there today, however, some quick news on today's announcement on the lack of charges brought against the Louisville, Kentucky police officers who killed Breonna Taylor, a 36-year old African-American emergency medical specialist, in her apartment in the middle of the night this past March.

Also, some thoughts on a somewhat odd "Public Service Announcement" issued on Tuesday by the FBI and the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency regarding "foreign actors and cybercriminals" who might take advantage of the necessary delay in tallying absentee ballots in the days following Election Day on November 3rd. The federal agencies warn that bad actors could "create new websites, change existing websites, and create or share corresponding social media content to spread false information in an attempt to discredit the electoral process and undermine confidence in U.S. democratic institutions." The announcement warns that malicious individuals could propagate false information about vote counts and other disinformation "that includes reports of voter suppression, cyberattacks targeting election infrastructure, voter or ballot fraud, and other problems intended to convince the public of the elections' illegitimacy." It's an odd "announcement" that focuses largely on foreign actors, while warning the public "to seek out reliable and verified information from trusted sources, such as state and local election officials." They say nothing about domestic bad actors, nor do they recommend federal sources as "trusted". We discuss.

Then, in Pennsylvania, Republicans have told the state Supreme Court that they plan to appeal last week's rulings against them to the U.S. Supreme Court. The news follows the Keystone State's high court determination that mail-in ballots can be counted if they arrive up to three days after Election Day; that absentee ballot drop-boxes are perfectly legal; and that state law bars poll watchers who come from outside of the county where they plan to observe. At the same time, the Trump Campaign is suing the state in federal court over many of the same issues in a suit that could also find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. That may be just one of the reasons that Republicans are pushing so hard to seat a replacement so quickly for the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As VP Mike Pence told Fox 'News' on Tuesday, "there is a possibility that election issues may come before the Supreme Court in the days following the election, and all the more reason why we should have nine Justices on the Supreme Court to be able to resolve any issues that may arise ." (Notably, this is something Republicans didn't seem to care about in the least before the 2016 election, when they were blocking Barack Obama's nominee from filling the late Justice Scalia's seat for a full nine months before the election.)

But for all the legal fights that Republicans are carrying out to block the use of, delivery of, and counting of verifiable hand-marked paper mail-in ballots in PA, for some reason the Trump Campaign is intervening in a court case to side with the Democratic Secretary of State there to defend the use of 100% unverifiable touchscreens in Philadelphia, the most Dem-leaning part of the state. Trump's intervention is in a suit filed by the NAACP (which we discussed with the attorney working on the case in a recent show) against the PA SoS, which seeks to block the state's use of the new computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs). It's curious, to say the least, that Team Trump is supporting SoS Boockvar's use of the new, unverifiable devices, which are being forced for universal-use in all Philly polling places this year.

We're joined today by longtime investigative journalist and author ART LEVINE to discuss his detailed report today at Washington Monthly, headlined "Donald Trump's Favorite Voting Machines: Ballot-marking devices in key swing states could give him the perfect excuse to contest the election." In the article, and on today's show, Levine describes the boondoggle e-voting systems that have been installed for first time use this year in a number of key battleground states, including Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and, yes, Pennsylvania. They are remarkably expensive, produce ballots that can never be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter who used one, and they have failed disastrously in multiple ways in several states (including PA) during their first-time use in primaries earlier this year.

Sadly, it's not only Trump and PA's Democratic Sec. of State who are defending or otherwise quietly allowing the use of these dangerous new voting systems. So are many Democratic officials and election watchdog organizations that have historically been critical of electronic voting systems. "They've been absolutely radio silent --- except for Ohio Democrats --- at the state and national level about the risks of this voting technology," charges Levine. Even here in Los Angeles, our Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla has been very supportive of the $300 million dollar boondoggle touchscreen BMD system installed this year, disastrously, by Los Angeles County's Democratic Registrar of Voters, Dean Logan.

Levine's new investigative report today explores many of these various strange bedfellows in detail.

"I hope I can shed further light on the tangled, unbelievable, nutty mess in Philadelphia that is emblematic of the kind of challenges that other swing states --- statewide in Georgia and in some key Democratic cities in Ohio, Texas, North Carolina and so on --- will be facing. It's a nightmare beyond the already-other nightmares that we're aware of," he explains, describing a potential disaster with these systems that adds "kindling" for "a Constitutional crisis...if Trump doesn't win on Election Night."

Recent studies [PDF] reveal that 93% of voters do not notice when a BMD has changed one of their selections on the paper "ballots" printed out by these touchscreen systems. Moreover, the tallies created by optically-scanning those "ballots" (with yet another computer) are not even based on the human-readable printout that voters may or may not bother --- or be able --- to successfully verify as reflecting their intent. Instead, it is a barcode or a QR code, which can't be read by voters, that is also printed on the "ballots" and used by the scanning computers to tally the votes. But, still worse, even if everything works perfectly --- if the machines don't break down as they did during the primaries, causing hours-long lines, and if they aren't hacked or misprogrammed and everyone somehow manages to verify them accurately --- there is still no way for anybody to know after the election that any of those ballots accurately reflect the will of any voter.

As Levine warns in his report today: "Let's say the November election is close, and Donald Trump comes up short in Pennsylvania or Georgia or North Carolina, or all of them, and loses the Electoral College vote. ... It would make perfect sense for him and his lawyers to seize on the ambiguities of BMDs to argue that the voting was rigged and illegitimate. And Democrats would be hard-pressed to prove Trump wrong --- especially since some of their own elected officials and allies have been relatively quiet about the BMDs' shortcomings, and in some cases have even been at the forefront of pushing for the machines' use."

We have been warning as much for years. I'm happy to see Levine picking up those serious concerns and amplifying them. Please read his important article in full and then listen to today's show --- or vice versa.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some quick --- but VERY big --- news today out of California, where Gov. Gavin Newsom has announced plans to ban the sale of new internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in the state by 2035. That's right! If his initiative is successful --- and it is bound to be challenged and hated by Trump and the fossil fuel industry --- the Golden State may be selling nothing but electric cars at new car dealers in as little as 15 years!...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 9/17/2020 11:27am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Sally batters AL, FL, GA with record rain, flooding; West Coast wildfires and climate change believed responsible for mass die-off of migratory birds in Southwest; Trump appoints notorious climate science denier to federal climate science agency; PLUS: 175-year-old science magazine issues first political endorsement ever... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Dual disasters: How is climate change worsening wildfires and hurricanes?; Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration; There is only one name left on the 2020 Atlantic hurricane list. So what's next?; Fives States Have Filed Climate Change Lawsuits, Seeking Damages From Big Oil and Gas... PLUS: Senate 2020: In Alabama, Two Very Different Views on Climate Change Give Voters a Clear Choice... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and DoJ's rescue of Trump in rape defamation case; Also: 'Unprecedented' climate change-fueled infernos in OR, WA, CA...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2020 7:02pm PT  

No matter everything else on today's BradCast, we end with some bona fide very good news today for voters in a key battleground state! [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

Speaking of key battleground states, it was state primary Election Day on Tuesday in New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the penultimate primaries of the season (with only Delaware left to go next Tuesday in Joe Biden's home state.) We cover noteworthy results today from both states, even if there were few surprises.

Next, folks up and down the West Coast have literally been "seeing red" over the past day or two, as wind-sparked, heat-fueled, climate change-intensified infernos continue to burn out of control through millions of acres at a record pace today. Among the results has been blood red sunlight across parts of Northern California and much of the Pacific Northwest, even in areas far from any active blazes.

During a press conference this afternoon, Oregon's Gov. Kate Brown described the outbreak of fires burning in both her state and neighboring Washington as "unprecedented", warning they could result in "the greatest loss of human life and property due to wildfire in our state's history." As we went to air, officials were prioritizing the safety of residents --- many of whom are evacuating, others who had to be airlifted out --- and homes, with hundreds already reportedly destroyed. These apocolyptic stories of millions of acress burned and communities completely wiped out should be front page news everywhere, but aren't. And every story should about them should tie the record-setting, catastrophic disasters to our quickly worsening climate crisis, but they don't. We do.

Then, we're joined by Slate's ace legal reporter, and one of our favorite guests, MARK JOSEPH STERN, for a two-fer today. First up, Stern explains the unprecedented use of the Federal Tort Claims Act, as invoked in a federal court filing on Tuesday night by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, to try and protect Donald Trump from a defamation lawsuit filed against him in New York state court. The case involves columnist E. Jean Carroll who alleges Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990's. After she described the incident in a recent book, Trump called Carroll a liar, claiming to have never even met her (despite a photograph of them together), and asserted he couldn't have raped her because she was "not my type."

Carroll sued the President for defamation and, after successfully defeating several motions to dismiss by Trump's personal lawyers, was set to both depose Trump in the case and obtain a DNA sample from him that she believes will match a stain on the dress she said she was wearing during the alleged assaulted at NY's Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1995.

On Tuesday, the DoJ intervened with a stunning motion to move the case from state to federal court, and replace Trump's personal defense attorneys with their own. If upheld by the court, that would effectively end the case under the Federal Tort Claims Act, where defamation suits against federal employees are barred. Stern, however, explains what the law is meant to do --- protect federal officials from being held personally liable for lawful acts done in the course of carrying out their jobs --- versus how the DoJ is now attempting to use it to shield Trump from liability for defaming a woman who says she has evidence of a rape more than two decades before he became President. Whether Bill Barr's DoJ attorneys will successfully prove to a federal court that defaming a citizen while responding to reporters questions about a rape twenty-five years ago is truly within the scope of a President's duties remains to be seen. But the filing itself is now likely to push the deposition and DNA test, in any case, beyond the November 3rd election, as Trump was hoping for.

Finally, we get to the bona fide good news today out of North Carolina, where a panel of state court judges late last week finally struck down an 1877 law meant to "secure white supremacy" in the state following the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. The law barred former felons who completed their prison sentences as well as all parole and probation from registering to vote if they still owed court-imposed fines and fees. As Stern reports --- and as revealed during the course of the case --- the law was originally spearheaded by a state lawmaker who presided over the lynching of three Black men and was meant, according to documents [PDF] unearthed by an expert witness historian for the plaintiffs, to prevent "the honest vote of a white man" from being "off-set by the vote of some negro."

The court's ruling means that some 100,000 NC residents are now newly eligible to vote in the 2020 Presidential election in one of the most closely divided states in the nation Another ruling from the same panel, likely to come after a trial, according to Stern, could result in another 70,000 currently disenfranchised former felons becoming eligible to vote as well. Moreover, as the case involves state law and is in state court, it cannot be overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Stern --- who recently published "An Extremely Comprehensive Guide to Making Sure Your Vote County, In Every State", also explains that the ruling will almost certainly not be overturned by the 6 to 1 liberal majority on NC's Supreme Court because, as he tells me, "there are a lot of bad ass women of color on North Carolina's state Supreme Court, and I think these individuals are going to say we cannot tolerate a racist law from 150 years ago."

Not coincidentally, as a racist, 150-year old Jim Crow measure is finally being knocked down in NC, the GOP majority in Florida's state legislature just adopted a nearly identical measure just last year to bar former felons from voting if they have not paid off all court-imposed fines and fees. That law was found to amount to an unconstitutional poll tax by a federal judge earlier this year, but his ruling has now been stayed by SCOTUS until after the 2020 Presidential election in that key swingstate. The stay allowing Florida's "pay-to-vote" law is likely to block as many as 1.5 million potential new voters --- including a quarter of the state's male African-American population --- from voting this November in the Sunshine State...

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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How states, counties and YOU must help defend our 'last firewall'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/10/2020 10:05am PT  

This will not be easy. It never is. But, this year, we are facing obstacles to voting that we have never seen before. Not only from the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, which is already difficult enough, but from those who hope to exploit the pandemic along with their access to the levers of power to make voting --- by some --- as difficult as possible. It is now up to all of us to overcome those obstacles.

President Trump is, by no means, the first right-wing Republican to recognize that he can't win if voters turn out in large numbers.

"I don't want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, the GOP's notorious godfather of right-wing voter suppression infamously quipped during a 1980 address to a group of evangelical Christian ministers. "In fact, our leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added, after denigrating those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation, as people who suffer from "goo goo syndrome".

(The soaring pandemic death toll and an unprecedented 32.9% annualized second quarterly plunge in the GDP, serve as testament to what happens when We the People allow those opposed to "good government" to be placed in charge of our political economy.)

Trump's repeated attempts to suppress voter turnout are by no means novel --- as amply demonstrated during our two-part coverage (here and here) of the 2011 U.S. Senate hearings concerning a spike in GOP-engineered, state voter suppression laws. During those hearings nearly a decade ago, civil rights litigator Judith Browne Dianis described that spike as "the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era."

What makes our current circumstance both novel and extraordinarily dangerous is that an authoritarian-wannabe Donald Trump is the first Republican President who has been positioned to weaponize a pandemic by forcing voters to choose between exercising their fundamental right to vote and the risk of contracting a deadly virus. Instead of simply relying upon state voter suppression laws, Trump has aspired to engage in wholesale suppression on a national scale. Operating through a major GOP/Trump donor-turned-Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, Trump seeks to actively sabotage the social distancing protection that Vote-by-Mail (VBM) affords by creating delays in U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries.

Last Friday, during a must-listen-to segment of The BradCast, Mark Dimondstein, President of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), confirmed that mail slow-downs were "happening across the country" at a time in which the USPS was already in "crisis mode" as a result of the dangers posed by COVID-19. In his view, the Post Office is now at the "epicenter" of the 2020 battle over "voting rights", noting that "without Vote-by-Mail people aren't going to be able to vote."

Thus, in addition to fending off "dubious" Republican legal challenges to mail-in voting expansion, democracy's defenders --- which, in this case, includes We the People --- must now double our own efforts to navigate Trump's sabotage of mail delivery. This, at a time when election officials in states that have not previously engaged in near-universal VBM must upgrade their electoral infrastructure in order to accommodate and tabulate an unprecedented volume of hand-marked paper VBM ballots.

But there are proactive steps that jurisdictions --- and, yes, you! --- can take to maximize the odds that your ballot is tallied this year...

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




Guest: Ray Lutz of Citizens' Oversight; Also: Rest in Power, John Lewis...
By Brad Friedman on 7/20/2020 6:54pm PT  

We kick off today's BradCast on a somber, if hopefully inspiring note, on the passing of civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis who died on Friday after a battle with cancer. His decades-long fight for voting rights --- and the call to cause "good trouble, necessary trouble" --- has been an inspiration to this show and our work at BradBlog.com for many years. The best tribute we can offer to Rep. Lewis, of course, is to continue his fight as best we can. And so we do once again today. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

More than 100k absentee/Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballots were rejected by election officials in the state of California after its March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, according to a new AP analysis. Many of the rejections were due to voter error, though not all. Some were also due perceived mismatched or missing signatures and a to a too-short statutory deadline (3 days) for VBM ballots to arrive after Election Day. The state has now increased that time to 17 days for ballots postmarked by Election Day to be included in the final tally.

But, of course, various problems with VBM is why in-person polling places remain very necessary in CA and all states this year, even with expanded mail-in voting during the COVID crisis. That is true even in the Golden State, which will be sending VBM ballots directly to all active registered voters this year because of the pandemic. Here in Los Angeles County, however --- the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction --- the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan has said that, for in-person voting, he will stick with the County's new, horribly failed $300 million unverifiable touchscreen voting and electronic pollbook system this November, despite the disasters that resulted in 3, 4, and 5 hour lines to vote and an untold number of disenfranchised voters during the system's first county-wide use on March 3rd.

I discussed the decision by Logan to use L.A. voters, once again, as guinea pig beta testers this November, during the most critical election of our lifetimes, in a segment late last month on CBS2-LA News with investigative reporter David Goldstein. Incredibly, CA's Democratic Sec. of State Alex Padilla and the L.A. County Board of Supervisors have all apparently agreed to allow the failed system --- called "Voting Solutions For All People" or VSAP --- another try on November 3rd. What could possibly go wrong?

An L.A. County Civil Grand Jury --- which has also been investigating the VSAP failure --- thinks a lot could go wrong. The group's report on the VSAP failures [PDF] by both Logan and Padilla, entitled "Maybe I Voted?", demands answers from Registrar Logan as well as the state. Goldstein, who has been closely following the VSAP mess since a few weeks before the March 3rd election, followed up by covering the "scathing" L.A. Grand Jury report and called me once again to appear in that follow-up report on CBS2-LA as well.

Meanwhile, a group of Election Integrity advocates in the state sent an open letter [PDF] late last week to Gov. Gavin Newsom (and Sec. of State Padilla), seeking an Executive Order for important improvements to the state's 1% post-election audit process. We're joined today by RAY LUTZ, longtime Election Integrity advocate and the founder and Executive Director of CitizensOversight.org. His organization won a ruling in a lawsuit several years ago that would have required all Vote-by-Mail ballots to be included as part of the pool from which the random sample of ballots are drawn when determining which of them will be hand-counted after an election to assure the accuracy of the state's computerized optical-scan ballot tabulators.

When Lutz filed suit in San Diego after the 2016 election, that County's Registrar, Michael Vu, was drawing only from votes cast at the precinct or absentee ballots that were counted early for inclusion in the 1% post-election spot check. As the groups notes in their press release [PDF] announcing the letter to Newsom, that resulted in some 285,000 ballots that were automatically excluded from the mandatory "audit" in 2016. Lutz' win in the courts, however, was short-lived after Padilla (with support from L.A. County's Logan) lobbied the CA state legislator to specifically allow Registrar's to ignore late mail-in ballots all together during post-election audits. Leaving those ballots out of the audit, Lutz argues, means that nefarious actors "can just move ballots --- ten thousand, twenty thousand at a time --- from one candidate to another and no one would be the wiser because they wouldn't have that check." That, he says, is a virtual roadmap for election theft.

His group's letter asks the Governor to declare that all ballots should be included in the potential audit sample pool in this November's elections, particularly now that some 90% of votes are likely to be cast as mail-in ballots for the first time this year, due to the Governor's previous Executive Order to send VBM ballots to all this year.

Moreover, Lutz echoes frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (which is suing Georgia to force hand-marked paper ballots for all) in her important tweeted concerns last night observing that both major political parties are utterly failing to ensure proper public oversight of absentee ballot handling and tabulation. Marks complained that Elections officials across the country (and definitely in Georgia!) are "working overtime to block transparency, block access, block observation, work[ing] behind closed doors, etc. This, of course, plays into Trump's hands in that if he wants to claim 'rigging,' the Dems will have little evidence documented to rebut the claim."

Lutz agrees with her thinking. California is "not a battleground state," he says, "but remember, the popular vote is always a big issue in the Presidential election. And as you remember last time, Trump made a big deal about 'illegal voter fraud' and all these 'million illegals are voting'. So we have to have our act together for this election to defend against those claims. If we do what we're doing now, we're going to have up to six million ballots that are completely unaudited and can be flipped. Six million votes is a lot. So we need to have this change."

The issue, he goes on to explain, is not only important in California. "Any state that expands their vote-by-mail or absentee voting right now probably is not auditing those ballots." Lutz points listeners to the letter to Newsom, suggesting others push for similar improvements to post-election audits in other states as well, given that, as bad as CA's processes are, they are still better than many states where no computer-tallied votes are ever examined by any human beings at all before election results are certified. "We can't rely upon the election officials, or really anyone, to do this job for us," he argues. "The public has to do its own oversight of its elections. No one can be trusted. We have to do it ourselves. This is where we really call on the citizenry to stand up and really take a look at this. Because the most important thing we can do is to make sure these elections are sound."

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

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Case may persuade state Dems to nix restrictions on Nov. mail-in voting...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/17/2020 11:35am PT  

As recently observed in a Hartford Current editorial by Shari Cantor, the Mayor of West Hartford, Connecticut, her state's residents face some of the most restrictive Vote-by-Mail (VBM) requirements in the nation. She notes, in her op-ed calling for an expansion of absentee voting in the Constitution State, that voters "may not obtain an absentee ballot unless they are a poll worker, an active member of the military, sick, out of town during all hours of voting, physically disabled or prevented by their religion."

In response to the restrictions, attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of an individual voter and the Connecticut branches of the NAACP and League of Women Voters, have now filed a federal complaint [PDF] seeking to compel the state to allow every lawfully registered voter to cast a VBM ballot during the November 3rd general election.

CT's extraordinarily restrictive "Excuse Requirement" for voting via absentee, according to the complaint, combined with the fact that state election law does not provide for early in-person voting, forces the electorate to choose this year between exercising the franchise and the very real risk of contracting (and subsequently spreading) the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Because the restrictions on mail-in voting forces the electorate to choose between voting and a risk of death --- a choice CT's Democratic Secretary of State Denise Merrill, the only named Defendant in the case, conceded voters should "never" have to make --- the complaint alleges CT's Excuse Requirement, if applied during the Nov. 3rd general election, would impose an unreasonable burden on the right to vote in violation of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

The complaint separately alleges that CT's restrictive VBM Excuse Requirement denies or abridges the right to vote on account of race because the combination of greater obstacles to in-person voting and COVID-19's disparate impact on the African-American community "interacts with social and historical conditions to cause inequality in the opportunities enjoyed by Black and White voters to elect their preferred representatives. [Appellate court citation]." This, the complaint alleges, violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The 42-page federal complaint is replete with references to scientific facts and law that make it a compelling legal pleading. There's a very good chance, however, that a federal judge will never have to render a decision on the merits of the case. CT's Democratic leaders, including its Governor, Ned Lamont, may find those arguments persuasive and act accordingly...

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




Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

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

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State legislature codifies Governor's Executive Order, Voting Rights Groups' Motion to Intervene upends Republican 'voter fraud' allegations...
UPDATE 7/10/20: After voluntarily dismissing its lawsuit, GOP falsely declares victory...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/24/2020 10:35am PT  

In a recent article, we described the GOP's legal challenge to the Executive Order issued by California's Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom --- directing CA election officials to timely submit vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots to every active registered CA voter for the November general election --- as "dubious", at best.

We noted that the GOP plaintiffs lacked standing to sue in federal court because Republicans cannot show they suffered a legally cognizable injury. We also noted that the GOP's core legal challenge --- that the Elections Clause to the U.S. Constitution only permits state legislatures, not Governors, to set the time and manner of conducting federal elections --- was at odds with settled Supreme Court case law and that legislative approval for the Governor's pandemic-related emergency Executive Order can be found within the provisions of the CA Emergency Services Act.

Last week AB-860 was passed by the state legislature (even with support from Republicans) to codify Newsom's Executive Order by specifically providing that VBM ballots be timely sent to every active registered voter in the state, even if the voter did not request one. It was signed into law this week by the Governor, rendering the GOP's core legal argument moot.

The new law will not only mandate a dismissal of the GOP legal filing but also eliminate the need for the court to grant the Motion to Intervene [PDF] that was recently filed by several voting rights organizations opposing the challenge by a number of Republican groups, including the California Republican Party.

CA Common Cause, League of Women Voters of CA and the Community Coalition seek to be added as Party Defendants in order to counter the GOP's effort to compel in-person voting --- a GOP effort that, if successful, would dangerously and unnecessarily expose the state's electorate to the risk of contracting a deadly virus, COVID-19. The portion of those organizations' motion, which demolishes the GOP's VBM "voter fraud" lies, however, warrants verbatim coverage...

[Republicans'] allegations echo long-debunked claims that associate mail-in ballots with voter fraud. In reality, mail vote fraud is virtually non-existent. Millions of Americans vote by mail --- one in four voters did so in the last two federal elections. Yet an exhaustive investigation found only 491 instances of mail vote fraud committed between 2000 and 2012, a period in which billions of votes were cast.

UPDATE 7/10/20: After U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England, Jr. dismissed the GOP's frivolous legal challenge following a Republican filing of a voluntary Notice of Dismissal, GOP Chairwoman Rona McDaniel falsely proclaimed that the Republican Party "scored a major victory against Gov. Gavin Newsom's illegal executive order." She attempted to bolster this falsehood with another lie --- that, before the GOP filed its legal challenge to VBM in CA, "Democrats planned to automatically send ballots to inactive voters, including people who have moved or died."

As we observed in a 6/5/20 update to an article that had covered the "dubious" GOP legal challenge, the Office of CA Secretary of State Alex Padilla stated that, pursuant to the Executive Order which Padilla and Gov. Newsom issued, VBM ballots would only be mailed to "active" registered voters.

"Only active registered voters will be mailed a vote-by-mail ballot. That is and has been the practice in California," Padilla's spokesman Sam Mahood said. Under California's Elections Code, Mahood added, "'voters with an inactive voter registration status do not receive elections materials.' That includes vote-by-mail ballots."

The only change to CA Election Law as it existed at the time the Executive Order was issued was the elimination of the requirement that voters first request a VBM ballot before one would be mailed to an
active" registered voter. Thus, at best Rona and the GOP had erected a straw man; erroneously claiming that the Executive Order required submission of VBM ballots to "inactive" voters.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, and Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). He previously served as a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. Canning has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




Also: Ernest A. Canning on GOP's CA Vote-by-Mail ballot lawsuit; Federal judge guts FL Republicans' newest voter suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 5/26/2020 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: As the U.S. crossed the 100,000 coronavirus death Rubicon over Memorial Day weekend, the President of the United States played golf. Twice. And called a potential Democratic Vice Presidential nominee fat. And a former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential nominee a "skank". He also suggested a popular TV host murdered someone. And he lied again (and again) about absentee voting fraud (even though he committed it himself.) The Presidential election is 161 days away. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Before we get there, however, former CDC Director Tom Frieden said this weekend, "It's 100,000, but it looks like we're still at the beginning of this pandemic." He is not alone. According to the Imperial College London, the U.S. could see another 200,000 dead on top of those who have died already from COVID-19, thanks to the President's desperately premature push to reopen the nation's economy. That, while Trump is ignoring the first 100,000 dead, even though, as the New York Times observes:

"More Americans have died of the coronavirus in the last 12 weeks than died in the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined and nearly twice as many as died of battle wounds during World War I. The death toll has nearly matched the number of people killed by the initial blasts of the world’s first atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In terms of American deaths, it is the equivalent of 22 Iraq wars, 33 Sept. 11 attacks, 41 Afghanistan wars, 42 Pearl Harbors or 25,000 Benghazis."

At the same time, despite the Republicans' attempt to pretend the viral pandemic away, without very quick action by the Republicans who control the U.S. Senate to prevent massive layoffs at the state and local level, we could be looking squarely at a second Great Depression before year's end, The American Prospect's David Dayen reports today with very good evidence in support.

Other than all of that, we hope you had a delightful holiday weekend!

Speaking of that Presidential election (did we mention it's just 161 days away? --- but who's counting?), we have some very good news from Florida today to counter the grim news with which we felt it necessary to open today's program. A federal judge has nixed the voter suppression law enacted by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state's GOP-controlled legislature. The law was adopted to gut the state Constitutional Amendment passed by 65% of FL voters in 2018 to allow most former felons to register to vote after having completed "all terms of their sentence including probation and parole."

Amendment 4 ended the state's shameful lifetime ban on voting rights for former felons. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, following an eight-day trial earlier in Spring, declared the GOP's new Jim Crow law --- enacted to upend Amendment 4 --- to be an unconstitutional poll tax, as the law mandated the payment of all fines and fees before former felons would be allowed to register to vote, whether they could afford the payments or not. Moreover, the state keeps no database of such fines and fees, so many former felons had no idea if they owed money or not. Because of that, many declined to register to vote for fear of being charged with perjury when attesting that they had they had "completed all terms" of their sentence on the voter registration application.

Despite that very good news, we suspect the roller coaster battle by the Florida GOP to prevent as many as 1.5 million new voters in the crucial battleground state --- including about a quarter of the its African-American male voting age population --- from getting their voting rights back will continue.

Of course, the GOP War on Democracy is happening all over the country right now. We close today's show with a new front opened in that war over the weekend by the Republican National Committee and former GOP Congressman-turned-candidate-again Darrell Issa. They filed a federal lawsuit alleging that California Gov. Gavin Newsom's May 8 order to send absentee ballots to all registered voters in the state for the November election is in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Yes, it even sounds absurd on its face, but longtime BRAD BLOG legal analyst ERNEST A. CANNING joins us today to explain exactly why the complaint is even more ridiculous than it sounds and the two big reasons why he believes it is likely to be "dismissed at the district court level". Whether that dismissal will be upheld by the GOP's stolen majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, should Republicans push it that far (and why wouldn't they?), is a separate question. Tune in for Canning's thoughts on that and much more...

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

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Rightwing organization and GOP candidate Darrell Issa charge mailing ballots to every registered voter violates the U.S. Constitution...
UPDATE: Case likely to be dismissed as moot...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/26/2020 9:35am PT  

In a desperate attempt to prevent a high turnout of California voters for the critical 2020 General Election, attorneys from the extreme right-wing organization, Judicial Watch, filed a federal complaint [PDF] late last week on behalf of former Republican Congressman turned candidate again Darrell Issa with several named Republican voters in the U.S. District Court (Eastern District CA)

The complaint alleges that CA Governor Gavin Newsom and Secretary of State Alex Padilla, both Democrats, unlawfully usurped the power of the CA state legislature when, on May 8, they issued an emergency Executive Order in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The order directed the election officials of every CA county to "transmit Vote-by-Mail [VBM] ballots for the November 3, 2020 General Election to all [registered] voters" no later than "the last day on which [VBM] ballots may be transmitted."

The complaint alleges that the Executive Order violates the Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Art. I, §4. That clause provides, in pertinent part: "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof."

The CA legislature, via the state's Voter's Choice Act, set forth explicit criteria that each county must meet in order to become an all VBM county. The Republican plaintiffs argue the Executive Order permits counties that have not met that criteria to act as VBM counties; that permitting all voters to cast VBM ballots "dilutes" the votes of the Republican voter plaintiffs who live in counties which have not met the statutory criteria. They seek to invalidate the Executive Order and compel those CA voters who have not timely requested absentee ballots under CA law, as it existed prior to May 8, to either vote in-person or not at all.

The Republicans' legal filing drew a sharp retort from Padilla: "Exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to justify voter suppression is despicable, even for Judicial Watch's pathetically low standards."

From a legal standpoint, the Republicans' legal arguments are frivolous...

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




Trump fires another IG, this one investigating Pompeo; Amash declines to run for Prez; MO allows absentee voting for all (sort of); CA relaxes reopen rules; Anti-lockdown protester threatens journo; Callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2020 6:20pm PT  

It's a race to stupid. And we're all winning! Or losing. Depends on how you choose to look at, apparently. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • The stock market soars on the barest of evidence that a vaccine could be on the way. Eventually. But irrational exuberance is...well...irrational;
  • Trump fired the State Department Inspector General on Friday night. It was the fourth independent executive agency watchdog that Trump has axed over the past six weeks as he continues to dismantle all governmental oversight of the Executive Branch and what is virtually the last firewall against corruption by the most corrupt Administration in the history of the nation. In this case, the firing seems to have been carried out unlawfully by the President at the request of Sec. of State Mike Pompeo who is under investigation by the IG for forcing agency personnel to run personal errands for him and his wife, as well as for his part in funneling some $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia under the guise of Trump's phony "Emergency Declaration". The sales are in contradiction to a bipartisan vote by Congress last year, specifically denying the appropriation;
  • Former Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan decided over the weekend that he will not run for President on the Libertarian Party ticket after all;
  • In Missouri, under pressure from an ACLU lawsuit, the GOP-dominated state legislature passed a law on Friday allowing all registered voters to vote with an absentee ballot if they so choose. That's good. However, those who are not either ill or at "high risk of serious complications from COVID-19" must still have their ballot verified by a Notary Public before it may be sent or counted. So, yeah, voters will still be forced to put themselves at risk in order to vote in the Show-Me state this November;
  • And in Long Island, New York, anti-lockdown protesters threatened a journalist reporting on their protests by running at him without masks on. "No," one of the jackasses is seen saying as he charges the reporter, "I got hydroxychloroquine! I'm fine!";
  • We then open the phones to listeners to ring in on all of the above as well as on an interesting question the BBC posed to its audience over the weekend: "If you could go back to the start of the year and give yourself some pre-lockdown advice, knowing what was about to happen, what advice would that be?". Tune in for the answers!...

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

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Admin pretends otherwise as infections spike; Also: SCOTUS divided on Trump subpoenas; Trump, GOP falsely declare 'rigged election' in CA-25...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2020 7:06pm PT  

It was another impossible news day to cover on today's BradCast, but we did our best with two historic hearings happening in D.C. at the very same time and a few special elections around the country just to keep us on busy. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

One hearing was on Capitol Hill and the other was at the U.S. Supreme Court --- or, at least, on the live-streamed telephone conference call that has now replaced traditional in-person oral argument at the actual Court, thanks to the still worsening coronavirus pandemic.

We begin today with the SCOTUS hearing. Two of them, in fact. Both on the attempts by federal and state officials to obtain Donald Trump's financial records stretching back 10 years from before he became President. One case concerns subpoenas from three different U.S. House Committees to Mazars USA, the President's longtime accounting firm, as well as to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One, with whom Trump has done business. The other case is over a subpoena by by the Manhattan District Attorney for many of the same documents and tax records from the same financial institutions. That document demand is part of a state grand jury investigation related to unlawful hush money payoffs Trump gave to two women in advance of the 2016 election, and his convicted lawyer Michael Cohen's allegation that Trump and his companies fraudulently inflated and deflated his net worth when applying for loans or filing taxes.

Trump is not actually a party to the subpoenas, but is suing the financial institutions to prevent them from responding to the lawful subpoenas. To date, he has lost every hearing in the cases in lower Courts, where his lawyers actually argued that a sitting U.S. President could shoot people on 5th Avenue and could not be stopped, arrested or investigated for doing so. While the Justices didn't seem to entertain that argument, several of them, particular the Republican-appointees, seemed to be trying to find a way to help Trump out of this jam. We discuss what seems likely to result in either a split on the two different cases --- with the Court blocking the Congressional subpoenas while allowing the ones in the state criminal investigation in NY --- and/or one or both cases being remanded back to lower courts for a more narrow reconsideration that would likely prevent Trump's tax returns and other financial records from being released in advance of the 2020 election.

As those arguments were playing out today, the heads of Trump's CDC, FDA and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the U.S. Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. They did so remotely from their homes, where they are each self-quarantining after recently coming into contact with infected individuals at the White House. One of those individuals was Vice President Mike Pence's Press Secretary who tested positive on Friday, just before Pence appeared at a meeting with food producers in Iowa. As the company CEOs waited for the round-table discussion with Pence to begin, they were asked by an aide to the Vice President to remove their masks! That, despite advice from health officials (including the White House's own), and even though two of the executives run meatpacking plants where thousands of workers have contracted COVID-19. One represents Tyson Foods where more than 1,000 workers --- a third of its workforce --- at a meatpacking plant in Waterloo, Iowa have now tested positive. At least three workers at the plant have died.

Rural counties, especially in the heartland --- many with meatpacking plants and prisons --- are seeing a spike in cases of late, along with metropolitan areas where mostly Republican Governors have begun to prematurely lift stay-at-home orders to try and help the economy recover. An unreleased White House document prepared by the CDC and Department of Homeland Security, obtained by NBC News on Sunday, details hotspots all over the country, with many "red" states and counties seeing huge increases in cases over the past week. For example, last Friday, Arizona saw its largest single-day increase in cases, just about a week after Republican Gov. Doug Ducey began reopening the state.

A separate analysis of infections by the Associated Press today finds increasing cases in many of the same hotspots cited by the unreleased White House document, while noting that thousands of people are now getting sick from COVID-19 at their workplaces, including in recently reopened sectors such as construction workers in Austin, TX. At the same time, health workers continue to be hit especially hard, with more than 28,000 now having tested positive with more than 230 deaths in the industry. That, as well over 81,000 Americans have now been killed by the virus over the past two months.

No doubt, all of this is why Fauci warned Senators today of "really serious" consequences, including "suffering and death that could be avoided", if businesses reopen too soon. "There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control," he cautioned. "Which, in fact, paradoxically would set you back. Not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery because it would almost turn the clock back, rather than going forward."

But Donald Trump has an election to win this November, and it appears no number of dead Americans will get in his way of winning a second term. On that note, it's Election Day in several states today. And Trump was offering a preview of this November by lying over the weekend about today's Special Election for the U.S. House in California's 25th Congressional District. On Saturday, Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), who heads the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) issued a memo to House Republicans with an "urgent call to arms", telling them to "raise hell" because Democrats in California were "doing all they can do to steal the election". Naturally, Trump took the lie and ran with it, tweeting about the addition of an extra in-person polling place for early voting over the weekend in a diverse part of the District, opened at the request of the city's REPUBLICAN Mayor!

Trump falsely claimed the polling place was added by the state's Republican Governor Gavin Newsom. (It wasn't, it was added by L.A. County --- at the request OF THE REPUBLICAN MAYOR who, while supporting the Republican in the race, was furious there was no polling place within his city's boundaries.) Trump falsely declared a "Rigged Election!" and lied to his Twitter followers that the election "was supposed to be mail in ballots only". That is also untrue. For the record, last Friday, Newsom did announce that every registered voter in the state would be sent a postage-paid absentee ballot for the November Presidential election. The move is said to be for safety reasons due to the pandemic --- the pandemic which Trump originally ignored, made much worse, and is now pretending to be over.

Finally today, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report, as the Administration reopens national parks despite the growing risks of coronavirus; as tax-payers are forced to pay for cleaning up old wells of bankrupted oil companies; and as France offers an airline bailout in exchange for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Now there's an idea...

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An exclusive conversation with AL's former Dem Governor and former federal (political) prisoner; Also: Sanders suspends Presidential run...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sanders is out, and a former federal prisoner tries to sound the alarm about deplorable and deadly conditions in our nation's prison system as coronavirus turns jail sentences, even for non-violent offenders, into death sentences --- not to mention the dangers posed to prison workers and their families in the bargain. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up: And then there was one. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced the suspension of his Presidential campaign on Wednesday, leaving Joe Biden the last man standing from about 25 or so Democratic men and women vying for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. In a live-streamed announcement, Sanders said he was leaving the race, though staying on the ballot in the remaining primary states (if they are ever able to vote amid the coronavirus pandemic) in hopes of leveraging as many delegates as possible at the Democratic National Convention (if it is ever able to happen) to continuing moving his progressive agenda forward. We share an extended portion of Sanders statement today, in which he announces his support for Biden, if not yet an explicit endorsement.

Next: While most Americans continue to hunker down in their homes and maintain physical distancing while outside of the home as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise, there are millions held in state and federal prisons (as well as immigration detention centers) who are unable to physically distance themselves from others. The result, not unexpectedly, is an explosion of infections and deaths for both prisoners and prison staff around the country, even as some states have released thousands of non-violent offenders to try and ease over-crowding that is exacerbating the problem and turning incarceration into a potential death sentence for many.

Former Alabama Governor DON SIEGELMAN contacted us last week in hopes of trying to get the word out about the problem, including at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana, where the former Democratic Governor (and "political prisoner") served five years of time before his long-overdue release in 2017.

The minimum security facility at Oakdale has seen an explosion of COVID-19 cases and, according to suspiciously low numbers being reported by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP), currently has more reported cases (35) and deaths (5) than any other federal facility. (Curiously, on its website, the BOP is reporting just 253 federal inmates and 85 BOP staffers infected as of today at more than 40 federal facilities across the country. At the same time, as the NYTimes reported this afternoon, the Cook County jail in Chicago alone has at least 387 cases linked to that one county facility.)

Siegelman, who has been in touch with some of his former cellmates who are now pleading for help, details the conditions that prisoners at the Oakdale facility are forced to live under. "The conditions at Oakdale were bad before the virus started," he tells me. "If people can imagine living stacked, one on top of the other, basically a warehouse."

He details one of the areas he was housed in that inmates call "the submarine room" because bunks are stacked three high and it is like living in a submarine. The bunks, he says, are "so close together you can actually reach out and touch the other inmates if you wanted to. It was so crowded. There's no ventilation. The doors are shut, the windows are locked. There's nothing to protect an inmate from breathing what other inmates exhale." With inmates "in such close proximity, there is no way to protect themselves from someone who has the virus, who is a carrier. For the virus, it's going to be like shooting fish in a barrel."

Siegelman explains that he has been told the facility has not made adequate changes to deal with the outbreak, which is why the ACLU has filed a lawsuit in hopes of allowing many of the non-violent offenders to be released from the facility. While that has happened in a number of state prisons, the federal system is moving intolerably slowly in taking any action at all. In many cases, Siegelman says, prisoners are locked up during pre-trial, before they've been found guilty of anything. In others, they are forced to stay in these dangerous conditions longer than they might otherwise, since many probation and parole boards have been unable to meet due to the pandemic.

He is calling for non-violent offenders, particularly those late in their sentences, to be released immediately. "My question is, why are they there in the first place? If they pose no threat to public safety, if they're non-violent offenders, if they have only a few months remaining on their sentence, if they are at risk because of health reasons, why not let them out? They should have been out already."

The once very popular southern state Governor served from 1999 to 2003, after serving as Alabama's Sec. of State, Attorney General and Lt. Governor. He was charged with bribery-related offenses in which he never received a dime on charges that more than 100 former Democratic and Republican state Attorneys General described as something that was never considered to be a crime until Siegelman was charged with it. He was sentenced by a federal judge who was later arrested and removed from the bench after being found to have beaten his wife.

The evidence suggests, as we've covered his story over the years on air at The BRAD BLOG, that it was a political prosecution which included major prosecutorial misconduct during the George W. Bush era, when Siegelman's Republican rival, Gov. Bob Riley, worked closely with longtime Alabama GOP operative Karl Rove to take him down by any means necessary. That included an almost-certainly stolen election on a Diebold optical-scan tabulator on which results were flipped against him in the middle of the night. All of which Siegelman details in his upcoming book, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

For now, however, Siegelman is fighting for criminal justice reform and imploring listeners to "call your mayors, your governor, and Members of Congress to keep the pressure on to get these people out of jail and out of prisons that pose no public safety risk. They need to say that inmates that are non-violent, that pose no public safety risk, need to be released --- or at least placed in another facility where they are separate from other inmates. .... We would hope that the President of the United States would get on board and take this a little more seriously. But don't hold your breath."

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on that and pandemic affects on immigration courts, prisons and the Judiciary; Also: Statewide 'stay-at-home' mandates; Mask shortages and price gouging; More postponed primaries; and socialist Trump comes unglued at WH presser...
By Brad Friedman on 3/20/2020 6:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Governors in California, New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania are among the first to issue statewide "stay-at-home" orders, though more are likely to do so very soon as the nation begins to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic. But is it possible, legal or Constitutional that Donald Trump could exploit this serious public health crisis to postpone or cancel this November's critical Presidential election? We gets some legal and Constitutional answers to that question today and the answers are both comforting and not comforting at all. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, CA Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a letter to Donald Trump, warned that, without mitigation efforts, including help from the federal government, as many as 56% of the Golden State's population (or 25.5 million people here) could become infected over the next two months.

At the same time, a shortage of personal protective equipment for health care workers has led to price-gouging by the nation's medical supply companies, according to a GA healthcare CEO who says he is being charged $7 a piece for critical masks that usually cost .58 cents each. But why do we even have a shortage, given that we've known about this matter for months and Trump has now supposedly invoked the Defense Production Act, allowing the federal government to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet critical needs for the nation's security?

At the same time, just days after the Republican Party had been tarring the Democratic Party as "socialists", Republicans are now calling for major socialist giveaways to combat the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, Trump is even calling for the federal government to take ownership in private corporations that may soon be receiving yet another socialist bailout. That's right, according to the President, Republicans like him now support the very definition of socialism wherein the government takes control of the means of production.

Then again, based on the President's unhinged behavior at today's White House press briefing, which we share on the show, he may be losing track of reality even faster than previously.

All the while, states around the nation continue to postpone previously scheduled Presidential primary elections, with Connecticut and Indiana over the past 24 hours joining more than a half dozen states who have already done so. But, never mind the primaries. With a desperate, already-unbalanced President like Trump, would anybody be surprised if he attempted to invoke national emergency powers amid a global pandemic to try and cancel this November's Presidential election all together? And, if he wanted to, does either federal law or the U.S. Constitution allow him to do so?

Slate's ace legal and court reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN has been looking into that point which, he tells us, might have seemed crazy just a few weeks ago, but no longer. The short answer is no, Trump can't do it on his own, not without Congress agreeing. But there are enough "red" states with a mechanism for doing so that, under this Presidency, you'd be ill-advised to keep your guard down. He explains the no-longer-unimaginable circumstances that could occur.

He also details how the Trump Administration recently ordered immigration judges to remove CDC posters warning about the coronavirus epidemic from their courtrooms, as crowded detention centers become breeding grounds. Stern says that, at this point, with this crisis and some 50,000 jammed into crowded, unsanitary detention camps, "the entire system is in total disarray."

Stern has also been reporting of late on how it's not only the Executive Branch that has monumentally failed to take appropriate action for weeks to prevent the spread of the virus --- the Judicial Branch, headed up by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, has failed mightily on that score, as both courtrooms and prisons have turned into viral petri dishes over the past several weeks. "It is a mess, because the chief judge of every different district court is making these decisions on the fly," he tells me. "Unfortunately, people are still being exposed to this virus in federal courtrooms right now. "

But at least Roberts has cancelled oral arguments before his own Court this month, including cases regarding whether Trump must release his taxes to law enforcement officials and whether or not Presidential Electors in states across the country must, in fact, vote the way their state's have when those electors cast their lot with the Electoral College. That question --- if SCOTUS ever reconvenes and issues an opinion on it --- may play a key role in the question regarding the ability of this President to effectively cancel this year's Presidential election.

All of those issues, and many others today, in another don't-miss, news-packed BradCast!...

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

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