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Judge finds (again) that Texas voter ID law discriminates against minorities, and other news for 4/12/17

April 12, 2017 | Adam Smith

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley resigned yesterday amid scandal, pleading guilty “to two campaign violations: converting campaign contributions for personal gain and failing to report campaign contributions.”

But, I’d like to specifically highlight this part of the investigation into the *74-year-old man’s* behavior: he asked his chief of security to be the one to break up with his girlfriend–who was just upstairs–because he was “embarrassed.”

As well as this one: “Governor Robert Bentley’s former top advisor and secret paramour Rebekah Mason led a politically-motivated effort in 2015 to close 31 driver’s license offices in mostly black counties, a move that embarrassed the state and was later reversed.”

Campaign Finance/Election Law

Washington Post: Judge again finds discrimination in Texas’ voter ID law
Good: “A judge ruled for a second time Monday that Texas’ strict voter ID law was intentionally crafted to discriminate against minorities, which follows another court finding evidence of racial gerrymandering in how Republican lawmakers drew the state’s election maps.” This comes just a month after a court ruled that Texas redistricting also discriminated against minorities. I think here’s a pattern here, but I just can’t put my finger on it…

The Judicial Crisis Network–which spent millions to boost Neil Gorsuch–got a seat at his swearing in yesterday. So did Heritage Foundation president Jim DeMint, the group that hand-picked him for the seat.

BNA: Challenge to FEC on Disclosure Continues in New Lawsuit
“A federal judge who questioned Federal Election Commission rulings on campaign finance disclosure issues dismissed a motion claiming the FEC hasn’t complied with his orders, but the judge said he will eye a new lawsuit challenging dismissal of enforcement action against conservative nonprofit groups.”

Iowa Public Radio: Ron Paul Staffers Challenge Convictions at Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
This case is still going on, btw: “Three staffers from Rep. Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign were at the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis last week. They’re appealing criminal convictions related to a conspiracy to hide payments to former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson, who resigned endorsed Paul days before the Iowa Caucuses.”

Huffington Post: Iowa Secretary Of State’s Office Released Statistics That Its Own Staff Objected To
Wow: “In an effort to highlight voter irregularities and push for stricter voting laws, Iowa’s top election official pushed statistics on alleged voter fraud that even a member of his own staff privately suggested were misleading, emails obtained by the Huffington Post reveal.”

Congress/Administration

OpenSecrets: Flurry of spending in Kansas 4th
One thing to note in case Dems pull off the upset in the Kansas special today: this is the home district of Koch Industries. “The Democratic Party has spent little, but the National Republican Congressional Committee has poured in $130,000, Vice President Mike Pence recorded a robo-call on behalf of Estes and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is traveling to Kansas for an airport rally.”

Roll Call: K Street Offers Five Tips for Tax Overhaul
Tax reform won’t be any easier than healthcare–and possibly even harder!–so some lobbyists have tips: “It’s a self-serving suggestion for lobbyists, of course, but it also makes sense for lawmakers and administration officials to collaborate from the get-go with business and other interest groups.”

Donors are getting impatient with the administration about ambassadorships and “Trump is ‘so overwhelmed’ by the incoming requests from donors and other friends who claim he promised them various postings, the person said.”

Breitbart: Congressman Ken Buck’s “Drain the Swamp: How Washington Corruption is Worse Than You Think”
Huh. Rep. Ken Buck has a new book about Washington corruption. Here’s an excerpt on committee assignments, which “aren’t so much about public service as they are about raising one’s public profile—and attracting special interest donations to one’s campaign fund.” USA Today.

Indy Star: Donnelly stepping up fundraising as GOP targets him
“Sen. Joe Donnelly, one of the most vulnerable senators up for re-election next year, had his biggest fundraising quarter since being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012. The Indiana Democrat announced Monday he raised $1.3 million in the first three months of this year and had $2.55 million in the bank.”

Politico: Trump takes control of the GOP machine
“With the Republican National Committee firmly in his control, the White House and Trump’s political allies are now moving to lock down the state Republican parties, installing loyalists in top positions and laying the groundwork for the 2018 midterms and his 2020 reelection campaign in key swing states.”

In Politico Playbook this morning: Trump had dinner with billionaire GOP donor Steven Schwarzman at Mar-a-Lago this weekend.

Democracy 21: Ethics Watchdogs Call on House Ethics Committee to Conduct Thorough & Transparent Investigation into Whether Nunes Violated House Ethics Rules

“Democracy 21, joined by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government (CREW), sent a letter today to Chairwoman Susan Brooks and Ranking Member Ted Deutch on the House Ethics Committee calling on them to conduct a thorough and publicly credible investigation of the serious questions that have been raised about the conduct of Rep. Devin Nunes.”

Washington Post: Club for Growth aims to muscle House moderates into accepting Freedom Caucus health proposal
“The conservative Club for Growth said Monday that it is targeting 10 moderate House Republicans with a $1 million ad campaign, offering a glimpse into the right’s strategy for pushing through a GOP health-care overhaul.”

Hartford Courant: Murphy Will Use Campaign Cash To Launch Anti-Trump Effort In Connecticut
“Wth millions of dollars of donations flooding in and no Republican opponent in sight, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy will use money raised for his 2018 re-election campaign to mobilize opposition to President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans. Murphy is calling the effort Fight Back CT, and will be hiring professional staffers to link up with existing grass-roots activist groups in Connecticut that have formed since Trump was elected.”

Eric Trump is at their resort in Scotland this week.

AP: Trump Jr nixes 2018 NY bid, but could run for office someday
LOL: “Trump Jr., a father of five, said that he has respected a ‘firewall’ between the workings of the White House and the Trump Organization. Though he says he has spoken to his father more frequently in recent weeks, the two men do not discuss the details of the family business or the policies of the West Wing, he said.”

Politico Influence reported yesterday on the pi**ing contest between the uroligist trade associations.

Also: if you haven’t read Eric Eyre’s story for the Charleston Gazette-Mail on opiod abuse in West Virginia, it won the Pulitzer Prize yesterday. Go read it.

States/Other

The Stranger: The SECB Guide to Democracy Vouchers
Great piece on the Seattle democracy vouchers program, which tells voters to make candidates “work for it.”

WAMU: D.C. Council Member Brandon Todd Faces Questions Over Campaign Fundraising
Oof: “Nearly a quarter of the $450,000 that D.C. Council member Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4) raised for his 2015 campaign cannot be traced to its source, according to an audit by the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance.”

LA Times: Anti-pot group faces campaign finance violations from its work opposing marijuana legalization in California
“A national anti-marijuana coalition is facing $6,000 in fines for campaign finance violations in its opposition to Proposition, 64, a November ballot measure that legalized recreational use of cannabis in California.”

Common Cause Maryland: 2017 Legislative Session: Progress on democracy reforms, foundation for future work
Nice work, Common Cause Maryand! “The 2017 legislative session saw solid progress on democracy reforms. Common Cause Maryland moved significant reforms on money in politics, and advanced technical reforms on a range of issues. The progress made this year lays a strong base for continued work in 2018.”

Adam Smith

Adam Smith is Every Voice's communications director.