Indicted Russian Company Uses Trump’s Supreme Court Pick as Get Out of Jail Free Card
A Russian company indicted earlier this year as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into foreign interference in our elections is using a decision written by none other than Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to try to dismiss the case.
As the Washington Post reported this morning, the company–Concord Management and Consulting—was one of the 16 people or entities indicted by a federal grand jury in February at as part of the special counsel’s investigation. On Monday, the company argued, “that it had broken no federal laws, that it was merely supporting free political speech and that the fraud charge against it should be thrown out.”
In its motion to dismiss, Concord specifically cited Judge Kavanaugh’s Bluman v. FEC decision regarding the ban on foreign spending on our elections:
In the case of troll farm tied to the man known as “Putin’s chef,” the company’s attorneys begin their motion to dismiss with a pull-quote from this opinion by none other than Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) July 17, 2018
While Kavanaugh upheld the ban, his narrow reading of the Federal Elections Campaign Act would open the door for unlimited spending by foreign powers on “issue advocacy” — ads that don’t expressly call for the election or defeat of a candidate but still skirt the line, like with the very real “Hillary is a Satan” ads Russians used in the 2016 election. That’s exactly what the company is arguing it was doing:
the Russian company indicted by Mueller cites Judge Kavanaugh by name nine times in its motion to dismiss, including his decision in Bluman narrowing the scope of the foreign national ban to exclude “issue advocacy.” pic.twitter.com/LWPfFC01rV — Brendan Fischer (@brendan_fischer) July 17, 2018
As Campaign Legal Center and Demos wrote in their review of Kavanaugh’s record, “His interpretation means that the law likely would have covered only a small fraction of the campaign activity attributed to Russian operatives in the 2016 elections.”
Another leading election law expert, Professor Rick Hasen, agrees with this analysis of Kavanaugh ’s Bluman decision. “I believe that a Justice Kavanaugh could well vote with a new SCOTUS majority to hold that laws effectively limiting foreign influence in our elections violate the First Amendment,” he wrote earlier this month.
Allowing foreign actors to spend money to influence our elections is just one of many extreme views found in Brett Kavanaugh’s record on democracy issues. He has written that he believes the president is above the law, he would give wealthy donors and corporations more power in politics, he would possibly strike down disclosure laws, and he even upheld a discriminatory voter suppression law in South Carolina.
Kavanaugh is out-of-touch with the majority of Americans who believe we need to reduce the power of big money in our elections and lift up the voices of everyday people. Of course, that’s the reason he was selected. He was hand-picked by the same wealthy special interests that are now spending millions of dollars to make sure he’s confirmed.
He must be pressed on these extreme views and asked whether he believes the Constitution protects all of us, or just the wealthy and powerful.