Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Election Fraud Conviction of Community Organizer in Michigan

Christian Adams at Election Law Center has a good scoop on a recent election fraud conviction of a local left-wing political activist in Southwest Michigan:
A far-left community organizer is going to jail for at least 2 and a half years for election fraud in Michigan.  Edward Pinkney was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for rigging a recall election for the mayor of Benton Harbor Michigan.
This is your classic case of petition shenanigans including Pinkney fraudulently changing dates on petitions and having people sign them multiple times. As Adams writes, “[a]t the root of the crime was a recall election.  Far left groups had targeted the mayor of Benton Harbor arguing in the (ironically named) ‘People’s Tribune’ that ‘an economic system that doesn’t feed, clothe, and house its people must be overturned and replaced with a system that meets the needs of the people.’ ”

It seems like in many instances petition fraudsters are able to plea or negotiate out of having to serving prison time, but as it turns out this wasn't Pinkney's first offense or even his first election fraud offense. As the local news reports:
His first run in with the law was 1988 for assault with a dangerous weapon out of California, followed in 1990 by a theft conviction out of St. Louis, Missouri, then in 1999 was convicted in Berrien County of embezzlement and in 2007 was convicted 4 felony counts of violating election laws.
As we have seen in past convictions of voter fraud, activists rallied to Pinkney’s side demanding he be freed although apparently most were not local residents: “The judge received more then 100 letters of support for Pinkney, but noted that many letters were duplicates. He said of all those he received only one letter was from a resident of Southwest Michigan.” Democratic City Commissioner Marcus Muhammed went as far as to call the court convicting Pinkney a "kangaroo court." 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tea Party stance against Cromnibus Campaign Finance Rider Misguided

RNLA campaign finance blogger Paul Jossey wrote an op-ed in the Daily Caller about Tea Party resistance to the ‘Cromnibus’ campaign finance rider. This apprehension is misplaced. It ignores the benefits stronger parties play in stabilizing government.

The campaign finance rider will expand the number of accounts for the national committees and increase the biennial limit for an individual to over $1.5 million.

The move predictably sent campaign finance reformers into overwrought warnings about the future of the republic. Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer evoked late-Medieval German mysticism, comparing the rider to the central European legend of Faust. According to the myth, the restless scholar—eager for learning and prurient exploits—traded eternal damnation for years of earthly knowledge and the seduction of the innocent maiden ‘Gretchen.’

But it wasn’t just the reformers waxing hyperbolic about the rider. The Wall Street Journal compiled a list of Tea Party-affiliated groups lamenting the rider’s potential effect of aiding establishment candidates over insurgent challengers.
The rider will undoubtedly benefit the parties, but they will still operate with significant structural disadvantages compared to independent groups, which can collect unlimited contributions. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (purposely) and Citizens United v. FEC (unwittingly) gutted the parties’ core functions of messaging, field operations, and fundraising—and destabilized the political system in the process.

BCRA eliminated federal “soft money,” which the parties used for party-building activities and issue advertising. The ban blew a $500,000,000 hole in combined national party budgets and virtually eliminated their coordination with state and local counterparts—many of which are now on life support. National committees fared better in BCRA’s immediate aftermath but the post-Citizens United rise of Super PACs siphoned money and talent away from the parties and into these less regulated vehicles.

In the 18 recent Senate races that had $1 million or more of independent expenditures, candidates raised $333.1 million; non-party organizations spent $310.4 million, while parties spent just $92.1 million.

And it’s not only advertising budgets. Party field operations have also suffered as when Battleground Texas essentially took over field operations for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. The group—brainchild of Obama campaign veterans—refused to share data, clashed with local party organizations, and assured Ms. Davis’s sinking campaign would become a national embarrassment.

Everyone should have the right to freely associate under whatever banner they choose to try to influence elections. Healthy parties do provide strong candidates and ultimately more stable government. The rider will take a small step toward achieving those goals.

Monday, December 15, 2014

CIA Scandal: "She Never Objected"

The CIA controversy has stirred some heated passions.  That is why the words of someone who is a former Democrat House Member of the Intelligence Committee and a former UN Ambassador Bill Richardson so revealing when he states: “And I think a lot of this is personal” between the CIA, Democrats and Senator Feinstein. 

The reality is the key Democrats knew about it.  As the former Director of the National Clandestine Service (D/NCS) of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Jose Rodriguez who was there stated on Fox Sunday with Chris Wallace:

“I remember very clearly briefing Nancy Pelosi in September of 2002. The Congress had been on break. . . . We briefed her specifically on the use of the enhanced interrogation techniques on Abu Zubaydah. So, she knew back in September of 2002 every one of our enhanced interrogation --

WALLACE: Let me ask you specifically, did you tell her about waterboarding? Did you tell her about --

RODRIGUEZ: Yes. . . .  I briefed her on all of the techniques. These people were fully aware of all the techniques that were given to us and approved by the Office of Legal Counsel at Justice. 

WALLACE: And did -- just to take the example you gave us, Nancy Pelosi, did she ever object to the techniques you mentioned?

RODRIGUEZ: She never objected to the techniques at all.

Once again Democrats are playing politics with an issue of vital national security.  For more details check out the show transcript from Fox News Sunday this week. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Award for Most Hysterical Reaction to Omnibus Campaign Finance Rider Goes To…

Predictably, those in the campaign finance “reform” community are losing their collective mind over the campaign finance rider in the omnibus spending bill passed by the House yesterday. It has simply not been a few good years for the reformers with defeat after defeat and a President who has done nothing for the cause of campaign finance reform beyond scolding Justice Alito at the State of the Union about the impact of Citizens United.

While reactions have generally been pretty hyperbolic, the award has to go to Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 who stated the rider was the “most destructive and corrupting campaign-finance provisions ever enacted by Congress.”

That is quite a statement! Reformers topic du jour has been so-called “dark money” infiltrating politics in the wake of recent court decisions. This measure by congress actually works to counter dark money as the two major party committees are perhaps the most regulated and transparent entities regulated by the FEC. As FEC Chairman Lee Goodman stated, “every dollar contributed to the parties is disclosed to the public.” These contributions will be no different 

RNLA will keep you posted as to the impact this provision will have, assuming it becomes law.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Congress puts campaign finance reformers on the naughty list

Campaign finance reformers must have been very naughty this year. As the legislative season ends with a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill, the reformers have assumed their familiar finger-waving posture about a campaign finance rider tucked into page 1599 of the 1603-page bill.

The rider allows individuals to contribute beyond the current two-year maximum to three additional accounts to help parties defray the costs of conventions, buildings, and recounts. In total, the rider would allow individuals to donate over $1.5 million biennially if they max out to all accounts with all the party’s national committees.

This total is a rounding error compared to the unlimited amount an individual can give to a Super PAC. For instance, NextGen Climate Action, run by radical environmentalist Tom Steyer, raised over $77 million this cycle, mostly from his own pocket.

The rider will no doubt aid the political parties who have lost ground to Super PACs and politically active nonprofits in all three of their core functions: fundraising, messaging, and field operations. In some cases, the usurpation has spelled disaster for the candidate, as when Battleground Texas essentially took over field operations for gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. The group—brainchild of Obama campaign veterans—refused to share data, clashed with local party organizations, and assured Ms. Davis’s sinking campaign would become a national embarrassment.

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, recognizing the vital role of political parties, welcomed measure. “This legislation will help the parties serve their essential role in democracy and every dollar contributed to the parties is disclosed to the public.” Even political liberals see the value of redirecting money back into the party system. Noted election law professor Rick Hasen, while bemoaning the McCutcheon decision, praised the effect the case would have on government functioning. And former ACLU counsel Joel Gora coauthored an entire book titled Better Parties, Better Government.

But despite the rider’s obvious benefits to the parties, the reformers were not amused. Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer evoked late-Medieval German mysticism, comparing the rider to the central European legend of Faust. According to the myth, the restless scholar—eager for learning and prurient exploits—traded eternal damnation for years of earthly knowledge and the seduction of the innocent maiden ‘Gretchen.’

The reformers expressed their dismay with a strongly worded, but ultimately futile, one-sentence letter to the Senators warning of the corruption the rider will surely presage. But they may have saved their ire for just one. Former Senate majority leader Harry Reid has spent this entire year demonizing wealthy private citizens for participating in politics. His haggard bromides were so familiar they could have come straight from a Campaign Legal Center press release. Evil plutocrats are “buying democracy,” and “drowning out the voices of the American people.” They are un-American industrialists trading commercially gained wealth for access and influence in the political sphere.

Mr. Reid even fully supported a speech-stifling constitutional amendment that would have put Congress in charge of what is “reasonable” when it comes to how much people can criticize a sitting United States Senator. If anyone is standing up for the little guy it’s Harry Reid.

Or not. According to NPR’s Peter Overby, Mr. Reid could have vetoed the rider and kept it out of the bill. Indeed another campaign finance provision promoted by future Majority leader Mitch McConnell to loosen coordination barriers between candidates and parties got the chopping block. But Reid, showing his true colors, allowed the rider, all while he lambasts political money on the Senate floor and cozies to reformers.

The reformers may not have been so much naughty this year as demoralized. The courts look askance at their arguments, their supposed Congressional allies drop them like a poorly researched Rolling Stone article, and even their friends in academia can’t support them. At least they still have Stephen Colbert.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Harry Reid Was All-In for “Independent” Orman in Kansas

Well, it looks like one thing Republicans strongly suspected all along was true: Democrats were working hard behind the scenes to help elect “independent” Kansas U.S. Senate candidate Greg Orman. Even Harry Reid, in his desperate attempt to avoid becoming Minority Leader-in-waiting chipped in a not-insubstantial amount of cash considering Kansas’ affordable media market. Bloomberg reports:
Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC run by former political advisers to Majority Leader Harry Reid, sent about $1.5 million to two super-PACs that promoted businessman Greg Orman, who was running as an independent and refused to identify with which party he would caucus. Orman was ultimately unsuccessful in his campaign to unseat Republican incumbent Pat Roberts.
Senate Majority PAC sent $1.31 million to Committee to Elect an Independent Senate in five installments beginning on (you guessed it) Oct. 16, the start of the veiled disclosure period. The Reid-aligned PAC also sent $151,000 on Nov. 3-4 to Kansans Support Problem Solvers, which also backed Orman.
Ironically, Michael Bloomberg himself also kicked in $1 million to one of the Orman Super PACs.

Pre-election, there was some actual debate among pundits on what party Orman would caucus with if he beat Senator Roberts. The trail of money leaves little doubt in that regard. Ultimately, Roberts won by 10%. For such an expected close race, perhaps Kansans ultimately knew they would be getting a liberal gun-controlling Democrat masquerading as an independent had they went with Orman.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Obomination: President\Emperor Governing By Decree

RNLA Advisory Council Member and Chapman Law Professor Ronald Rotunda supports the goals of President Obama’s immigration plans.  However, he vehemently opposes the methods.  As Professor Rotunda testified  in front of the House Judiciary Committee last week (emphasis added): 

I favor reform along the lines that the President has proposed. Whether Congress enacts “comprehensive” immigration reform or whether it moves one-step at a time, the important thing is reform. The government tells us that there are over 11 million undocumented aliens. This country is not going to march 11 million people across our border. Democracies do not engage in mass deportations. I think we also agree that we have to secure our borders. If a 15-year old can cross our borders without papers, an al Qaeda operative can do the same. 

The issue is whether it is constitutional for the President, unilaterally, to rewrite our immigration laws and change the status of about 5 million people. The President’s executive power does not give him the power to govern by decree. If the President can get away with this action, future Presidents will be able, for example, to rewrite other laws. For example, if the next President does not favor the Affordable Care Act, he or she can simply grant a waiver to all of that law.

Our Constitution rejected the notion that the President can govern by decree. President Obama did not base his decision on any theory that he was merely implementing Congressional intent. He did not argue that any legal precedent supported his actions. He did not even say that he was incorrect when he earlier said, repeatedly, that he does not have the legal authority to deal with undocumented aliens. Instead, the President, in his address to the nation, said that he acted and issued his order because “Congress has failed.”

Congress does not fail when it refuses to enact a presidential proposal. If our Constitution were a computer program, we would not say that the separation of powers is a bug; instead, it is a feature of the program. The framers designed our Constitution to make it difficult to enact laws and to require compromise — all for protecting our liberty. 

If you have a minute, please click on the link for the entire testimony.