ATLANTA (AP) — Country musician Travis Tritt, who canceled shows at venues that required a COVID-19 vaccine or mask-wearing, sang the national anthem before Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night.Wearing a Braves jersey, Tritt received a smattering of applause when he was announced as a “country music legend.”There was a problem with Tritt's microphone, but a worker quickly handed him a backup mic that allowed him to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” without any further issues.After belting out the final words, Tritt patted his heart to a loud round of applause from the crowd of some 41,000. He lingered a bit in the prime seats behind home plate, bumping fists, shaking hands and chatting up the largely mask-less fans.The 58-year-old Tritt is a native of suburban Marietta, not far from the Braves' stadium. He has been a vocal supporter of Atlanta's sports teams, even penning a forgettable 2004 ode to the city's NFL team, “Falcons Fever.”Tritt announced this week he was canceling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky over COVID-19 mandates, joining other prominent entertainers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in protesting rules designed to curb the spread of a virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the world.Tritt told Billboard that he’s “not against the vaccine” but is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want.”In August, he released a statement claiming COVID-19 safety protocols were “discriminating” against concertgoers and said that he stood with those standing up against “the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”The Braves' stadium, Truist Park, has allowed full capacity most of the season with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests or mask-wearing from fans.Major League Baseball does require vaccines for non-playing personnel to be allowed access to the field.“Our policy in the playoff is non-vaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the field is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB's vice president of communications.It wasn't clear if Tritt has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but that was a moot point. He sang the anthem from the Truist Club seating area behind the backstop.The selection of Tritt to perform the anthem came as Braves outfielder Jorge Soler said he has reconsidered his initial reluctance to get the vaccine.Soler tested positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS and was removed from the Braves' roster. He had no symptoms and was able to return for Game 5 against the Dodgers.“I feel way different now,” Soler said through a translator. “I feel bad about it, and I’m going to get a shot as soon as I can.”Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner who has had five songs go to No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.Tritt was followed to the mic by another country music star, Atlanta native Zac Brown, who delivered a boisterous “Play Ball” before the first pitch.___Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry___AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Republicans have succeeded this year in passing a range of voting restrictions in states they control politically, from Georgia to Iowa to Texas. They're not stopping there. Republicans in at least four states where Democrats control the governor's office, the legislature or both — California, Massachusetts, Michigan and Pennsylvania — are pursuing statewide ballot initiatives or veto-proof proposals to enact voter ID restrictions and other changes to election law. In another state, Nebraska, Republicans control the governor's office and have a majority in the single-house legislature, but are pushing a voter ID ballot measure because they have been unable to get enough lawmakers on board. Republicans say they are pursuing the changes in the name of "election integrity," and repeat similar slogans — "easier to vote, harder to cheat." Democrats dismiss it as the GOP following former President Donald Trump's false claims that widespread fraud cost him the election. They say Republicans have tried to whip up distrust in elections for political gain and are passing restrictions designed to keep Democratic-leaning voters from registering or casting a ballot. "It's depressing that this is the way that (the Trump) wing of the Republican Party thinks they have to win, instead of trying to win on issues or beliefs," said Gus Bickford, the Democratic Party chairman in Massachusetts. "They just want to suppress the vote." A common thread among the Republican proposals is toughening voter identification requirements, both for in-person and mail voting. In Michigan and Pennsylvania, Republicans are trying to get around Democratic governors who wield the veto pen. Wisconsin Republicans say they also are considering such a strategy. In California and Massachusetts, Republicans are a minority in both houses of the legislature. In Republican-controlled Nebraska, the hang-up is an officially nonpartisan legislature where more liberal lawmakers can derail legislation that enjoys broad conservative support. The road to gain voter approval is uphill in California and Massachusetts, but there's a clearer path to success in the other states. The leader of the California effort, Carl DeMaio of Reform California, said his organization is pursuing a ballot initiative because Democratic lawmakers will never take up his group's proposals. "That would mean they're validating Donald Trump, and they have so much hatred for Donald Trump that they don't even want to acknowledge that there's even a problem here," DeMaio said. Trump's baseless election fraud claims aside, DeMaio said Trump's message is resonating with people who have had doubts about the election system based on their own experience, such as getting duplicate ballots mailed to them at home. Voter fraud is exceedingly rare, and when it's attempted is typically caught by local election offices. In any case, Democrats say voter ID laws will do nothing to prevent the little fraud that exists. Rather, it will serve only to force the elderly, poor and disabled to go to unnecessary lengths to get proper government-issued identification cards they may not have, they say. Despite Trump's false claims of a stolen election, his own Justice Department and scores of recounts have debunked them, and courts up to the U.S. Supreme Court have swept aside such assertions. The government's own cybersecurity agency declared the 2020 presidential election the most secure in U.S. history. No state legislature has produced evidence of widespread election fraud. Even so, at least 10 Republican-controlled states have enacted laws so far this year that toughen voter ID or signature requirements or pare back opportunities to register to vote or cast a ballot. Putting voter-related matters to a statewide vote is nothing new. In recent years, for example, voters in California and Florida restored felons' right to vote. In 2018, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment allowing people to register on Election Day and request absentee ballots without having to give a reason. The difference this year is Republicans using the process in an attempt to enact restrictions they couldn't pass otherwise. In California, Massachusetts and Nebraska, Republicans are trying to gather enough signatures to get their proposals on ballots in next year's general election. In Michigan, Republicans are using an unusual provision in the state constitution to gather enough petition signatures so the GOP-controlled Legislature can pass a veto-proof voter ID bill. Among other things, the Michigan initiative would prohibit sending mail-in ballot applications to people who did not request them, with backers saying it sowed confusion and mistrust in 2020. "Democratic leadership is out of step with their voters," said Jamie Roe, a Republican campaign consultant and strategist with the Secure MI Vote initiative. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is preparing to veto similar legislation on her desk, telling reporters this month that there was not one "scintilla" of evidence of widespread voting fraud in last year's election and that Republicans are simply unhappy over Trump's loss. "Our elections work. You don't like the outcome? Well, then you run in the next election and try to win and earn people's votes — not cut out a segment of people that cast their ballot as Americans and have a right to do that," Whitmer said. In Pennsylvania, which allows no direct access to the ballot for citizen initiatives, the earliest the Republican-controlled Legislature could put its election changes on the ballot — through a proposed constitutional amendment — is 2023. The Pennsylvania proposal is among several that would go beyond changes to voter ID. As Trump allies go state to state, pushing partisan reviews of last year's presidential election, the measure in Pennsylvania would require election results to be audited by the state's auditor general. It would require paper ballots to bear a watermark and be open to "public inspection" after an election is certified. The measure is awaiting a vote in the state House, perhaps as early as next week, before it can go to the Senate. Its sponsor, Republican Rep. Jeff Wheeland, said it will "give back to the voters surety" that their elections are safe and secure. Another Republican, Rep. Eric Nelson, said it would let voters "address what many feel is a frenzy of mistrust in our current election system." Democratic Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, referring to Trump's loss in the battleground state, said the only reason the measure is coming up "is because some are disappointed in the result of the election." Under the proposed initiative in California, counties would be required to do more to clean up voter registration rolls, evaluate wait times for in-person voting in every election and show how they will fix "unreasonably long" waits. In Nebraska, groups including Black Votes Matter and the League of Women Voters have joined forces to oppose the Republican-backed ballot initiative. John Cartier, director of voting rights for Civic Nebraska, said the initiative would violate Nebraska's constitutional protections for voting access. He said there has never been a single conviction for voter impersonation fraud in the state's history. Besides, he said, states such as Arizona and Georgia already have tough voter ID laws "and people don't really trust the system there," Cartier said. "So passage of a voter ID law doesn't do anything for trust. If anything, it hurts it." ___ Associated Press writer David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report. Follow Marc Levy on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/timelywriter.
RICHMOND, Va. — Former President Barack Obama, campaigning Saturday for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor, framed the Nov. 2 election as an opportunity to decisively reject the rhetoric and politics of another former president, Donald Trump."We’re at a turning point right now, both here in America and around the world," Obama told a crowd of about 2,000 gathered outdoors on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University. "Because there's a mood out there. There's a politics of meanness and division and conflict, of tribalism and cynicism. That's one path. But the good news is there's another path where we pull together and we solve big problems."With 10 days until Election Day, polls have shown a tight race between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, who has Trump's endorsement for the job. Youngkin has kept Trump at a distance, avoiding campaign appearances with him as he attempts to appeal to an electorate that backed President Joe Biden by 10 percentage points last year. But Youngkin also has called for auditing voting machines and has launched an "election integrity task force" — efforts that play into lies and other baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe welcomes former President Barack Obama during his campaign rally in Richmond, Va., on Saturday.Kevin Lamarque / ReutersObama linked support for such conspiracy theories to the Jan. 6 riots on the Capitol by Trump supporters trying to block certification of Biden's victory."What are you willing to stand up for? When are you willing to say no to your own supporters? What are you willing to say? There are some things that are more important than getting elected," Obama said. "And maybe American democracy is one of those things."Christian Martinez, a Youngkin spokesperson, said Obama's appearance promoted "the fantasies of Terry and the left because they can’t run on their failed record and radical vision for the future."Youngkin has said he believes Biden was legitimately elected and last week criticized a pro-Trump, right-wing rally where attendees pledged allegiance to a flag that organizers said was present at the riot. But the message from Obama, McAuliffe and others Saturday reinforced a strategy to make Youngkin into a Trump-like figure in the eyes of Virginia voters."Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican," McAuliffe told the crowd. "I call him Donald Trump in khakis. Do we want a lapdog to Donald Trump to be our governor here in the commonwealth? No we don’t."Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison called Youngkin a Trump "fanboy." Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, like Obama, asserted that the race is critical to preserving democracy and voting rights. And Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney expanded the critique to include the Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas, two Republicans who have gained national attention for opposing vaccine mandates in their states.“Think about what's going on in Florida and think about what's going on in Texas,” Stoney said in his opening remarks. “Do you want those policies in Virginia?”Campaigns for governor in Virginia come the year after presidential elections, and the results are often viewed as a judgment on the party in the White House and a harbinger for the midterm elections.McAuliffe, a former governor was, because of a state law unique to Virginia, prohibited from serving a second consecutive term. His enduring popularity with Democrats helped him steamroll through a primary, but McAuliffe has found in Youngkin a Republican who has cautiously navigated Trump era politics and has not been easily defined.Youngkin has preferred not to nationalize the race the way Democrats have, his unwillingness to campaign alongside Trump extending to other prominent Republican surrogates who have been absent from Virginia down the stretch.“I am surprised Donald Trump hasn't come,” Harrison told reporters before Saturday’s rally. “I mean, he's endorsed Youngkin six times already, so you would think you'd be here. … At the end of the day it doesn't really matter to us whether Trump comes or not. Glenn Youngkin is going to lose this race.”Obama’s visit was one in a series of visits from national Democrats marching in to boost voter turnout and lift McAuliffe in the closing weeks. President Joe Biden will return to Virginia next week for his second event with McAuliffe. First lady Jill Biden, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, and rock star Dave Matthews are among those who have rallied or are scheduled to rally with McAuliffe.Youngkin, in the midst of a statewide bus tour, ended Saturday with a rally outside a farmers market in nearby Glen Allen, where he was greeted by a crowd estimated at 2,000. He made a brief mention of Obama, who at the McAuliffe event mocked Youngkin, a former collegiate basketball player, for shooting hoops in ads.“I just challenged Barack Obama to a game of one-on-one,” Youngkin told his audience, referring to a video tweeted of him nailing a three-pointer and inviting Obama to play.But Youngkin mostly kept his focus, as he has throughout his campaign, on state and local issues such as taxes and schools. He spoke of a “Virginia promise” that “hangs in the balance.“The spirit of our founding fathers is all around us,” Youngkin said. “And we have to rise to the occasion. It is not about me. It is about you. So tonight. I ask you to hire me to go work for you.”
Donald Kirk Hartle, a Republican, had claimed that someone voted in the 2020 election by using the mail-in ballot of his wife, who died in 2017. He now faces two counts of voter fraud.Speaking to a Las Vegas news station in November, Donald Kirk Hartle described being “surprised” by the possibility that someone had stolen his dead wife’s mail-in ballot and used it to vote in the 2020 election. “That is pretty sickening to me, to be honest with you,” he told KLAS-TV.But this week, the Nevada attorney general filed two charges of voter fraud against Mr. Hartle, 55, claiming that he was the one who forged his wife’s signature to vote with her ballot.“Voter fraud is rare, but when it happens it undercuts trust in our election system and will not be tolerated by my office,” the attorney general, Aaron D. Ford, said in a statement on Thursday. “I want to stress that our office will pursue any credible allegations of voter fraud and will work to bring any offenders to justice.”The announcement from Mr. Ford’s office comes months after waves of Republicans, including former President Donald J. Trump, falsely asserted that the 2020 election had been tainted by widespread voter fraud, including in Nevada, a state that Mr. Trump lost.Mr. Hartle, a registered Republican, was charged with voting using the name of another person and voting more than once in the same election, the attorney general’s office said in the statement. Each charge carries a prison sentence of up to four years and a fine of up to $5,000, the prosecutors said.The criminal complaint did not explain how prosecutors came to the conclusion that Mr. Hartle had committed voter fraud. Questions sent to the office of Mr. Ford, a Democrat elected to the position in 2018, were not immediately responded to on Saturday.David Chesnoff, a lawyer for Mr. Hartle, said in a statement that his client “looks forward to responding to the allegations in court.” Mr. Hartle is scheduled to appear in the Las Vegas Township Justice Court on Nov. 18.The Nevada Republican Party had cited Mr. Hartle’s story as evidence of voting irregularities on Twitter last year, saying that Mr. Hartle “was surprised to find that his late wife Rosemarie, a Republican, cast a ballot in this years election despite having passed away” in 2017.Since the announcement of the charges against Mr. Hartle, however, the party has not corrected the record, said Callum Ingram, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Nevada, Reno.“The state Republican Party has been pretty quiet certainly on this case since the narrative got flipped on its head,” Dr. Ingram said in an interview on Saturday.Mr. Hartle is the chief financial officer and treasurer of Ahern Rentals, according to his LinkedIn profile. The business rents out construction equipment and is a part of the Ahern Family of Companies. One of its businesses, Xtreme Manufacturing, was fined $3,000 in 2020 for hosting a Trump rally that did not comply with the state’s Covid regulations at the time, said Kathleen Richards, a spokeswoman for the city of Henderson, Nev.Nevada was one of several states in November that was dealing with dubious claims of voter fraud after the presidential election.The Nevada secretary of state, Barbara K. Cegavske, said in a document posted in December titled “Facts vs. Myths” that there was no evidence of large-scale voter fraud in the state.Ms. Cegavske’s office led the investigation of Mr. Hartle’s case.“Our office takes voter fraud very seriously,” Ms. Cegavske said in the statement released by Mr. Ford’s office. “Our securities division worked hard to bring this case to a close.”Conservative news outlets spread Mr. Hartle’s story. After the state Republican Party highlighted the case on Twitter, the conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza discussed the case on his show. Then the Fox News host Tucker Carlson promoted Mr. Hartle’s account, saying: “We don’t know who did this. We wish we did, because it’s fraud.”For many voters in the state, Dr. Ingram said, proving that widespread voter fraud did not occur “is something that no amount of counterevidence, no amount of effort to prove folks wrong with facts or reason, is ever going to touch because it’s an unquestionable article of faith.”
The future of policing in Des Moines is on the ballot this November as candidates for Des Moines City Council each campaign on various proposals — some similar in nature — they'd like to see enacted for the city's police department. In 2020, the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer sparked mass social justice protests nationwide. Calls to increase police accountability and defund local police departments caused major cities like Austin, Portland, Louisville and more to take action.Last summer, the Des Moines City Council unanimously passed an ordinance that banned racial profiling and mandated additional police training on de-escalation, cultural diversity, cultural competency and implicit bias, while also mandating that officers have a duty to intervene when witnessing “unreasonable force” by another officer.Community activists and local organizations like the Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP, the ACLU of Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement have previously said that the ordinance was a good first step, but that more needs to be done.More than a year later, with three city council seats up for grabs, the eight candidates in the race are pushing platforms that include various proposals for the Des Moines Police Department's future, from reallocating the department's funds to creating opportunities for greater oversight, relocating services outside the department and more.Citizen police oversight committeeMost commonly across several candidates is the support for a community oversight committee for the department.In addition to a ban on racial profiling last year, the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP joined numerous community activists and other community organizations in calling for a civilian review board. The proposal was not part of the final ordinance passed by city council.More:When it comes to bolstering police oversight, here are Des Moines' optionsRussell Lovell, the co-chair of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP's Legal Redress Committee, told the Des Moines Register last summer that the NAACP was advocating for a civilian review board that would do the following:Give communities a direct say in police practices.Publish enforcement and demographic data.Make that data accessible in different ways.Find adequate ways to store the data.Ensure that the police department’s core values matched the community’s.Seek public input when police make decisions on resource allocation or hiring.Candidates who said they would support the implementation of an oversight board included Ward 3 and at-large incumbents Josh Mandelbaum and Connie Boesen, along with candidates Marcus Coenen, Justyn Lewis and Brandi Webber.Additionally, Lewis said he wants to see a civilian oversight committee in Des Moines have the power to subpoena documents and pull data from the police department for internal investigations."Before a decision is made from self-investigation, the board can give a suggestion and then also go public with their findings," Lewis said.Incumbents Mandelbaum and Boesen say they would be in support of an oversight review board, but warned that state law pre-empts what powers a review board could have. As a result, both incumbents say they would want to see what possibilities are available to the city within those parameters."That (independent review board) provides some independence and some accountability and I think we should be looking to do more of that," Mandelbaum said.Coenen, a Ward 1 candidate, said he would also want to see the community involved in the process of creating an oversight committee to make sure it's what the city needs."The biggest thing, for me, is I want to make sure that there's ... pretty wide access to data about how policing is done in the city," Coenen said. "(Like,) the stops that are occurring, all calls that are occurring and the results of those, but also information about what's happening within the police department."Ward 1 incumbent Bill Gray told the Register's editorial board in an interview that although he would support the creation of such a committee, he would be a follower and not a leader on the issue.Ward 3 candidate Cory McAnelly didn't say, explicitly, whether he would support a civilian oversight committee but told the Register's editorial board that the city should bring everyone to the table, including residents, neighborhood associations and community organizers to figure out what's best for the city."I don't hear anybody saying that it's a bad idea ... I don't even hear police, necessarily, saying it's a bad idea ... but from the proponents, what I have heard is there's a right way do it and a wrong way to do it," McAnelly said.The only candidate vocally outspoken against creating such a committee is Ward 1 candidate Indira Sheumaker. Although Sheumaker supports various police department proposals, she says state law doesn't allow oversight committees to have any true ability to oversee or otherwise hold police departments accountable."It wouldn't have the power to make actual changes to employment, it wouldn't have power in hiring, firing, policy ... anything." Sheumaker said. "I am not in support of creating something like that to think that the problem is solved."Redirecting funds and services from police departmentAbout $74.2 million, or 38% of the city's general fund, is currently allocated toward the Des Moines Police Department, more than any other city department.Social justice activists locally and nationwide have called for the defunding of local police departments and the redirection of those tax dollars to instead fund social programs that support mental health and affordable housing initiatives.More:What does 'defund the police' mean and why some say 'reform' is not enoughThe candidate field varies when it comes to the implementation of "defunding the police" and what it means for the city of Des Moines.Sheumaker and Webber have both been outspoken for not only redirecting police funding into social programs but also pushing for a future where the Des Moines Police Department would eventually become obsolete."I want to be creating a public safety system in Des Moines that's from the community, is built into the community, and is focused on transformative and restorative justice, that is designed to lessen interaction between residents and police," Sheumaker said.In an interview with the Register's editorial board, Webber shared various ideas to lessen the police's responsibilities, bringing some of the burdens they currently shoulder outside the police department. One such proposal includes implementing a new traffic enforcement department, located outside the police department.Webber said those traffic enforcers and monitors would not have the ability to search vehicles or run background checks on drivers and would not carry any weapons."If you are a person of color, you automatically know that (police) are more likely to target you. So if we take away the traffic enforcers' ability to do much other than enforce traffic, then we take away that potential police encounter, and therefore are protecting our minority citizens," Webber said.Social programs that direct mental health crisis calls to mental health professionals instead of police are also popular among all of the candidates for city council.The city recently allocated additional funding to hire more staff to the department's mental health crisis team — previously, Boesen said, the department had just one officer trained to deal with residents experiencing a mental health crisis.With the addition of more officers trained in responding to mental health issues, the goal would be to convert the department's mental health crisis team into one that operates 24 hours a day."I think that a lot of these social issues need to be dealt with in a different way than having police intervention ... so things that, if you can help people work through their issues ... I think it's just a better way for everyone," Boesen said.Other candidates want to see a mental health crisis unit that operates independently from the police department, using Eugene, Oregon's Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program as a model."Communities from Denver to Austin to everywhere in between have been starting or implementing programs to respond to more calls with mental health professionals or social workers, and that's something that we should be doing, as well," Mandelbaum said. "I think the key path there is, first, it's just providing the resources for the mental health professionals and the folks that you need (in) dispatch to identify the calls and get those programs off the ground.""I absolutely support better funding for mental health and other social service types of resources that reduce the number of those types of calls to the police department," Coenen said. "In my mind, it's a little irresponsible, from a city-side perspective, to try to rely on one department to achieve such a broad brushstroke."Cure Violence, a third-party program approved by the council in February, would achieve another step in outsourcing services from the police department into the community.The program, which is currently in the RFP process, would employ several "violence interrupters" who would be embedded in the community to anticipate violence in targeted areas, mediate conflict and prevent retaliation.More:Des Moines announces a single applicant — Creative Visions — wants to lead the city's violence prevention programIn two years, the program, which has a projected operating cost of about $400,000, would need additional funding from the city in order to continue beyond what's already been budgeted.Several candidates expressed interest in continuing support for the program, which is expected to get started by the end of the year.Boesen and Mandelbaum have each expressed support for the program, as both incumbents voted to approve funding for it earlier this year.Coenen also expressed support for the program, while cautioning that he'd want see data and metrics on the program's success after it's implemented before agreeing to allocating it future funding.Sheumaker said she, too, supports the program but would want to see how much police would be involved with the inner workings of the program.Although Webber was not immediately familiar with the program, she said she looked forward to learning more about the program and its leadership."It's really important to ensure that the programs we are funding ... paying for, as a city, are being done by the right type of people," Webber said.Lewis, who was also not immediately familiar with the program, told the Register's editorial board that the program seemed like "a great structure that needs to be created."McAnelly didn't specify in his meeting with the Register's editorial board whether or not he supports the Cure Violence program. He called the implementation of the program "reactive" and wants to see more data on the program."I don't know, when I look at it, if it's the right solution ... if I get in there and I get the data and the information and there's real hard data and support from the neighborhoods ... then yeah, I'm on board," McAnelly said. "This RFP process will tell, right?"Melody Mercado covers Des Moines city government for the Register. Reach her at email@example.com or Twitter @melodymercadotv.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he has appealed the Marion County judge’s ruling to Indiana Supreme Court to seek “clarity and finality on this important issue.” INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s governor is asking the state’s high court to review a judge’s ruling that upheld a new law giving legislators more power to intervene during public health emergencies. Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday in a statement that he has appealed the Marion County judge’s ruling to Indiana Supreme Court to seek “clarity and finality on this important issue.” The Republican-dominated Legislature enacted the law over Holcomb’s veto following criticism from conservatives over a statewide mask mandate and other COVID-19 restrictions that Holcomb had imposed by executive orders. The measure establishes a new process under which legislative leaders can call the General Assembly into what it calls an “emergency session.” Holcomb’s lawsuit argued that the law violates a state constitutional provision allowing only the governor to call the Legislature into a special session. In an Oct. 7 ruling, Marion Superior Judge Patrick Dietrick said the state constitution gives the General Assembly the authority to determine when and for how long it will meet. In a prepared statement Friday, Holcomb said his lawsuit “is about making sure that state government operates the way our constitution outlines.” “The proper functioning of state government is critical, especially during times of emergency. Our State, and its people, deserve clarity and finality on this important issue, which is why I am filing an appeal today,” Holcomb added. Republican state Attorney General Todd Rokita has sided with legislators in defending the new law. Rokita’s office released statement critiquing the governor’s appeal, The Indianapolis Star reported. “He got his answer. Turns out he didn’t like the answer,” the statement said. “So, now the taxpayers have to continue to be on the hook for his lawsuit.” ►Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the WHAS11 News app now. For Apple or Android users. Have a news tip? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.
Donald Kirk Hartle looked troubled last November. It was a few days after Election Day and the Las Vegas man was telling a local news station that someone had stolen his late wife’s mail-in ballot and returned it to Clark County election officials, according to Nevada’s online ballot tracker.“That is pretty sickening to me, to be honest with you,” Hartle said in an interview then with KLAS 8 News Now. “It was, uh, disbelief. It just — it made no sense to me.”Hartle noted that his late wife, Rosemarie, had died in 2017, but remained on the voter rolls. The signature on the returned ballot had matched what election officials had on file for Rosemarie, KLAS 8 News Now reported at the time, leaving Hartle to wonder “who took advantage of his grief” and how had they pulled it off?Nearly a year later, there appears to be an answer.On Thursday, the Nevada attorney general’s office announced it had filed two charges of voter fraud against Hartle, alleging that he forged his late wife’s name to vote with her ballot. Both charges — one for voting using the name of another person and another for voting more than once in the same election — are category D felonies that each can carry a prison sentence of up to four years, along with a fine of up to $5,000.“Voter fraud is rare, but when it happens it undercuts trust in our election system and will not be tolerated by my office,” Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, a Democrat, said in a statement. “I want to stress that our office will pursue any credible allegations of voter fraud and will work to bring any offenders to justice.”Hartle allegedly voted twice, including once in his late wife’s name, between Oct. 26 and Oct. 30 of last year, according to a criminal complaint. David Chesnoff, an attorney for Hartle, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday, but told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his client would respond to the allegations in court. His first court appearance is scheduled for Nov. 18.The charges are the result of an investigation by the Nevada secretary of state’s office, which had been criticized by the Nevada GOP for not doing enough to investigate voter fraud allegations. In April, state GOP leaders voted to censure Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a fellow Republican, for “[putting] the reliability of our elections in Nevada in question.”“Our office takes voter fraud very seriously,” Cegavske said in a statement Thursday. “Our Securities Division worked hard to bring this case to a close.”The case was one that local and national Republican leaders touted last year as concrete evidence of voter fraud. Even before Election Day, then-president Donald Trump had already been pushing baseless claims that the election was rigged against him, something he would continue to do for nearly a year more.“Kirk was surprised to find that his late wife Rosemarie, a Republican, cast a ballot in this years election despite having passed away in 17’,” the Nevada GOP tweeted last November, citing Hartle’s case. “The media needs to understand we are finding concrete cases of voter irregularities that they must expose.”According to his LinkedIn profile, Hartle is the chief financial officer and treasurer for the Ahern Family of Companies, whose owner, Don Ahern, is a prominent Trump supporter. The company was fined last year for flouting pandemic safety guidelines in order to host a rally for Trump in Nevada.As The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported, the claims by Hartle, a registered Republican, spread quickly in conservative circles, jumping from local outlets to Fox News’s Tucker Carlson, who used it to bolster Trump supporters’ assertions that widespread voter fraud could have swayed the 2020 election results.Last November, Carlson declared on his show something that would wind up being prescient: “We don’t know who did this,” he said. “We wish we did, because it’s fraud.”Read more:
A Dane County judge will hear arguments Monday morning after the Wisconsin Department of Justice asked the court to intervene in the Republican-led review of the 2020 election under the direction of special counsel Michael Gableman. Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking the court to invalidate subpoenas issued to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and force Gableman to conduct any interviews in public. “The law is clear, it needs to be conducted as part of the legislative hearing process,” Kaul said in an interview Friday. “Justice Gableman’s team was unwilling to agree to that. They wanted to do it in a secret, private setting.” Gableman hasn’t responded to the latest developments. “Unfortunately it’s been a rather pathetic circus to watch,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said Friday in a taping for UPFRONT. “I mean you couldn’t write something this stupid, and I think at some point we need some intervention because Wisconsin’s not looking great with this clown show going on.” Nationally Democrats and Republicans are intently watching the review and its outcome. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Gableman’s review was “absolutely” necessary. “There are still things that I’ve heard that I can’t explain, and I think what will probably come out of that report is initially just examples of things we still don't have the answers for that probably need to be further investigated,” Johnson said. “Nobody should question the result of the election, but that requires tightening controls over what happened during COVID where we dramatically increased absentee balloting.”Monday’s court hearing only involves subpoenas issued to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, but its outcome could impact mayors and local election officials who also have received subpoenas in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha and Green Bay. MADISON, Wis. — A Dane County judge will hear arguments Monday morning after the Wisconsin Department of Justice asked the court to intervene in the Republican-led review of the 2020 election under the direction of special counsel Michael Gableman. Attorney General Josh Kaul is asking the court to invalidate subpoenas issued to the Wisconsin Elections Commission and force Gableman to conduct any interviews in public.
abstract. Lawyer lies designed to sabotage valid election results are not protected political speech under the First Amendment. Ethics rules governing candor and frivolous litigation require sanctions, if not disbarment. Moreover, the duty of candor should be extended from the courthouse to the public square when lawyer lies threaten our democracy. “Truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues, and lies have always been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings.” —Hannah Arendt, Lying in Politics: Reflections on the Pentagon Papers Introduction Lawyer lies pervade politics regardless of party, though to be sure, they became more noticeable in the Trump Era. In the aftermath of the 2020 election, lawyers desperate to alter the outcome of validly cast votes spewed outrageous lies. Their election fraud lies stand apart from those made by lawyers earlier in President Trump’s Administration because of the consequences at stake. Indeed, the harm of their lies cannot be overstated. Had their lies not been rejected by the courts, they would have undone the results of a legitimate election, compromising the very foundation of American democracy. More than sixty lawsuits were dismissed after judges appointed by both Democrats and Republicans (including President Trump) refused to entertain fraud allegations based on lies advanced by lawyers. And for good reason. Lawyer lies about the outcome of a valid election, whether told in chambers or in a press conference, risk causing unique, devasting harm to our democratic form of government and should not be tolerated by members of our profession. Indeed, philosopher Jeremy Waldron calls these types of lies “among the worst kinds of lie to tell. They are libels on democracy.” Perhaps most concerning, a lack of meaningful discipline for lawyers who tell election fraud lies risks a continued threat in future elections and undermines public confidence in the legal profession. Ethics rules can and should be guardrails to protect against future lawyer lies comprising valid election results. This Essay contends that ethics rules governing candor in the courtroom and frivolous litigation require sanctions for lawyer lies designed to sabotage valid election results. Further, it makes the case for extending the duty of candor to the public square when those lies threaten extreme harm. Lies may be justifiable in political dealings and in the practice of law, but the legal profession should not tolerate them when pressed on behalf of government officials aiming to undo legitimate election results, whether in the courtroom or in the court of public opinion. While this Essay focuses on the lies told following the 2020 election, the analysis here similarly applies to past elections, and especially to future elections. Part I of this Essay analyzes some of the more egregious lawyer lies in recent years and defines the very specific nature of the lies at the center of this Essay: election fraud lies. Part II argues that sanctions should be imposed for lawyers’ election fraud lies under existing ethics and civil procedure rules. Part III makes the case for extending the duty of candor beyond the courtroom and addresses relevant speech and enforcement concerns. Part IV concludes with recommendations for expanding a broader duty of candor as an aspirational commitment for lawyers and lawyers-to-be. I. lawyer lies in modern politics The legal profession’s relationship to truth and lies is complicated and, at times, counterintuitive. As one scholar observes, “Truth in legal proceedings not only competes with other priorities, such as fairness and efficiency, but under the American legal system, it may be sought through deception, half-truths, misleading statements, and, at times, outright falsehoods.”Despite pledges and promises to seek truth, lawyers sometimes must engage in dishonesty to fulfill duties to their clients. For example, ethics rules explicitly permit lawyers to obscure the truth during negotiations. Lawyers acting in political roles, whether representing a government official or holding office themselves, frequently confront significant tensions surrounding honesty. Lawyer lies became a hallmark of the Trump Administration from the outset. Among the most brazen, Senior Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway’s lies included the size of the inauguration crowd, the fictitious Bowling Green Massacre, and the World Health Organization’s ability to prevent COVID-19. Attorney General Jeff Sessions falsely testified under oath that he did not meet with the Russian Ambassador during Trump’s presidential campaign, even though he did. Environmental Protection Administration head Scott Pruitt lied during his Senate confirmation hearings about his use of his work email account for personal business while serving as Oklahoma Attorney General. And this list does not even begin to touch on the dozens of lies told about the results of the 2020 election by lawyers on behalf of Trump including Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and L. Lin Wood. Calls for discipline and disbarment soon followed each of these lies. For example, in 2017, fifteen legal ethics scholars submitted a complaint about Conway’s lies to the District of Columbia’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel on the grounds that her statements constituted “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation” prohibited by professional conduct rules. They did so because they thought it necessary for the members of the Bar to speak publicly about the nature of fact and of truth, and for state disciplinary committees to sanction those lawyers who intentionally present false facts, particularly because lawyers are sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States and pursue the fair administration of justice. As another example, nearly two thousand lawyers signed onto a request that the Alabama State Disciplinary Committee disbar Sessions for testifying falsely under oath. The Americans Civil Liberties Union filed a separate complaint seeking discipline. As for Pruitt, an environmental organization and a law professor requested an investigation by the Oklahoma Bar Association.Authorities dismissed the Conway and Pruitt complaints. The Sessions matter has yet to result in a guilty finding. As the end of President Trump’s term approached, the lies characteristic of lawyers in his leadership ranks only intensified. Rudy Giuliani claimed election fraud in press conferences and even in his opening statement during a court proceeding, though he conceded after questioning by Pennsylvania U.S. District Judge Matthew W. Brann that the lawsuit did not allege fraud as a matter of law. More than 7,600 individuals, including over 3,000 attorneys, signed onto a complaint filed by Lawyers Defending American Democracy with the New York State Bar seeking the suspension of Giuliani’s New York license. A New York State appellate court suspended his New York license pending investigation, ultimately finding “uncontroverted evidence” that he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020.”The District of Columbia also suspended his D.C. license pending investigation. Sidney Powell’s election lies were so egregious that Dominion Voting Systems sued her for defamation. As a defense, she argued “no reasonable person” would have believed her. Among the absurdities, “Powell falsely stated on television and in legal briefs that Dominion machines ran on technology that could switch votes away from Trump, technology she said had been invented in Venezuela to help steal elections for the late Hugo Chávez.” She then proceeded to layer lies upon lies, taking the opposite position in response to sanctions sought in a Detroit federal court. Judge Linda V. Parker ultimately ordered Powell, along with eight other lawyers, to pay sanctions, calling their election fraud lawsuit a “historic and profound abuse of the judicial process.” She also ordered them to take continuing legal education courses on the topics of pleading standards and election law and referred them for discipline in the jurisdictions where they are licensed to practice. Judge Parker concluded that the lawyers “scorned their oath, flouted the rules, and attempted to undermine the integrity of the judiciary along the way.” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel also joined with Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, themselves attorneys, to request that the State Bar of Texas disbar Powell. L. Lin Wood repeatedly spread claims at political rallies and in court filings that the election was stolen, which eventually made him the subject of a voter fraud investigation by the Georgia Secretary of State. The Georgia State Bar instituted proceedings against Wood to suspend him from law practice based upon mental illness and cognitive impairment because of the conspiracy theories he championed. He also was among the lawyers sanctioned by Judge Powell. Disciplinary actions against Giuliani, Powell, Wood, and others remain pending at the time this Essay was published, with none yet permanently disbarred. To be fair, these Republican Party lawyers are not alone in peddling falsehoods. A nonpartisan news source, PolitiFact, deemed a promise by President Barack Obama that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” the “Lie of the Year” in 2013. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not entirely forthcoming about the Benghazi consulate terrorist attack, among other less-than-honest statements. And perhaps the most infamous example in recent history is the lie her husband, President Bill Clinton, told under oath during the Paula Jones litigation about his sexual indiscretions with a White House intern. These examples of lies by high-ranking government lawyers raise important questions. First, what role, if any, should legal ethics play in addressing the lies of lawyers in politics? Second, should a heightened duty of truthfulness be placed upon lawyers who represent a public official or hold public office? Third, in a world increasingly filled with alternative facts, deep fakes, and fake news, does the lawyer have a special role to play in conveying fact-based evidence to separate reality from fiction? Finally, if the answer to these initial questions is “yes,” what lies fall outside the scope of First Amendment protection? The answer to the first question is relatively straightforward. History tells us that legal ethics may serve as a bulwark against material lies before a tribunal or under oath. A larger movement by ethics professors sought to engage the disciplinary process in addressing lawyer lies developed in the wake of the Trump Administration’s flood of dishonesty. Described by one scholar as “the ethics resistance,” it remains to be seen whether this effort will serve as a deterrent for lawyers in future administrations. Some commentators argue that lies like Conway’s are protected political speech. But there is no serious debate that a lawyer in politics can be disciplined under ethics rules for lying to a judge about material facts in a trial or for lying under oath, just as any lawyer can be. Indeed, presidents from both political parties have lost their law licenses because of their lies. The second question—whether lawyers representing or serving as public officials bear a heightened duty of truthfulness—proves more difficult to answer. Legal ethicists are conflicted over whether government lawyers, or political actors who happen to be lawyers, should have special obligations beyond private lawyers. Some scholars, including myself, believe that “government lawyers have special responsibilities to serve the public good and to uphold the administration of justice.” The American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct (Model Rules) seem to share this view. For example, as the comment to Model Rule 1.13 explains, “a government lawyer may have authority under applicable law to question [government officials’] conduct more extensively than that of a lawyer for a private organization in similar circumstances.”Similarly, the comment to Model Rule 8.4(c) states that “[l]awyers holding public office assume legal responsibilities going beyond those of other citizens.” Others find that government attorneys owe no heightened ethical duty to a broader public interest. A full exploration of this debate is beyond the scope of this Essay, though it is a relevant backdrop for addressing whether the election fraud lies told by lawyers as political actors constitute protected political speech. As for the last two questions—whether lawyers play a special truth-telling role and which lies fall outside First Amendment protection—in a world where sources cannot be trusted and lies abound, the legal profession stands apart in an important way. All lawyers, by virtue of taking an oath to receive their law license, agree to be bound to a self-imposed duty of candor in the courtroom and the obligation not to pursue frivolous litigation. This professional commitment simultaneously demands honesty and constrains speech from lawyers in ways that are not required or allowed for nonlawyers. These ethical commitments to evidence-based facts eventually put a stop to at least some of the incessant lies of Trump lawyers once they appeared in court, as further detailed in Section II.B. But this was not a victory for legal ethics. Lawyers’ repeated, widely disseminated lies about the election results incentivized a violent attack on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021. The attack left five dead, including one police officer, and hundreds injured from “concussions, rib fractures, burns and even a mild heart attack.” Still others continue to suffer other mental health related harms, including post-traumatic stress disorder. And four police officers who defended the Capitol committed suicide. Apart from these physical and psychological harms, significant, nearly irreversible damage was done to our democracy as well. As Judge Moss, writing for the District Court of the District of Columbia, observed: “This was a singular and chilling event in U.S. history, raising legitimate concern about the security—not only of the Capitol building—but of our democracy itself.”The integrity of our democracy in the court of public opinion was compromised by the deceit of lawyers. They “cut the legs out from under democratic processes, by making it difficult or impossible for citizens to know whom to trust.” And this lack of trust endures. More than five months into President Joe Biden’s term, thirty-two percent of all Americans still believed his electoral victory was due to fraud, as did sixty-three percent of Republicans even though Republican led investigations found no evidence of voter fraud. Of course, lawyers were not the only ones fueling the January 6 insurrection and the ongoing disbelief about the election’s legitimacy. President Trump was the most vocal, to be sure, along with other Republican politicians and pundits. But what if lawyers like Giuliani, instead of contributing to the false cries of election fraud and advocating at the January 6 rally for “trial by combat,” told the truth? Ultimately, Giuliani would do so when pressed in open court about his fraud allegations. But by then, the damage had been done. We will never know if truth-telling by lawyers when it mattered most might have altered the tragic course of events that followed from the January 6 rally, but we do know that trust in the legal system has been compromised. Admittedly, lawyers do not place highly on honesty rankings among various other professions. But this is all the more reason why the profession must make clear to the public that lies about valid election results by lawyers violate our ethical obligations. These lawyers undermined the delicate balance between deception, which is sometimes permitted within the justice system, and flagrant material lies unsupported by facts, which are not. While the remainder of this Essay focuses narrowly on lawyer lies about the 2020 election, its conclusions and recommendations are broad in scope. It may be that the analysis here should apply more widely to any lies designed to undermine voting—for example, issues related to gerrymandering or voter suppression—or to lies that threaten democratic government more generally. At a minimum, however, the assessment of lawyer lies here offers important lessons to avoid creating a playbook for overturning valid election results in the future. Before turning to that assessment, the continuum of acceptable and unacceptable lies must be explored. Part II explains the ethics governing lawyer lies and applies existing rules to the election lies. II. the ethics of lawyer lies Lying occurs regularly in the practice of law, though perhaps not as often as it does in politics. The codes governing “ethics” for lawyers allow communications that many would find dishonest and unethical in other contexts. Section II.A identifies permissible lies and explains why they are allowed by the professional conduct rules. Section II.B explores the limits on lawyer lies. Section II.C then applies existing rules to the lawyer election fraud lies of 2020, revealing gaps where additional guidance may be needed. A. Acceptable Lawyer Lies Professional conduct rules not only permit lawyer lies, but in some instances may require less than candid speech, if not outright lies. For example, bluffing in negotiations is expected and the failure to do so may risk violating the duty of competent representation. Lawyers are allowed to argue contrary positions in different jurisdictions at different times for different clients. A District of Columbia Bar Ethics Opinion authorizes lawyers working in an intelligence or national security capacity to “act deceitfully” if required for engagement in clandestine activities. And the Colorado Supreme Court revised its rules to explicitly permit lawyers “to advise, direct, or supervise others, including clients, law enforcement or investigators” in “engaging in investigative deceit.” Potentially more problematic are the gaps in required truth-telling. For example, while the Model Rules prohibit a lawyer from knowingly making a materially false statement to a third party, no provision mandates an affirmative duty of candor or honesty to the client. The Preamble memorializes a lawyer’s obligations to support constitutional democracy and preserve society, but no provision imposes a specific obligation to refrain from lies designed to subvert our democratic form of government. Lawyers and others, including journalists and law enforcement officials, sometimes use lies to assist in civil and criminal investigations, arguably engaging in deception to enforce democratic rights and entitlements (though there is some movement away from these sorts of tactics, at least in the case of juvenile investigations). Other acceptable lies include“systemic lying” (i.e., “lying under oath by law enforcement personnel [that] occurs as a matter of routine,” such as lying about the location of contraband to avoid its exclusion as the fruit of a warrantless search) and “lies that participants in the legal system tell repeatedly, knowing that they are lies and with the complicity of all participants, for what they see as a higher purpose.” An example of the latter is when “[a] wife accuses her husband of adultery to obtain a divorce, and he goes along with it, even though they both know this is a lie.” In addition to ethics rules making certain lies acceptable and even required of lawyers, the First Amendment provides additional protection to lawyer lies. On one hand, “[i]t is beyond question that some lies—such as perjury and fraud—are simply not covered by the Constitution’s free speech clause.” On the other hand, “it is equally clear that some lies, even intentionally lying about military honors, are entitled to First Amendment protection.” The freespeech implications of election fraud lies are taken up in more detail below in Section III.A. B. Unacceptable Lawyer Lies Lawyer lies are not without limits. Lawyers take oaths pledging to seek truth, and the same ethics codes that allow lies also provide that dishonesty in some circumstances constitutes professional misconduct. For example, the ABA Model Rules prohibit knowingly making materially false statements in court and to third parties. Even so, unacceptable lawyer lies often go unpunished in the disciplinary system. Ethics codes outline their prohibitions in vague terms and are “notoriously under-enforced.” Bar authorities also struggle with politicization, agency capture, and a persistent lack of resources, further contributing to the underenforcement of ethics codes. According to one study, “[o]nly about five percent of all complaints result in any sanctions against lawyers,” and “the sanctions imposed on lawyers are often light and inconsistent.” Indeed, “[o]ver 90 percent of complaints are dismissed, only about 2 percent result in public sanctions, and many complainants never even learn the basis of the dismissal, let alone receive an opportunity to challenge it.” Another study found that the most frequently unenforced rules are “those requiring lawyers to report misconduct by other lawyers.” Other rules regularly ignored “include prohibitions against unauthorized practice by lawyers advising clients in states other than their licensing jurisdiction, rules prohibiting lawyers to pay for the costs and expenses of litigation (particularly class action litigation), rules requiring lawyers to expedite litigation, and rules prohibiting statements to the press during litigation,” as well as “prohibitions against collecting unreasonable fees, misleading unrepresented third persons, and failing to provide adequate supervision for subordinates.” Rare instances of discipline for lies typically occur not in the practice of law, but where a lawyer lies under oath. Prominent instances of legal discipline in the political sphere include President Clinton in the Paula Jones litigation and President Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell in relation to the Watergate scandal.Both lawyers ultimately lost their law licenses, and Mitchell served time in jail. Notably, President Clinton surrendered his license rather than face official disbarment, perhaps because he wanted to avoid the public shaming that accompanied the disbarment of Mitchell (and President Nixon, who also was disbarred for his involvement in Watergate). Sometimes lawyers are disciplined when their lies harm their clients or, more generally, the administration of justice. For example, North Carolina prosecutor Mike Nifong was disbarred over lies and other misconduct in the “Duke Lacrosse” case, which involved false rape allegations brought against three players. The statement issued by F. Lane Williamson, who chaired the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of the North Carolina State Bar, is instructive: [W]e are in unanimous agreement that there’s no discipline short of disbarment that would be appropriate in this case given the magnitude of the [lies] and the effect upon the profession and the public. . . . [D]ue to the initial strong statements, unequivocal statements, made by Mr. Nifong, there was a deception perpetrated upon the public. And many people were made to look foolish because they simply accepted that if this prosecutor said it was true, it must be true. . . .It is very difficult to find any good in this situation that brings us here. . . . I would say that this should be a reminder to everyone that it’s the facts that matter. These same words could be written about the 2020 election fraud lies. We can infer that some law firms stopped representing President Trump’s election challenges because of professional conduct rules. Under Model Rule 3.3, lawyers cannot knowingly make a “false statement of fact or law” before a judge or knowingly introduce false evidence. The duty of candor owed before a tribunal played a particularly crucial role in separating fact from fiction when Giuliani, under direct questioning from the judge, relented on his claims of election fraud. Similarly, Model Rule 3.1 bars lawyers from bringing frivolous claims in court. While Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that withdrawing the frivolous claim within the appropriate time frame avoids sanctions, the Model Rule contains no similar safe harbor.Moreover, Model Rule 4.1 requires that in “the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person.”Finally, Model Rule 8.4(c) provides that “[i]t is professional misconduct for a lawyer to . . . engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” though this provision is typically enforced only in connection with additional ethics rule violations. Every jurisdiction has adopted a version of the Model Rules’ duty of candor, ban on frivolous litigation, and prohibition against knowingly false statements of material facts to third parties. But these rules were not enough to deter some lawyers from peddling falsehoods about the 2020 presidential election. C. Applying Ethics Rules to the 2020 Election Fraud Lies Among the more than sixty election challenges brought in courts throughout the United States, not a single one succeeded in overturning the election. Across the country, judges appropriately dismissed complaints of election fraud, all of which lacked any fact-based support. However, dismissal alone is not sufficient. Those lawyers should also be disciplined for their legal ethics violations. As the leaders of Michigan wrote in their complaint to the State Bar of Texas: Although Ms. Powell’s attempt inevitably failed, it served a second, more sinister purpose—one that is not easily remedied, even by the court’s dismissal of baseless legal claims: it cast unwarranted doubt on the results of Michigan’s free and fair elections. Indeed, it undermined the faith of millions of Americans in our democracy and the legitimacy of our President. As a direct result of Ms. Powell’s efforts and the allied efforts of other unethical attorneys, the unhinged conspiracy theories and untrue statements surrounding the 2020 presidential election gained a patina of unearned respectability. It is not unheard of for lay individuals who are disappointed by the result of the election to claim that the election is “rigged” and the winner illegitimate. Those claims might even have some limited, negative impact. But when untruths of that nature are spread in courts of law by licensed attorneys, the impact and the resultant harm are exponentially greater. Here, a direct line can be drawn from the fabrications of Ms. Powell and her associates to the unprecedented insurrection at the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on January 6 that sought to topple our national government. Sanctions may be levied directly by the court or by a state lawyer discipline authority. To date, two courts have issued financial sanctions in election fraud cases. Judge N. Reid Neureiter was the first to do so. He awarded attorneys’ fees to the lawyers defending against an election challenge in a Colorado federal court. Calling the complaint “one enormous conspiracy theory,” he sanctioned attorneys Gary Fielder and Ernest Walker under Rule 11 and federal statute 28 U.S.C. § 1927, which provides that “[a]ny attorney . . . who so multiplies the proceedings in any case unreasonably and vexatiously may be required by the court to satisfy personally the excess costs, expenses, and attorneys’ fees reasonably incurred because of such conduct.” Michigan federal district court Judge Linda Parker was the second, sanctioning Powell, Wood, and others. But those lawyers have yet to permanently lose the privilege to practice law. Because of the severity of the consequences of their lies, it is critical that lawyers face disciplinary consequences as well as court sanctions. Suspension from practice and permanent disbarment for the election lies sends a message to the public that most members of the legal profession can be relied upon to present factual allegations that are either true or, at a minimum, based upon a good faith belief in their veracity. It also creates a deterrent effect against efforts to undermine future elections. As the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court observed when suspending Giuliani’s license: The hallmark of our democracy is predicated on free and fair elections. False statements intended to foment a loss of confidence in our elections and resulting loss of confidence in government generally damage the proper functioning of a free society. When those false statements are made by an attorney, it also erodes the public’s confidence in the integrity of attorneys admitted to our bar and damages the profession’s role as a crucial source of reliable information. It tarnishes the reputation of the entire legal profession and its mandate to act as a trusted and essential part of the machinery of justice. Disciplinary authorities should reject efforts by lawyers facing sanctions to voluntarily surrender their licenses. Instead, they should conduct full investigations. Allowing a confidential settlement or a voluntary surrender of one’s license, without a public determination of wrongdoing, undermines the deterrent effect. Indeed, for good reason, the ethical rule prohibiting frivolous litigation does not contain the safe harbor provision found in the parallel Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which allows a lawyer to avoid sanctions if a frivolous claim is withdrawn in a timely manner. This is because the ABA recognizes that harm occurs merely in the filing of a claim grounded in lies, and ethics rules should be applied accordingly. Finally, in addition to imposing sanctions under existing ethics and civil procedure rules for the lawyers’ in court election lies, the legal profession should contemplate extending the duty of candor beyond the courtroom when lies cause grave harm. Part III explores this proposal and evaluates First Amendment issues and other enforcement concerns. III. extending the duty of candor beyond the courtroom In today’s post-truth era, courts are among the rare fora where statements must still be supported by evidence-based, verifiable facts. To be sure, the courthouse is not a pristine arbiter of truth. But it is one of the last places where rules cling to the goal of truth-telling, even if imperfectly. This raises an important question: if a lawyer’s claims of election fraud cannot be sustained in the courtroom, should they be permitted in the court of public opinion? Legal ethics rules governing lawyer statements to the media focus on balancing a defendant’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know about potential safety threats and judicial proceedings generally. Model Rule 3.6 prohibits lawyers from making statements to the press that are substantially likely to materially prejudice the outcome of litigation and admonishes general dishonesty. The Rule does not, however, contemplate the ballot box fraud assertions heralded by lawyers in the media following the 2020 election. Moreover, the Rule applies only to lawyers involved in the pending litigation they are discussing publicly. Expanding the duty of candor from the courtroom to all media commentary—regardless of lawyer involvement in the matter, even in the limited circumstances of election lies by or on behalf of lawyer-politicians—would be a significant change. According to the Preamble to the Model Rules, lawyers must constantly balance their duties as “a representative of clients, an officer of the legal system and a public citizen having special responsibility for the quality of justice.” The lawyer plays a “vital role in the preservation of society.” As a member of a professional community, the lawyer cultivates “democratic competence,” justifying some restraints on lawyer speech. This confluence of duties to the legal system and society in a democracy supports a narrow extension of the duty of candor beyond the confines of the courthouse, especially if a lawyer’s speech causes severe harm. To return to the New York court’s rationale for suspending Giuliani’s license, part of the justification was based on the fact that his false statements were made under his “authority of being an attorney” and the fact that they were amplified “using his large megaphone” as an attorney, which meant “the harm is magnified.” The court explained: One only has to look at the ongoing present public discord over the 2020 election, which erupted into violence, insurrection and death on January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol, to understand the extent of the damage that can be done when the public is misled by false information about the elections. This Essay leaves for another day specific recommendations on language to be added to the Model Rules by the American Bar Association or other regulations by legislative bodies. One possibility, however, might come from the military, which prohibits any active duty member of the Armed Forces from using “official authority or influence to . . . affect the course or outcome of an election.” Note, however, that while the Supreme Court has upheld similar constraints on the political speech of the military, it has not confronted this particular issue in the context of lawyer speech. Congress or state legislators could also intervene. The Supreme Court has upheld statutory limitations on lawyer speech in at least two instances: legal advice regarding the accumulation of debt in contemplation of a bankruptcy filing and “material support” for foreign terrorist organizations. A similarly narrow prohibition covering publicly disseminated lies about valid election results might withstand challenge under this precedent. Critics will undoubtably suggest that this proposal stifles political speech, risks First Amendment challenges, and lacks meaningful enforcement mechanisms. Section III.A further explores the relevant free speech issues, and Section III.B responds to enforcement and other concerns. A. First Amendment Implications Under the First Amendment’s mandate that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech,” expression is protected from government interference, even if it is unpleasant, disruptive, vulgar, offensive, or insulting. But First Amendment protection is not unlimited. For example, the constitutionality of reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions is well established. The government can define unprotected speech and place limits on speech as the “regulator of professions and industries,” such as “lawyers, judges, prison administrators, radio/television stations, and the military.” The application of First Amendment protections to lawyer speech is notoriously elusive. Courts have upheld limitations on speech that apply directly to lawyer speech. For example, the Supreme Court has sustained lawyer speech restrictions related to advertising solicitations, statements to the press, bar admission and licensing, government whistleblowing, and fee limits. Other courts have upheld similar restrictions on the grounds that “a lawyer’s court-granted license requires members of the bar to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the role of courts in the administration of justice.”And although some scholars would treat lawyer commentary about pending cases as “political” speech, with any limitations “tolerated only if strict scrutiny is met,” even this exacting test would permit restrictions on speech that cause serious harm. The regulation of lawyer speech and, more generally, the regulation of lies both raise important questions as to the coverage and scope of First Amendment protection. Ideally, the speech of government lawyers provides a “checking value” or “systematic scrutiny and exposure of the activities of public officials . . . in the form of prevention or containment of official misbehavior.” Yet as much as the speech of lawyers for the government can act as a check against misconduct, so too can it cause grave injury, as seen with the 2020 election fraud lies. Thus, while heightened protection of lawyer speech is warranted when acting as a check against government overreach, it is not when used to overturn a legitimate election. The integrity of the electoral process is crucial to preserving democracy. Given lawyers’ obligations as custodians of democratic institutions, it is appropriate to place limitations on lawyer speech undermining these commitments. To be clear, this Essay does not propose a wholesale ban on public facing lawyer lies in political life. Not only would such a ban violate constitutional free speech protections, but it would also run afoul of well-established ethical obligations where a lack of truthfulness is part of the lawyer’s duty to her client. However, requiring the same candor to the public that ethics rules require toward a tribunal in the limited context of lies about election results is both constrained and justified given the harms they produce. A narrow ban on lawyer lies that undermine valid elections in the court of public opinion is also in the spirit of the rationale used to justify the duty of candor toward the tribunal—that it is necessary for the public’s confidence in the administration of justice and the legal profession. Finally, and importantly, constraints on lawyer speech that compromise the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box falls within the scope of regulatory functions appropriately conducted by bar associations and lawyer disciplinary authorities, even under the recent Fifth Circuit decisions holding that bar associations cannot engage in certain legislative and political activities under the First Amendment. Other First Amendment experts agree that restraints on election lies are sustainable in limited circumstances. One scholar makes a similar argument in the context of “counterfeit campaign speech”—that is, speech “in which political candidates’ identities, actions, words, and images are intentionally faked with the intent to confuse voters and distort democracy.” Like the ban on election fraud lawyer lies, the ban on counterfeit campaign speech would “address a threat to a process that is a predicate to securing all other rights and privileges guaranteed in a democratic system of government.” Another scholar concurs that “[n]arrow laws aimed at stopping maliciously false speech about the conduct of elections . . . likely would survive constitutional challenge.” In short, “[f]alse statements are protected unless the government can show that allowing them will cause serious harms that cannot be avoided through a more speech-protective route.” B. Additional Concerns Beyond the speech interests, other concerns with an extended duty of candor involve the assessment of sanctions, unintended consequences, and the politicization of enforcement. With respect to assessment of sanctions, any effort to regulate candor beyond the courtroom must ensure statements are punished only for their lack of fact-based evidence, rather than the speaker’s state of mind. Determining the requisite state of mind is of course difficult, but not impossible. Consider again the Nifong “Duke Lacrosse” case where a prosecutor’s lies led to the wrongful arrest of three players for rape charges. Even to the moment of disbarment, the prosecutor adhered to his false worldview. Still, his state of mind did not prevent the North Carolina Bar from ascertaining that the appropriate consequence for his lies was disbarment. As for unintended consequences, on one hand, an extended duty of candor could disadvantage the lawyer-politician, who might face punishment for statements that a nonlawyer running for or holding office could still say freely. On the other hand, this heightened truth-telling commitment could potentially be beneficial, especially if voters value honesty. Finally, bar authorities and regulators should take caution to ensure that the lawyer discipline system is not weaponized against disfavored political alliances or causes. Efforts to politicize professional ethics against lawyers based on specific causes and beliefs—like those seen with Communism in the 1940s and 1950s and with Southern civil rights attorneys in the 1960s—are counter to the scope and spirit of this Essay’s proposal. Moreover, the First Amendment protects against the expanded ethical duty proposed here from being wielded in this way. To the extent ethical rules governing lawyer speech prove ineffective as a disciplinary mechanism, bar associations and law schools still have an important role to play in developing a culture of respect among lawyers for democratic principles and the electoral process. Part IV offers suggestions. IV. a role for bar associations and law schools That a professional conduct rule may not be enforceable through the disciplinary process—whether because it is hortatory or because of other barriers—does not mean it holds no value. Modern professionalism rules originated as a body of aspirational guides, a combination of “moral exhortation with specific statements of duty or improper behavior, and were mostly too general to act as either a guide for behavior or a basis for discipline.” For this reason, even in the absence of an extended duty of candor as proposed by this Essay, bar associations and law schools can and should contribute to developing a culture of respect among lawyers for democratic principles and the electoral process. They can do so in several ways related to (1) curricular reform and (2) public education. First, there is a dearth of leadership curriculum for lawyers, whether as continuing legal education or informal training. Bar associations and law schools should fill this gap by offering opportunities for critical thinking about the role lawyers play in preserving fundamental elements of democratic society. This is important preparation for future politicians and the lawyers who serve them. A growing number of law schools have created leadership centers and certifications, and the Association of American Law Schools chartered a new Section on Leadership in 2017. Investments into this curriculum by law school administrators likely would increase if leadership specialties were recognized by rankings organizations such as the U.S. News and World Reports. Second, bar associations and law schools can engage in public education to combat election misinformation. The United States Supreme Court in Bates v. Arizona State Bar recognized the special obligations of bar associations to educate the public about legal services. Specifically, the Court stated that “it is the bar’s role to assure that the populace is sufficiently informed” about the services of lawyers and, relatedly, our system of government. The civics education efforts of retired Justice O’Connor’s iCivics program and the Texas Young Lawyers Association’s Iconic Women in Legal History website are two examples that bar organizations can emulate. Similarly, some law schools engage in law-related education to help high school students better understand their constitutional rights. Efforts like these could be expanded to educate the public against election misinformation. The network effect of this sort of educational effort is impactful because the reach of bar associations and law schools “spans across the nation from small university towns to large metropolitan cities.” These entities “hold significant intrinsic reputational value that goes wasted when they fail to bridge this public education gap.” They have an obligation to educate the public about the legal system, both to further access to justice and to preserve our democratic government. Conclusion When lawyers misuse their law licenses by lying about the established results of a fair election before a judge or jury, they violate their oath and the very ethics rules affording them the right to practice law. The aftermath of the 2020 election and the Capitol riot reveals the devastating consequences that follow such lies. Ethics rules require discipline. Given what we now know about the unique and consequential damage caused by these lies, the lawyer’s duty of candor should be extended to the court of public opinion, prohibiting publicly disseminated lies about election results that would not withstand scrutiny in the courthouse. Professor of Law and the Joanne and Larry Doherty Chair in Legal Ethics, University of Houston Law Center. I am grateful to Emily Berman, Dave Fagundes, Zach Kaufman, Daniel Morales, James Nelson, and Peter Salib for helpful comments. Emory Powers and Katy Stein provided excellent research assistance. Special thanks also to the editors of the Yale Law Journal for the invitation to write this piece and their thoughtful edits.
ATLANTA (AP) — Country musician Travis Tritt, who canceled shows at venues that required a COVID-19 vaccine or mask-wearing, was set to sing the national anthem before Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Saturday night.Tritt made the announcement on his Twitter page.“FYI - I will be singing our National Anthem for Game 6 of the NLCS in Atlanta tonight between the @Braves and @Dodgers,” he wrote, adding an American flag to his post.The 58-year-old Tritt is a native of suburban Marietta, not far from the Braves' stadium. He has been a vocal supporter of Atlanta's sports teams, even penning a forgettable 2004 ode to the city's NFL team, “Falcons Fever.”Tritt announced this week he was canceling shows in Indiana, Mississippi, Illinois and Kentucky over COVID-19 mandates, joining other prominent entertainers such as Eric Clapton and Van Morrison in protesting rules designed to curb the spread of a virus that has killed more than 700,000 Americans and nearly 5 million people around the world.Tritt told Billboard that he’s “not against the vaccine” but is “against forcing people to take medicine that they may not need and may not want.”In August, he released a statement claiming COVID-19 safety protocols were “discriminating” against concertgoers and said that he stood with those standing up against “the squelching of any specific freedoms and basic human rights around the world.”The Braves' 41,000-seat stadium, Truist Park, has allowed full capacity most of the season with no requirements for vaccinations, negative tests or mask-wearing from fans.Major League Baseball does require vaccines for non-playing personnel to be allowed access to the field.“Our policy in the playoff is non-vaccinated people are not allowed in restricted areas, and the field is a restricted area,” said John Blundell, MLB's vice president of communications.It wasn't clear if Tritt has been vaccinated against COVID-19, but that was apparently a moot point. The Braves said he would sing the anthem from the Truist Club seating area behind home plate.The selection of Tritt to perform the anthem came as Braves outfielder Jorge Soler said he has reconsidered his initial reluctance to get the vaccine.Soler tested positive for COVID-19 before Game 4 of the NLDS and was removed from the Braves' roster. He had no symptoms and was able to return for Game 5 against the Dodgers.“I feel way different now,” Soler said through a translator. “I feel bad about it, and I’m going to get a shot as soon as I can.”Tritt is a two-time Grammy winner who has had five songs go to No. 1 on the country music charts, the most recent being “Best of Intentions” in 2000.———Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 and find his work at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry———AP Sports Writer Charles Odum contributed to this report.———More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP—Sports