Top Wisconsin Republican doubts value of another election audit

By |2021-07-27T21:23:17-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

A top Wisconsin Republican pushed back on a colleague’s promise for a “cyberforensic examination” of voting equipment used during the 2020 election, setting the stage for another rift between the GOP official and former President Donald Trump.Assembly Speaker Robin Vos cast doubt on whether an inquiry pledged on Monday by state Rep. Janel Brandtjen, who chairs the chamber’s elections committee, would yield anything of value beyond the two separate investigations already looking into the 2020 election in Wisconsin.“Certainly, if she wants to add extra resources from her two staff people in the office to be able to assist the investigators that we have ... we welcome everybody to offer whatever evidence that they have,” Vos said Tuesday. “But as far as her launching her own investigation, I don’t know what that would prove.”LAWSUIT CHALLENGES WISCONSIN'S USE OF BALLOT DROP BOXESBrandtjen asserted on Monday that voters want a closer look at the 2020 election, similar to the controversial forensic audit underway in Arizona and the one being sought by a Pennsylvania state lawmaker.“Voters have made it clear that they want a thorough, cyberforensic examination of tabulators, ballot marking devices, and other election equipment, which I will be helping facilitate,” Brandtjen said. “IP addresses, chain of custody on ballots, and audit trail logs must be thoroughly inspected by cyber audit technicians in order to provide confidence for voters in our elections, both completed and upcoming.”The investigators Vos referred to are part of two teams already looking into the 2020 election in Wisconsin. Republicans in February ordered the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau to review whether the state’s elections commission and municipal clerks followed Wisconsin election laws in 2020 and to examine whether electronic voting machines were used properly.Vos also hired a group of three retired police officers, along with a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, to conduct a separate investigation into the election.Vos's role in those inquiries has not satisfied Trump, who strongly supports the Arizona audit and has advocated the initiation of others.Trump lashed out at Vos and other Republican leaders in June, accusing them of standing in the way of an in-depth look at the election in Wisconsin, which Trump lost to President Joe Biden by more than 20,000 votes after having won the state in 2016.“They are actively trying to prevent a Forensic Audit of the election results, especially those which took place in Milwaukee, one of the most corrupt election locales in the country,” Trump said in a June 25 statement.CLICK HERE TO READ MORE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINERVos's comments Tuesday addressed Brandtjen's pledge for a new forensic audit and took on Trump's criticism.“We’re already doing the forensic audit,” Vos said. “So just like, perhaps, President Trump was misinformed about what we’re actually doing in Wisconsin, I feel like my colleague Rep. Brandtjen is misinformed about what we’re doing in Wisconsin because we’re already doing a forensic audit."Washington Examiner VideosTags: News, Wisconsin, 2020 Elections, State Legislatures, Republicans, Donald Trump, Election FraudOriginal Author: Jeremy BeamanOriginal Location: Top Wisconsin Republican doubts value of another election audit

Myanmar Junta on Path of 'Total Self-Destruction' After Annulment of 2020 Election: Observers

By |2021-07-27T20:22:48-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

Myanmar’s junta has chosen a path of “total self-destruction” by disregarding the will of the people in a bid to legitimize its power grab, an official with the deposed National League for Democracy (NLD) said Tuesday, in response to an announcement annulling the country’s 2020 election results. Late on Monday, the military-appointed Union Election Commission (UEC) said it had thrown out the tally from Myanmar’s Nov. 8 poll, which was won in a landslide by Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party, claiming that more than 11.3 million ballots—representing nearly one-third of the country’s registered voters—had been discounted due to fraud and other irregularities. Among alleged irregularities, the commission said the NLD government had assigned members of the UEC sub-commission at Myanmar’s state and regional levels, election authorities allowed voters to cast ballots without presenting their national identification cards, voters cast multiple ballots under the same name, and the NLD election victory committee members were part of a commission in charge of gathering early ballots. The announcement was quickly rejected by several of Myanmar’s political parties, who argued that it ignores the will of both the country’s 37 million registered voters and the candidates who they say won in a free and fair election.  Candidates from 10 political parties won parliamentary seats in the 2020 election, although the NLD party took the clear majority with 396 of 664 seats in the bicameral legislature. On Tuesday, Aung Kyi Nyunt, a member of the NLD’s Central Executive Committee who won a seat in the Amyothar Hluttaw (National Assembly) from Magwe region’s No. 6 constituency, called the decision to annul the election results a “violation” of the country’s 2008 constitution, drafted by the then-ruling junta government under Snr. Gen. Than Shwe. “Firstly, an election body appointed by the [junta] cannot simply reject the results like this. Secondly, the will of the people cannot be annulled through an order based on the decision of one group of people on a piece of paper. And thirdly, we have no reason to recognize an election commission formed by an illegitimate government,” he said. “We firmly believe that this statement is not legally binding or democratically viable.” Aung Kyi Nyunt said the junta had committed itself to a path of “total self-destruction,” devoid of popular support, by choosing to annul the ballot results and ignore the will of the people. Myanmar’s military seized power on Feb. 1 in a coup d’état, arresting former State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and other top members of the NLD leadership. Three weeks after the coup, the UEC convened a meeting with the country’s political parties, informing them that the 2020 election results would be annulled and that the NLD would likely be disbanded for rigging the vote. The junta has provided no evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud and has violently responded to widespread protests, killing 934 people and arresting 5,382, according to the Bangkok-based Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP). Protesters march in Yangon to demand an end to military rule on the anniversary of a 1962 massacre of students by Myanmar's military, July 7, 2021. RFA ‘No more confidence’ On Tuesday, Aye Thida Myint, the chairwoman of the Lahu National Development Party (LNDP), who won a state seat in last year’s ballot, said the annulment marked a new low for the junta. “The cancellation of the results means that everything we did for the elections, all of our efforts, have gone down the drain,” she said. “After all this, even if new elections are to be held, we’ll have no more confidence in the current political situation. The annulment has destroyed the goals and aspirations of the people. This is totally unacceptable to us.” Thar Tun Hla, the chairman of the Rakhine National Party (ANP) who won a seat in the 2020 election, said the military may have scrapped the election results in response to claims by parliament’s Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Committee of Representatives (CRPH) and the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) that they represent the interests of the people. “The annulment of the election results could be a move to refute the claim by CRPH and NUG that they represent the people’s will and that they have a mandate,” he said. In 2020, the ANP won four seats in the Pyithu Hluttaw, or Lower House, and four seats in the National Assembly, as well as 15 seats in seven state and regional assemblies. Attempts by RFA to contact Dr. Nandar Hla Myint, the spokesperson of the military proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), which won 71 seats in the 2020 election, went unanswered Tuesday. The USDP, made up of retired army officers, refused to accept the results of the 2020 elections and its calls for a new vote set the stage for the military coup. The junta has said it will hold another ballot in a year. Uniting the opposition Political analyst Than Soe Naing slammed the junta’s decision to annul the election results at a time when the international community is calling for the return of power to the civilian NLD government. “This goes against the real will of the people,” he said. “It’s part of a process that seeks to justify a dishonorable coup … But we’re seeing that not even the parties which supported [the military] politically can accept this move.” Aung Htoo, a Sweden-based Burmese lawyer, also criticized the annulment of the internationally recognized election results and suggested it would lead to the downfall of the junta. “It will never be possible to have a federal democracy and a lasting peace under the leadership of the military regime,” he said. “This decision will push the ethnic forces, the pro-democracy forces and the people as a whole to join forces in fighting against the military to achieve their goal of peace.” Reported by RFA’s Myanmar Service. Translated by Khin Maung Nyane. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Fann demands records on audit from Hobbs

By |2021-07-27T21:23:19-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

From left are Katie Hobbs and Karen Fann In a sign the Senate audit, which was supposed to be only about the 2020 election results, is now expanding in scope, Senate President Karen Fann now wants documents from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. In a public records request, the Prescott Republican is demanding any communications Hobbs has had with anyone about the audit and the litigation it has produced. And Fann is casting a wide net, seeking not just messages with federal, state and local officials but also political parties, volunteers, consultants, vendors, formal or informal advisors, fundraisers and the media. “I can’t disclose what we’re looking for at this time,” Fann told Capitol Media Services, including how any of what she wants fits into the Senate’s need to investigate the election conduct and results as part of its duties to review existing laws and craft new ones. The move comes as Hobbs, a Democrat, has publicly accused the auditors of “making it up as they go along,” and saying she has no confidence in whatever is produced by Cyber Ninjas, the firm Fann hired to conduct the review. For the moment, Hobbs aide Murphy Hebert said her boss, is reviewing the request. “At this point it appears to be the kind of nebulous fishing expedition that we’ve come to expect from the Senate president,” she said. And Hebert called it “ironic” that this comes even as Fann has hired outside counsel to fight requests for public records about the audit, “including who’s actually funding the partisan ballot review.” The development comes as former Secretary of State Ken Bennett, who was Fann’s initial choice as her liaison with Cyber Ninjas, said he has been locked out of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum over a dispute about information he provided to outsiders. Meanwhile, Randy Pullen, whom Fann also tapped to work with the auditors, said the final counting of the ballots was completed Tuesday. He said they are being packed up for return to Maricopa County. Pullen said a report on the audit could be prepared by the middle of August. But all that depends on what new information is obtained from the county. And that goes to Fann’s separate decision to now issue new — and long expected — subpoenas to the county supervisors for items that Cyber Ninjas contends is necessary for it to complete its work. Here, too, the scope is broad, ranging from envelopes in which early ballots were received to passwords, security keys or tokens to access the ballot tabulation devices. And then there’s the demand for the county’s routers, the devices that show traffic between computers as well as any links to the internet. All that goes to the contention by the auditors that the county’s election system had somehow been compromised or hacked. That follows reports that the county’s voter registration system had been breached. The issue of those routers — and what those who question the fact that Joe Biden won the state’s 11 electoral votes — has become so heated that former President Trump commented on it during the rally this past weekend in Phoenix, telling senators they must pursue that demand. County officials say the election equipment itself was never connected to the internet, citing their own audit which they say confirms that fact. But the fight goes beyond that, to the claim by Sheriff Paul Penzone that giving outsiders access to the routers could compromise law enforcement because it provides a road map of everyone communicating with anyone else in the county. The subpoena also wants up-to-date voter records along with notations of any changes made. That goes to allegations by Cyber Ninjas that there is evidence some people were permitted to vote who had not registered by the deadline. County spokesman Fields Moseley said any response will have to wait until the supervisors meet and consult with their legal counsel. But he said the supervisors believe “the county has already provided everything competent auditors would need to confirm the accuracy and security of the 2020 election,” a slap at Cyber Ninjas which has never performed this kind of audit before. And Jack Sellers, who chairs the board, already has made his feelings quite apparent. “I want to make it clear: I will not be responding to any more requests from this sham process,” he said in May. The board is set to meet Wednesday. They don’t have a lot of time to respond: Fann has demanded that everything they want be produced at the Senate at 1 p.m. Monday. That’s also the same deadline Fann set for Dominion Voting Systems, from who the county leases the counting equipment, to produce all the passwords necessary “for all levels of access, including, but not limited to, administrator access.” County officials, who have also been asked for that information, say they can’t produce what they don’t have. Dominion is making it clear it intends to fight. “Releasing Dominion’s intellectual property to an unaccredited, biased, and plainly unreliable actor such as Cyber Ninjas would be reckless, causing irreperable damage to the commercial interests of the company and the election security of the country,” a spokeswoman said in a prepared comment. “No company should be compelled to participate in such an irresponsible act.” All this could pave the way for a new round of litigation about the extent of the ability of Fann to demand whatever she says is necessary for the Senate to investigate the 2020 election. Strictly speaking, Fann does not have the necessary 16 votes in the Senate to hold the supervisors — or anyone — in contempt for failing to comply with the subpoenas. Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Glendale, balked at an earlier contempt vote. And since that time, Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, R-Scottsdale, initially a supporter of the audit said she has become soured on what has happened. “Sadly, it’s now become clear that the audit has been botched,” she wrote in a Twitter post. “The total lack of competence by Karen Fann over the last five months has deprived the voters of Arizona a comprehensive accounting of the 2020 election.” But just because the Senate can’t hold anyone in contempt does not leave Fann powerless. The last time the supervisors sought to fight a subpoena they lost. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Timothy Thomasson said that Fann,, as Senate president, has broad powers to issue subpoenas for anything related to a legitimate legislative purpose. And he said the Senate is entitled to review the election results to determine whether changes are needed in election laws. More to the point, the judge said there is no requirement for a majority of the Senate to approve issuance of a subpoena.

Secretary of State Benson: State auditors want to 'recreate' election reviews

By |2021-07-27T19:20:32-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

Lansing — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has asked Attorney General Dana Nessel to determine whether state auditors have the power to obtain local election records amid lingering claims about the 2020 vote.In a July 12 letter that was uncovered by FOIA Services Michigan, Benson told Nessel that employees of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) want "to recreate the audits conducted by the county clerks." The leader of the auditor general's office was appointed by the GOP-controlled Michigan Legislature and the office is housed in the legislative branch, but it acts as an autonomous agency.The revelation of the ongoing auditor general probe and Benson's concerns about it come as some Republican lawmakers in the battleground state have pressed for a new audit of the 2020 results. Former President Donald Trump also continues to levy unsubstantiated claims of fraud."Were the OAG to come to an audit result different from county clerks because of these inherent practical challenges, such an outcome would ... feed the many baseless false, fabricated and misleading claims involving the November 2020 election," Benson wrote in her letter to Nessel.So far, many GOP legislators in Michigan have resisted calls for another statewide review of the vote, like what's taking place in Arizona, but some have said they could change their minds if new evidence comes to light.Both Benson and Nessel are Democrats. In November, Trump lost Michigan to Democrat Joe Biden by 154,000 votes or 3 percentage points. Despite unproven claims of wrongdoing in the election, a series of court rulings, dozens of reviews by election officials and bipartisan boards of canvassers as well as an investigation by state Senate Republicans have reinforced the outcome.More than 250 election audits have already been completed in Michigan, Benson's office said in March.According to the Office of the Auditor General, it's currently examining the sufficiency of "post-election review procedures" and efforts to provide training for local election officials. The audit had been planned for the non-election year, office spokeswoman Kelly Miller said.In March, state Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, asked the office to review Michigan's "election processes to help ensure their security and accuracy." Among her requests was for the office to consider "the process involved in the statewide risk-limiting audit that was conducted after the general election."The Michigan Bureau of Elections argues that the state auditors' interest in "recreating audits" is well-intentioned but "fears that the outcome will become another avenue to cast doubt upon and re-litigate the outcome of the November election," Benson said in her letter to Nessel.Benson asked Nessel, the state's top law enforcement official, to determine whether employees of the Office of the Auditor General can physically handle election records without violating laws that give the power to manage the records to election officials.The secretary of state also asked Nessel to decide whether the Office of the Auditor General, which usually examines the work of state agencies, has the power to request the election records from local governments.Benson's spokeswoman Tracy Wimmer said state election officials are concerned whether the state auditors will be able to replicate the processes carried out by election clerks."The OAG has said it wants to audit the post-election audits carried out by local township, city and county election officials," Wimmer said. "As these local officials aren’t a part of state government, it’s quite possible that for the state to audit them would not just be government overreach, it would be illegal under our state constitution."For this reason, we asked the attorney general for an opinion on how the law applies in this situation."According to Benson's letter to Nessel, the Office of the Auditor General wants to review a "significant volume of local election records, including poll books and other polling place records, public notices issued and records of testing conducted."It will be "logistically difficult to ensure that all records are organized and preserved in the exact same format as was the case during the audit," Benson wrote of the initial previously conducted reviews."Any damage, misplacement, or difficulty in retrieving public records could lead to a different audit result, which might be attributable to local record storage and retention issues rather than audit deficiencies or audit guidance provided by BOE (Bureau of Elections)," she added.Office of the Auditor General personnel attended a pilot risk-limiting audit conducted in Holland in May, according to Benson's letter. Personnel also attended a procedural audit conducted by the Ottawa County clerk's office and a procedural audit conducted in Kent County.Benson's letter is still under review, Nessel's spokeswoman Lynsey Mukomel said Tuesday.cmauger@detroitnews.comStaff Writer Beth LeBlanc contributed.

No evidence for viral claim that '22 million illegal aliens' are 'voting illegally'

By |2021-07-27T19:20:36-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

PolitiFact | No evidence for viral claim that ‘22 million illegal aliens’ are ‘voting illegally’ Stand up for the facts! Misinformation isn't going away just because it's a new year. Support trusted, factual information with a tax deductible contribution to PolitiFact. More Info I would like to contribute There are “22 million illegal aliens living in America and ... voting illegally.” Chester County election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2020 general election at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa., on Nov. 4, 2020. (AP) No evidence for viral claim that ‘22 million illegal aliens’ are ‘voting illegally’ If Your Time is short Many reliable entities such as the Pew Research Center estimate that there are in the ballpark of 11 million people living illegally in the U.S. One 2018 study from Yale put the number closer to 22 million, but the study has been subject to criticism. There is no evidence that 22 million people in the U.S. without legal permission voted illegally in the 2020 election or regularly vote in American elections. Social media users on Facebook and Instagram are sharing a years-old image that wrongly claims 22 million people are not only living in the U.S. illegally, but voting in elections. "I’ll tell you what a constitutional crisis is: 22 million illegal aliens living in America and using benefits they never contributed to and voting illegally," the text over the image says. The image was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)  The image, which appeared on Facebook as early as April 2019, is circulating as supporters of former President Donald Trump continue to promote the false narrative that the 2020 election was stolen from him. But the claims in the image have always been inaccurate. There is no evidence that 22 million immigrants regularly vote in American elections despite living in the country without legal permission, or that they did so in 2020. In fact, it’s not clear that there are even that many people living in the country illegally to begin with. "There is no evidence that there are 22 million immigrants in the U.S. voting illegally, either in 2020 or at any time," said Lorraine Minnite, an associate professor of public policy at Rutgers University in Camden. "The claim is preposterous." A screenshot shows the viral image circulating on Facebook and Instagram as it appeared July 27, 2021. No evidence of widespread fraud President Joe Biden won more votes than Trump in what local, state and federal officials affirmed was a free and fair election absent of the widespread fraud Trump claimed.  Judges across the country rejected dozens of lawsuits seeking to overturn the election, in many cases because the allegations of fraud came without the proof needed to back them up. The image claiming 22 million immigrants are living and voting illegally similarly lacks proof.  "One would think that such claims of historic subversion in our democracy would be backed up by the receipts to prove them," said Matthew Weil, director of the elections project at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud at any level."  Federal law requires citizenship to vote in national elections, and would-be voters sign a form attesting under penalty of perjury that they are citizens when they register to do so. As PolitiFact has reported, states can check various databases to verify voters’ citizenship status. "Election officials spend the weeks before and after Election Day constantly reconciling voter rolls and ballot totals to ensure that only eligible Americans cast ballots," Weil said. He added that cases of fraudulent voting are rare in any year and often the result of misunderstandings. Minnite, who wrote a book about "The Myth of Voter Fraud," said the most common problem she has seen in her research on the issue is noncitizens getting accidentally registered to vote when they go to the DMV. But the number of people who fall into this category is "miniscule," she said. In previous years, PolitiFact fact-checked several similar claims from Trump and others — all inaccurate — about immigrants voting illegally in the 2008, 2016 and 2018 elections.  Our reporting pointed to research from several organizations that found voter fraud among noncitizens is not widespread. Experts also told us at the time that fraud on the scale of millions would require months of coordination going undetected by elections officials.  For there to be "22 million" immigrants unlawfully in the U.S. and "voting illegally," as the latest viral image now claims, there would also need to be that many people in the country illegally.  And each and every one of them would have to be casting a ballot. But the one study from 2018 that estimated the population here illegally was around 22.1 million has been criticized by demographers and immigration experts, who said it’s not grounded in empirical research about illegal immigration patterns and overestimates migration from Mexico, among other things, as PolitiFact reported. The Homeland Security Department, Pew Research Center, Center for Migration Studies of New York and Migration Policy Institute have all settled on much lower estimates. "In each case, the organizations have individually developed estimates within a pretty tight range of about 10.5 million to 11.5 million unauthorized immigrants overall in the United States," said Michelle Mittelstadt, communications director for the Migration Policy Institute, a think tank. Finally, immigrant adults living in the country illegally are ineligible for nearly all federal public benefits, with few exceptions, Mittelstadt said. That’s despite the fact that some pay many forms of taxes, including state and local sales taxes and property taxes. Our ruling A viral image says there are "22 million illegal aliens living in America and ... voting illegally." That’s not true. Many reliable entities, including the Homeland Security Department and the Pew Research Center, estimate that there are closer to 11 million people living illegally in the U.S. There’s no evidence that 22 million are regularly voting illegally or did so in 2020. We rate this statement False. Facebook post (archived), April 9, 2019 Facebook post, July 25, 2021 Instagram post (archived), July 24, 2021 Pew Research Center, "Key facts about the changing U.S. unauthorized immigrant population," April 13, 2021 U.S. Department of Homeland Security, "Estimates of the Unauthorized Immigrant Population Residing in the United States: January 2015–January 2018," January 2021 Migration Policy Institute, "Unauthorized Immigrants in the United States: Stable Numbers, Changing Origins," December 2020 The Hill, "Yale, MIT study: 22 million, not 11 million, undocumented immigrants in US," Sept. 21, 2018 PolitiFact, "Pence falsely says if HR 1 passes, millions of people in US illegally will be registered to vote," March 5, 2021 PolitiFact, "Do states verify citizenship of voters in federal elections?" Dec. 7, 2020 PolitiFact, "Fact-checking Trump's claim on cost of illegal immigration, number of immigrants here illegally," Jan. 28, 2019 PolitiFact, "No evidence ‘many’ illegal immigrants voted in midterm elections, as Lou Dobbs said," Nov. 16, 2018 PolitiFact, "Donald Trump Jr. tweets misleading 2012 headline about Florida noncitizen voters," Nov. 13, 2018 PolitiFact, "Donald Trump says there's 'substantial evidence of voter fraud.' There isn't," Jan. 5, 2018 PolitiFact, "Following Trump voter fraud allegations, claim that 5.7 million noncitizens voted is wrong," June 22, 2017 PolitiFact, "Fact-check: Did 3 million undocumented immigrants vote in this year's election?" Nov. 18, 2016 PolitiFact, "Donald Trump's Pants on Fire claim that millions of illegal votes cost him popular vote victory," Nov. 18, 2016 PolitiFact, "Trump wrongfully says immigrants voting illegally won North Carolina for Obama in 2008," Oct. 19, 2016 PolitiFact, "Donald Trump repeats Pants on Fire claim about '30 million' illegal immigrants," Sept. 1, 2016 Email interview with Matthew Weil, director of the elections project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, July 27, 2021 Email interview with Lorraine Minnite, associate professor of public policy at Rutgers University, Camden, July 27, 2021 Email interview with Michelle Mittelstadt, director of communications and public affairs at the Migration Policy Institute, July 26, 2021 In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts. Sign me up

Senate committee endorses massive defense spending bill while defense lobbying spending …

By |2021-07-27T21:23:20-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) The defense industry spent significantly less on lobbying in the second quarter of 2021, roughly $26 million to the first quarter’s $31 million, but stayed in line with the industry’s lobbying spend in the second quarter of 2020 ($24 million). But the industry’s lobbying spending decrease comes as the Senate Armed Services Committee endorsed a new defense authorization bill that would raise overall defense spending by $37 billion for fiscal year 2022.  The new version of the National Defense Authorization Act, as approved by the committee in a 23-3 vote, would appropriate roughly $777.9 billion for defense programs across departments from the Pentagon to the Energy Department.  The committee’s authorization is a sign of bipartisan support for increased defense spending, even after fiscal year 2021 marked the highest level of defense spending since World War II except for in the early 2010s during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.  Armed Services Committee Chair Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who received $318,580 in campaign contributions from the defense industry in the 2020 election cycle, said the budget increase “will help safeguard the nation, counter a range of evolving threats, and support our troops both on and off the battlefield.” The defense industry, including PACs and individuals giving $200 or more, spent more than $5.7 million in campaign contributions to members on the Senate Armed Services Committee in the 2020 cycle. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking member of the committee, received the most contributions of any other committee member from the industry: $393,733. The second most went to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with $326,204.  Defense lobbying under former President Donald Trump averaged around $117 million across all four years. However, lobbying spending did see a significant drop from 2019 to 2020, with only $103.72 million being spent on lobbying expenditures in the last year of Trump’s administration, nearly $8 million less than the previous year.  While lobbying spending has declined, the new budget proposal is more than $25 billion higher than President Joe Biden’s proposal.  Most notably, the Senate Armed Services committee included a provision creating military attorney offices that would be in charge of deciding which felony allegations to prosecute. Those decisions are currently made by senior officers. The provision is an incorporation of legislation proposed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).  The committee-endorsed proposal would also force the Pentagon to implement Government Accountability Office recommendations on sexual harassment and assault. Officials have previously agreed to enact them in 2011, but the recommendations haven’t been implemented. The committee also approved an amendment to the bill requiring women to sign up for the military draft and included a 2.7% pay increase for military personnel and Defense Department civilian personnel — a key priority of Biden’s. The bill includes hefty amounts of funding for military vehicles and equipment, including $1.7 billion for an Arleigh Burke class destroyer and a $350 million initial payment for a new amphibious assault ship. It also includes $85 million for a F-35 fighter jet for the Air Force.  While Inhofe said he doesn’t support each provision in the bill, he said he believes it’s an example of bipartisanship. “This is a big win for our national security and sends a strong message to both our allies and adversaries that America is prepared to stand up for ourselves and our friends,” Inhofe said.  “The world we face today is more dangerous than I’ve seen in my lifetime, and our military must be ready to meet any and all challenges we face.” Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit OpenSecrets. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact OpenSecrets: [email protected] Read more OpenSecrets News & Analysis: Campaign finance · Defense · Industries · Lobbying · Lobbying · Lobbyists Support Accountability Journalism At we offer in-depth, money-in-politics stories in the public interest. Whether you’re reading about 2020 presidential fundraising, conflicts of interest or “dark money” influence, we produce this content with a small, but dedicated team. Every donation we receive from users like you goes directly into promoting high-quality data analysis and investigative journalism that you can trust. Please support our work and keep this resource free. Thank you.

DeFoor Discusses 2020 Election, While Calling for Increased Funding for Auditor General's Office …

By |2021-07-27T19:20:37-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

Written by John Cole, Managing Editor HARRISBURG- Nearly 9 months after the 2020 presidential election, some Republicans still echo calls from former President Donald Trump to conduct a “forensic audit” in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania.  During Auditor General Tim DeFoor’s first speech at the Pennsylvania Press Club since winning the statewide office last year, he swatted back at the idea, while making a plea for additional funding for his office.  “I want to address, head on, discussions related to the election, election audits, and my department,” DeFoor said.  “Any questions about the legality or the legitimacy of the 2020 election, which of course I was a part of, have been settled,” DeFoor continued. “The election has been certified and the state and federal courts have ruled.”  “My department has moved on to do the work, which we are statutorily required to do,” he said.  DeFoor acknowledged the push from some Republicans to create an election audit bureau, which was a matter that caused division among Democrats and Republicans in Harrisburg last month during budget negotiations, and said that he’d comply if given the proper funding. “If the legislature and the governor enact laws creating it, and fund it, I will comply by implementing it,” DeFoor said. “But, it’s scope will not be a forensic election audit bureau.” “The scope will follow federal, state, and county law, and county policy,” DeFoor continued.  DeFoor also laid out what his office would be able to do if it was created. “If this is enacted by law, it will look at how an election was conducted and whether it was done correctly,” DeFoor said. “It will not certify, recount, or audit results.”  He added that his office would need subpoena power, if the election-auditing office was created.  DeFoor, the former Dauphin County GOP Controller who bested former Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia Nina Ahmad, a Democrat, by 3 points in 2020, made headlines earlier this year when he said before a state House committee that he believed his election was fair, but wouldn’t comment about other races on the ballot. He was asked to clarify those statements and say whether or not he thinks Joe Biden won Pennsylvania “fair and square” during the Q&A portion of the program.  “I never said anything about Joe Biden,” DeFoor responded. “The question was, was that, ‘do I believe that my election was fair?”  “And my answer was, I believe it was, but I can’t speak on anybody else’s,” DeFoor continued. DeFoor added that by the time of his election, he was the Dauphin County Controller and not the state’s Auditor General, so he was only able to vote during the 2020 election. “So, to answer the question, I never mentioned Joe Biden in those comments,” DeFoor said. “I made those comments based on what I believe as a private citizen.” “There weren’t any complaints with regards to my election, so obviously I would say I don’t have any problems, however I couldn’t speak for others because I didn’t know if there were other problems with other elections,” he continued. The moderator responded to DeFoor asking, “so, do you think he won,” referring to Biden. “The election was certified,” DeFoor said. “The election’s been certified, courts have ruled, and we moved on.” DeFoor described the first few months of his administration as “productive,” although “it hasn’t exactly been easy,” and cited the office currently operating at “1997 budget levels.” “We still need to restore the department’s budget, so we can continue to aggressively protect taxpayer dollars, prevent fraud, waste, and abuse, rebuild our staff and invest in technology needed to modernize our department,” DeFoor said. “Until then, it will be difficult for my department to take on any new audits, that are not required by state statute.” “You can’t prevent fraud, waste, and abuse in 2021 with a budget from 1992 or from 1997,” DeFoor continued. “The math just doesn’t work.” DeFoor mentioned that his office was completing a number of audits that were started during the previous administration and that he would be keeping his eyes on a wide number of matters including school districts, pensions, the Pennsylvania lottery, nursing homes during the pandemic, Gov. Tom Wolf’s business waiver program, unemployment compensation fraud, and more. July 27th, 2021 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 1 Comment

McAuliffe calls on Youngkin to cancel appearance at local GOP's rally billed around 'election integrity'

By |2021-07-27T19:20:38-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

Virginia gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe called on his GOP opponent Glenn Youngkin to cancel his appearance at and denounce what the 5th Congressional District Republican Party is calling an "election integrity regional rally," which coincides with the anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights Act first being signed into law.Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, called on the 5th District Republicans to cancel the event altogether."We all know what Glenn Youngkin and Republicans mean when they talk about election integrity. They're following Donald Trump's lie that the 2020 election was stolen and pushing restricting measures that make it harder for folks to exercise their fundamental right to vote," Swecker said in a virtual press conference Tuesday. "Here in Virginia, we fought hard to protect and expand the sacred right to vote, and we're not about to let Glenn Youngkin drag us backwards."The two-day, paid event is scheduled for Aug. 6 and 7 at Liberty University, a private evangelical Christian institution in Lynchburg. Attendees can purchase "early bird tickets" through Friday, which cost $60 per individual and $110 per couple; after Friday, ticket price increases by $20 and $40, respectively, according to the flyer for the event.Youngkin, along with the other statewide GOP nominees for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, and attorney general, Jason Miyares, are the headliners for the Saturday night banquet.The itinerary for the 5th District Republicans' rally, which was not organized or being run by the Youngkin campaign, does not indicate it will be an event highlighting conspiracies about the 2020 election. It appears to be more of a grassroots event for the party's faithful, with breakout sessions focused on voter registration, outreach like phone banking and door-knocking, organizing and election monitoring, for which there is a legal process to do.In response to a request for comment, Melvin Adams, the chairman of the 5th District Republicans, told ABC News the party is "not surprised by these tactics.""They know this is a close race and that our event to thank, inspire, equip, and empower our 'grassroots' volunteers, while also helping them know how they can help to secure the integrity of our local elections, will cause an unprecedented Republican turnout in this very RED region of Virginia," Adams said. "That is why they are attempting to cause distraction."Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event on July 14, 2021 in McLean, Va. Youngkin is running against former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.Election integrity has become the rallying cry of the Republican Party following the 2020 presidential election, which former President Donald Trump continues to falsely claim was "rigged," despite no real evidence to support the baseless accusation of widespread fraud in battleground states Trump legitimately lost. Republican-led state legislatures, including Georgia, Florida and Arizona, have passed new "election integrity" laws, some of which amount to sweeping rewrites of election code.The lawmakers justify these changes by asserting voters have lost faith in the system and are demanding changes -- though few in the party openly acknowledge the source of that diminished confidence among voters, Republican voters specifically.Youngkin, who earned Trump's endorsement after securing the nomination, has not personally repeated the same lies about the election being "stolen," but the issue of election integrity has been central to his campaign.Before the party convention in May, the only major plan Youngkin released was one in February about this, also creating an "election integrity task force." The five-prong plan calls for creating a "politically independent and transparent" Department of Elections, monthly updates to voter rolls, stricter voter identification requirements, verification of mail ballot applications and returns to ensure they are "legitimate and timely," and requiring ballot counting observers and an audit of voting machines.McAuliffe, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam's predecessor who's vying for his old job, blasted the rally as being "inspired by Donald Trump's conspiracy theory that led to a deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.""Glenn - enough is enough. I call on you to immediately withdraw from this 'election integrity' rally and disavow this dangerous, deadly conspiracy theory once and for all. Virginians deserve a leader who will tell the truth, act with integrity, and respect the office they seek to hold," McAuliffe said in a statement Tuesday. "Glenn has shown, yet again, that he is no such leader. ... If Glenn has any respect for the truth or Virginians, he will drop out of this event immediately."Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe arrives to give remarks at a campaign event at the Lubber Run Community Center on July 22, 2021 in Arlington, Va.In response, Youngkin spokesperson Matt Wolking said in a statement, "Terry McAuliffe opposes requiring a photo ID to vote, which undermines the integrity of our elections and makes it easier to cheat. Glenn Youngkin will restore Virginia's photo ID law and make sure it is easy for every eligible person to vote and harder to cheat."In Virginia, current law requires voters present a form of identification, but photo ID specifically is not required. There is broad support among the public for requiring voters to present a photo ID to cast ballots. In late June, a Monmouth University poll found that 80% of Americans support this, including about 60% of Democrats.McAuliffe also accused Youngkin of spending "months denying that Joe Biden was duly elected president." Since winning the nomination, Youngkin has repeatedly said Biden was legitimately elected, according to a fact check done by the Poynter Institute's PolitiFact. However, the fact check also found that pre-nomination, multiple media outlets reported that Youngkin or his campaign either did not respond to questions about whether Biden was "legitimately elected" or declined to answer.

Trump officials can testify to Congress about his role in Capitol attack, DoJ says

By |2021-07-27T19:20:41-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

US Capitol attackTrump officials can testify to Congress about his role in Capitol attack, DoJ saysMove declines to assert executive privilege for then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, clearing path for others to testify Hugo Lowell in WashingtonTue 27 Jul 2021 15.50 EDTLast modified on Tue 27 Jul 2021 17.26 EDTFormer Trump administration officials can testify to Congress about Donald Trump’s role in the deadly January attack on the Capitol and his efforts to subvert the results of the 2020 election, the justice department (DoJ) has said in a letter obtained by the Guardian.The move by the justice department declined to assert executive privilege for Trump’s acting attorney general, Jeffrey Rosen, clearing the path for other top former officials to also testify to congressional committees investigating the Capitol attack without fear of repercussions.The justice department authorised witnesses to appear specifically before the two committees. But a DoJ official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters, said they expected that approval to extend to the 6 January select committee that began proceedings on Tuesday.Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee, told the Guardian in a recent interview that he would investigate both Trump and anyone who communicated with the former president on 6 January, raising the prospect of depositions with an array of Trump officials.Rosen and Trump administration witnesses can give “unrestricted testimony” to the Senate judiciary and House oversight committees, which are scrutinising the attempt by the Trump White House to stop Congress certifying Joe Biden’s 2020 election win, the letter said.The justice department’s decision marks a sharp departure from the Trump era, when the department repeatedly intervened on behalf of top White House officials to assert executive privilege and shield them from congressional investigations into the former president.It also represents a significant move by the White House Office of Legal Counsel under Biden, which in authorising the decision, pointedly noted that executive privilege protections exist to benefit the country, rather than a single individual.Trump has argued that conversations and deliberations involving the president are always protected by executive privilege. He can sue to block any testimony, which would force the courts to decide the extent of such protections.But the justice department said in the letter that Rosen and Trump administration officials can testify to Congress about Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election because of the extraordinary nature of the circumstances.In his last weeks in office, Trump pressured justice department officials to use the vast powers of the federal government to undo his defeat, asking them to investigate baseless conspiracies of voter fraud and tampering that they had already determined to be false.“The extraordinary events in this matter constitute exceptional circumstances warranting an accommodation to Congress,” Bradley Weinsheimer, a senior career official in the office of the deputy attorney general, said in the letter.The justice department told Rosen and Trump administration officials that they could appear before Congress as long as their testimony was confined to the scope set forth by the committees and did not reveal grand jury or classified information, or pending criminal cases.Rosen’s approval letter, which was sent on Monday night according to a source familiar with the matter, comes after the Senate judiciary committee asked to interview several Trump administration officials as part of their oversight efforts started in January.Negotiations for their testimony were stalled as the justice department weighed how much information former officials could reveal, concerned that many of the conversations were covered by executive privilege, which keeps executive branch deliberations confidential.The justice department ultimately relented after consulting with the White House Office of Legal Counsel, which said it would not be appropriate to assert executive privilege over the specific topics in question, according to the letter.“It is the executive branch’s view that this presents an exceptional situation in which the congressional need for information outweighs the Executive Branch’s interest in maintaining confidentiality,” wrote Weinsheimer, citing Richard Nixon and Watergate.The Senate judiciary committee chairman, Dick Durbin, said on Twitter that he was working to now schedule interviews with the officials. The panel is also still receiving materials and documents from the justice department, the source said.The 6 January special committee – everything you need to knowRead moreThe House oversight committee chairwoman, Carolyn Maloney, said in a statement that she was pleased with the decision: “I am committed to getting to the bottom of the previous administration’s attempts to subvert the justice department and reverse a free and fair election.”Trump exerted significant pressure on the justice department to help him remain president. In one instance, Trump schemed with Jeffrey Clark, the former head of the DoJ’s civil division, to force Georgia to overturn their election results, the New York Times reported.The Senate judiciary and House oversight committees opened wide-ranging investigations into Trump and the justice department shortly after, with Durbin also demanding materials from the National Archives for records and communications concerning those efforts.TopicsUS Capitol attackTrump administrationHouse of RepresentativesDonald TrumpUS politicsnewsReuse this content

Officers ask lawmakers to 'get to the bottom' of Jan. 6 Capitol riot

By |2021-07-27T17:23:27-04:00July 27th, 2021|Election 2020|

WASHINGTON – During the House select committee's first hearing examining the events surrounding Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the police officers testifying pointed blame toward the former president and congressional Republicans who heightened the rhetoric. U.S. Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, who fended off pro-Trump rioters, begged lawmakers on the Jan. 6 select committee to "get to the bottom of what happened."More:Tucker Carlson attacks Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn, calls him an angry 'activist'Dunn, using an analogy without explicitly naming former President Donald Trump, made clear where his blame lies."If a hitman is hired, and he kills somebody, the hitman goes to jail. But not only does the hitman go to jail, the person who hired them does," Dunn said. "There was an attack carried out on January 6th and a hitman sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that."More:Officers describe January 6 riot, ‘desperate struggle’ to hold back mob in House testimonyThe committee is investigating the events leading up to the insurrection attempt, and the rioter's attempts to stop Congress from confirming state-certified Electoral College results that solidified that then-candidate Joe Biden had emerged victorious in the 2020 election.The mob was spurred by Trump's false claims of a stolen election. The House impeached Trump in January for inciting the “insurrection,” but he was later acquitted by the U.S. Senate. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss. and chairman of the select committee, pointedly asked officers: "What would you like to see us do?"DC Metropolitan police officer Michael Fanone said he did not "believe it was a coincidence" that there was a "Stop the Steal" rally on Jan. 6: the same day "members of Congress, you here in the room today, were charged with tallying the electoral votes and certifying the election of our president."Thousands marched from that rally, where Trump and several of his allies spoke, directly to the Capitol, where the riot turned deadly.More:They rioted at the Capitol for Trump. Now, many of those arrested say it’s his fault."In the academy, we learn about time, place and circumstance in investigating potential crimes and those who may have committed them," Fanone continued. Those, to him, "leads in the direction of our president and other members, not only of Congress, in the Senate."He also said he wants the committee to investigate whether there was "collaboration" among those members and their staff and "these terrorists."Several congressional Republicans objected to the certification of the states' Electoral College results. A couple of them spoke at the Jan. 6 rally. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., told the crowd to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Daniel Hodges seconded Fanone, saying he needs the committee to "address whether anyone in power had a role in this."Dunn recounted several encounters he had with the pro-Trump crowd, testifying that rioters repeated that they were there to “Stop the steal!” and that Trump was still the true elected leader of the country because they had voted for him.On Tuesday, the Justice Department also announced it will allow former Trump administration officials to testify before the congressional committees investigating whether Trump tried to use the agency to subvert the result of the 2020 presidential election in the weeks leading up to the attack on the Capitol. More:Trump administration officials can testify about president's actions leading up to Jan. 6, DOJ saysThe DOJ said it will not assert executive privilege for former officials who may be called to testify before lawmakers. The decision could provide insight into Trump's actions, and conversations leading up to Jan. 6.

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