Monday, September 25, 2017

Now Democrats Are Making Up Reasons to Obstruct President Trump's Qualified Judicial Nominees

Senate Democrats have created a new reason to obstruct the confirmation of qualified judicial nominees for purely partisan reasons, as part of their continuing campaign: deference to non-existent commissions.  In a letter Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley stated: 
"[W]e cannot return a blue slip on any judicial nominee that has not been approved by our bipartisan judicial selection committee. . . . We have a long history of organizing a committee charged with thoroughly vetting applicants from the Oregon legal community.”
The only problem is such a committee does not exist for circuit court nominees and never has.  Don’t take a partisan's word for it; take the word of the last person from Oregon nominated to the Ninth Circuit:
The last Oregon vacancy in the ninth circuit came during the Clinton administration when Oregon Judge Edward Leavy assumed senior status in 1997. Leavy's replacement, Judge Susan Graber, did not come out of a selection committee—in fact, she said that one didn't even exist.
"There is no selection commission in my jurisdiction to recommend candidates for nomination to the United States Court of Appeals," Graber wrote in her official judicial nominee questionnaire.
Graber went on to explain she was selected for the seat after she reached out to President Clinton.
"I informed the President by letter of my interest in being considered for that vacancy," Graber wrote. "His response stated that he had referred the matter to the White House Counsel's Office."
Senator Wyden was an Oregon Senator at the time and supported Ms. Graber despite never having been consulted by President Clinton’s White House Counsel or Ms. Graber having gone through any commission selection process.   

So actually, Senator Wyden, Oregon tradition (which you established) means deferring to the White House Counsel’s office. 

While that is unlikely to happen, it just goes to show that Democrats are literally making up reasons to obstruct President Trump’s judicial nominees.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

Political Speech At Risk, Again

RNLA members Brad Smith and Eric Wang coauthored an op-ed in The Hill debunking proposed legislation in Senate, which would have vast consequences if enacted. The piece looks at the "DISCLOSE Act of 2017" introduced by Senator Whitehouse (D-RI) which would restrict and heavily regulate political speech in America ahead of elections.

This is not the first introduction of a bill like this. Rather, it is just the latest version to drop into the "legislative hopper" in the wake of the 2016 Election and alleged Russian attempted interference with the presidential election. This 2017 version is just an opportunistic way to limit political speech at home.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Wang write:
Foreign interference with our elections is already illegal. Under existing law, foreign nationals and foreign corporations are strictly prohibited from making political contributions and independent expenditures in connection with elections for federal, state, and local office. . . Under existing law, foreign nationals and foreign corporations are strictly prohibited from making political contributions and independent expenditures in connection with elections for federal, state, and local office. However, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has properly recognized that millions of Americans have not surrendered their right to political speech simply because they work at foreign-owned corporations. Thus, domestic subsidiaries of foreign companies like Anheuser-Busch, Bayer Health and Honda Motor, which are integral parts of the national and local economies, are permitted to engage in certain political activities, so long as those activities are directed by American citizens.
The Disclose Act of 2017 introduced by Whitehouse would upend the existing law by categorically prohibiting any political activity by a corporation or subsidiary if more than 20 percent of its voting shares are foreign-owned. This percentage ownership limit is a smokescreen, however, as the bill also would much more severely prohibit any corporate political activity if a foreign national “has the power to direct, dictate, or control the [corporation’s] decisionmaking process.” Because the owner of even one share of a publicly traded corporation generally has such power through a shareholders meeting or a proxy vote, this provision likely would strip away the political speech rights of any public company with even one foreign shareholder.
In a vacuum, perhaps we could be accused of over-reading this extreme result into the bill. But FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub outlined this very same legal approach in a New York Times opinion last year as a way to counteract the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which permitted certain corporate political activity. Thirty-seven of the 38 Senate sponsors and co-sponsors of the latest Disclose Act who were in the chamber in 2014 also voted to amend the Constitution to override Citizens United. While that effort failed, it now appears those Senators are trying to use a mere bill to accomplish the same result, a maneuver that is clearly unconstitutional.
Aside from its foreign national provisions, the latest Disclose Act also contains numerous purported disclosure requirements (hence its name). But those disclosure provisions are also ploys to shut down political speech. For example, the bill would require any corporation (even one that has no foreign owners at all) making a “campaign-related disbursement” to disclose all of its “beneficial owners,” a term which likely includes any shareholder. For a company with tens of thousands of shareholders, including many who own shares through mutual funds and are unknown to the corporation, complying with this requirement would be practically impossible, and thus political speech would be essentially prohibited. . . .
This is yet another example of the left trying to politically capitalize on the alleged Russian attempted interference with our past election. Rather than directly addressing what allegedly occurred last year, the left would rather limit political speech overall, even from domestic sources and especially from those who may disagree with them.  Private entities such as Facebook are also changing their practices, which raises concerns about private regulation of political speech by unaccountable--but nonetheless powerful--brokers of communication in our modern era.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Personal Attacks Are All Liberals Have Against Trump Nominees

RNLA Vice President for Election Education David Warrington wrote today in the Daily Caller about the shameful and bizarre personal attacks against President Trump's nominees made by liberals and establishment Democrats:
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras has been nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.  He has over seven years of judicial opinions and six years of legal scholarship to scrutinize.  But instead of examining his record, liberal organizations have dismissed him as a “right-wing ideologue” who is simply a pawn of organizations like The Federalist Society. . . .
Notre Dame Law Professor Amy Barrett, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, was likely surprised to discover during her confirmation hearing that her sincerely held Catholic beliefs might disqualifyher, as a conservative, from holding judicial office, at least according to Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee
Texas attorney Trey Trainor, nominated to the Federal Election Commission last week, also quickly came under fire for his sincerely held Catholic beliefs.  Like all the other nominees, Trainor’s true transgression is his conservative and libertarian views, particularly his vocal support for First Amendment rights and distrust of government bureaucrats’ efforts to regulate political speech.  The vast majority of the American people share these views—liberals also used to value the First Amendment—yet they have been painted as radical enough to disqualify Trainor from public service. . . .
These attacks are not based on an honest review of any nominee’s scholarship, policy views, work history, associations, or character but instead are based on the nominee having been nominated by Trump, having mainstream conservative or libertarian views, and being supported by conservatives and libertarians.  They seriously degrade our public discourse and prevent productive discussions and debates about a nominee’s policy views.
The piece closes by thanking those willing to serve our country despite the personal attacks that will be made against them simply for being nominated by President Trump and being conservative or libertarian.  These nominees are superb and we are immensely grateful.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Brennan Center Spreads Fake News; Noncitizens Are Actually Voting

The Brennan Center for Justice (BCJ) has recently been fond of tweeting over and over:
BCJ report found total of 30 cases of possible noncitizen voting—that’s 30, not 300, 3,000, 30,000, 300,000, or 3M
Turns out their numbers are an absurdly low estimate . . .  even in just one city.  Today, Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt released the following statement:
My office has identified 220 non-U.S. citizens who were registered to vote in Philadelphia at some point between 2006 and 2017. Of the 220 non-U.S. citizen registrants, 90 (41%) voted in at least one election. Of those who voted, 44 (49%) voted on one occasion, while 46 (51%) voted in two to twelve elections in the period in which they were registered. The total number of votes cast by non-U.S. citizens we identified is 227, with the largest number of votes (47) cast in the 2008 General Election. All 220 non-U.S. citizens provided documentation (e.g., signed affidavit or letter from the registrant or their immigration attorney) canceling their voter registration status on the grounds that they were not U.S. citizens and, therefore, were not eligible to register to vote.
Commissioner Schmidt traces the illegal votes to problems with Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT).  Despite having a citizenship verification procedure, PennDOT still managed to register these non-citizens (emphasis added):
The overwhelming majority (76%) of non-U.S. citizens who registered to vote either initially registered to vote through PennDOT or modified their voter registration record through PennDOT. When non-U.S. citizens apply for a driver’s license, they are required to provide stay documents to show their legal status to remain in the U.S. for at least one year.  PennDOT verifies these immigration documents electronically with the Department of Homeland Security and the applicant’s driver’s license record is marked using an INS Indicator. Nevertheless, following this interaction, non-U.S. citizen applicants – just the same as U.S. citizen applicants – are asked if they would like to register to vote using touch screen technology when driver’s licenses are issued to applicants at PennDOT offices. In addition to the possible challenge of limited English proficiency, it is also possible that – after just providing proof of their status as non-U.S. citizens – applicants believe they are eligible to vote.
“The current voter registration process at PennDOT is both harmful to election integrity and to members of the immigrant community seeking citizenship,” Schmidt said.
The last statement is important as it shows the problems with voter registration systems run through DMV.  The DMV was asking them to register to vote AFTER they had established they were not a citizen.  While the left is pushing for a much broader role for the DMV with systems such as "mandatory (or automatic) voter registration" that also serve to disenfranchise primary voters, these systems may be endangering non-citizens' immigration status.  After all, why would you ask this question after you know I am not a citizen.  

Liberal groups like the Brennan Center should stop denying that non-citizens vote and join with others that are working on fixing these problems both for election integrity and the benefit of legal immigrants seeking to become citizens.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Philadelphia Election Fraud Trial Pending in Federal Court

As we blogged earlier, in March 2017, a last-minute Democratic candidate, Emilio Vazquez, for the 197th Pennsylvania House race unexpectedly won a write-in campaign, after the former Democratic nominee was disqualified and another candidate could not be added to the ballot in time.

The only two candidates on the ballot were a Republican and a Green Party candidate, in a heavily Democratic district. Republicans had a shot at winning this normally Democratic state legislature seat. However, with the help of "non-partisan" poll workers, the write-in candidate won in a landslide.

This vivid case of election and vote fraud is now pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Currently, the case is facing pretrial motions to dismiss. Philadelphia Metro reported:

The parties on both sides of a potential lawsuit that claims illegal electioneering took place during a special election in the city’s 197th Pennsylvania House District will need to wait more than six weeks before they will know if the case will be heard in federal court. . . . Judge Joel H. Slomsky requested all parties involved to submit supplemental materials after they receive a transcript of the day’s proceedings before he would rule on whether the case could be brought to trial.
Lawyers for both [Green Party's Cheri] Honkala and [Republican Lucida] Little, as well as the Republican City Committee, contend that the pair were deprived of a fair election, with several alleged examples being brought up in court, including poll workers going as far as following voters into voting booths on the day of the election in order to force voters to cast their ballot for Vazquez.
“This is massive fraud on a regular basis, and we have to stop it if we can,” Sam Stretton, an attorney for Honkala, told the judge during the hearing. . . Stretton argued that they have reviewed all avenues available to them and have determined that the most appropriate action was to file a federal lawsuit hoping to void the results of the election that put Vazquez in office. They also claimed that their rights under the Federal Voting Rights Act and Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Election Codes were violated during the election. “We did not bring this lightly,” said Stretton. “This is a pattern where everything that could happen wrong, happened wrong.”
While both parties saved specifics of their cases for the full trial, Linda Kerns, an attorney for Little and the Republican City Committee, said that, if the case were brought to trial, they could prove that poll workers gave write-in voters stamps that forced them to vote for Vazquez and had images that could prove at least four people – “eight legs,” as she told the judge – could be seen in one voting booth in the district, which she said indicated that poll workers followed voters into polls in order to manipulate their votes. . . .
[Judge] Slomsky’s decision isn’t expected to be heard for at least six weeks, as obtaining a transcript of Thursday's hearing is expected to take 30 days and the attornies have an additional two weeks to submit additional materials. 
We will also keep you posted once the Court issues its ruling. Tonight, the RNLA's Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter will be hosting a Fall Reception. This Philadelphia election and vote fraud story is surely going to be one of the topics of conversation. There is still time to RSVP if you are interested in attending this reception and meeting fellow members and friends of the RNLA.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Another Trump Nominee Faces a Distorted and Misleading Attack on Her Record

The left really is going over the top in their attacks on nominees to the Trump Administration. Today, Mother Jones did a hit piece on Cameron Quinn for being too connected to conservatives or even a closed conservative group.  Their primary source for much of the article seems to be her LinkedIn page and quotes from people who do not know her. 

Instead of debating what they say Cameron has done, we’ll list a few things that the Mother Jones intentionally omitted from her LinkedInpage:  
  • Cameron ran Domestic Programs for the Peace Corps for almost two years. Mother Jones obviously omitted this because they want to portray her only as a Republican activist and not someone who worked for a liberal- and Democrat-favored program like the Peace Corps.
  • Cameron worked for years for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a bipartisan group seeking to make our elections better.  For example, the current Co-Chair Donald R. Sweitzer is a former DNC Political Director, union official, and staffer for Ted Kennedy's Presidential campaign.  House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer is also on the board.
While Mother Jones omits that bipartisan work from the LinkedIn page they sourced for other parts of their story, they also mischaracterized other things she actually did in the field of election law:

  • There was an effort in Fairfax County, Virginia, while Cameron was Registrar to get activists inside polling places to interfere with efforts to cast a secret ballot. While partisans and groups can electioneer outside polling places, some Democrat and Virginia liberal groups wanted poll watchers to be able to talk to voters inside polling places and even to follow them into voting booths under the guise of “helping” them. This is the kind of potential intimidation tactic that many liberal groups rightly oppose and why all poll watcher trained by every group on the conservative side emphasizes that poll watchers cannot talk to voters in the polls, only election officials can.  And for voters who need assistance, Virginia has specific statutory procedures to protect the voter from intimidation. Cameron simply did what all good election officials across the country of both parties do: stop potential electioneering and voter intimidation inside the polls.
  • The article also discusses voter ID. Cameron was an academic advisor to the prestigious Carter-Baker Commission on voting (the "Commission on Federal Election Reform"). This commission, led by former President Jimmy Carter, recommended voter ID. When citing Cameron’s work for voter ID, we find it interesting they omit the Carter-Baker Commission's report, which is still regularly cited today, and instead discuss a group that has been out of existence for over a decade.
Cameron has worked with and been a leader for RNLA for years, though never while she was an election official.  Cameron is a consensus builder, careful, conscientious, intelligent, and hardworking.  She will make a great Counsel for Civil Rights for the Department of Homeland Security.  Mother Jones could have asked us about her but instead of talking to people who knew Cameron, they choose to excerpt and distort parts of her LinkedIn bio and talk to political operatives who oppose all things related to President Trump. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

RNLA Congratulates Trey Trainor on Nomination to the FEC

Today, the RNLA officially congratulated Trey Trainor on his nomination to be a Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (FEC):
Mr. Trainor’s credentials are impeccable.  He is a leading election lawyer and an expert on campaign finance issues.  He has spoken at many RNLA National Election Law Seminar trainings.  He is currently a partner specializing in election law, campaign finance, and ethics at Akerman LLP.  Previously, he has served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense in the Department of Defense’s Office of General Counsel; as General Counsel to the Texas Secretary of State; on the Standards Advisory Board to the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission; as Counsel to the Texas House Committee on Regulated Industries; and in various capacities in the Texas Legislature. 
Leading members of the election law and campaign finance bars who are RNLA members have praised Mr. Trainor’s nomination:
Benjamin Barr, President of the Pillar of Law Institute: "Mr. Trainor is nationally distinguished for his expertise in election law. Beyond this, Mr. Trainor has shown an unwavering dedication to preserving the First Amendment rights of average Americans--a position that has consistently been upheld by the courts. The FEC can only benefit from Mr. Trainor's knowledge and proven ability to help it carry out its mission." 
Kory Langhofer, Managing Attorney, Statecraft PLLC, and Litigation Counsel, Trump for America, Inc.: “I’ve worked with Trey, know him well, and hold him in high regard.  He is an excellent pick, and I am confident he’ll serve the country well on the FEC.” 
Joseph M. Nixon, RNLA Texas Chapter Chair and Partner, Akerman LLP: “Trey is a brilliant lawyer, extraordinarily principled and well-schooled in election law. The President has made a fine choice.”
RNLA Executive Director Michael Thielen agreed: “Trey Trainor has deep knowledge of campaign finance law, a breadth of practical experience, and impressive legal skills.  In addition to his skills as a lawyer, he is a man of character who is well-respected by everyone who knows him.  He will serve with distinction on the FEC with his respect for the rule of law and First Amendment rights that is desperately needed at the agency that regulates political speech.”
Unfortunately, liberals and the media are already baselessly attacking Mr. Trainor for his conservative views and his support for important First Amendment rights, just as they have attacked all recent Republican FEC commissioners--Lee Goodman, Caroline Hunter, Don McGahn, and Matthew Petersen--for their respect for the rule of law and support for the First Amendment.  

The RNLA will be countering these attacks and supporting Mr. Trainor's nomination in the next weeks and months.  Stay tuned here for further information on his character, legal philosophy, and qualifications and how you can help support his swift confirmation to the FEC.