Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial page blog:
Just what game is Republican state Attorney General Brad Schimel playing?
His office released a memo Monday saying an investigation into allegations of voter fraud by Democrats talking on a video about bringing in people from out of state was over and that no voter fraud was found. The videos were taken by Project Veritas Action, a group run by conservative activist James O’Keefe.
The finding, issued in January, came out after months of delay, thanks only to a Journal Sentinel open records request. Schimel had said last October (conveniently just before the election) that it sure looked like violations may have occurred.
Schimel repeated on Wisconsin Public Radio that the investigation was closed. But a few hours later, Schimel told conservative talk radio host Mark Belling that no, no, no, the investigation is still open. He said he planned to examine additional videos that Veritas had sent to his office.
O’Keefe was not happy about the memo, by the way. On Thursday, he released a short video telling Schimel, “We should investigate you and you should lose your job.”
Schimel’s spokesman Johnny Koremenos on Friday said the memo had been released in error. He declined to answer other questions.
See this order in the NEOCH case.
Derek Muller has written this piece for an Illinois Law Review symposium on President Trump’s first 100 days. See also this student symposium piece on the voter fraud myth.
Next hearing May 10.
But this freezes the status quo.
Eliza Newlin Carney for TAP:
Watchdogs have faulted the IRS for failing to put the brakes on political spending by tax-exempt groups, which operate outside the disclosure rules. Technically, 501(c)(4) social welfare groups may not focus on politics as their primary purpose. But campaign-style spending by nonprofits not required to identify their donors has exploded since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling to lift limits on political spending by unions and corporations, including incorporated nonprofits.
Until recently, this has been largely a Republican game. Conservative tax-exempt groups spent 59.7 percent of the undisclosed campaign money in the 2016 election, CRP data show, compared with 38.9 percent spent by liberal groups.
But Democrats, not willing to play by different rules, are catching up, and the trend could cause headaches for progressives. Party leaders have made attacks on undisclosed “dark” money a leading talking point. If Senators up for reelection get help from progressive groups operating in secrecy, it potentially undercuts Democrats’ campaign finance message. The IRS, moreover, has issued a string of rulings
recently that revoke or deny tax-exempt status to groups that the agency said strayed too far into politics, which does not qualify as a social welfare or charitable activity.
My take: this is equally troubling whether done by the left or right if the groups are seriously engaged in electoral activities.
You can bet that if this were an African-American woman voting for Clinton, the DA would have prosecuted or been called “soft” on voter fraud.
Micah Altman and Michael McDonald in American Politics Research:
In the last decade, Ohio reformers advocated redistricting by formula: selecting the redistricting plan that scores best on a predefined objective scoring function that combines prima facie neutral criteria with political goals of plan fairness and district competition. In the post-2010 redistricting, these reformers hosted a public competition where prizes were awarded to the best legal plan scored on the reformers’ formula. The submitted plans provide a unique opportunity to evaluate how redistricting by formula may work in practice. Our analysis finds the public yields a broader range of redistricting plans, on indicia of legal and public policy interest, than developed by the state legislature. The Pareto frontier reveals plans that perform better than the legislature’s adopted plan on one and two dimensions, as well as the reformers’ overall scoring function. Our evaluation reveals minimal trade-offs among the components of the overall competition’s scoring criteria, but we caution that the scoring formula may be sensitive to implementation choices among its components. Compared with the legislature’s plan, the reform community can get more of the four criteria they value; importantly, without sacrificing the state’s only African American opportunity congressional district.
Burden, Canon, Mayer, and Moynihan in Political Research Quarterly:
Conventional political wisdom holds that policies that make voting easier will increase turnout and ultimately benefit Democratic candidates. We challenge this assumption, questioning the ability of party strategists to predict which changes to election law will advantage them. Drawing on previous research, we theorize that voting laws affect who votes in diverse ways depending on the specific ways that they reduce the costs of participating. We assemble datasets of county-level vote returns in the 2004, 2008, and 2012 presidential elections and model these outcomes as a function of early voting and registration laws, using both cross-sectional regression and difference-in-difference models. Unlike Election Day registration, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the results show that early voting generally helps Republicans. We conclude with implications for partisan manipulation of election laws.
Watchdog group Free Speech For People, joined by Harvard Law Professor John Coates, just filed an FEC complaint against Citgo and the Trump inaugural committee alleging that federal law prohibits “foreign nationals” from donating to presidential inaugural committees.
Read the complaint.
Lee Drutman at Vox:
Whatever the causes of polarization, there is a relatively straightforward solution to our current predicament that has been embraced by most advanced industrial democracies: proportional representation. There are many versions of this approach, but they all involve some way of electing multiple people, at once, to represent a region. In a proportional system, parties representing as little as 1 percent of the electorate can gain representation, though the most stable systems usually have a threshold percentage level to prevent truly marginal parties from gaining seats. The regions can be as large as an entire nation — but even when they are smaller they tend to be larger than the 435 tiny US congressional districts, each of which is run according to the “winner take all” principle.
Under a proportional system, if you want to live in a big, liberal city in a liberal state, you don’t give up the chance to make a difference with your vote. There is also very little possibility for consequential gerrymandering in proportional representation systems, since districts tend to be so big that there’s not much to gain from alternative line-drawings.
Perhaps most significantly, proportional representation makes third parties more viable. In the US system, many voters might prefer a third party, in theory, but in a winner-take-all scenario a vote for a third party is a wasted vote, since only the two major parties stand a chance of winning. As a result, most proportional systems have at least three major parties, often more. This produces a wider diversity of perspectives in the representative body, and more potential for bargaining across different issues.
Michael McDonald: “Why are White men at promoting an idea that courts have found will diminish minority representation?”
Interesting new tool from the Center for Political Accountability: a corporate political spending database.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Covert videos of Democratic activists released in the run-up to last year’s presidential election showed no violations of Wisconsin laws, a review by the attorney general’s office found.
The blunt conclusion is at odds with how Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel initially reacted to the videos by conservative provocateur James O’Keefe, who has a track record of mischaracterizing his recordings and was found guilty of a misdemeanor in 2010 over one of his operations. …
The videos concentrated on Wisconsin liberal activist Scott Foval, who bragged on tape about disrupting Republican events and discussed busing people into Wisconsin from other states.
The Howard University School of Law invites applications for a visiting professor position for AY 2017-2018. The visitor should be able to teach some of the following courses: environmental law, administrative law, property, and legislation. Candidates should have a juris doctorate and teaching experience. Interested persons should send a CV and subject area preferences to Associate Dean Lisa Crooms-Robinson (email@example.com) or Prof. Josephine Ross, Initial Appointments Committee, c/o Donnice Butler, 2900 Van Ness Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 or, by email, to firstname.lastname@example.org (electronic submissions preferred).
Howard University School of Law is committed to a diverse faculty, staff, and student body. Applications from women, minorities, persons with disabilities, and others whose background, experience, and viewpoints contribute to the diversity of our institution are encouraged.
Howard University is an Equal Opportunity Employer and does not discriminate on the base of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, gender, or veteran status.
I’ll be talking at Northwestern’s annual Law in Motion conference about my draft paper on race, party, and polarization in redistricting and voting cases (which Judge Jerry Smith recently discussed in detail in his dissent in a Texas redistricting case).
(Note this is on the main campus and not at the law school.)
Important but depressing.
Ross Ramsey epic subtweet of TX gov Greg Abbott:
Do you remember the name of the lawyer who advised the Texas House and Senate when they wrote the 2011 voter ID bill? That’s the law a federal judge in Corpus Christi found to be intentionally discriminatory on the basis of race. An appeals court told her to throw out a particular argument without retrying the case and come to a fresh conclusion. She did, and she came to the same conclusion: intentional racial discrimination.
Do you remember the name of the lawyer who advised the House and the Senate — and don’t forget the governor at the time, Rick Perry — on congressional and legislative redistricting after the 2010 census, counseling them as they drew lines to maximize their Republican advantage? The legal expert who would have said “too much” if he had thought his clients might’ve stepped in a legal cow patty? They stepped in it just the same: A federal panel ruledlawmakers intentionally discriminated against minority voters.
The state has stacked up a run of losses that could throw it back under federal supervision — forcing the great state of Texas to tuck tail and ask the federal government for permission for every change it makes to its voting and election laws. This state and many others used to discriminate habitually and creatively — so much so that federal law included Texas in the list of states that couldn’t be trusted to take care of their own citizens with fair laws and fair districts that would have allowed them to take part in the great democratic franchise, to choose the people who represent them.
Remember that lawyer’s name?
Charlotte Observer editorial:
At last, we know how badly photo voter ID is needed in North Carolina.
For years, Republicans in North Carolina have alleged that in-person fraudulent voting is widespread while Democrats have said it is non-existent. But no one knew for sure, leaving the two sides talking past each other on voter ID.
On Friday, the State Board of Elections released the results of an extensive, objective audit of the 2016 election. It found that 4,769,640 votes were cast in November and that one (1) would probably have been avoided with a voter ID law. One out of nearly 4.8 million.
Texas Standard reports.
This is the TELL on voter fraud claims. Texas has strict voter id laws, which target non-existent fraud, but have done little on absentee ballot fraud.
I’m please to announce that Plutocrats United received honorable mention for the 2017 Scribes Book Award. Scribes is the American Society of Legal Writers.
No word on the cert petition, the motion to dismiss the cert petition by NC’s governor and AG, and the motion to intervene from the NC legislature.
It will probably be relisted for a third time for the next conference, on Friday, with a possible announcement next Monday.
What does the delay mean? Impossible to say.
Today without noted dissent the Supreme Court denied cert. in Alabama Democratic Conference v. Marshall, a First Amendment campaign finance challenge to Alabama law brought by Democrats (unusual these days). The cert petition (signed by Bob Bauer, Rick Pildes, John Tanner, Ed Still and others is here.)
My theory is that the Court gets more than enough campaign finance cases coming up on direct appeal from three judge court that it usually is disposed not to take on more that come up from cert. (Decisions not to hear a three-judge court appeal are decisions on the merits, while cert. denials are not.)
“OK and if anything happens you have my power of attorney and you be sure to vote for Donald Trump for me’.”
—-Woman’s instructions to her daughter in North Carolina to vote her absentee ballot for Trump if she died.