Kansas SOS Kobach Calls Judicial Contempt Finding Against Him “Just Ridiculous;” Offers Misleading Explanation for Why Court Found Him in Contempt



“140,000 Maricopa County voters haven’t received registration cards”

Arizona Republic:

Roughly 140,000 Maricopa County voters have not received ID cards, potentially leaving eligible voters in Tuesday’s special congressional election unaware that they can cast a ballot.

County election officials said they haven’t sent cards out since December, blaming a printing delay.

The 8th Congressional District special election to replace ousted Republican U.S. Rep. Trent Franks in the West Valley is being watched nationally as a possible bellwether for the fall midterm elections.


“14 states can’t guarantee accurate election results”


Multiple states lack the ability to guarantee the accuracy of election outcomes in the event of a suspected breach.

The big picture: Five states — Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, New Jersey and Delaware — have no paper trails of votes. The other nine are in better shape, but still do not have all their counties’ machines spitting out a paper record….

Why it matters: Russia is likely hacking again this year, according to intelligence directors. And a hacker who wanted to insert doubt in the outcome of an election would just have to target the counties and states that lack 100% verification capabilities.


“Scalia’s Goal Of Unwinding Voter Protections Is Becoming A Reality”

[bumping to the top given the upcoming Tuesday argument in the Texas redistricting cases]

I have written this piece for TPM Cafe. It begins:

In a Supreme Court term already bursting with election cases, from two partisan gerrymandering disputes to a fight about the permissibility of Ohio’s voter purges to a lawsuit challenging bans on political clothing in Minnesota polling places, it’s easy to overlook yet another significant voting appeal the Court will hear later this month. In Abbott v. Perez, the Court will examine whether the state of Texas violated the Voting Rights Act and the United States Constitution when it drew congressional and state legislative district lines in ways that hurt Latino and African-American voters. The protracted and difficult litigation involves redistricting plans from way back in 2011 and shows how much was lost when the Supreme Court killed another key provision of the Voting Rights Act in its 2013 Shelby County v. Holder case.

Abbott v. Perez could well preview what’s likely to come in the next few years. All three branches of government have pulled back on protecting voting rights, and the effects of that move are becoming clear. We may soon fulfill the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s vision of an emasculated Voting Rights Act and much weaker protections for minority voters by the federal courts.

It concludes:

And the Supreme Court is poised to make things worse. With rumors circulating that perennial swing Justice Anthony Kennedy could retire as soon as this term, the Court is likely to lurch to the right. As I argue in my new book, The Justice of Contradictions: Antonin Scalia and the Politics of Disruption, the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia took an even narrower view of Voting Rights than the Court as a whole, and now, after his death, Justice Scalia’s influence is only growing. If President Trump gets another appointment to the Supreme Court to replace Justice Kennedy, expect the next Justice (like new Justice Neil Gorsuch) to emulate Justice Scalia’s approach and weaken voting rights even further.

Justice Scalia openly expressed disdain for the Act, expressing the view at the Shelby County oral argument that Congress renewed the Act in 2006 by overwhelming majorities because of “a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement.” He believed that Section 2 could well be an unconstitutional racial preference, and argued that, regardless, Section 2 should be read not to apply to redistricting matters at all.

The bottom line is that the Court’s mixed record on enforcing the Voting Rights Act could soon get worse if Trump gets another Court appointment. Minority voters, already at a disadvantage in many parts of the country because of enduring racism and the unwillingness of white voters to support minority candidates for office, could soon have tougher political battles ahead. And the scariest part is that, thanks in part to Justice Scalia’s influence, the courts may soon no longer be there as a backstop.


“Fearing Chaos, National Democrats Plunge Into Midterm Primary Fights”

Alex Burns in the NYT:

But in some areas, Democratic leaders have concluded it is worth enduring backlash to help a prized recruit or tame a chaotic primary field.

They are moving most aggressively in California, where the state’s nonpartisan primaries present a unique hazard: State law requires all candidates to compete in the same preliminary election, with the top two finishers advancing to November. In a crowded field, if Democrats spread their votes across too many candidates, two Republicans could come out on top and advance together to the general election.

There are at least four races in California where Democrats fear such a lockout, including the 39th Congressional District, where in addition to Mr. Cisneros and Ms. Tran there are two other Democrats running: Sam Jammal, a youthful former congressional aide, and Andy Thorburn, a wealthy health insurance executive who is backed by allies of Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont. The district is among the most coveted for Democrats nationwide — a seat left open by the retirement of Representative Ed Royce, a popular Republican, in an area Hillary Clinton won by about 8 percentage points.

National Democrats may also intervene in the Southern California districts held by Representatives Dana Rohrabacher and Jeff Denham, where multiple Republicans and Democrats are running, and in the seat held by Representative Darrell Issa, a Republican who is retiring. Voters receive mail-in ballots starting in early May, making the next few weeks exceptionally important.

House Majority PAC, a heavily financed Democratic group that spends millions in congressional elections, recently polled all four races and has been conducting digital surveys that simulate the complicated California ballot, according to people briefed on the group’s strategy. The super PAC has run ads in California in the past when Democrats have faced disaster in primary season.


“DNC chairman defends lawsuit against Russia, Trump campaign, WikiLeaks”


The chairman of the Democratic National Committee on Sunday defended a new multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, with talk show hosts asking whether it was distracting from efforts to rebuild the Democratic Party.

“I don’t know when Director Mueller’s investigation is going to end, so we need to file now to protect our rights,” Tom Perez said in an interview with ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos, referring to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. “We’ve got elections coming up in November. It’s hard to win elections when you have interference in elections. They’ve done it with impunity, and I’m concerned that it’s going to happen again. So, that’s why we did it now.”


While WI Republicans Sought to Cancel a Special Election in that State, TX Governor Abbott Trying to Rush a Special Election to Replace Rep. Farenthold


 Gov. Greg Abbott has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton for a legal opinion on whether Abbott can suspend state election law to call a special election “as soon as is legally possible” to fill the congressional seat left vacant when embattled U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Corpus Christi, resigned two weeks ago.

“D.N.C. Lawsuit Alleges Trump-Russia Conspiracy”


The Democratic National Committee opened a new legal assault on President Trump on Friday by filing a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the organization was the victim of a conspiracy by Russian officials, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks to damage Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.

The 66-page lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, assembles the publicly known facts of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling to accuse Mr. Trump’s associates of illegally working with Russian intelligence agents to interfere with the outcome of the election.

“The conspiracy constituted an act of previously unimaginable treachery: the campaign of the presidential nominee of a major party in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” the D.N.C. wrote in its lawsuit, which was first reported by The Washington Post.


“Arizona lawmakers at odds over a bill that could keep a McCain successor off the ballot this year”


State lawmakers in Arizona are sparring over legislation that would give a Republican successor to Sen. John McCain a pass on having to stand for election in November if the ailing six-term senator resigns or dies by the end of next month.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled state Senate say they plan a vote next week on the measure, which could have implications for control of the U.S. Senate and has intensified the spotlight on the health of McCain (R-Ariz.), who is battling brain cancer.

Democrats have cried foul and are vowing to block the bill, which they argue reflects how worried Republicans are about defending GOP-held seats, even in a red state like Arizona, where the state’s other U.S. Senate seat is also on the ballot in November. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is not seeking reelection.


FEC Commissioner Weintraub Says It Is Time to “Pull the Fire Alarm” and Have Complainants Bypass the FEC and Go to Court

Statement from Commissioner Weintraub:

Fire alarms are sometimes housed in boxes labeled “Break glass in case of emergency.” The Federal Election Campaign Act has such a box; it’s the provision that allows complainants to sue respondents directly when the Federal Election Commission fails to enforce the law itself (52 USC § 30109(a)(8)(C)). In the 44-year history of the FEC, this provision has never been fully utilized. Today, I’m breaking the glass.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint in June 2012 –nearly six years ago – alleging that the American Action Network spent millions of dollars on advertising designed to influence elections, was therefore a political committee, and should be thus required to disclose its donors. In the years that have followed, several of my colleagues, over my objections, have repeatedly acted to shield the sources of American Action Network’s millions of dollars in dark money from public view. The Commission has been hauled into U.S. District Court twice and has twice been told in no uncertain terms that these colleagues’ approach is “contrary to law.”

Most recently, in a sharply worded March 20, 2018 opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper found the arguments of the controlling bloc of commissioners to be unserious, granted CREW’s motions for summary judgment against the Commission, laid out the correct path for analyzing American Action Network’s political advertising, and ordered the Commission to conform within 30 days. By the terms of the Court’s order: “If the FEC does not timely conform with the Court’s declaration, CREW may bring ‘a civil action to remedy the violation involved in the original complaint’” (citing 52 USC § 30109(a)(8)(C)).

Over a difficult and frustrating decade at the Commission, I have seen colleagues with a deep ideological commitment to impeding this country’s campaign-finance laws erode the public’s right to free, fair, and transparent elections. These commissioners have rejected the Supreme Court’s conclusion that transparency in campaign finance “enables the electorate to make informed decisions” and to hold elected officials accountable (Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310, 371 (2010)). Their actions in this matter – and over the past decade – have convinced me that despite two clear defeats before the District Court, they will eventually find a way to block meaningful enforcement of the law in this and any other dark-money matter that comes before us.

This matter holds real promise of shining a bright light on a significant source of dark money. It’s time to break the glass and let this matter move forward unimpeded by commissioners who have fought every step of the way to keep dark money dark. I fully support the sound reasoning of the Court’s March 20 opinion. That is why I believe CREW can and should pursue its complaint directly against American Action Network, as Congress provided for under the Federal Election Campaign Act. My goal here, as always, is to enforce America’s campaign-finance laws fairly and effectively. Placing this matter in CREW’s hands is the best way to achieve that goal.


“Rick Scott Super PAC Donations Challenge Federal Anti-Corruption Rule”

Capital and Main:

 A super PAC led by Florida Gov. Rick Scott raked in donations from two private equity executives after Scott’s administration directed lucrative state pension investments to their firms, according to government records reviewed by MapLight and Capital & Main.

The donations were made to a committee that’s now supporting Scott’s U.S. Senate bid, despite a federal rule designed to prevent financial firms from bankrolling the election campaigns of public officials who oversee state pension investments.

….A 2010 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule prohibits firms from receiving investment fees from public pension systems if their executives donate campaign cash to pension overseers like Scott. SEC officials aimed to prevent investment decisions from being shaped by political influence.

But the commission didn’t explicitly bar donations to “independent” political groups, unless the donations were deliberately designed to circumvent the restrictions. And it hasn’t addressed whether a state official can lead a super PAC that received donations from firms with pension business and later be supported by the super PAC.


NY: “Cuomo Plans to Restore Voting Rights to Paroled Felons”


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he intends to restore voting rights to felons on parole, a move that could open the ballot box to more than 35,000 people.

The mechanism through which Mr. Cuomo plans to do so is unusual: He would consider pardons for all 35,000 people currently on parole in New York, as well as any new convicted felons who enter the parole system each month.

The move amounts to a legal sidestep of the State Legislature, where the Republican-controlled Senate has opposed many of Mr. Cuomo’s proposed criminal justice reforms. It does not change state law, which currently bars convicted felons from voting unless they are on probation or have completed parole….

Mr. Cuomo’s primary opponent in his bid for a third term, Cynthia Nixon, has also made criminal justice reform a central plank of her campaign, calling for the legalization of recreational marijuana because of its disproportionate impact on the incarceration of black and Latino New Yorkers.

Ms. Nixon blasted Mr. Cuomo’s executive order as an insufficient, transparent response to her challenge from his left flank.

“For eight years, Cuomo governed like a Republican — handing control of our state to his ultrarich donors and the party of Trump. Now he’s scared of communities all across New York who want to replace him with a real Democrat,” she said in a statement, adding, “Voter suppression in New York should have ended eight years ago.”


En Banc 5th Circuit, on a Vote of 12-2, with One of Trump’s Appointees Issuing a Blistering Dissent, Denies Rehearing to Consider Challenge to Austin’s $350 Contribution Limit

Via How Appealing comes news of this vote to deny rehearing en banc in Zimmerman v. City of Austin.

The vote is not all that surprising given that since Randall v. Sorrell, courts generally have not struck down campaign finance limits as unconstitutionally too low. (I helped defend San Diego’s limits against such a challenge in the Thalheimer litigation.)

What is perhaps more surprising is that newly appointed judge James Ho, joined by Judge Edith Jones, issued a blistering dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc, essentially adopting Justice Thomas’s extreme position that all campaign contribution limits are unconstitutional, and offering challengers what the judge considers to be a more successful path to bring another challenge to the Austin City Limits.

As Howard notes, Judge Willett did not join in this rehearing en banc dissent.



“The Changing Story of the NRA and Russia”

Must-read Ciara Torres-Spelliscy:

Ultimately, an entity with subpoena power can resolve the mystery of whether any substantial money from Russia was funneled through the NRA in 2016.  That will require more than polite inquiries from the Senator from Oregon. It will take an investigation by the FBI or possibly the Special Counsel’s office.  There could well be nothing here. Or it could be a crime scene.


“AZ GOP Appears To Back Off Attempt To Rig Rules For McCain’s Senate Seat”


Arizona Republicans appeared to back off their efforts Wednesday to rig the rules to keep Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) seat in their column, pulling from the state Senate floor a proposed change in state law that would have guaranteed a lengthy appointment from the GOP governor should the ailing senator leave office in the coming weeks.

Statehouse Republicans seemingly tried to pull a fast one on their Democratic counterparts, quietly adding an emergency clause to a bipartisan bill to clean up special election laws in the state that would have handed Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) assurance that he’d get to appoint a replacement for McCain through 2020.


“Federal judge finds Kris Kobach in contempt of court in voting rights case”

KC Star:

A federal judge on Wednesday found Secretary of State Kris Kobach in contempt of court in a case involving Kansas voting laws, her latest rebuke of the Republican candidate for governor.

Kobach is considered a GOP frontrunner despite his constant court battles involving voter fraud and strict voting requirements that he has pushed while in office as the state’s top election official.

In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kan., referred repeatedly to Kobach as acting “disingenuously.”

She chastised him for failing to treat the voters affected by the ongoing court case the same as all other registered voters in accordance with a previous court order.

See also this tweetstorm from Jessica Huseman.

Dale Ho of the ACLU comments;

Kobach’s office comments;

You can read the court’s order at this link.



Missouri: “AG Hawley: Greitens committed ‘potentially criminal acts’ involving veterans charity”

KC Star:

Attorney General Josh Hawley announced Tuesday that his office has uncovered potential criminal wrongdoing by Gov. Eric Greitens, a fellow Republican, and has turned that evidence over to the St. Louis prosecutor.

Hawley said that during an investigation into the Mission Continues, a charity founded by Greitens, his office “uncovered evidence of wrongdoing that goes beyond Missouri’s charity laws” and indicates “potentially criminal acts were committed by Gov. Eric Greitens.”

Hawley, who is a candidate for U.S. Senate, said his team found evidence that Greitens allegedly obtained and transmitted the charity’s donor list for political fundraising. He said there is no evidence of wrongdoing by the charity, only by the governor.


“Trump Campaign Rebukes Indiana Candidate Signs” (Rokita)


 Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has demanded that Rep. Todd Rokita take down yard signs it says give the false impression the president endorsed the Indiana Republican’s Senate bid, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told The Associated Press.

The rebuke came after two volunteers who led Trump’s bare-bones 2016 campaign in Vice President Mike Pence’s home state endorsed Rokita during an Indianapolis news conference last week.

The Rokita signs, which have gone up since that event, proclaim in large white letters “Endorsed by Trump/Pence,” with smaller letters below adding “2016 Indiana Team Leaders.”



“Maine’s top court clears way for ranked-choice voting in June”

Bangor Daily News:

Ranked-choice voting will be used in Maine’s June primary elections, the state’s high court ruled on Tuesday in a massive win for supporters of the first-in-the-nation system that has faced constitutional scrutiny and run a political gauntlet in the Legislature.

The decision from the Maine Supreme Judicial Court allows Secretary of State Matt Dunlap to continue implementing the system for gubernatorial and congressional primaries just before his office needs to finalize state ballots for printing to go to overseas voters later this month….

In a unanimous decision, the high court ruled that ranked-choice voting “is the law of Maine” for the June primaries, throwing out the Republican-led Maine Senate’s questions about whether Dunlap can spend unallocated money on administering the system and hiring private couriers to transport ballots to Augusta for counting — both parts of his plan to implement the law.


Accountability Claims in Constitutional Law

I just posted a new article of mine, “Accountability Claims in Constitutional Law,” that recently came out in the Northwestern University Law Review. The abstract is below. While the piece addresses a range of constitutional doctrines, readers of this blog will be most interested in its treatment of campaign finance regulation. The Supreme Court often asserts that it promotes electoral accountability when it strikes down restrictions on money in politics. Without these restrictions, in the Court’s view, corporations, unions, and other groups are able to deploy more funds to inform voters about incumbents’ records, thus rendering incumbents more accountable.

The article explains why this claim is wrong — indeed, backward. First, campaign finance regulation tends to affect incumbents more than challengers. It therefore shrinks the spending advantage that incumbents enjoy over their rivals. Second, incumbents’ smaller spending advantage produces more competitive elections. Races are typically closer when candidates are more evenly matched in resources. And third, voters respond to greater competition by learning more about incumbents’ records and more often voting based on them. Voters respond, that is, by holding incumbents more accountable for their performances. Accordingly, it is campaign finance regulation — not deregulation — that actually fosters greater accountability.

Several of the Supreme Court’s most controversial constitutional doctrines hinge on claims about electoral accountability. Restrictions on the President’s power to remove agency heads are disfavored because they reduce the President’s accountability for agency actions. Congress cannot delegate certain decisions to agencies because then Congress is less accountable for those choices. State governments cannot be federally commandeered because such conscription lessens their accountability. And campaign spending must be unregulated so that more information reaches voters and helps them to reward or punish incumbents for their performances.

There is just one problem with these claims. They are wrong—at least for the most part. To illustrate their error, I identify four conditions that must be satisfied in order for incumbents to be held accountable. Voters must (1) know about incumbents’ records, (2) form judgments about them, (3) attribute responsibility for them, and (4) cast ballots based on these judgments and attributions. I then present extensive empirical evidence showing that these conditions typically are not met in the scenarios contemplated by the Court. The crux of the problem is that voters are less informed than the Court supposes, more likely to be biased by their partisan affiliations, and less apt to vote retrospectively than in some other way. Accountability thus does not rise in response to the Court’s interventions—at least not much.

The qualifiers, though, are important. If the Court’s claims are mostly wrong, then they are partly right. If accountability does not rise much due to the Court’s efforts, then it does go up a bit. These points are established by the same studies that document the general inadequacy of the Court’s reasoning. With respect to certain voters in certain settings, accountability is influenced by presidential control over agencies, congressional delegation to agencies, federal commandeering of state governments, and regulation of campaign spending. That is why this Article discounts accountability as a constitutional value but not does reject it altogether.


“NRA Proves the Need for Campaign-Finance Reform”

Bloomberg View editorial:

The National Rifle Association is finished answering questions. That’s what the organization told Senator Ron Wyden last week in a letter complaining about Wyden’s “time-consuming and burdensome” inquiries into the NRA’s ties to Russians.

That answer isn’t good enough. The NRA’s relationship with Alexander Torshin, a Russian politician and deputy governor of Russia’s central bank who has been linked both to Vladimir Putin and to Russian organized crime, is too troubling to ignore. And the group’s dismissive response to Wyden has a larger significance: It underlines the need for full disclosure of sources of political funding.


“Top GOP super PAC books $48 million in ads for House races”


The Congressional Leadership Fund, the leading Republican super PAC focused on the House, is booking $48 million in ad reservations ahead of the November midterm elections — giving its first indications of where it intends to focus its considerable resources this year.

Most of that — $38 million — is reserved for television airtime in 20 battleground House districts. In five of them — held by GOP Reps. Don Bacon (Neb.), Garland “Andy” Barr (Ky.), Steve Knight (Calif.), Claudia Tenney (N.Y.) and Mimi Walters (Calif.) — the reservations are extensive enough to keep CLF on air from Labor Day, the unofficial start of campaign season, all the way through Election Day on Nov. 6.


“How Russian Facebook Ads Divided and Targeted U.S. Voters Before the 2016 Election”


WHEN YOUNG MIE Kim began studying political ads on Facebook in August of 2016—while Hillary Clinton was still leading the polls— few people had ever heard of the Russian propaganda group, Internet Research Agency. Not even Facebook itself understood how the group was manipulating the platform’s users to influence the election. For Kim, a professor of journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the goal was to document the way the usual dark money groups target divisive election ads online, the kind that would be more strictly regulated if they appeared on TV. She never knew then she was walking into a crime scene.

Over the last year and a half, mounting revelations about Russian trolls’ influence campaign on Facebook have dramatically altered the scope and focus of Kim’s work. In the course of her six-week study in 2016, Kim collected mounds of evidence about how the IRA and other suspicious groups sought to divide and target the US electorate in the days leading up to the election. Now, Kim is detailing those findings in a peer-reviewed paper published in the journal Political Communication. The researchers couldn’t find any trace, in federal records or online, of half of the 228 groups it tracked that purchased Facebook ads about controversial political issues in that six-week stretch. Of those so-called “suspicious” advertisers, one in six turned out to be associated with the Internet Research Agency, according to the list of accounts Facebook eventually provided to Congress. What’s more, it shows these suspicious advertisers predominantly targeted voters in swing states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

“I was shocked,” says Kim, now a scholar in residence at the Campaign Legal Center, of the findings. “I sort of expected these dark money groups and other unknown actors would be on digital platforms, but the extent to which these unknown actors were running campaigns was a lot worse than I thought.


Of the 228 groups that purchased political ads about hot-button political issues in the weeks before the 2016 elections, 122 were identified by Professor Kim and her team as “suspicious” — which means that there was no publicly available information about nearly half of the sponsors of Facebook ads featuring hot-button political issues in the weeks before the 2016 elections. In this research, suspicious groups are unidentifiable, untrackable groups that have no public footprints. Professor Kim and her team identified a group as suspicious if no information about the group was found elsewhere, even after reviewing the Federal Election Commission, IRS-based databases, and other research databases.

A quarter of the ads the research examined mentioned candidates, and would be subject to disclosure requirements if aired on TV, but escaped those transparency measures because they were run online.

This secrecy would not be possible on broadcast. While social media companies have proposed new transparency measures, the Honest Ads Act would solidify disclosure requirements by moving the law into the 21st century. The bipartisan legislation aims to ensure that digital political ads are subject to the same transparency requirements that apply to similar ads run on any other medium. The bill would shine a spotlight on some of the digital advertising practices outlined in the Project DATA study by creating a public footprint.


“Give a lower voting age a try”

WaPo editorial:

Upending decades of political tradition is clearly provocative, and the council should proceed carefully in deciding whether to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to vote in local and federal elections. A case could be made that 16-year-olds lack the life experience to make informed choices. But we think a more compelling argument can be made in favor of lowering the voting age as a measure that could encourage lifelong civic engagement.

The best predictor of whether someone will vote is whether they voted previously, and research suggests that 18 — a time of disruption and transition away from home and into the workforce or college — is not an optimum time to get young people into the habit. High school, said Joshua A. Douglas, a law professor at the University of Kentucky College of Law who has studied this issue, provides a more supportive environment, especially when twinned with improvements in civic education. He said there is no difference between the cognitive brain development of a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old; they are both capable of the reasoned, deliberate decision-making involved in voting.


“Rokita Locked Out Of GOP Database For Accessing Donor Info”


Senate candidate Todd Rokita likely violated ethics laws as Indiana’s secretary of state by repeatedly accessing a Republican donor database from his government office, prompting party officials to lock him out of the system until he angrily complained, three former GOP officials told The Associated Press.

Rokita, currently a congressman, is in a bitter primary fight for the right to challenge Joe Donnelly, who is considered one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats. The alleged ethics flap over Rokita’s use of the Indiana Republican Party’s Salesforce database during work hours occurred in 2009, as he was wrapping up a second term as the state’s chief elections official and angling for higher office.

Indiana law prohibits state employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or acting in an official capacity. It also prohibits work on anything outside official duties while on the clock, or ordering others to do so, and from using state resources for political purposes.


“Judges won’t halt N Carolina county’s legislative elections”


North Carolina trial-court judges refused Friday to delay state legislative elections in and around Raleigh next month while litigation challenging several House districts continues.

A three-judge panel declined to halt the May 8 primary for at least four Wake County House races because voting is already happening. The decision also likely preserves the use of those and surrounding Wake districts in the November general election. General Assembly boundaries have been redrawn since last summer by Republican legislators and federal courts, the result of other lawsuits…

In their order, the Superior Court judges gave the plaintiffs hope they would be ultimately be successful, writing they “have demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits of their claims.”

But their request for a preliminary injunction was denied because if granted it would halt ongoing House races “and more importantly, would interrupt voting by citizens already underway,” according to the order by Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway, Joseph Crosswhite and Alma Hinton. Mail-in absentee voting for the primary began last month, and in-person absentee voting starts next week.