Gerrymandering and partisan composition of Congress (cont.)

At Rick (Hasen)’s request, I wanted to add just a bit to Rick (Pildes)’s original post on the new paper by Jowei Chen and David Cottrell, proposing a means to assess the net partisan consequences of congressional redistricting.

Given the inevitable shorthand descriptions of the paper in the media, a few short suggestions:

Most important, this paper does not mean that the benefits and detriments of the status quo are basically a wash.   (Though some might draw that conclusion from the summary, I also don’t think that’s the implication that either Rick or the original authors would draw.)  More on why, below the cut.

Continue reading


“N.J. Dems want to push future presidents to do what Trump wouldn’t: Release tax returns”

If President Trump, or anyone else, wants to get on the New Jersey ballot to run for president in 2020, he could have to release his tax returns, if some Democratic lawmakers have their way.

Whether legislators have that power was an open question Monday, as the Assembly Judiciary Committee advanced a bill that would require candidates for president and vice president to disclose their federal income tax returns in order to appear on the state’s ballot.


“Grand Prairie mom who got eight years: ‘I just wanted to vote and be part of it’”

Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

“I thought I was doing something right for my country. When they gave me the sentence they just broke my heart, and they didn’t just break my heart, but I already knew my family was going to be broken, my kids especially,” Ortega said Monday during an interview at the jail, where she will remain for about a month until being transported to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice facility. “To me, it’s like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe this. I just can’t.’ 

As a green-card holder, Ortega says she never thought she couldn’t vote. While a resident of Dallas County, Ortega received a voter card after providing a valid driver’s license and Social Security card and being approved through the state process, according to Toni Pippins-Poole, the Dallas County elections administrator.

Watch the video interview. This woman should be punished, but eight years for what appears to be a stupid mistake?  Especially when Ethan Couch, the drunk driving killer who claimed “affluenza” in Texas got a SUSPENDED sentence.

“Demos and Project Vote team with Hogan Lovells to Help Prevent Unlawful Voter Purge in Philadelphia”


Today, voting rights groups Demos and Project Vote urged a federal appeals court to uphold a decision dismissing an attempt by the so-called “American Civil Rights Union” (ACRU) to force the City of Philadelphia to conduct an unnecessary purge of its voter rolls. In an amicus curiae brief prepared by the law firm Hogan Lovells, filed in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the groups argue that ACRU’s attempt to turn the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) on its head, to force a voter purge targeting people with felony convictions, is legally untenable and will result in countless eligible Philadelphia voters being disenfranchised.


“Purge outdated voter rolls? NYC tried it, with bad results”


Whether or not you believe that voting fraud is a problem in the U.S., one thing is certain: Tidying up outdated voter rolls is sometimes easier said than done. Just ask election officials in the nation’s largest city.

After an independent review found that New York City’s voting lists contained people who were dead or in prison, elections officials began an aggressive purge in 2014 and 2015 that eliminated more than 200,000 supposedly invalid registrations.

The result? A record number of complaints during the 2016 presidential primary from legal voters who turned up to cast a ballot, but found that they were no longer registered.

 “Democracy itself is under attack,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, declared last week after announcing plans to join a federal lawsuit over the way the purge was handled.

New York City’s bungled purge offers a cautionary tale for elected officials, led by President Donald Trump, who warn that inaccurate voter rolls are leading to voter fraud across America.


“The Latest Voter-Fraud Lie”

NYT editorial:

“It is a fact and you will not deny it.”

That unnerving remark — made on Sunday by Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump — sums up the new administration’s attitude toward the truth: We Decide, You Report.

Mr. Miller made the comment at the end of a heated back-and-forth with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who had asked him to defend Mr. Trump’s latest claim of voter fraud — that his narrow loss in New Hampshire was due to voters who had been bused in illegally from Massachusetts. When Mr. Stephanopoulos pressed him for even a single example of fraud, Mr. Miller responded: “George, go to New Hampshire. Talk to anybody who has worked in politics there for a long time.”


“National Civil Rights Organization Mounts First Major Federal Voting Rights Lawsuit of 2017 in North Carolina”


 A federal voting rights lawsuit challenging the election scheme in a North Carolina county was filed today in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

The complaint was brought on behalf of voters in Jones County, North Carolina by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with law firms Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP and Patterson Harkavy LLP.  The lawsuit alleges that the county’s method of electing its Board of Commissioners—the five-member body that makes critical and wide-ranging decisions impacting Jones County residents—dilutes the voting strength of its African American voters, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  Because the county employs an “at-large” system, all Commissioners are elected county-wide.  In Jones County, voting remains racially polarized and white voters historically vote as a bloc to defeat candidates of choice supported by the African American community.  As a result, African American voters have not been able to elect a candidate of their choice to the Board of Commissioners since 1994, though they comprise nearly a third of the county’s voting-age population.  The result, according to the complaint, is the “systemic neglect” of the needs of African Americans in Jones County.


“Business Roundtable softening stance on political transparency?”


In 2013, the Business Roundtable — a nonprofit trade association for the nation’s leading CEOs and one of the country’s most powerful lobbying forces — made clear its stance on corporate political transparency.

“Corporations do NOT support increased political and lobbying ‘disclosure,’” then-Business Roundtable President John Engler declared to Fortune 500 business leaders in a letter co-signed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue and National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons.

But the Business Roundtable’s hard line on corporations volunteering information about their political activities appears to have blurred — at least a bit.

In its latest “Principles of Corporate Governance” report, the Business Roundtable encourages corporate members to decide for themselves whether to publicly disclose political activities, such as contributing cash to so-called “dark money” nonprofit groups that aim to influence elections without revealing who funds them.


Jack Goldsmith on Don McGahn and the Flynn Fiasco


It is possible, as I said in my original piece on McGahn, that the many White House screw-ups outlined above are less a result of McGahn’s incompetence and more a result of his lack of access to the President.  If that is so, then the blame is partly the Chief of Staff’s, and McGahn needs to insist that the problem be fixed or resign.  I doubt this is the problem, however, since McGahn was Trump’s campaign lawyer and by all accounts remains a close senior advisor.  A related problem may be that Trump is simply a rogue elephant whom no chains can bind, and that McGahn is giving Trump appropriate advice that is having no impact on his behavior.  I doubt that is a full explanation either, since (among other reasons) many of the problems outlined above cannot have been a result of Trump’s intransigence.

It thus appears that the problems noted above are less about access or influence, and more about McGahn’s substance and style.  McGahn is  reportedly “an iconoclast bent on shaking things up.”  Unfortunately for the President, that is not an attractive quality in a White House Counsel, whose main job is to ensure that the President and the White House steer clear of legal and ethical and related political problems.



North Carolina Supreme Court Restores Old Election Commission Pending Further Litigation

So reports Mark Binker.

This puts on hold the move of the Republican legislature to deprive the governor’s party of a majority on the state and local election boards, just as a Democratic governor came in. (The new rules, on hold, also gave Republicans the chair of new bipartisan boards in even years, when Presidential, Senate, and congressional elections all take place.)

This likely only was put on hold thanks to the fact that Democrats took back control of the state supreme court in the last election as well.


“McDonnell and the Criminalization of Politics”

George Brown has posted this draft on SSRN (forthcoming, Virginia Journal of Criminal Law). Here is the abstract:

The article begins with a discussion of the critique in order to put McDonnell in context. In particular, I examine what is new in the debate over how the federal government should handle possible corruption, and the extent to which McDonnell is part of that shift. Part I explores the critique in depth. Part II analyzes the Supreme Court’s decision in McDonnell and its background. As a unanimous decision, McDonnell may be of great significance in how the legal system treats the federal government’s role. Part III offers some speculation on the federal anticorruption enterprise going forward.


Gerrymandering Has “Little to No Effect” on the Partisan Composition of Congress

That is the finding of an important new paper co-authored by one of the leading social science experts on districting, Professor Jowei Chen.  In recent years, a debate has been taking place over whether it is particularly aggressive Republican gerrymandering in the 2010 round of redistricting or increasing geographic sorting of voters by partisan affiliation that explains the Republican “advantage” in the House — the fact that Republicans gain a larger percentage of House seats than their nationwide share of votes in House elections.

Chen and David Cottrell frame their inquiry as an effort to answer how many seats each party would control in the complete absence of gerrymandering.  I won’t explain their full methodology here, but it basically consists of doing hundreds of computer simulations to measure the election results in differently designed districts, in which the building blocks are election-return results from the 2008 presidential election, all the way down to the Census block level.  The computer is then told to start randomly at different points in the state and design equally populated, geographically continuous, and compact districts.  The simulations do not take partisan or racial information into account.  This method of using thousands of computer simulated districting plans based on objective criteria is increasingly being offered by experts, including Chen, in litigation.

Their bottom line finding is that if congressional “districts were drawn randomly with respect to partisanship and race, Republicans would only expect to lose a single seat in Congress to the Democrats.”

They do find that there are modest partisan gains from gerrymandering in individual states.  But the gains to each party cancel out, in their analysis.  Thus, they find that Republicans gain about five seats in states in which they controlled the redistricting process in this cycle.  In states Democrats controlled, they gained about three seats.  And once race is taken into account through the way the requirements of the VRA pre-clearance process demanded preservation of VRA districts, the Democrats gained another 1.75 seats compared to what a process based just on contiguity, compactness, and equal population would tend to produce.

This is certainly not the last word on this important subject.  Any complex study of this sort poses many methodological issues.  And their findings for congressional districts do not necessarily mean that gerrymandering has not made a significant difference for state legislative elections.  But this study provides one of the most important counters to the argument that partisan gerrymandering plays a major role in the current composition of the House.

Further debates and discussions of this issue, including in the media, are going to have to take account of this important new analysis.  It is consistent with what at least some other social scientists, using different approaches, have also concluded about the limited effects of gerrymandering on the composition of the House.



“State elections chiefs warn against eliminating agency that protects elections from hacking”

Think Progress:

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who voted against the legislation, told ThinkProgress it’s likely that the full House will follow through with eliminating the agency, as protecting elections has become a partisan issue in Washington.

But elsewhere in the country, things are different. While a majority of elections administrators across the country are Republicans, a number of them told ThinkProgress that they disagree with Congress’ move to scrap the EAC, and said their states would suffer without the agency.


The Best “Evidence” of Voter Fraud in NH? MA License Plates


Former New Hampshire GOP Chair Fergus Cullen, who unsuccessfully tried to remove Trump’s name from the New Hampshire primary ballot, took to Twitter to slam Miller, saying he “offers no proof. Delusional. There are no bused-in voter.”

“I will pay $1000 to 1st person proving even 1 out of state person took bus from MA 2 any NH polling place last Election Day,” Cullen added.

And former state attorney general and veteran GOP consultant Tom Rath, who was a top adviser to Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s bid for the Republican nomination, wrote “let me as be unequivocal as possible-allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit-it’s shameful to spread these fantasies.”

But state Rep. Al Baldasaro of Londonderry, a top adviser and surrogate for Trump during the primary and general election campaigns, said he’s witnessed voter fraud in the Granite State, pointing to “all the Massachusetts cars park at Londonderry polls on election day.”


“Stephen Miller’s bushels of Pinocchios for false voter-fraud claims”

Glenn Kessler Fact Checker column in WaPo:

Stephanopoulos is right. The White House continues to provide zero evidence to back up its claims of voter fraud. Officials instead retreat to the same bogus talking points that have been repeatedly shown to be false.

It’s pretty shameless to cite research in a way that even the researcher says is inappropriate, and yet Miller keeps saying 14 percent of noncitizens are registered to vote. The Republican governor of New Hampshire has admitted that he was wrong to say buses of illegal voters voted in the election, and yet Miller shamelessly suggests that is the case. Miller cites a supposed expert on voter fraud, Kobach, who has been mocked for failing to prove his own claims of voter fraud. Miller also repeats a claim about people being registered to vote in two states, even though that is not an example of voter fraud.


Watch Trump Administration’s Stephen Miller State Lie after Lie About Voter “Fraud,” and Reasons to Worry

Astonishing video full of lies and unsubstantiated (and unproven) statements. 

(A bit from Politifact.)

More evidence the “Pence Commission” on voter fraud will be a sham (here‘s what a fair commission would look like).

And most chilling is Miller referring to DOJ as getting ready to crack down on this non-existent fraud, making it appear more likely this will be an excuse to suppress the votes of those likely to vote for Democrats.




“Guest column: At-large judge seats disregard black voters”

A.P. Turead Jr. (the first black student to attend LSU) writes:

In 1953, I integrated Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. My admission, as the first black student on a campus today serving more than 30,000 students, was possible after my father and namesake, civil rights attorney A.P. Tureaud Sr., successfully challenged LSU’s discriminatory admissions policies.

That lawsuit and more filed by my father, alongside Thurgood Marshall and other civil rights advocates, paved the way for the end of legally sanctioned American apartheid in many public institutions in Louisiana. Regrettably, more than 50 years after we fought to dismantle racial segregation in my home state, another challenge has to be waged to bring racial inclusion to another Louisiana public institution — the 32nd Judicial District Court, which serves Terrebonne Parish.


“Elbridge Gerry and the Monstrous Gerrymander”

New blog post at the Library of Congress:

Gerrymandering is a current political topic today; as always, it is usually initiated by the incumbents to retain or increase their power. When gerrymandering is taught in U.S. history classes, it is likely students will be shown a picture of the original political cartoon drawn by Elkanah Tisdale for the Gazette and held here at the Library of Congress. Gerry did not win the 1812 election for his home district despite the reapportionment. He did, however, go on to become James Madison’s second vice president later in 1812.


“Illegal Voting Gets Texas Woman 8 Years in Prison, and Certain Deportation”

Michael Wines for the NYT:

Despite repeated statements by Republican political leaders that American elections are rife with illegal voting, credible reports of fraud have been hard to find and convictions rarer still.

That may help explain the unusually heavy penalty imposed on Rosa Maria Ortega, 37, a permanent resident and a mother of four who lives outside Dallas. On Thursday, a Fort Worth judge sentenced her to eight years in prison — and almost certainly deportation later — after she voted illegally in elections in 2012 and 2014.

The sentence for Ms. Ortega, who was brought to this country by her mother as an infant, “shows how serious Texas is about keeping its elections secure,” Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, said in a statement. Her lawyer called it an egregious overreaction, made to score political points, against someone who wrongly believed she was eligible to vote.

“She has a sixth-grade education. She didn’t know she wasn’t legal,” said Ms. Ortega’s lawyer, Clark Birdsall, who once oversaw voter fraud prosecutions in neighboring Dallas County. “She can own property; she can serve in the military; she can get a job; she can pay taxes. But she can’t vote, and she didn’t know that.”


Did New Alabama Senator Luther Strange Run Interference for AL Governor While AG?

That’s the suggestion in this NYT piece:

Mr. Strange proved a central, if quiet, figure in the fallout, and the Legislature suspended its inquiry at his request when he said his office was doing “related work.”

On Thursday, Mr. Strange noted that he had never said specifically that Mr. Bentley was a target of his office, and the governor, who will name Mr. Strange’s successor as attorney general, denied any impropriety in his selection.

Although many Republicans in Alabama cheered Mr. Strange’s appointment, his action in connection with the governor’s scandal led to some skepticism in Montgomery ahead of a special election for the Senate seat that Mr. Bentley’s office said would be held in 2018.

“It’s grimly problematic that the attorney general who blocked the impeachment investigation and who has not gone forward with the Bentley criminal investigation is rewarded with the U.S. Senate appointment,” said the state auditor, Jim Zeigler, a Republican who is a frequent critic of the governor. “There will be a challenger to Luther Strange in the special Senate election, and this will be an issue. His manipulation against any Bentley investigation will be an issue.”


“Judges hear arguments over restricting NC governor’s powers”


North Carolina’s new Democratic governor and the entrenched Republican-led legislature battled in court on two fronts Friday over efforts to restrict the chief executive’s ability to alter the state’s recent conservative direction.

A panel of three state trial court judges spent three hours listening to arguments over whether to continue blocking a law requiring Senate confirmation of Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet secretaries.

The judges did not say when they would decide whether to continue blocking the law. Any order would be in effect until after a full hearing next month.

Meanwhile, a revamped state elections board met for the first time Friday, hours after an appeals court temporarily reinstated a law stripping Cooper of his oversight of elections. Cooper’s attorneys are asking the state Supreme Court to step in and again block that law.

“Ex-NH GOP chair calls Trump’s voter fraud bluff with $1,000 bet”

The Hill:

Fergus Cullen, New Hampshire’s former GOP chair, on Friday hit President Donald Trump over false voter fraud claims he said were the reason New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte lost her seat in November.

“I will pay $1000 to 1st person proving even 1 outofstate person took bus from MA 2 any NH polling place last ElectionDay #mapoli #nhpolitics,” Cullen tweeted Friday evening.


“Voting Advocates Announce a Settlement of ‘Exact Match’ Lawsuit in Georgia”


The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, Campaign Legal Center, Voting Rights Institute at the Georgetown University Law Center, along with the New York City office of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP and Atlanta-based firm of Caplan Cobb LLP, acting as pro bono counsel, announced a settlement today in a lawsuit filed on behalf Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda and the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, which challenged Georgia’s exact-match voter registration verification scheme. The suit alleged Georgia’s “exact match” system violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and deprived eligible Georgians of their fundamental right to vote under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, and resulted in Georgia restoring more than 42,000 previously purged voters to the rolls.


President Trump Falsely Claims “Thousands” of Illegal Voters Bussed in from Mass. to NH, Costing Him and Ayotte the State


On Thursday, during a meeting with 10 senators that was billed as a listening session about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the president went off on a familiar tangent, suggesting again that he was a victim of widespread voter fraud despite the fact that he won the presidential election…..

The president claimed that he and Ayotte both would have been victorious in the Granite State if not for the “thousands” people who were “brought in on buses” from neighboring Massachusetts to “illegally” vote in New Hampshire.

According to one participant who described the meeting, “an uncomfortable silence” momentarily overtook the room….

Thursday’s meeting was an attempt to foster bipartisan support for Gorsuch…


Judge Gorsuch Refused to Make Public His Remarks About Trump Comments on Judiciary Being “Disheartening”

Sen. Schumer NYT oped:

Judge Gorsuch’s behind-closed-doors admission that he felt “disheartened” by President Trump’s attacks on judges could well be akin to Judge Roberts’s “balls and strikes.” Judge Gorsuch told it to me in private; when Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and I asked him to say it in public, he refused. Clearly he wanted this to be seen as a marker of his independence, because his handlers immediately told us, “You can tell this to the press.” A truly independent judge would have the fortitude to condemn the president’s remarks, not just express disapproval, and to do it publicly. The White House’s assertion that Judge Gorsuch’s private remarks were not aimed at Mr. Trump only raises concerns about his independence.



“Veterans living in U.S. territories are crowd-funding a legal pitch for voting rights”


A group of military veterans living in Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are crowd-funding their appeal to challenge federal voting laws that deny U.S. citizens living in the territories the ability to vote in presidential elections.

Americans in the U.S. territories follow the same federal laws, pay billions in taxes and have some of the highest rates of enlistment in the U.S. military, but they say their equal protection rights are being violated based on where they live. People born in Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are all U.S. citizens.


“Two Weeks After Donald Trump’s Promised Voter Fraud Probe — Crickets”

S.V. Date for HuffPo:

Justin Levitt, a Loyola Law School professor and voting rights expert, said the order’s disappearance is not terribly unexpected. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this falls by the wayside for a whole lot longer,” he said.

Levitt wrote a 2007 report titled “The Truth About Voter Fraud” when he worked at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. It found that the amount of actual in-person voter fraud was so small as to not present a significant threat of altering elections.

“It would be one thing if they did an actual study,” Levitt said. “There’s nothing like the tone of the proposal set up in the tweets. I’m enormously skeptical of any quote-unquote investigation that announces its conclusions ahead of the actual investigation.”


6th Circuit Rejects, in Part, Challenge to Law Making It Harder for Unions to Collect Money for Political Purposes through Check-Offs

Michigan AFL-CIO v. Schuette, with opinion by Judge Sutton.

My favorite line: “As the unions read this language, it explains why there was no First Amendment burden in Ysursa, Pizza, or Bailey, where the government was a regulator and employer, and why there is a burden here where the government has erected a ‘negative; obstacle to the unions’ ability to raise political funds. But this slice of Pizza does not tell the whole story.”



“The Supreme Court will examine partisan gerrymandering in 2017. That could change the voting map.”

Bernie Grofman at The Monkey Cage (and to be clear, the Supreme Court has not yet agreed to hear any case raising these issues):

If, in 2017, the court does not specify a manageable standard for identifying unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering, “partisanship gone wild” will continue indefinitely, leaving us with a never-ending political nightmare: congressional delegations whose partisan balance is frozen into place regardless of changes in the preferences of the voters.

Stopping egregious gerrymandering is not a partisan issue; it benefits Republicans right now, but in the past it has advantaged Democrats. Regardless of which political party gains, the loser is U.S. democracy.


Trump Tweets Interfering with J. Gorsuch’s Carefully Choreographed Distancing from Trump

I explained the other day why Judge Gorsuch’s mild criticism of Pres. Trump’s statements about judges made for smart politics: mild enough so that Trump would not take offense, but strong enough to give him something credible to say when pushed by Democrats at upcoming hearings on Trump. I suggested the remarks were vetted before he said them, despite the President saying the remarks (reported by Sen. Blumenthal) were not true. (Trump said this after those shepherding J. Gorsuch confirmed the remarks).

Well the NY Times seems to confirm both the vetting and Trump interfering with the choreography:

The White House’s statements upended what had appeared to be a carefully calculated effort by Judge Gorsuch to gently distance himself from Mr. Trump’s attacks — what some observers saw as an attempt to blunt Democrats’ concerns about whether the judge would stand up to what they call Mr. Trump’s overreach.

While Judge Gorsuch may be working to allay those concerns — under the current Senate rules, he needs some Democratic support to be confirmed — Mr. Trump’s Twitter post and Mr. Spicer’s denials confirmed the worst suspicions of Democrats who were already bent on transforming the process into a referendum on the president….

Veterans of the Supreme Court confirmation process note that the ritual of private meetings with senators is almost completely staged for minimum controversy and maximum impact, with questions discussed in advance, answers honed and rehearsed, and no remark made unless it is intended to withstand public scrutiny.

“You don’t want any surprises, so there’s nothing that you don’t prepare for going into a meeting,” said Stephanie Cutter, a top Obama administration official who shepherded the nomination of Justice Sonia Sotomayor. “They knew this question would be coming, and they would have practiced an answer, and this was what he planned to say.”

Ms. Cutter recalled preparing Justice Sotomayor for a meeting with Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, then the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, in which she worked to explain her remarks that that a “wise Latina woman” could reach a “better” decision than a white man. Mr. Leahy left the meeting and promptly repeated the explanation to the assembled reporters, an effort to dispense with the issue before she came before the Senate for confirmation hearings.

“This might have been an attempt to make him look more independent,” Ms. Cutter said of Judge Gorsuch. “He could have created a story line about standing up to Trump.”

But the denials on Thursday were at odds with that narrative. Democrats were quick to jump on them as proof that Judge Gorsuch lacked judicial independence.



“How the Skewed Demographics of the Donor Class Pull Our Politics to the Right”

McElwee, Rhodes, and Schaffner in Slate:

The prospect of big donors warping the political system loomed large in the 2016 election. On the left, Bernie Sanders warned of an “oligarchic society” in which big donors dictated the political agenda. On the right, Donald Trump mocked his opponents as “puppets” of the Koch brothers. Now that Trump is filling his administration with an unprecedented number of donors, their influence over politics is even more deserving of study. Yet so far there has been no systematic research into the demographic makeup and political views of the wealthiest donors. Who are they? What are their politics?

Our research suggests the donor class is a stratified group that does not represent the diversity of America and is politically to the right of the general population. Trump’s donors were incredibly white and extremely male: 95 percent were white, and 64 percent were white men. Hillary Clinton, who had more gender diversity among her donors, still had an overwhelmingly white donor pool. Though money in politics is normally considered to be an issue tied to class (and it is!) our new report, Whose Voice, Whose Choice?, shows that the influence of a white, wealthy, and male donor class could impede progress on gender and racial equity.


What a Mess with North Carolina’s Election/Ethics Commission(s)


One of those bills scrapped the State Board of Elections and merged its duties with the state Ethics Commission. It put the newly combined panel under the state’s existing Ethics Commission until this summer.

A Superior Court panel stayed that merger until Cooper’s lawsuit challenging the new arrangement could be heard.

But the Court of Appeals on Thursday stayed that lower court order, allowing the merger to go forward. Lawyers for Cooper have appealed that ruling to the state Supreme Court, which lawyers on all sides of the case hope will act Friday.

Until then, the ethics panel is unsure whether it is sitting as the old Ethics Commission or the newly formed panel overseeing both elections and ethics laws.


“Trump apologized to Bernhard Langer for mistaken ‘voter-fraud’ story”

Palm Beach Post:

When Thrush tried to contact Langer to confirm the story he reached his daughter Christina, who told him, “He is not a friend of President Trump’s, and I don’t know why he would talk about him.”

Langer said Thursday that his daughter was misquoted, and that he had received a call from Trump, who had apologized.

“We talked on the phone and he was very clear,” Langer said. “If there was anything that hurt me, he apologized. And I apologized too, for some of the quotes that were incorrect, and we’re on good terms.

“It was fun talking to him briefly and I thought that’s a great gesture from him because he’s got a lot of other things to be concerned about, not just this golfer Bernhard Langer. For him to take the time and clear things up is pretty amazing.”

Langer said he was “very disappointed in the article, the way it was written and what happened. It’s not the first time and it may not be the last time because it’s out of my control.”

Langer, who is a Trump supporter, said he considers Trump a friend but not a close friend.