A disciplinary committee for the State Bar of Texas on Wednesday filed a professional misconduct lawsuit against Attorney General Ken Paxton for his attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections in four battleground states won by President Joe Biden.
The filing in Collin County by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline, a standing committee of the state bar, is an extraordinary move by the body that regulates law licenses in the state against the sitting attorney general. It stems from complaints against Paxton for a lawsuit that the U.S. Supreme Court threw out, saying Texas lacked standing to sue and that Paxton’s political opponents called “frivolous.”
It seeks a sanction against Paxton, which will be determined by a judge, that could range from a private reprimand to disbarment.
In its filing, the commission said Paxton had misrepresented that he had uncovered substantial evidence that “raises serious doubts as to the integrity of the election process in the defendant states.”
“As a result of Respondent’s actions, Defendant States were required to expend time, money, and resources to respond to the misrepresentations and false statements contained in these pleadings and injunction requests even though they had previously certified their presidential electors based on the election results prior to the filing of Respondent’s pleadings,” the lawsuit read.
The lawsuit also says Paxton made “dishonest” representations that an “outcome determinative” number of votes were tied to unregistered voters, votes were switched by a glitch with voting machines, state actors had unconstitutionally revised their election statutes and “illegal votes” had been cast to affect the outcome of the election.
The lawsuit says Paxton’s allegations “were not supported by any charge, indictment, judicial finding, and/or credible or admissible evidence, and failed to disclose to the Court that some of his representations and allegations had already been adjudicated and/or dismissed in a court of law.”
Zach Montellaro for Politico:
As former President Donald Trump was trying to end Brad Raffensperger’s political career, connecting him to conspiracy theories befitting an outlandish spy thriller, the Georgia secretary of state took heart in a different type of film: “Dumb and Dumber.”
“A year ago, people said that we only had 10 percent support,” Raffensperger said in an interview. “I used to say, ‘10 percent, huh? So you say we got a chance,’” calling it a “gallows-type humor” paraphrase of Jim Carrey’s famous movie line.
Raffensperger capitalized on that chance Tuesday night, dispatching his Trump-backed challenger, GOP Rep. Jody Hice, with a comeback that took him from being ostracized by the state Republican Party to cleaning up in nearly every corner of the state. Trump has endorsed a slate of candidates for election offices who parrot his falsehoods about the 2020 election being stolen — and Raffensperger, who refused Trump’s entreaties to “find” more votes in 2020, just defeated the first one.
He did it by meeting skeptical voters head-on, appearing regularly on conservative media and touting his support for conservative election policies. Raffensperger spent long hours on the road to talk to basically any group that would have him — even when they wanted to relitigate the 2020 vote that Raffensperger has consistently defended as clean and fair.
And, spotting an opening at the end of a primary many assumed would go to a runoff, Raffensperger and an allied super PAC poured in resources when his challengers started to coast, pushing hard all the way through the election, which he won with 52 percent of the vote. Altogether, it added up to the biggest GOP rebuke of Trump since the day 10 House Republicans voted to impeach him…..
The secretary of state also had key help come in at the last moment from Americans Keeping Country First, a super PAC formed by allies of Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), another Trump foe.
The group poured $1.4 million on advertising and mailers into Georgia to boost Raffensperger among a chunk of undecided primary voters, according to a memo from the group shared first with POLITICO. “Secretary Raffensperger never wavered after the 2020 elections and Georgia voters showed that standing for what is right still matters,” Brendan Buck, an AKCF board member who was a top aide in former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office, said in a statement.
Zach Hunter, the group’s executive director, said in an interview that getting to those late undecided Republican voters was key to the group’s strategy. But the super PAC pitched a message that went after prominent Democrats instead of Hice, which polling found had “virtually no name ID outside his congressional district,” Hunter said.
A mailer from the group obtained by POLITICO prominently featured Democrats, saying Raffensperger is “fighting back” against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams “and their far-left agenda,” a message repeated in TV ads….
And Raffensperger likely received a boost from Democratic voters who crossed over into the GOP primary. An early analysis from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that 7 percent of voters in this year’s Republican primary cast a ballot in the Democratic primary in 2020. Even assuming that the vast majority of those voters backed Raffensperger, it would have not been nearly enough to propel Raffensperger to victory — but it could have been the boost he needed to get to the majority mark to avoid a runoff.
I wanted to flag this valuable resource that Jon Eguia has just made public. It calculates the expected partisan bias of each congressional map, and of the U.S. House as a whole, using a range of common metrics. It also helpfully reports these biases in seats, making it obvious what each state’s contribution is to the overall skew of the U.S. House. In sum, using the efficiency gap, the U.S. House is expected to be biased in a Republican direction by about ten seats. That’s a substantial but not enormous tilt, about the same as that exhibited by the U.S. House over the last couple elections (but around half the level directly after the last round of redistricting).
Shortly after hundreds of rioters at the Capitol started chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” on Jan. 6, 2021, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, left the dining room off the Oval Office, walked into his own office and told colleagues that President Donald J. Trump was complaining that the vice president was being whisked to safety.
Mr. Meadows, according to an account provided to the House committee investigating Jan. 6, then told the colleagues that Mr. Trump had said something to the effect of, maybe Mr. Pence should be hung.
It is not clear what tone Mr. Trump was said to have used. But the reported remark was further evidence of how extreme the rupture between the president and his vice president had become, and of how Mr. Trump not only failed to take action to call off the rioters but appeared to identify with their sentiments about Mr. Pence — whom he had unsuccessfully pressured to block certification of the Electoral College results that day — as a reflection of his own frustration at being unable to reverse his loss.
The account of Mr. Trump’s comment was initially provided to the House committee by at least one witness, according to two people briefed on their work, as the panel develops a timeline of what the president was doing during the riot.
Another witness, Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Mr. Meadows who was present in his office when he recounted Mr. Trump’s remarks, was asked by the committee about the account and confirmed it, according to the people familiar with the panel’s work. It was not immediately clear how much detailed information Ms. Hutchinson provided. She has cooperated with the committee in three separate interviews after receiving a subpoena.
Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, criticized the committee’s work. “This partisan committee’s vague ‘leaks,’ anonymous testimony and willingness to alter evidence proves it’s just an extension of the Democrat smear campaign that has been exposed time and time again for being fabricated and dishonest,” he said. “Americans are tired of the Democrat lies and the charades, but, sadly, it’s the only thing they have to offer.”
Mr. Budowich did not address the substance of the information provided to the committee.
“A top Pennsylvania Republican operative and adviser to David McCormick’s Senate campaign accused state GOP chairman Lawrence Tabas of trying to ‘invalidate’ Republican votes by opposing McCormick’s lawsuit urging election officials to count undated mail ballots.
Jim Schultz, who previously served as senior White House counsel under former President Donald Trump, on Tuesday said the party’s opposition sends a message that Tabas “cares so little” about Republican voters who supported McCormick in Senate primary.
“This is quite surprising since it is his job to grow GOP voters and bring the party together, not to cast them aside and drive wedges,” said Schultz, who has long helped run Republican campaigns in the state.”
Three judges; three opinions. A lot more left undecided, and the case may ultimately be moot now that it looks like Madison Cawthorn won’t win his primary.
Axios shares the very good news:
Chalkbeat, the nonprofit news outlet that covers education at the local level, has raised $3.1 million to permanently launch a separate newsroom called Votebeat that will be dedicated to covering voting at the local level.
Why it matters: Votebeat is the only outlet in America that covers local voting exclusively. It will launch in four states to start on Tuesday, but plans to eventually expand to all 50 states with up to three reporters in each, its editor in chief Chad Lorenz told Axios.
Details: Beginning Tuesday, Votebeat will have nine full-time staffers, with plans to grow its team through the 2022 midterms and beyond.
- It launches with a new website, votebeat.org, a national newsletter highlighting its top story and a series of local newsletters in its four launch states: Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas.
- All reporters have gone through a two-week intensive training on local elections. The idea is to cover everything from misinformation to legal battles and mechanics around voting.
New from the Brennan Center:
Recent developments in election official races, including an analysis of the most recent campaign finance data available for secretary of state races in the states in our sample, reveal some key trends.
- Money is flowing into secretary of state races at a rate not seen in recent memory. Across the six battleground states we are tracking, candidates have collectively raised $13.3 million, more than two and a half times the $4.7 million raised by the analogous point in the 2018 cycle, and more than five times that of 2014.
- New data in secretary of state contests reveals election deniers in Arizona, Georgia, and Nevada either in the lead or running a close second in fundraising. On the other hand, candidates who have condemned election denial have overwhelming fundraising leads so far in Michigan and Minnesota.
- Illustrating the nationalization of secretary of state races, national groups and donors are spending to influence them, including Donald Trump’s leadership PAC and others with ties to efforts to challenge the 2020 result. On the other side, several national liberal groups are newly becoming active in secretary of state and local races to support opponents of the Big Lie.
- Donors who have not given to secretary of state candidates before are making major contributions with a clear pattern of support for election denial candidates or for candidates who are running on the threat election denial poses to democracy.
- Election denial claims, as well as claims that it is an existential threat to democracy, are heating up at the state level, and they are also showing up in more local election official contests, notably in Georgia and Nevada. Super PACs on both sides of the issue spent to influence local races in Wisconsin in April. In those elections, of the six candidates supported by outside messaging casting doubt on the last election, five won office, and three of those unseated incumbents.
New paper from Charles Stewart full of helpful information.
Election Law at Ohio State is pleased to host this webinar. Here’s the description:
In our current highly polarized political environment, the system of party primaries in most states risks eliminating consensus candidates from the general election. These consensus candidates may in fact have broad support among the electorate, yet can be shut out of the process as it is now. General elections often pit two candidates – one from each end of our cleaving political spectrum – against one another with the result that the vast middle feels deserted.
Is the current North Carolina U.S. Senate race, both the just-concluded primary and the general election to follow, a further sign of a national problem? Would other types of electoral systems, for instance some form of Ranked Choice Voting, make a difference? Our panel of experts will dive into these questions and more.
Panelists include Guy-Uriel Charles, Sunshine Hillygus, and Dawn Vaughan, as well as Steve Huefner and me from OSU, with links to biographical info on the registration page. Should be a great conversation!
The national and state Republican parties are taking the same side as celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s neck-and-neck GOP primary contest for U.S. Senate and opposing a lawsuit that could help former hedge fund CEO David McCormick close the gap in votes.
McCormick’s lawsuit was filed late Monday, less than 24 hours before Tuesday’s deadline for counties to report their unofficial results to the state.
In it, McCormick asks the state Commonwealth Court to require counties to obey a brand-new federal appeals court decision and promptly count mail-in ballots that lack a required handwritten date on the return envelope.
Oz, who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump, has pressed counties not to count the ballots and the Republican National Committee and state GOP said they would go to court to oppose McCormick.
In a statement, the RNC’s chief counsel, Matt Raymer, said “election laws are meant to be followed, and changing the rules when ballots are already being counted harms the integrity of our elections.”
This paper, entitled Requiring Majority Winners for Congressional Elections: Harnessing Federalism to Combat Extremism, is now in page proofs: 26 Lewis & Clark Law Review 365 (2022). Here’s the abstract:
“Congress should enact a law requiring a candidate for a seat in Congress to receive a majority of votes in order to win the election. Congress should let states determine what particular procedure to use to determine whether a candidate wins a majority, as there are significantly different methods of identifying a majority winner. While this simple piece of legislation might seem inconsequential—many Americans assume, erroneously, that elections already require majority winners—it in fact would cause states to undertake a form of experimentation in the details of electoral system design that would have the effect of counteracting the threat that anti-democracy extremism currently poses in America.”
The paper was originally presented a year ago, in May 2021, as part of an AALS conference on Rebuilding Democracy and the Rule of Law. The hope then had been that, if the idea caught on, it could have been adopted in time for this year’s midterms. Given what’s already transpired in the primaries, it’s likely that this year’s prominent Senate races (like the ones in Ohio or Pennsylvania) would have been different if states had been required to replace their plurality-winner system with some form of majority-winner rule. For example, if Pennsylvania were using either Alaska or Maine’s versions of Ranked Choice Voting, there wouldn’t be the current recount and fight between Oz and McCormick.
Even though Congress missed the chance to adopt this reform for this year’s elections, it would still be immensely beneficial if Congress adopted it now to take effect for 2024. In fact, watching this year’s races and imagining what might have been if Congress had acted in time, one might develop extra motivation to get this reform in place as soon as possible. The Congress that takes office in January is likely to be much more Trumpy than the current Congress, not only because there are likely to be more Republican members but the Republicans elected are likely to be much more Trumpy than the Republicans they replace. This shift is a product in part of the electoral preferences of the voters, but it is also a product of the system that translates those preferences into officeholders. Ask all Ohio voters, not just Ohio’s GOP primary voters, whether they would prefer J.D. Vance or Matt Dolan as their next Senator. The answer is likely to differ from who Ohio’s next Senator will be, and that’s a function of the system rather than the electorate’s actual preferences.
The Congress that will count the electoral votes on January 6, 2025 will be elected in 2024 (along with the two-thirds of the Senate holding over). If we want still to maximize the chance of that Congress abiding by the law in counting the electoral votes, rather than attempting to subvert the outcome for the sake of partisanship, then we ought to consider a majority-winner requirement as a way to enact a Congress more likely to be law-abiding than a Congress that continues to be enacted under the current plurality-winner system.
Just wow from Detroit News:
Former Detroit police Chief James Craig and businessman Perry Johnson, two of the top candidates for the Republican nomination for governor, didn’t submit enough valid petition signatures to make the ballot, according to findings from the Michigan Bureau of Elections.
The bureau’s revelations Monday evening shake up the 2022 race to be Michigan’s governor, potentially leaving Republicans without their most well-known candidate, Craig, and without their wealthiest hopeful, Johnson.
In a staff report, the bureau said it had tracked 36 petition circulators “who submitted fraudulent petition sheets consisting entirely of invalid signatures.”
“In total, the bureau estimates that these circulators submitted at least 68,000 invalid signatures submitted across 10 sets of nominating petitions,” the report said. “In several instances, the number of invalid signatures submitted by these circulators was the reason a candidate had an insufficient number of valid signatures.”
The bureau found that Craig’s campaign had turned in 11,113 invalid signatures, including 9,879 signatures from “fraudulent petition circulators.” Only 10,192 of the 21,305 signatures Craig submitted were “facially valid,” leaving him short of the 15,000 signature threshold, according to the bureau.
Craig has been widely viewed as the frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in November.