Monthly Archives: March 2022

Travis Crum: “Bailing in the Sunshine State”

The following is a guest post from Travis Crum:

Bail-in is back in the news. In a behemoth 288-page decision in League of Women Voters of Florida v. Lee, a federal district court found that Florida intentionally discriminated against Black voters when it enacted SB 90, a 2021 bill that placed restrictions on third-party voter registration organizations, the use of drop boxes, and line-warming activities, such as providing food and water in a non-partisan fashion. That ruling alone is remarkable given how reluctant courts are to find discriminatory intent. But Chief Judge Mark Walker went farther and imposed “bail-in” relief.

For those unfamiliar with bail-in, Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act authorizes federal courts to place States and political subdivisions under preclearance for violations of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments. As I have argued since before Shelby County invalidated the VRA’s coverage formula, Section 3(c) provides a court-centric and constitutional approach to re-imposing federal oversight of State and local voting changes. Here’s a few key takeaways from the opinion and some thoughts on what’s to come:

  1. The Discriminatory Intent Finding. The court spends nearly 100 pages canvassing SB 90’s enactment and Florida’s history of racial discrimination in voting. In particular, the court showed how the Big Lie infected the legislative process and that SB 90 was “inten[ded] to restructure Florida’s election system in a way that favor[s] the Republican Party over the Democratic Party.” Moreover, the above-referenced provisions of SB 90 were enacted “to target Black voters because of their propensity to favor Democratic candidates.” Thus, the court’s approach strongly resembles the North Carolina voter-suppression case, where discriminatory intent was found because the legislature specifically targeted Black Democrats’ access to the ballot.
  2. The Bail-in Standard. We now have the most thorough and assertive explication of bail-in in the post-Shelby County era. Relying on the Jeffers factors developed in the Arkansas bail-in, the court concluded that bail-in is appropriate because of Florida’s recent and repeated violations and because it would prevent future violations that Florida would likely commit. In addition, the court drew on South Carolina v. Katzenbach’s endorsement of preclearance over case-by-case litigation in situations where litigation has proved costly and time-intensive and when the jurisdiction has shown a willingness to change tactics. Indeed, the court pointed to SB 524—a bill that recently passed the Florida legislature and currently awaits Governor DeSantis’s signature—as evidence that Florida wants to play a game of whack-a-mole. As the court noted, SB 524 “repeal[s] some of SB 90’s most obviously unconstitutional provisions and introduce[s] new regulations on the franchise.” This type of animus laundering has proven successful in the past, and bail-in was intended to be a prophylactic against such conduct.
  3. Targeted Bail-in That Sunsets. The court crafted its relief to the constitutional evil at hand. Specifically, the court ordered preclearance solely for laws that are tainted by SB 90: namely, regulations on third-party voter registration organizations, drop boxes, and line-warming activities. Thus, SB 524 would have to be precleared, but this order does not apply to the congressional redistricting plan that Florida must still pass. The court limited its relief to ten years, which is common in bail-in suits. Florida is therefore required to preclear a far smaller number of laws for a shorter period of time than under the old preclearance regime.
  4.  Florida’s Counterarguments. The court observed that the parties briefly addressed the bail-in issue. The plaintiffs’ arguments merited only five pages of straight-forward reasons why bail-in is appropriate. For its part, Florida merely noted that bail-in was triggered only if there was intentional discrimination, which, it asserted, had not occurred. Florida put forward no argument that it did not statutorily qualify for bail-in if the predicate invidious intent were to be found. To be sure, Florida included the following footnote in its brief, which I quote here in full: “This assumes that Section 3(c) is a constitutional delegation of authority to the judiciary. There are significant federalism and dual sovereignty concerns that arise under Section 3(c). Section 3(c) also appears to be an improper delegation of authority under Article I, § 4 of the U.S. Constitution.” This does not an argument make. Under rules of waiver, a footnote is oftentimes insufficient to preserve an argument. To the extent this is an argument, it’s a curious one.

Florida appears to be gesturing to a non-delegation argument in the vein of Schechter Poultry. But the VRA is no sick chicken. Congress clearly authorized courts to impose preclearance following a violation of the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendment—a standard that easily satisfies the intelligible principle standard. Furthermore, bail-in resembles the type of equitable oversight for constitutional violations that courts have long practiced, with the school desegregation cases being the most prominent example.

Relatedly, Florida claimed that Section 3(c) may somehow be an unconstitutional delegation under the Elections Clause. This argument confuses the independent state legislature theory with Congress’s power to preempt state laws under that clause. The ISL theory concerns whether state statutes and constitutions can re-allocate power to other branches of the state government. Here, by contrast, Congress has stepped in to impose oversight. And it is on this point that Chief Judge Walker engaged with Florida’s argument. The court noted that the Elections Clause grants Congress broad power to preempt state laws. That’s true—but only for federal elections and SB 90 applies to federal and state elections. This, then, brings me to the last glimmer of an argument made by Florida.

Florida also mentioned “federalism and dual sovereignty” concerns that are more akin to the usual arguments against preclearance. Here, one should keep in mind that even Texas has—not once but twice—lacked the chutzpah to argue that Section 3(c) is facially unconstitutional. For reasons why bail-in is a constitutional exercise of Congress’s Reconstruction Amendment enforcement authority, see here and here.

4.        Florida Exceptionalism. This is the first time since Shelby County that a court has ordered bail-in of a State, as opposed to a county or city. But it was not the first attempt. As I’ve canvassed elsewhere, a friendly panel of the Fourth Circuit balked at bailing-in North Carolina after finding that its voter-suppression law was enacted with discriminatory intent, thereby averting a showdown with the Supreme Court over Section 3(c). Likewise, the three-judge district court in the 2010 Texas redistricting saga pointed to the perceived hostility of the Roberts Court to preclearance. By contrast, the Fifth Circuit let Texas off scot-free for its racially discriminatory voter ID law after it enacted a slightly more expansive version while under the threat of litigation.

Bail-in was clearly warranted in those cases. So what makes this one different? Although the opinion is measured and deliberate in its imposition of bail-in, it is striking for its unabashed defense of democracy and racial equality in its introduction and conclusion. Indeed, in an era where we too often see “virtue” signaling from conservative judges auditioning for promotions with snark and the endorsement of previously off-the-wall arguments, it is in many ways refreshing to see a judge go to bat for the right to vote. But this also comes with risks in the inevitable appeal.

5.         What Comes Next. Florida will find a far more receptive audience on appeal. The more interesting question is not if—but how—this decision gets reversed. I agree with Nick Stephanopoulos’s view that the discriminatory intent finding will likely be rejected by the Eleventh Circuit and/or the Supreme Court. Although that factual finding should be protected by the clear-error standard, that impediment has not stopped courts in the past. Moreover, the Court’s recent decision in Brnovich shows that it is still willing to accept anti-fraud rationales for laws notwithstanding their undeniable partisan and racial valence. And if that’s the case, then we may yet again see the Supreme Court avoid opining on Section 3(c).

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Breaking: NY State Court Finds That New York’s Congressional Maps Violate the State Constitution By Being a Democratic Party Gerrymander and Need to Be Redrawn

You can find the 18-page ruling here, a ruling which is sure to be appealed. If the ruling stands and New York does not draw batter maps, the court will appoint a neutral expert to do so.

I’m guessing that if NY loses on appeal in the state courts, they will not go to SCOTUS raising the “independent state legislature theory.”

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Arizona’s new proof of citizenship law treats presidential & congressional voters differently, a constitutional distinction in federal power over elections

Rick linked to an NPR story on Arizona’s HB 2492, and this line caught my eye: “Under HB 2492, if elections officials can’t find evidence that a federally registered voter is a U.S. citizen, that voter can’t vote by mail, or cast a vote in presidential elections.” It picks up on a distinction in federal power over elections, an issue that’s lurked under the surface of a variety of election laws over the last hundred years but may return to the surface–the difference between congressional and presidential elections.

Continue reading Arizona’s new proof of citizenship law treats presidential & congressional voters differently, a constitutional distinction in federal power over elections
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“Election skeptics roil GOP contests for secretary of state”


Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose was clear in the months after the 2020 presidential election.

“Elections are run better and more honestly than really I think they ever have been,” he said in response to conspiracy theories being floated about the election. Months later, he said in an interview what has proved true in state after state – that voter fraud is rare.

Fast forward to 2022, when Republican secretaries of state face a delicate test with voters: Touting their work running clean elections while somehow not alienating GOP voters who believe the false claims of fraud fueled by former President Donald Trump and his allies.ADVERTISEMENT

LaRose has shifted his tone on Twitter, recently saying the “mainstream media is trying to minimize voter fraud to suit their narrative” and “President Donald Trump is right to say that voter fraud is a serious problem.”

That tweet came a day after LaRose learned he had drawn not one but two primary challengers, both of whom have said they believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump.

All but one of the eight incumbent Republican secretaries of state seeking to continue as their state’s elections chief have drawn at least one GOP challenger who either outright denies Democrat Joe Biden won the presidency or makes unsubstantiated claims that elections are not secure.

That raises the prospect that the nation’s voting process will become further politicized if candidates who embrace conspiracy theories or promote without evidence the false narrative of widespread fraud win races for offices such as secretary of state, which play critical roles in managing elections and are intended to be neutral.

Trey Grayson, a former Republican secretary of state from Kentucky who has been outspoken against the efforts to delegitimize the 2020 presidential results, said some of the incumbent GOP secretaries need room to maneuver politically so they can defeat opponents within their own party who might seek to undermine fair elections if they win.

“These are guardians of democracy,” he said. “Their opponents are people who don’t show respect for the law or evidence or the vote-counting process. They are willing to ignore counts, willing to ignore safeguards we have in the system. In some cases, they are just making stuff up.”

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“New Right-Wing Conspiracies Threaten to Further Starve Local Election Systems”

Spenser Mestel for Bolts:

Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin supreme court justice who said state election officials “stole our votes” days after Donald Trump lost the 2020 presidential race, was granted wide latitude by Republicans to investigate voter fraud last year: a budget of $676,000, subpoena power, and months to pursue leads. But the report on the 2020 election that he presented to state lawmakers earlier this month was the usual hodgepodge of Trumpian recommendations, including decertifying the presidential results and outright eliminating the state’s election commission.   

Buried in the report was one proposal that has gone largely unnoticed, but is rapidly gaining steam as a new conservative cause celebre. Gableman called on Wisconsin to exit the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which is a national organization that assists states in maintaining accurate voter rolls. 

Thirty states and the District of Columbia are part of ERIC, from Democratic Illinois to Republican Texas, but this bipartisan organization exploded on the radar for “Stop-the-Steal” activists after the far-right website Gateway Pundit published stories attacking it in January. The website falsely tied ERIC to George Soros, the billionaire philanthropist who supports an array of progressive causes, calling it a “left wing voter registration drive disguised as voter roll clean up,” even though ERIC is governed and financially supported by its member states. 

The articles quickly reverberated on the right. Barely a week later, a Republican lawmaker who is running for secretary state in Alabama said his first act in office would be to withdraw Alabama from ERIC, name-dropping George Soros. Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin actually pulled the plug on ERIC over the same period. His office told Votebeat this was not due to The Gateway Pundit’s article but offered no other source for their newfound concerns. 

“Extreme elected officials and operatives pushing disinformation about ERIC are not actually interested in election security and integrity,” Jena Griswold, the Democratic secretary of state of Colorado, one of the original states that founded ERIC in 2012, told Bolts. “This is about chipping away at voter confidence, passing voter suppression laws, and tilting the outcome of future elections.”

Conspiracy theories are easy to weave and hard to untangle, and ever since the presidential race they are being used to raise doubts about conflicts of interest in election administration. 

Conservatives have also seized on grants made by the nonprofit organization Center for Tech and Civil Life (CTCL) to nearly 2,500  jurisdictions during the 2020 elections to help them run elections. CTCL received a donation of at least $350 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. The right has since dubbed these grants “Zuckerbucks” and implied they played a sinister role, and over the past year, a series of Republican-run states including ArizonaKentucky, and South Dakota have banned private grants to election offices to block a repeat. 

Wisconsin has yet to adopt such a ban, but Gableman also recommended that the state follow suit. His report called such grants “election bribery” (multiple lawsuits making this same case have failed), and he explicitly faulted Democratic cities for using the money to boost turnout among Black voters.

The attacks on ERIC reflect a new and broader target in the right’s war on election administration. By fanning paranoia around funding streams, they are cutting off local election offices from the non-profits they are often forced to rely on—including those, like ERIC, that are in truth funded by taxpayers through member states. And without offering more public funding instead, this threatens the offices’ capacity to conduct voter outreach. 

These emerging efforts take advantage of an unfortunate fact about American elections: The local and state offices that actually run our democratic machinery are massively underfunded and have come to rely on outside assistance. This offers countless opportunities for conspiracists to fabricate conflicts of interests, like the spurious thread between George Soros and ERIC, and to sow distrust in elections that can suppress democratic activity .  

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“Jan. 6 votes show the link between primary system and more extreme views in Congress”

The Fulcrum:

Only hours after the riot of Jan. 6, 2021, with the calls to “stop the steal” still reverberating under the Capitol Rotunda, 139 Republican members of the House of Representatives voted to oppose the valid electoral votes sent from Arizona and Pennsylvania, in effect endorsing the rallying cry of the insurrection.

Seventy-two Republicans voted the other way, supporting the counting of the electoral votes. What are the important characteristics that distinguish those who objected from those who did not? Some are predictable. Members may have felt more pressure to object if they came from districts and states that voted more heavily for Donald Trump. Members with fewer years in Congress objected at a higher rate, perhaps with a greater need than more veteran colleagues to make a name for themselves.

A new analysis finds another unexpected characteristic many objectors have in common, one that points to a structural danger in our election system. Objectors were more likely to have entered Congress without majority support in their initial primary. This insight arises from an Election Reformers Network database tracking members’ paths to Congress, and in particular how they fared in the primary election the year they entered Congress, before the power of incumbency kicked in.

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Breaking: Federal District Court Strikes Down Restrictive Florida Voting Rules, Imposes Requirement That Florida Submit Certain Voting Changes to Court for Preclearance Under Section 3(c) of Voting Rights Act Upon Finding of Intentional Discrimination; Appeal Likely

Quite a blockbuster ruling from the federal district court. The court found that in enacting certain election laws limiting registration outreach and the use of drop boxes, Florida violated the Voting Rights Act. The court also found that Florida acted intentionally discriminating against the state’s black voters. And although the parties hardly briefed it, the Court imposed a very strong remedy of requiring that certain changes in voting rules in Florida be precleared before the court for a period of 10 years under section 3c of the Voting Rights Act.

This is a huge deal, and the district court’s analysis is probably right, but there is good reason to believe that this case could be reversed on appeal by the much more conservative 11th Circuit or the Supreme Court. Indeed, the district court seems to signal that very early in the case that the appellate courts have stopped meaningfully protecting minority voting rights:

In so ruling, this Court recognizes that the right to vote, and the VRA particularly, are under siege. See, e.g., Ark. State Conf. NAACP v. Ark. Bd. of Apportionment, No. 4:21-cv-01239-LPR, 2022 WL 496908, at *2 (E.D. Ark. Feb. 17, 2022) (dismissing a “strong merits case” that Arkansas had, to the detriment of Black voters, racially gerrymandered seats in the Arkansas House of Representatives under the theory that no private right of action is available under section 2 of the VRA); Merrill v. Milligan, 142 S. Ct. 879 (2022) (staying, without explanation, order enjoining racially gerrymandered congressional maps); Brnovich v. Democratic Nat’l Comm., 141 S. Ct. 2321, 2351 (2021) (Kagan, J., dissenting) (“Today, the Court undermines Section 2 [of the VRA] and the right it provides.”); Shelby Cnty., Ala. v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013) (gutting the VRA’s preclearance regime).

Federal courts must not lose sight of the spirit that spurred the VRA’s passage. In June 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a letter to the New York Amsterdam News urging Congress to pass the VRA. In it, he wrote that “to deny a person the right to exercise his political freedom at the polls is no less a dastardly act as to deny a Christian the right to petition God in prayer.” Martin Luther King Jr., Let My People Vote, The Atlantic, (last visited Mar. 22, 2022). Federal courts would not countenance a law denying Christians their sacred right to prayer, and they should not countenance a law denying Floridians their sacred right to vote.

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“Let Our Ballots Secure What Our Bullets Have Won”: Union Veterans and the Making of Radical Reconstruction

This is a new paper in the Am. Political Science Review from Michael Weaver. Here’s the abstract:

After the Civil War, congressional Republicans used sweeping powers to expand and enforce civil rights for African Americans. Though the electoral benefits of African American suffrage were clear, Republicans had to overcome party divisions and racist voters. This paper argues that the war imbued Northern veterans with the belief that true victory required renewing the Union by abolishing slavery and establishing (imperfect) legal equality. This made veterans more receptive to Radical Reconstruction and ignited activism for it from below. Using difference-in-differences, I show that greater enlistment increased Republican vote share, particularly in pivotal postwar elections. Moreover, “as-if” random exposure to combat deaths increased Republican partisanship among soldiers after the war. Finally, I show that veterans became more likely to vote for African American suffrage. The paper concludes that Union veterans, through their votes and their activism, were a decisive part of the white coalition that backed America’s “Second Revolution.”

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“Civil rights groups sue to block Louisiana’s congressional map that keeps one Black district”


A coalition of civil rights groups has filed a lawsuit to block Louisiana’s new congressional map, arguing the boundaries violate the Voting Rights Act because it doesn’t add a second majority-Black district.

“The (Legislature) once again voted in favor of a map that violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and undermines the will of thousands of Louisianans who made their voices heard throughout the process demanding fair maps and respect for Black Louisianans,” tweeted Tori Wegner, an attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

On Wednesday Louisiana’s Republican-dominated Legislature overturned Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ veto of the map that kept one majority-Black district out of six despite the state’s Black population growing to about one-third over the past decade.

It was the first time in three decades that lawmakers overturned a gubernatorial veto and only the third time since the current Louisiana Constitution was enacted in 1973.

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“Ohio Supreme Court again orders redistricting commission members to explain why they shouldn’t be held in contempt”

The Ohio Supreme Court is giving members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission until Monday morning to respond to claims that they should be held in contempt because of the manner in which Republican commission members passed a fourth attempt at a legislative map earlier this week.

The court’s order comes at the request of the plaintiffs in three lawsuits challenging the GOP-passed redistricting plans for the Ohio House and Senate, which opponents say is almost exactly like the commission’s third plan that the Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutionally gerrymandered by Republicans.

In February, Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, ordered the five Republicans and two Democrats on the redistricting commission to appear before the court to explain why they blew past a court-imposed deadline to pass a third redistricting plan.

O’Connor ultimately postponed that hearing indefinitely after Republicans on the redistricting commission passed a third legislative redistricting proposal. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits — which include coalitions led by the Ohio League of Women Voters, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a group led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder – sought to again schedule that contempt hearing after the Republican-drawn fourth map passed the redistricting commission 4-3 late Tuesday night.

John Fortney, a spokesman for the Ohio Senate Republicans, tweeted Wednesday that “contempt is clearly what the (plaintiffs) have for Ohio voters, its election process and for the constitution. State after state, they pose as voting advocates but instead press the courts to give them what the voters won’t.”

All three plaintiffs point out that the fourth map is almost identical to the third map, except for that Republicans made three Democratic-leaning districts even more favorable to Democrats.

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“The US supreme court’s assault on voting rights hits a new low”

Sam Levine for The Guardian:

Even for experts who closely follow the US supreme court, there was something stunning about an emergency decision from the justices on Wednesday.

In an unexpected move, the court decided to throw out new districts for the state legislature in Wisconsin that had been picked by the state supreme court. But what was even more surprising was that the court’s conservative majority seemed to go out of its way to attack the Voting Rights Act, one of the most important civil rights laws designed to prevent discrimination in US elections. “Extra headspinning,” was how Michael Li, a redistricting expert at the Brennan Center for Justice, described it. “Bizarre,” observed Richard Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine. David Wasserman, a redistricting expert at the non-partisan Cook Political Report, tweeted that the supreme court had entered “uncharted territory”.

The court’s decision in the Wisconsin case was the latest in a series of rulings that have left little pretense of how aggressively it is trying to weaken section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the most powerful provision of the law, which outlaws racially discriminatory voting practices. The court is not hiding its skepticism of the use of race in redistricting, even when it’s used to protect minority voters, and is making it harder for litigants to justify considering race when district lines are redrawn.

“The supermajority of the conservative justices on the supreme court has become pretty emboldened. They’ve got a narrow vision of the scope of the Voting Rights Act. And they are not being shy about enforcing that as quickly as they can,” Hasen said in an interview. “The court is increasingly aggressive, and as a body is increasingly willingly to go out on a limb to fully implement the justices’ legal and political preferences without it being tempered by concern about perceptions and legitimacy.”

The court’s hostility towards the Voting Rights Act comes at a moment when Republican legislatures across the US are passing a wave of new voting restrictions that many see as thinly veiled efforts to make it harder for Black and Latinx Americans to vote. Voting rights groups have fewer and fewer tools to challenge those restrictions. This is the first redistricting cycle since 1965 that states with a history of voting discrimination don’t have to get their maps pre-approved before they go into effect, under a provision of the Voting Rights Act.

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“Justice Dept. expands Jan. 6 probe to look at rally prep, financing”

Washington Post:

The criminal investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol has expanded to examine the preparations for the rally that preceded the riot, as the Justice Department aims to determine the full extent of any conspiracy to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s election victory, according to people familiar with the matter.

In the past two months, a federal grand jury in Washington has issued subpoena requests to some officials in former president Donald Trump’s orbit who assisted in planning, funding and executing the Jan. 6 rally, said the people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The development shows the degree to which the Justice Department investigation — which already involves more defendants than any other criminal prosecution in the nation’s history — has moved further beyond the storming of the Capitol to examine events preceding the attack.Advertisement

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, are a legally fraught puzzle for federal investigators. Prosecutors and FBI agents must distinguish between constitutionally protected First Amendment activity, such as speech and assembly, and the alleged conspiracy to obstruct Congress or other potential crimes connected to fundraising and organizing leading up to Jan. 6.

The task is also complicated by the proximity of those two very different types of activities — speech and violence — that occurred within hours of each other and less than a mile apart.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington declined to comment.

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Wisconsin: “Robin Vos found in contempt of court for failing to turn over records about the Republican election review”

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

A judge found Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in contempt of court Wednesday for failing to release documents related to a Republican-run review of the 2020 election. 

Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn determined the Rochester Republican and the Assembly as a whole adopted “a collective and abject disregard for the court’s order” from four months ago to turn over documents sought by the liberal group American Oversight under the state’s open records law.

She ordered Vos and the Assembly to turn over records within 14 days and to each pay $1,000 per day if they fail to do that. They will also have to pay some of American Oversight’s legal bills.

Taxpayers will likely be the ones to pay those costs. Vos has approved spending up to $676,000 in taxpayer funds on the election review, but the review and its related legal expenses could exceed that amount. 

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DNC Settles Suit Over Payment for Research in “Steele Dossier”; One ELB Reader Wonders About DNC Tactics


The Federal Election Commission has agreed to a fine of over $100,000 against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign over an investigation into alleged misreporting of spending related to the now-infamous Steele dossier.

The FEC fined both organizations after a pair of now years-old complaints — one from the Campaign Legal Center and another from the conservative Coolidge Reagan Foundation — alleged that the party and campaign reported payments to the powerhouse Democratic law firm Perkins Coie as legal expenses, when in actuality some of the money was earmarked for “paying Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump,” as the Campaign Legal Center’s original complaint read.

The DNC and the Clinton campaign collectively agreed to pay $113,000 in fines, according to separate conciliation agreements the agency made with both parties. The DNC will pay $105,000 and the Clinton campaign $8,000.

The FEC conciliation agreements were made public Wednesday after the Coolidge Reagan Foundation first shared a response letter from the agency with the Washington Examiner. POLITICO independently obtained a second, and similar, letter the agency sent to the CLC.

The Steele dossier, which was first made public when BuzzFeed News published it in January 2017, contained a variety of accurate, inaccurate, unproven and sometimes salacious allegations about ties between Russia and Donald Trump, as well as others in his orbit.

The conciliation agreements found “probable cause to believe” that both the campaign and national party “misreport[ed] the purpose of certain disbursements” when they said certain payments to Perkins Coie were for legal fees….

An ELB reader writes:

There is something off about the Fusion GPS settlement.  Why did the DNC use Perkins (or, the current ELG folks) to represent them in a matter that primarily involved Perkins?  The whole MUR is about Perkins’ conduct—why didn’t they pull in Covington or Sandler Reiff?  They even used the same lawyer who does most of the DNC work, and who must have been involved in the initial reporting issues.  I don’t have any special insight here, but I don’t think the party should have settled this matter.  Trump is 43-0 at the Commission, but the biggest DNC matter involving the 2016 elections is settled?  A settlement that can be taken by conspiracy theorists and the Fox News crowd as an admission of some sort of responsibility in this whole Fusion mess?

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