“In win for Cooper and Democrats, NC judges block GOP-backed elections law ahead of 2024”


A panel of judges on Thursday granted Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s request to block a new elections law before voters head to the polls in 2024.

The ruling from the three judges — two Republicans and one Democrat — was unanimous. They ruled that the law, passed by the Republican-controlled legislature last month, is likely an unconstitutional power grab. It’s just a temporary ruling pending a full trial, likely to be held in early 2024….

In addition to changing who has the power to appoint election board members, the law would also make the board have an even number of seats for both parties, instead of giving a majority to whichever party holds the governor’s office.

Republicans have said that’s needed to improve election integrity. But critics, who include Democrats as well as professional election workers and experts, say it would lead to chaos in elections administration — and possibly even spell the end of early voting and other political issues that would presumably result in tie votes and inaction….

On Cooper’s challenge to SB 749, Republican lawmakers have acknowledged that the previous law it’s based on was ruled unconstitutional.

A similar change to the elections board was also later shot down by voters when proposed as a constitutional amendment in 2018, after every living governor — Democratic and Republican — publicly campaigned against it, as well as another similar amendment proposal, as overreaching power grabs.

A lawyer for the state government agreed with Cooper in court Thursday. Senior Deputy Attorney General Amar Majmundar said blocking it from taking effect would be “not just appropriate, but necessary.”

But legislative leaders have said that since the GOP flipped control of the North Carolina Supreme Court in last year’s elections, they believe they have a better chance of winning in court this time and getting the past precedent overturned.

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“Trump attempts to spin anti-democracy, authoritarian criticism against Biden”


Republican polling leader Donald Trump moved to deflect from criminal charges that he tried to overturn the 2020 election and from his own pledges to take revenge on his opponents if he returns to the White House, seeking to parry warnings that he presents a danger to democracy.

His speech on Saturdaywas an effort to turn the tables on rising alarms from Democrats and some Republicans that Trump’s return to power would imperil free elections and civil liberties. As candidates ramp up appearances in Iowa ahead of the caucuses on Jan. 15, the former president, who refused to accept his 2020 election loss and inspired his supporters to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power, responded by comparing President Biden to a fascist tyrant, and the campaign distributed signs reading ‘BIDEN ATTACKS DEMOCRACY.’

“Biden and his radical left allies like to pose as defenders of democracy,” Trump told a raucous crowd of a couple thousand supporters here. “But Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy. … This campaign is a righteous crusade to liberate our republic from Biden and the criminals and the Biden administration.”

The speech showed that Biden’s framing of the 2024 election as democracy versus authoritarianism is resonating with voters, according to Jennifer Mercieca, a historian of American political rhetoric at Texas A&M University. Trump’s strategy to “accuse the accuser” could confuse voters about the real threat and help reassure his own supporters, she said.

“Trump’s Iowa speech continues his use of fascist rhetoric: it’s us versus them, he tells his supporters, and ‘they’ are enemies who cheat,” she said. “Authoritarians have a lot of rhetorical tricks for explaining away anti-democratic actions as actually ‘democratic.’”

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“George Santos Reveals One Truth: It’s Easy to Abuse Campaign Finance Laws”

From NYT:

Perhaps no federal officeholder in modern American history has been accused of ignoring, testing or breaking as many aspects of campaign finance law so flagrantly, in such a short span of time, as George Santos has.

But his case, while sensational, illustrates the profound weaknesses of the system, and its potential for abuse.

For years, campaign finance laws have eroded, while the watchdogs responsible for their oversight have been weakened by limited powers, underfunding and political stalemate. The system, which largely relies on campaigns and political committees to self-report thousands of donations, expenditures, loans and refunds, has been left wide open for anyone willing to mislead, experts said.

Mr. Santos might have slipped through unnoticed — and many candidates probably do.

“He is an extreme example of something that is happening all the time in campaign finance,” said Saurav Ghosh, a former Federal Election Commission enforcement lawyer who is now the director of federal campaign finance reform at the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group. Mr. Santos, he suggested, was able to take advantage of “the overall under-regulation of money that is raised and spent on election influence.”

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“The mega rich are the new political bosses. Is that bad for democracy?”

From the Washington Post:

The demise of political party bosses and the smoke-filled rooms in which they operated was heralded a long time ago as an important step toward handing more power over the selection of presidential nominees to ordinary citizens. Who would have thought then that billionaires would seek to become the new bosses of American politics?

Super-wealthy individuals receive outsize attention in presidential politics. And virtually every prospective candidate wants the support of a well-funded super PAC and the vocal backing of the mega rich. The defection of a disenchanted billionaire is treated as bad news for any candidate. But what difference does all this make?…

What all this says about the nature of politics today is far more concerning. Citizens — voters — do have a larger voice in the selection of presidential nominees than they did many decades ago, but billionaires get special treatment. The richest among us can influence who runs and who does not, who has the money to stay in the race and who does not. No one planned this. The system today is an accident of several seemingly unrelated changes.

The influence of the old bosses, including powerful governors, mayors and other party leaders, began to wane over half a century ago when, after the tumultuous 1968 Chicago convention, the Democratic Party revamped rules to give more power over the selection of national convention delegates, and therefore the eventual nominee, to voters….

Few viable candidates run for president without a flush super PAC backing them up, which enhances the power of the mega-rich donors. They are courted by candidates, their family members and their top strategists, and sought out by political reporters as sources of inside information. Their opinions should carry no more weight about the strengths and weaknesses of a candidate than those of voters in Iowa or Michigan or Arizona. But their voices are amplified because they speak with dollar signs.

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