ELB Podcast 5:8: Renee DiResta: Invisible Rulers and the 2024 Elections

Season 5 Finale of the ELB Podcast:

What’s the difference between how Americans communicated about politics and policies 20 or 30 years ago and how we do it today?

What are the most effective ways to combat disinformation in elections and otherwise?

Are the platforms and the rest of us ready for election-related threats in 2024?

On the season finale of Season 5 of the ELB Podcast, we speak with Renee DiResta, author of the new book, Invisible Rulers.

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“Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, other allies plead not guilty in Arizona”

Yvonne Wingett Sanchez for WaPo:

 Boris Epshteyn, a key adviser to former president Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to nine felony charges for his alleged role after the 2020 election to try to deliver Arizona’s 11 electoral votes to Trump instead of the rightful winner, Joe Biden.

Epshteyn, who remains close to Trump, called in to his Maricopa County Superior Court proceeding by phone. It was the first time he has appeared in open court for his alleged role in helping to assemble the elector strategy in seven states that Biden had won.

Two other co-defendants in the case brought by Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes (D) also appeared by video to plead not guilty to the same counts that Epshteyn faces, including conspiracy, fraud and forgery: Jim Lamon, a 2020 GOP elector from Arizona who signed paperwork purporting Trump had won the state, and Jenna Ellis, an attorney who presented baseless claims of widespread malfeasance in states lost by Trump and is accused of circulating the elector theory.

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“Something’s Rotten About the Justices Taking So Long on Trump’s Immunity Case”

Leah Litman NYT oped:

This court has lost the benefit of the doubt for myriad reasons, including its willingness to act quickly in cases that benefit Republican interests. In addition to the disqualification case, two and a half years ago, the court scheduled a challenge to the Biden administration’s test-or-vaccinate policy two weeks after the justices decided to hear it, and then issued a decision invalidating the policy less than one week later.

In a case in South Carolina decided by the court 6-3 in May, it was not speed but sloth that aided Republicans. The court allowed the state to continue using a 2021 congressional map that a lower court had found was an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. Both parties in the case had asked the court to rule by Jan. 1; when no decision was issued by mid-March, a district court panel ordered the contested map to be used in this fall’s election.

In the immunity case, the question before the court is this: “Whether and if so to what extent does a former president enjoy presidential immunity from criminal prosecution for conduct alleged to involve official acts during his tenure in office.”

In addressing that question, the court could follow a path well charted in other cases and rule narrowly. The justices need not resolve anything and everything related to presidential immunity. It would be enough to conclude that whatever the precise bounds of presidential immunity, it doesn’t extend to orchestrating a monthslong effort to overturn the valid results of a presidential election.

Even if presidents enjoy some immunity for official acts, plotting to remain in office while continuing to question the results of an election they clearly lost isn’t one of them.

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“Dark ‘Oro y Plata’ in Montana: The Green Amendment’s Defense of Campaign Finance Transparency”

Lucas Della Ventura has written this article, 48 Wm. & Mary Env’t L. & Pol’y Rev. 385 (2024). Here is the abstract:

In the post–Citizens United dark money age, state disclosure regulations are the last line of defense for citizens to learn who is behind unlimited independent expenditures and electioneering communications flooding their states. Underpinning the ability of state governments to promulgate such transparency measures are the informational benefits provided to the public. However, the Supreme Court’s decision in Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta to invalidate a California disclosure regulation on dark money groups, marks disclosure regulations—the Court’s repeated fallback when striking down more robust campaign finance regulations—with a bull’s-eye. In the face of repeated legal challenges to disclosure regulations, advocates for transparency should conceptualize the scope of the informational interest more broadly to encompass not only the interests of voters, but also the interests of states in upholding state constitutional rights dependent on disclosure information. States like Montana, which have affirmative duties under their constitutions to protect the right to a clean and healthful environment, also known as “green amendments,” have a compelling interest in upholding disclosure provisions because such protection hinges on the information provided by campaign finance disclosures.

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