GOP comes out ahead in toss-up Virginia election
January 4, 2018 | BPR Wire Jack Crowe, DCNF
Republican incumbent David Yancey was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates Thursday after his name was drawn from a bowl in an odd tie breaking measure mandated by an arcane state law.
The drawing broke the 11,608-to-11,608 tie between Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds, who is entitled by law to request a second recount. The odd electoral quirk is the product of a 1705 law that mandates an electoral tie be settled by a random lottery drawing.
Yancey’s election, should it stand, would give Virginia Republicans a 51 – 49 majority in the state House, enabling them to confront Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam’s progressive agenda.
The drawing is the second attempt by Virginia election officials to settle the race after Yancey appeared to beat Simonds by 10 votes in the 94th district. That initial vote was overturned as a recount produced an additional ten ballots for Yancey, one of which was illegible but counted for Yancey by the court. The first scheduled drawing was canceled after Simonds asked the court to discard that ballot, arguing the voter’s intentions were unclear. Simonds’ motion was rejected Wednesday.
Yancey is not expected to be seated when the legislature reconvenes on Jan. 10 should Simonds request a recount.
Democrat campaign aide pleads guilty, admits he helped throw an election
December 12, 2017
UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia / CCL
Many Americans recall the “[censored] golden” vacant Senate seat that disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attempted to auction off to the highest bidder in 2009. Blagojevich pleaded guilty to 18 charges of corruption and is currently serving out a 14-year sentence for influence peddling.
Predictably, Democrats are at it again, treating public service like a financial asset to be hawked for personal gain. This time, a strategist for Rep. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) has pleaded guilty to attempting to bribe Brady’s primary opponent to abandon the 2012 race for Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District.
Donald Jones lied to federal investigators about his role in the plot to pay Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Jimmie Moore $90,000 to drop out of the Democratic primary race.
Influence peddlersJones and another Brady staffer, Ken Smukler, were both charged in October with making illegal campaign contributions on behalf of Brady to his primary opponent. The plea agreement details how the aides offered to help Moore settle his campaign debt, including transferring $25,000 from Jones’ consulting firm to the Brady campaign.
The remaining $65,000 was laundered through Smukler’s consulting company and disguised to look like Brady was purchasing polling data from the Moore campaign.
Brady’s attorney James Eisenhower is sticking to this story, arguing that his client simply wished to help Moore retire in a deal that he called “very pro forma things in politics.” Eisenhower attempted to define his client as the victim:
We feel this is another example of the Justice Department attempting to criminalize politics. There’s nothing wrong with helping a vanquished opponent retire his campaign debt. It is the right thing to do.
However, prosecutors have dismissed this claim, arguing that the polling research was outdated and worthless.
Additionally, Jones’ testimony leaves no doubt that the $90,000 was nothing more than an incentive for Moore to drop out of the race. A conciliatory statement that Jones gave after his guilty plea supports this:
I accept full responsibility for my actions and consider my guilty plea a first step in making amends. I apologize to the people of Philadelphia and to my family for bringing this dishonor upon them.
Plea deals offered for the Big FishProsecutors accepted a plea bargain from Jones in exchange for his cooperation in the investigation. The Congressman’s assistant has agreed to testify against his former employer if called upon to do so.
In addition, Moore resigned his judgeship and pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements in his campaign-finance filings after he misled investigators and “knowingly falsified, concealed and covered up” the money he received from Brady. While less than half of the bribery money was used by Moore to pay down campaign finance debts, the majority was spent on personal items between Moore and his fiancé.
Meanwhile, the main culprit in this scandal has positioned himself to avoid prosecution, allowing his underlings to take the fall on his behalf. When asked if his client would be charged for any crime in the scheme, Eisenhower admitted that Brady “has not been advised that he is the target of this investigation and he has not been charged.”
However, federal prosecutors have noted in their court filings that Brady had “agreed and understood” that money from his campaign to Moore’s campaign “would be disguised” as the purchase of a poll. Brady’s defense disputes this allegation.
“He never agreed to do anything illegal,” Eisenhower said. “He never agreed to deceive anyone or anything.”
Cooperating witnessesWhile his lawyer seems confident, Brady is unlikely to sleep easy knowing that both Jones and Moore are cooperating with federal investigators. In addition to these witnesses, there is also Carolyn Cavaness, Moore’s one-time campaign manager and fiancé who pleaded guilty to a similar false-statements charge after she helped Moore set up a shell company to accept the alleged $90,000 bribe.
Court records also recognize that two political consultants falsified invoices to make Brady’s payments appear legitimate. Without a doubt, prosecutors would be happy to exonerate these two in exchange for their cooperation against Brady.
Brady should be brought to justice for the scandalous crimes — offenses that he surely knew about, and most likely even planned, while his loyal henchmen absorb the prosecution.
In case the Pennsylvania legislator is worried about what could happen behind bars to an elitist liberal like himself, he needn’t be flustered; his friend Blagojevich is currently doing his time in a facility that Forbes ranks as one of the “12 best places to go to prison,” where inmates are known to sneak off at night to purchase cigarettes from the outside.
Clearly, Democrats have their own ideas about what constitutes justice.
The 13 House Republicans who voted against the GOP tax plan
BY CRISTINA MARCOS AND NAOMI JAGODA - 11/16/17 04:43 PM EST
House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP
The House vote on the GOP plan to overhaul the tax code Thursday was notable for the relatively few Republicans who voted against it.
Only 13 Republicans joined with Democrats in opposing the measure, which gave GOP leaders a comfortable margin to pass their bill. Republicans could afford 23 defections with all but two members voting on Thursday.
GOP lawmakers have long wanted to cut taxes, and they face substantial pressure to secure a major legislative win before next year’s midterm elections.
Of the Republicans who voted against the bill, all but Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) were from high-taxed states such as New York, New Jersey and California. These states would be particularly hard hit by the bill’s treatment of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction.
The 13 GOP defectors were Jones and New York Reps. Dan Donovan, John Faso, Pete King, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin; New Jersey Reps. Rodney Frelinghuysen, Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith; as well as California Reps. Darrell Issa, Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher.
Most of the defectors are among the top Democratic targets in the 2018 midterm elections.
Currently, taxpayers can deduct their state and local property taxes as well as either their income or sales taxes. The House bill would repeal the income and sales tax deductions and cap the property tax deduction at $10,000.
Jones voted against the legislation because of concerns about the elimination of certain tax credits and deductions, as well as the impact on the deficit.
“I’m all for tax reform, but it must grow the economy, not the debt,” Jones said in a statement.
The House GOP’s tax-reform bill is expected to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Other conservative lawmakers who have cited concerns about deficit spending to consistently vote against bills in the past set aside those warnings on Thursday.
For example, Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) both supported the tax-reform bill on Thursday. Amash and Massie previously voted against aid for Texas communities affected by Hurricane Harvey in September because it would add to the deficit.
Massie explained he is being consistent by voting for new tax cuts and against new government spending, saying in a statement, "It is irresponsible to increase spending and decrease taxes, which is why I consistently vote to decrease spending and decrease taxes."
Amash similarly said that supporting tax cuts and spending reductions were consistent with limited government principles, writing on Facebook, “I believe firmly in limited, constitutional government. That means, among other things, support for less government spending and lower, fairer taxes."
Deficit hawks justified voting for a tax overhaul that adds to the deficit because they believe tax cuts will spur enough economic growth to pay for themselves, despite studies indicating otherwise.“The idea is we’re making an investment now, which will in the short term increase the deficit, but as somebody who is definitely concerned about the deficit and the debt, this is the only way that we have to work ourselves out of this,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) told The Hill.
There were no defections on the tax bill from members of the far-right House Freedom Caucus, which often finds itself at odds with leadership.
Some Freedom Caucus members were undecided in the days leading up to the vote because they were worried that not everyone would see a tax cut. But these lawmakers ultimately voted in favor of the bill.
“This is big step in the right direction, but it’s not going to be the only step,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) shortly before the vote. “We've got to make sure that the tax-reform plan isn’t just a single bill but is a process that works for every American.”
The SALT deduction has been a major issue in the tax debate in recent weeks.
The tax framework congressional GOP leaders released in September proposed fully repealing the deduction, generating pushback from lawmakers in high-tax states like New York and New Jersey.
The House advanced its budget resolution last month by a narrow margin, largely because many of the lawmakers from those states opposed it due to their concerns about SALT.
As a compromise, House GOP leadership decided to include a limited deduction for property taxes.
The move won over some of the blue-state Republicans, such as Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.). After MacArthur announced his support for the bill, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Trump's daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump visited MacArthur’s district to promote the tax overhaul efforts.
But a number of other blue-state Republicans were unsatisfied with the $10,000 property-tax deduction and were concerned that their districts would still be hurt by the tax bill.
“It’s supposed to be a tax-cut bill, but it’s going to be raising taxes on people in our communities and on New York State overall,” King said at news conference with three other New York Republicans ahead of the vote.
Faso said at the press conference that most middle-class families in his state would end up getting a tax cut, but the bill would be harmful because it would result in more businesses and entrepreneurs fleeing New York for lower-tax jurisdictions.
“This legislation will accelerate the trend of people leaving New York State, which will then place a greater burden on the people of my district and every district in New York State,” he said.
The New York Republicans had pitched to leadership that the full SALT deduction be maintained for four years and then phased out for people making more than $400,000.
And they said they would still like to be able to get to "yes" on the final tax bill.
“I would love to be able to pass tax cuts for all of my hard-working, middle-income constituents on Long Island,” Zeldin said.
The Senate’s tax bill fully repeals the SALT deduction, but some GOP senators have expressed an interest in preventing tax increases for those who currently rely on the preference.
Additionally, there are some GOP lawmakers who still might prefer changes to SALT but voted "yes" on Thursday to advance the process.
“While this bill is not perfect in its current form and there are changes I will continue to advocate for, especially on the SALT front, I strongly believe that passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is a critical step to move this important process forward and ensure our tax codes reflects the values of fairness and hard work,” said Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).
While passage of the House’s bill went smoothly, it is possible that some of the lawmakers who voted for the legislation won’t ultimately approve of any compromise legislation reached by House and Senate Republicans.
If the Senate is able to pass a bill, the House and Senate are expected to go to a conference committee to work out their differences.
Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), who is being targeted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the midterm elections and voted for the House bill, said Thursday’s vote was in part about “moving tax reform forward, because there’s going to be another bill that we’re going to look at that’s going to have some differences from this bill.”
He said he would “carefully evaluate” a bill produced by a conference committee.
Half the candidates in Detroit mayoral election are felons, analysis shows
Published August 04, 2017
Half the candidates in next week’s Detroit mayoral primary have been convicted of felony crimes, according to a local analysis.
The Detroit News found three of the eight mayoral hopefuls have faced gun charges -- two for assault with intent to commit murder -- and a fourth candidate pleaded guilty to a non-gun charge years ago. While some of these cases date back to the 1970s, some are more recent.
Under Michigan state election law, convicted felons can vote and run for office, so long as they are not incarcerated or guilty of crimes breaching public trust. The nonpartisan primary will narrow the field down to two candidates who will face off in November.
The candidates are apparently open about their histories. Greg Bowens, a political consultant and former press secretary to former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, told The Detroit News that the rap sheets aren't unique to this election or Detroit.
“[The candidates] deserve the opportunity to be heard, but they also deserve to have the kind of scrutiny that comes along with trying to get an important person elected,” he said.
Three of the candidates told The Detroit News their criminal histories have served as motivation in running for office.
Donna Marie Pitts, 58, has multiple felony convictions, beginning in 1977, according to court records reviewed by the newspaper.
“I don’t hide it. God has brought me out,” Pitts told the paper. “I hope [voters] don’t look at it as negative but as my experience, and I can help. I want to fight for them.”
Other candidates with past charges include Danetta Simpson, who was convicted in 1996 for assault with intent to murder; Articia Bomer, who was charged in 2008 for carrying a concealed weapon; and Curtis Christopher Greene who was charged with fourth-degree fleeing and eluding police during an attempted traffic stop, and a marijuana-related count. The felony charge reportedly came when he violated probation in 2005 and was charged over a fraudulent check, according to the report.
Detroit’s mayoral primary election is set for Aug. 8.
Don Haggar Quits Legislature to Spread Koch Propaganda; Must Wait One Year to Lobby
Posted 2017-06-27 14:48 by Cory Allen Heidelberger
Don Haggar, Koch brothers’ new chief tool in South Dakota.The good news is that Don Haggar has quit the Legislature, meaning he won’t be able to use his Legislative post to attack initiative and referendum and the right of the people to make their own laws.
The bad news is he’s leaving public service to make much more money from the Koch Brothers to continue his fight against democracy in favor of wealthy elites. Americans for Prosperity recognized Haggar as a “rising star” last September; now they’ve hired him to direct their South Dakota branch. As the Koch Brothers’ new paid front man in South Dakota, Haggar will capitalize on his public service to lobby for private plutocrats:
“I developed really close relationships and friendships with the folks I work with in my chamber and, in fact, in both chambers, in the executive branch, and the thing is, that doesn’t really go away. My role just changes slightly. I fought for those things as a representative, as a legislator and I’ll continue to fight for those,” Haggar said [Dana Ferguson, “State Legislator Resigns, Accepts Job with Americans for Prosperity,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.06.27].
Note that under current law, SDCL 2-12-8.2, Haggar can’t come to Pierre and lobby for Americans for Prosperity next session the way Ben Lee has for the past few years. As currently written, the law says Haggar has to wait one year to register as a lobbyist. Had he waited until next week to resign, he’d have been subject to the new two-year sit-out period originally enacted by the voters in Initiated Measure 22, then repealed and replaced by the Legislature in this year’s Senate Bill 131, which Haggar did vote for in the House.
Why The 2018 Senate Elections Are Looking Bad For Both Parties
By Harry Enten
Filed under 2018 Senate Elections
The 2018 midterms are a story of two chambers. Democrats are in the best position they’ve been in since 2010 to win a majority of seats in the House of Representatives. The Senate map, on the other hand, is so tilted toward the GOP that most political analysts have all but dismissed Democrats’ chancesof winning the chamber before 2020. It has even been suggested that Republicans could gain enough Senate seats (eight) in 2018 to amass a filibuster-proof majority (60 seats).
This is normally the part of the article where I push back on the conventional wisdom and argue something like, actually, the 2018 Senate map isn’t that bad for Democrats. But no, it’s pretty bad: Democrats are a long shot to take back the Senate.
What I will argue, however, is that it’ll also be difficult for the GOP to pick up a bunch of seats. Republicans would need to oust incumbent Democrats, and it’s extremely difficult to beat an incumbent senator in a midterm when his or her party doesn’t control the White House.
It may seem a little nuts to suggest that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can keep losses to a minimum in 2018. Democrats hold 23 of the 33 seats up for a vote. There are 10 Democratic senators running in statesthat President Trump won, five of whom (Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana) are from states that Trump won by about 20 percentage points or more. Meanwhile, there are only two Republican senators (Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Nevada’s Dean Heller) up for re-election in states Hillary Clinton came within 5 points of winning in 2016.
But while a lot of Democrats are up for re-election in red states, there’s also a Republican in the White House, and incumbent senators1 in the opposition party — for simplicity, let’s call them “opposition senators” — tend to survive in those situations.
Looking only at senators who ran in the general election. The average margin of victory does not include senators who were beaten in the primary and then ran as a third-party candidate in the general election.
There have been 114 opposition senators who have run in a midterm general election2 since 1982. Only four of the 114 (4 percent) lost. Most won by wide margins, with the average opposition senator beating the candidate of the president’s party3 by 28 percentage points. Even in the worst year for opposition senators (1998), 86 percent were re-elected. If 86 percent of incumbent Democrats win in 2018, the party would lose three seats.4 That would leave Republicans with 55 seats, a more comfortable majority but far short of filibuster-proof.
In contrast, senators in the same party as the president running in midterm years — this will be Republicans in 2018 — lose fairly often.
Looking only at senators who ran in the general election.
Of the 128 senators who fit this description, 25 (20 percent) lost re-election. In every midterm since 1982, at least one incumbent of the president’s party was defeated. If that trend held this year, it would probably mean that either Flake or Heller would go down. In some years, a third or more of incumbents of the president’s party lost in the general election. Overall, these senators’ average margin of victory has been 17 percentage points, 11 points worse than opposition senators.
Of course, these numbers don’t take into account how blue or red each seat is. Here are the re-election rates for the 42 opposition senators since 1982 who were up for re-election in states that leaned toward the other party.5 (A Democrat
Opposition party, state voted for presidentLooking only at senators who ran in the general election. The previous two presidential election results in a state are use to determine the “lean” of a state compared to the nation as a whole. The previous election is weighted 75 percent and
the one before that 25 percent.
Of those 42, 39 (93 percent) won re-election. Most of the time, the race wasn’t even close; the average senator won by 22 percentage points.
Now, look at the re-election rate for the senators in the same party as the president running for re-election in states that lean toward their party. (That is, the situation facing all Republican incumbents except for Dean Heller in 2018.)
President’s party, state voted for president Looking only at senators who ran in the general election. The previous two presidential election results in a state are used to determine the “lean” of a state compared to the nation as a whole. The previous election is weighted 75 percent and
the one before that 25 percent.
Their re-election rate (85 percent) in general elections is actually worse than opposition senators running in hostile territory. Their average margin of re-election was also slightly smaller.
So all that should cheer red-state Democrats contemplating their re-election bids in 2018.
If you’re a Republican senator running for re-election in 2018, you’re hoping that it resembles 1998 or 2002, the only midterms since 1982 when a higher share of presidential party incumbents won seats than opposition senators did in states that leaned toward the president’s party. Or, maybe 1990, when those two groups broke even.
Of course, at the moment, it seems unlikely that 2018 will look like those elections. In all those years, the president had an approval rating of 58 percent or better on Election Day, according to Gallup. In fact, three of the four opposition senators to lose since 1982 (Al D’Amato in 1998, Lauch Faircloth in 1998 and Max Cleland in 2002) ran in years when the president’s approval rating was at 63 percent or above.6 The current political environment looks nothing like 1990, 1998 or 2002. In fact, it’s terrible for Republicans right now. According to the FiveThirtyEight Trump approval tracker, the president’s approval rating right now is just 39 percent.
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So does this mean that all the vulnerable Democratic incumbents are going to win? Not really. There are a few reasons to be cautious when looking at the past midterm success of opposition senators in states that lean in favor of the president’s party.
First, the lean of a state at the presidential level has become increasingly predictive of Senate results. That’s especially the case for 2010 and 2014. Yet in those two elections, we only have had two opposition senators (Susan Collins in Maine in 2014 and Chuck Grassley in Iowa in 2010) who ran for re-election in hostile territory.7. In both cases, the states leaned less toward the president’s party than Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota and West Virginia do now. Although both Collins and Grassley easily won re-election, it could make the case that in our current political atmosphere the strong Republican lean in any of the five aforementioned states may be too much for one or more of these incumbents to overcome.
Second, we’re in even more uncharted territory when it comes to Heitkamp in North Dakota and Manchin in West Virginia. Dating back to 1982, there isn’t a single example of an incumbent in the opposition party even running for re-election (let alone winning) in states that leaned as much toward the president’s party as North Dakota and West Virginia (34 and 40 percentage points, respectively, did in the weighted average of the previous two presidential elections). Both states have also trended away from the Democrats, as Trump took them by 15 percentage points more in 2016 than Mitt Romney in 2012.
Third, we cannot be sure that all these red-state Democratic senators are going to run for re-election. Although most have said they will, they could change their minds or lose in a primary. If either of those scenarios happens, keep in mind that the default political lean in a state tends to be much more determinative in open elections in midterm years — red states vote Republican and blue states vote Democratic.
It’s far too early to know how 2018 will play out. It’s a bad map for Democrats, and Republicans are working against history with Trump in the White House. Maybe one of those forces will swamp the other. Or maybe the result will be a wash.
National Popular Vote, Fairfield Glade, TN