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President Trump's re-election campaign warned supporters about "scam PACs" in a recent announcement. But it left out a d...
05/09/2019
Trump campaign fights a rival fundraiser, and watchdogs cry foul

President Trump's re-election campaign warned supporters about "scam PACs" in a recent announcement. But it left out a disclaimer about donation limits, even though it mentioned the campaign's one "approved" super PAC. Campaign Legal Center and End Citizens United say that violates campaign finance law. Will the FEC care?

The Trump re-election campaign warned donors not to get duped into giving to a friendly-seeming political organization – and in the process violated federal law, a pair of campaign finance watchdogs allege.

Tennessee, Texas and Arizona are among the states with GOP-led legislatures that are moving bills to restrict voter regi...
04/29/2019
GOP Legislation Puts Restrictions on Voter Registration Efforts

Tennessee, Texas and Arizona are among the states with GOP-led legislatures that are moving bills to restrict voter registration drives. Plus, Texas has stopped its review of the voters rolls as part of a broader settlement with civil rights groups.

A number of Republican-controlled statehouses are advancing legislation to rein in voter registration drives that helped young and minority voters sweep Democrats into power at the state and national level during the 2018 midterms. 

A bipartisan group of Michigan judges didn't just strike down a state/federal map as unconstitutional. They also implore...
04/26/2019
Michigan Judges Implore Supreme Court to Limit Partisan Gerrymandering

A bipartisan group of Michigan judges didn't just strike down a state/federal map as unconstitutional. They also implored the Supreme Court to take action against partisan #Gerrymandering. Plus: College students who want to vote in New Hampshire claim a new law essentially imposes a poll tax.

What’s unusual about this week’s ruling against partisan gerrymandering in Michigan is not that judges ruled a map unconstitutional; courts in four other states have struck down legislative districts for violating the political rights of the party out of power.

Digging into the #MuellerReport, we found five suggestions for improving elections. Also: • A new study from the Georget...
04/25/2019
5 Ways to Fix Our Elections After Reading the Mueller Report

Digging into the #MuellerReport, we found five suggestions for improving elections.
Also:
• A new study from the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service find Americans united in their frustration at our political incivility but divided over solutions.
• Ohio may become the biggest battleground state to have automatic voter registration in time for the next election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report has generated enough legal, political and national security debate to dominate the news for a week now. What’s been largely overlooked is the roadmap the report provides for filling cracks in the American political system.

President Trump is aggressively challenging, through legal action and commands to administration officials,  the notion ...
04/24/2019
Trump Takes Crusade on the Balance of Power to the Next Level

President Trump is aggressively challenging, through legal action and commands to administration officials, the notion that a balance of power helps American Democracy thrive. Also in today's news:
• New data from the Census Bureau shows big increases in voter turnout in virtually every demographic group.
• Lobbying firms are making it rain by bringing in former Trump officials.

Advocates of good government generally agree that when the three branches are in relative balance, American democracy has a better chance to thrive. President Trump is aggressively challenging that notion, and this week he’s opened several new fronts in his campaign to bolster executive power at t...

A majority of Supreme Court justices appear inclined to allow the #CitizenshipQuestion to be included in the #Census2020...
04/23/2019
Supreme Court Sounds Receptive to a Census Citizenship Query

A majority of Supreme Court justices appear inclined to allow the #CitizenshipQuestion to be included in the #Census2020. This afternoon's other headlines:
• Republicans and black Democrats are uniting forces to overturn the gerrymandering referendum approved by Missouri voters in November.
• The Guardian has a great two-part series on the state of the voting machine business in the United States.

The Supreme Court appeared ready on Tuesday to permit a citizenship question on next year’s census, which no one doubts will lead to a national population count that’s inaccurate by several million.

Editor-in-Chief David Hawkings discusses the big issue before the Supreme Court with Andrew Rafferty of Newsy. #2020Cens...
04/23/2019
Washington Roundup: The Supreme Court Takes On The Census

Editor-in-Chief David Hawkings discusses the big issue before the Supreme Court with Andrew Rafferty of Newsy. #2020Census

The judges will consider whether it's unconstitutional to ask a citizenship question on next year's census.

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments on the #citizenship question on Tuesday. Here's our guide to ...
04/22/2019
How to Watch the Supreme Court’s Citizenship & Census Arguments

The Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments on the #citizenship question on Tuesday. Here's our guide to following the session. And today's second item updates our earlier reporting on whether 2020 presidential candidates will disclose their "bundlers."

Imagine if Montana, Rhode Island, Delaware, Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming and both Dakotas all lost their seats in the House of Representatives. Would that be constitutional?

04/18/2019
www.justice.gov

Today, There's Something More Important to Read

Future ballot initiatives are under attack by some lawmakers say the leaders of Common Cause and Ballot Initiative Strat...
04/16/2019
Many States Moving to Toughen the Rules for Ballot Initiatives

Future ballot initiatives are under attack by some lawmakers say the leaders of Common Cause and Ballot Initiative Strategy Center in a new op-ed.

A tide of ballot initiatives got endorsed last fall, as the nation turned toward direct democracy for changing public policy as never before. 

New from The Firewall:*President Donald J. Trump's Small-Donor Surge Expands the Presidential Money Pool Anew*Ex-Gov. Sc...
04/15/2019
Trump’s Small-Donor Surge Expands the Presidential Money Pool Anew

New from The Firewall:
*President Donald J. Trump's Small-Donor Surge Expands the Presidential Money Pool Anew
*Ex-Gov. Scott Walker Emerging as Right’s Top Government Reform Voice

There’s a newly bipartisan dimension to the vast pool of presidential campaign cash, the ever-expanding ocean of money that’s cited more often than anything as a root cause of our democracy’s travails.

Sixteen of the most influential political reform groups signed a letter calling on the presidential candidates to disclo...
04/11/2019
Advocacy Groups Call on Presidential Candidates to Disclose Bundlers

Sixteen of the most influential political reform groups signed a letter calling on the presidential candidates to disclose their bundlers. Business for America, Campaign Legal Center, OpenSecrets.org, Common Cause, Issue One, League of Women Voters of the U.S., Liberty Coalition, MapLight, FollowTheMoney.org, National Legal and Policy Center, Open the Government, Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, RepresentUs, Sunlight Foundation, Take Back Our Republic.

Sixteen advocacy groups, including some of the most influential players in the political reform movement, co-signed a letter Thursday urging 2020 presidential candidates to voluntarily disclose their top individual fundraisers, or “bundlers,” during their campaign bids.     

04/10/2019

The Justice Department has a small team dedicated to monitoring the lobbying industry. Over the past two years the office has been cut from seven employees to just three, and more than 2,000 cases remain unresolved. Also, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders has promised to release 10 years' worth of tax returns and challenged Donald J. Trump to do the same; a Washington Post analysis finds that Julián Castro and Amy Klobuchar have devoted more social media posts to voting rights than any of their rival candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination.

A number of Democrats were elected to the House in 2018 after pledging not to accept corporate donations. But some of th...
04/09/2019
New House Democrats See Difference Between Corporate PACs and K Street Cash

A number of Democrats were elected to the House in 2018 after pledging not to accept corporate donations. But some of them are willing to take money from lobbyists representing those companies. Plus: Justices Breyer and Alito defend their decision not to recuse themselves from a case involving a company in which they own stock, and 40 states make voters' personal information available online.

Less than six months after winning seats in Congress partly on pledges to stay clear of corporate campaign cash, many new members of the House Democratic majority are violating the spirit if not the letter of those promises.

Security clearances are held by only half the current members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Election Assist...
04/08/2019
Half of Election Commission Still Awaiting Security Clearances

Security clearances are held by only half the current members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Election Assistance Commission, which advises states on how to guard against foreign hacking and other security threats. Also in today's newsletter: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders argues for granting voting rights to felons even when they are still behind bars.

Security clearances are held by only half the current members of the Election Assistance Commission, which advises states on how to guard against foreign hacking and other security threats. 

Secretive Copycat Legislative Campaigns Are Surging in Statehouses: Report
04/04/2019
Secretive Copycat Legislative Campaigns Are Surging in Statehouses: Report

Secretive Copycat Legislative Campaigns Are Surging in Statehouses: Report

“Each year, state lawmakers across the U.S. introduce thousands of bills dreamed up and written by corporations, industry groups and think tanks. Disguised as the work of lawmakers, these so-called ‘model’ bills get copied in one state Capitol after another, quietly advancing the agenda of the...

Gov. Cuomo and the NY legislature couldn't come to an agreement on public funding for elections prior to last weekend's ...
04/02/2019
New Yorkers Can't Strike Deal on Public Funding for Campaigns

Gov. Cuomo and the NY legislature couldn't come to an agreement on public funding for elections prior to last weekend's deadline. Also: Oklahoma officials are kicking off their biannual cleaning of the voter lists and Sen. Ted Cruz is suing the FEC over limits on post-election fundraising limits.

This looked to be the year when the effort to bring public financing to campaigns would score its biggest victory to date, a huge boon for those who argue the idea is essential to improving democracy. But that has not happened.

If you missed the Unrig Summit 2019, catch our roundup of five key moments.
04/01/2019
Five Bellwether Moments From the ‘Unrig’ Reformers Convention

If you missed the Unrig Summit 2019, catch our roundup of five key moments.

By David Hawkings   With almost 2,000 attendants from across the country, the Unrig Summit in Nashville over the weekend stands as the biggest public gathering to date of people interested in tackling the challenges of our current democracy.   After three days of speeches, panel discussions and no...

Busy day in the newsletter:1. Democratic candidates for the White House have been slow to release their own tax returns,...
03/28/2019
Tax Returns Could Be Thorny Transparency Issue for Democratic Contenders

Busy day in the newsletter:
1. Democratic candidates for the White House have been slow to release their own tax returns, even though the party has been calling for Donald Trump's returns for years.
2. Arizona legislators are moving to purge many voters from the list of those eligible to vote by mail.
3. A half-dozen Trump officials failed to disclose their private-sector jobs when leaving the administration, a possible violation of federal law.
4. New Mexico has enacted legislation to allow voters to register (and vote, of course) on Election Day.

Democrats have spent three years castigating Donald Trump for not allowing the public to peruse his tax returns in the name of transparency and good governance, but the party’s presidential candidates have so far been slow to release their filings.

Senate Democrats introduced "a near identical copy" of HR 1 in their chamber today, but Mitch McConnell has no plans to ...
03/27/2019
Senate Democrats Unite Behind Their Version of HR 1

Senate Democrats introduced "a near identical copy" of HR 1 in their chamber today, but Mitch McConnell has no plans to give it a vote. Also, a report out of Texas claims nearly 280K Lone Star State voters were impeded from casting ballots in 2018.

All 47 Democratic senators, including the six running for president, signed on to legislation introduced today that mirrors the campaign finance, election administration and ethics overhaul passed by the House this month.

Supreme Court justices acknowledged #gerrymandering is a concern, but they are not united in taking action.
03/26/2019
Supreme Court Remains Divided Over Partisan Gerrymandering

Supreme Court justices acknowledged #gerrymandering is a concern, but they are not united in taking action.

The Supreme Court appears unlikely to ban partisan gerrymandering following oral arguments in two cases Tuesday, as the justices rehashed old concerns about interfering with state-drawn congressional maps.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in two redistricting cases tomorrow. We will be watching to see which way Justice ...
03/25/2019
Three Things to Watch at Supreme Court’s Partisan Mapmaking Arguments

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in two redistricting cases tomorrow. We will be watching to see which way Justice Kavanaugh is leaning, among other factors.

The Supreme Court is having another go at a question it’s never been able to answer: Can partisanship ever become unconstitutionally excessive in the process of drawing legislative districts?

Florida voters chose to restore voting rights for felons when they cast ballots last November. But now Republicans in th...
03/20/2019
Floridians Voted to Enfranchise Felons, but GOP Plans New Restrictions

Florida voters chose to restore voting rights for felons when they cast ballots last November. But now Republicans in the legislature are trying to erect new barriers. Also: The GAO has some suggestions for increasing transparency around political appointees, and Ariana Grande pushes voter registration on tour as part of her #ThankUNextGen campaign.

Florida legislators are moving to minimize the impact of last fall’s decision by the voters to restore voting rights to felons in the nation’s third largest state.

Some of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, as well as progressives on Capitol Hill, are pushing for more electoral ch...
03/19/2019
Democrats Rally to 3 More Bold, Long-shot ‘Reform’ Ideas

Some of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, as well as progressives on Capitol Hill, are pushing for more electoral changes beyond HR 1. (For example: abolishing the Electoral College.) Also in today's newsletter:
• ELLE Magazine (US) offers a one-stop shop for voter registration
• The Arizona legislature is poised to criminalize certain voter registration activities.
• C-SPAN turns 40 today, and we have some fun facts you might now know.

House passage of a sweeping and multifaceted election and ethics package looks to be only the beginning of Democrats’ “democracy reformer” positioning efforts heading into the 2020 campaign.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign a bill that will provide sweeping changes to the state's voter access rules.
03/18/2019
Georgia Set to Enact Broad Changes to Voter Access Rules

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign a bill that will provide sweeping changes to the state's voter access rules.

It offers some hope for those who say the system failed miserably in the nation’s eighth most populous state last fall, when a hotly contested and high-turnout election was marred by allegations that voters were wrongly denied access to the polls, absentee ballots were rejected for questionable re...

In today's newsletters:• Beto O'Rourke put efforts to fix the political system at the center of his presidential campaig...
03/14/2019
O’Rourke Opens With Generic Call for ‘Fixing Our Democracy’

In today's newsletters:
• Beto O'Rourke put efforts to fix the political system at the center of his presidential campaign.
• A majority of the House has signed on to legislation that would restore the Voting Rights Act requirement that states and counties with a history of voter discrimination get federal permission before making any changes to their election rules or political maps.
• Republicans are putting together a plan to compete with Democrats' ballot-harvesting operation in California.
• West Virginia is poised to raise the caps on political contributions.

Beto O’Rourke put a passionate if totally undefined call for fixing democracy at the center of his presidential announcement today.

In today's newsletter:-House House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows says he was rebuffed when seeking permission to ...
03/12/2019
Meadows Joins Movement to Ban Super PACs

In today's newsletter:
-House House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows says he was rebuffed when seeking permission to offer an amendment to HR 1 that would outlaw super PACs.
-The National Association of Secretaries of State has asked Facebook and Twitter to end their relationships with TurboVote, saying flaws in the system outweigh the positive work on voter registration.
-Sen. Elizabeth Warren has taken in contributions totaling at least 90K from employees of Amazon, Google and Facebook while railing against the companies.
-A super PAC aligned with Jeb Bush has been hit with a record-breaking fine by the Federal Election Commission.

The chairman of the Freedom Caucus, the most combative clutch of conservatives in the House, says so-called super PACs should be outlawed.

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