The currently legal ability of obscenely rich people to bribe lawmakers and law enforcers is the source of many – if not all – of our political problems. In this episode, get an update on the few democracy-enhancing bills that have moved in this Congress and Jen speaks to Sam Fieldman – the National Counsel at Wolf-PAC – who explains how we can constitutionally end the role of money in politics by going around Congress.
Joe Briney joins Jen for the thank you’s.
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Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes
- Article: Ensuring elections ‘free from foreign intrusion’ by John Sarbanes and Brian Frosh, Baltimore Sun, July 3, 2019
- Article: Alexander-Murrary Bill, by Donald Shaw, ReadSludge.com, June 10, 2019.
- Article: Microsoft and Election Guard by Whitney Webb, MPN News, May 24, 2019.
- Document: Ballot-Marking Devices (BMDs) Cannot Assure the Will of the Voters SSRN, May 21, 2019
- Article: DHS to Assess Risks Posed to Ballot-Marking Devices by Mark Niese, GovTech, May 2, 2019.
- Article: DHS, FBI say election systems in all 50 states were targeted in 2016 by Sean Gallagher, ARS Technica, April 10, 2019.
- Article: Amid Election Integrity Criticism, Georgia Governor Signs Bill to Replace Voting Machines by Greg Bluestein and Mark Niesse, Governing, April 5, 2019.
- Article: Firm’s close ties to Georgia stir concerns about voting system purchase by Mark Niesse, Atlanta Journal, January 30, 2019
- Article: “Our best friend in this debate is the public,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Friday. by Ella Nilsen, Vox, January 04, 2019.
- Article: How the GOP is using the Help America Vote Act to block voting, by Thom Hartmann, Salon.com, November 23, 2018.
- Article: The Latest: Some Georgia Statewide Races Too Close to Call U.S. News, November 7, 2018.
- Article: VOTING MACHINES ARE STILL ABSURDLY VULNERABLE TO ATTACKS by Lily Hay Newman, Wired, September 28, 2018.
- Article: Top Voting Machine Vendor Admits It Installed Remote-Access Software on Systems Sold to States by Kim Zetter, Vice News, July 17, 2018.
- Article: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Ran—and Won—as a Movement Candidate, by DD Guttenplan, The Nation, June 27, 2018.
- Article: Voting machine vendor treated election officials to trips to Vegas, elsewhere by Greg Gordon, Amy Renee Leiker, Jamie Self and Stanley Dunlap, McClatchy DC Bureau, June 21, 2018.
- Document: LD-2 Lobbying Report Disclosure Form Secretary of the Senate Office of Public Records, 2018
- Data: Lobbying Spending Data:Lobbyists representing Election Systems & Software, 2018 OpenSecrets.org, 2018.
- Article: The Fraud Behind Article V Convention Opposition by Sam Fieldman, Medium.com, October 12, 2017.
- Article: Some Machines Are Flipping Votes, But That Doesn’t Mean They’re Rigged by Pam Fessler, NPR, October 26, 2016.
- Document: 2012 REDMAP Summary Report Redistricting Majority Project, January 4, 2013.
- Document: Report on Proper Use of Campaign Funds and Resources Committee on Ethics, January 4, 2013.
- Document: Title 36 organizations Every CRSRReport.com, June 17, 2011.
H.R. 2722: SAFE Act
Sponsor: Zoe Lofgren of northern California
Passed the House on June 27, 2019 225-184
- Only GOP yes: Newbie Rep. Brian Mast – 38 year old wounded Afghanistan war veteran representing the Palm Beach area
Went to the Committee on Rules and Administration in the Senate
Title 1: Financial Support for Election Infrastructure
Subtitle A: Voting System Security Improvement Grants
Sec. 102: Paper ballot requirements
- “The voting system shall require the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voters’ vote that shall be marked and made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter’s vote is cast and counted, which shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device.”
- “The voting system shall provide the voter with an opportunity to correct any error on the paper ballot…”
- Recounts: The paper ballot “shall constitute the official ballot and shall be preserved and used as the official ballot for purposes any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office in which the voting system is used.”
Sec. 104: Durability and readability requirements for ballots
- Ballots must be on “durable” paper, which means it is capable of withstanding multiple recounts by hand without compromising the fundamental integrity of the ballots” and they must maintain readability for 22 months.
Sec. 105: Recycled Paper
- Ballots must be printed on recycled paper starting on January 1, 2021.
Sec. 107: These rules will apply “for any election for Federal office held in 2020 or any succeeding year.”
- Grandfathered equipment: Districts using machines that print paper ballots with the votes already tallied can use those machines until 2022, but they must offer every voter the opportunity to vote using a blank paper ballot, which are not allowed to be designated as provisional.
Sec. 111:Grants for equipment changes
- Federal tax money will be given to states to replace their voting system, if needed.
- Grant amount: At least $1 per the average number of people who voted in the last two elections
- To use these grants, the states can only buy voting equipment from a vendor “owned and controlled by a citizen or permanent resident of the United States”
- The vendor must tell government officials if they get any part of their election infrastructure parts from outside the United States
- Authorizes (but doesn’t appropriate) $600 million for 2019 and $175 million for each even number election year through 2026
- State election officials will make the rules for how these will be done
Sec. 122: Federal government will pay for audits
- Authorizes “such sums as are necessary”
- Vote counting machine rules
- Machines that count ballots must be built so that “it’s mechanically impossible for the device to add or change the vote selections on a printed or market ballot”
- The device must be “capable of exporting its data (including vote tally data sets and cast vote records) in a machine-readable, open data standards format”
- The device’s software’s source code, system build tools, and compilation parameters must be given to certain Federal and State regulators and “may be shared by any entity to whom it has been provided… with independent experts for cybersecurity analysis.”
- The devise must have technology that allows “election officials, cybersecurity researchers, and voters to verify that the software running on the device was built from a specific, untampered version of the code” that was provided to Federal and State regulators.
- Loophole for moles: The Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security can waive any of the requirements other than the first one that prohibits machines that can change votes. The waivers can be applied to a device for no more than two years. The waivers must be publicly available on the Internet.
- Not effective until November 2024 election.
- Ballot marking machines and vote counters can’t use or “be accessible by any wireless, power-line, or concealed communication device” or “connected to the Internet or any non-local computer system via telephone or other communication network at any time.”
- Effective for the 2020 general election and all elections after
- Ballot marking devices can’t be capable of counting votes
- States may submit applications to Federal regulators for testing and certification the accuracy of ballot marking machines, but they don’t have to.
Sec. 202: Testing of existing voting systems
- 9 months before each regularly scheduled general election for Federal offices, “accredited laboratories” will test the voting system hardware and software with was certified for use in the most recent election. If the hardware and software fails the test, it “shall” be decertified.
- Effective for the 2020 General Election.
Sec. 203: Requiring use of software and hardware for which information is disclosed by manufacturer
- “In the operation of voting systems in an election for Federal office, a State may only use software for which the manufacturer makes the source code… publicly available online under a license that grants a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, sub-licensable license to all intellectual property rights in such source code….”
- …except that the manufacturer may prohibit people from using the software for commercial advantage or “private monetary compensation” that is unrelated to doing legitimate research.
- States “may not use a voting system in an election for Federal office unless the manufacture of the system publicly discloses online the identification of the hardware used to operate the system”
- If the voting system is not widely-used, the manufacture must make the design “publicly available online under a license that grants a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, sub-licensable license to all intellectual property rights…”
- Effective for the 2020 General election
Sec. 204: Poll books will be counted as part of voting systems for these regulations
- Effective January 1, 2020
HR 391: White House Ethics Transparency Act of 2019
Pdf of the bill
Reported June 12, 2019 out of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform 23-16
On January 28, 2017 – a week after taking office – President Trump issued an executive order that requires all executive agency appointees to sign and be contractually obligated to a pledge that…
- The appointee won’t lobby his/her former agency for 5 years after leaving
- Will not lobby the administration he/she previously worked for
- Will not, after leaving government, “engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which, were it undertaken on January 20, 2017, would require me to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938”
- Will not accept gifts from registered lobbyists
- Will recuse themselves from any matter involving their former employers for two years from the date of their appointment
- If the appointee was a lobbyist before entering government, that person will not work on any matter that they had lobbied for for 2 years after the appointment
BUT Section 3 allows waivers: “The President or his designee may grant to any person a waiver of any restrictions contained in the pledge signed by such person.”
Sec. 2: Requires any executive branch official who gets a waiver to submit a written copy to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and make a written copy of the waiver available to the public on the website of the agency where the appointee works.
- Backdated to January 20, 2017 (President Trump’s inauguration)
H.R. 745: Executive Branch Comprehensive Ethics Enforcement Act of 2019
Reported March 26, 2019 out of the Committee on Oversight and Reform 18-12
Pdf of the bill
Sec. 2: Creates a transition ethics program
- Requires the President-elect to give Congress a list of everyone in consideration for security clearance within 10 days of the applications submission and a list of everyone granted security clearance within 10 days of their approval.
- Requires the transition team to create and enforce an “ethics plan” that needs to describe the role of registered lobbyists on the transition team, the role of people registered as foreign agents, and which transition team members of sources of income which are not known by the public
- Transition team members must be prohibited by the ethics plan from working on matters where they have “personal financial conflicts of interest” during the transition and explain how they plan to address those conflicts of interest during the incoming administration.
- The transition team ethics plan must be publicly avail on the website of the General Services Administration
- Transition team members need to submit a list of all positions they have held outside the Federal Government for the previous 12 months -including paid and unpaid positions-, all sources of compensation that exceed $5,000 in the previous 12 months, and a list of policy issues worked on in their previous roles, a list of issues the team member will be recused from as part of the administration.
- Transition team members that do not comply will not be granted any access to the Federal department or agency that isn’t open to the public.
S. 195 : Creates a transition ethics program: Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act
Pdf of the bill
Reported 4/10/19 out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On Senate Calendar
Sec. 2: Definitions
- “Congressionally mandated report” means a report that is required to be submitted to Congress by a bill, resolution, or conference report that becomes law.
- Does NOT include reports required from 92 nonprofit corporations labeled as “Patriotic and National Organizations” (“Title 36 corporations”)
Sec. 3: Website for reports
- 1 year after enactment, there needs to be a website “that allows the public to obtain electronic copies of all congressionally mandated reports in one place”
- If a Federal agency fails to submit a report, the website will tell us the information that is required by law and the date when the report was supposed to be submitted
- The government can’t charge a fee for access to the reports
- The reports can be redacted by the Federal agencies
- Twitter Link: Rachel Maddow Twitter Link Twitter.
- Employment Profile: Employment History for Richardson, Sean J OpenSecrets.org
- Employment Profile: Employment History for Jen Olson OpenSecrets.org
- Email Link: Sam Fieldman Email at Wolf-PAC
- PDF Email: Email with Eli Baumwell of the W.V. ACLU
- Volunteer Link: Volunteer for Wolf-PAC
- Resource Link: Article V Wolf-PAC Resource Link
- Documentary: Wolf Pac Documentary
- Congressional Dish Interview: Interview with Sam Fieldman from Wolf-PAC
- Preet Bharara Podcast: Taking Trump to Court (with David Cole)
- YouTube Video: Wolf PAC Call for Volunteers – Get Money Out of Politics!
- YouTube Video: Mike Monetta On Why Wolf-PAC Is Making A Movie
- YouTube Video: Wolf PAC Resolution Passes New Jersey Senate
- YouTube Video: Republican Vermont Representative Vicky Strong
- YouTube Video: Americans for Prosperity testify in New Jersey
- YouTube Video: Hawaii Senate Judiciary Hearing on 2018 SCR 76, Wolf-PAC
- YouTube Video: Article V Debate
- Document: Essay on Term Limits
- Document: Take Back our Republic
- Document: Role of Congress
- Document: American Promise 28th Amendment
- Document: United for the People Amendments
- Reference Website: Massachusetts Commission
- Govtrack: H.R. 2722
- Document: H.R. 391
- Document: H.R. 745
- Document: H.R. 745
- Document: H.R. 964
- Document: S. 195
Sound Clip Sources
Watch on C-Span: William Barr Testifies on Mueller Report Before Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019
- 1:57:55 Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): For the last two years, Senator Lankford and I, on a bipartisan bill with support from the ranking and the head of the intelligence committee; have been trying to get the Secure Elections Act passed. This would require backup paper ballots. If anyone gets federal funding for an election, it would require audits, um, and it would require better cooperation. Yet the White House, just as we were on the verge of getting a markup in the rules committee (getting it to the floor where I think we would get the vast majority of senators), the White House made calls to stop this. Were you aware of that?
- Attorney General William Barr: No.
- Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): Okay, well that happened. So what I would like to know from you as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer if you will work with Senator Lankford and I to get this bill done? Because otherwise we are not going to have any clout to get backup paper ballots if something goes wrong in this election.
- Attorney General William Barr: Well, I will… I will work with you, uh, to, uh, enhance the security of our election and I’ll take a look at what you’re proposing. I’m not familiar with it.
- Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): Okay. Well, it is the bipartisan bill. It has Senator Burr and Senator Warner. It’s support from Senator Graham was on the bill. Senator Harris is on the bill and the leads are Senator Lankford and myself, and it had significant support in the house as well.
Hearing: Committee on Oversight and Reform:Strengthening Ethics Rules for the Executive Branch, February 6, 2019
- *28:00 Rep Jordan (OH): 2013 we learned that the IRS targeted conservative for their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle systematically for a sustained period of time. They went after people for their conservative beliefs, plan in place, targeted people. They did it. The gross abuse of power would have continued, if not for the efforts of this committee. 2014 the Obama Administration doubled down and attempted to use the IRS rule making process to gut the ability of social welfare organizations to participate in public debate. Congress has so far prevented this regulation from going into effect, but HR 1 would change that.
Hearing: Judiciary Committee For The People Act Of 2019, January 29, 2019
Sherrilyn Ifill – President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
- 32:00 Sherrilyn Ifill: Well before the midterm election, in fact, Georgia officials began placing additional burdens on voters, particularly black and Latino voters, by closing precincts and purging. Over half a million people from the voter rolls the voter purge, which removed 107,000 people, simply because they did not vote in previous elections and respond to a mailing was overseen by the Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp, who was also the secretary of state. LDF and a chorus of others called on him to recuse himself from participating in the election. But he refused.
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