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Bipartisan forces build to reverse Missouri’s gerrymandering reform

An unlikely legislative coalition of urban African-American Democrats and rural and suburban Republicans is threatening to reverse the will of Missouri's voters, who decided last fall to drain much of the politics out of the state's political mapmaking.

A referendum approved with 62 percent support in November turns the drawing of the state's legislative districts over to an independent commission tasked with ensuring partisan balance and competitiveness. But this week the state House will debate legislation to keep the redistricting process essentially as is, with the decisive power in the hands of the majority party bosses.

The so-called Clean Missouri plan would likely mean the Democrats would reduce the supermajorities the GOP has enjoyed this decade in the state House and Senate, an Associated Press analysis found. But several prominent African-American Democrats say the price would be unacceptably steep: The dismantling of several black-majority districts and the spreading of African-American voters into white-majority districts in order to help them start tilting Democratic.

"There are definitely concerns in the caucus that the way it was written could create long, spaghetti string districts and dilute the black vote at a time when we have historic black representation in the House," Rep. Steve Roberts of St. Louis, a leader of the sharply divided Legislative Black Caucus, told the Kansas City Star.

Republicans assert that protecting African-American districts is among their main motivations for trying to reverse Clean Missouri, and they seem confident they can pass their bill with support of some black lawmakers. Assuming it also gets through the lopsidedly Republican state Senate, GOP Gov. Michael Parson would likely sign it.

None of the other states where voters approved redistricting reform measures last fall – Michigan, Colorado and Utah – are having second thoughts about the move.

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Computer company Hewlett Packard received a perfect score from the index for its policies on political spending disclosure.

Big companies disclosing more could-be-secret political spending, analysis shows

An increasing number of the country's largest publicly traded companies are disclosing more than ever about political spending habits that the law permits them to keep secret.

That's the central finding of the fifth annual report from a group of academics and corporate ethicists, who say the average score among the biggest companies traded on American exchanges, the S&P 500, has gone up each year since 2014.

Though corporate political action committees must disclose their giving to candidates, those numbers are very often dwarfed by the donations businesses make to the trade associations and other outside groups that have driven so much of the steady rise in spending on elections. Conservatives say robust disclosure of these behaviors is the best form of regulating money in politics and is working fine, and this new report reflects that. Those who say campaign finance needs more assertive federal regulation will argue such corporate transparency is inconsistent and inadequate to the task, and the new report underscores that.

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Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is joined by fellow Democratic members of the House and Senate this summer to discuss legislation that would attempt to prevent hacking into the country's election systems. Intelligence officials announced late last week an outline for how to release information about possible hacks during the 2020 elections.

Intel community promising more transparency about election hacking efforts

A year from the presidential election, U.S. intelligence agencies have adopted a new framework for how they will inform candidates, groups and the public about attempts to disrupt our country's elections by foreign operatives.

But the one-page summary of the plan, released late last week, is so general that it remains unclear what the intelligence community plans to do if and when it discovers something suspicious.

The summary by the director of national intelligence states that the federal government will "follow a process and principles designed to ensure, to the greatest extent possible, that notification decisions are consistent, well-informed and unbiased."

The new framework is designed to prevent a repeat of some of what happened after the 2016 election.

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