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Paul Manafort

Manafort campaign finance allegations scuttled by FEC deadlock

Allegations that Paul Manafort orchestrated a scheme to funnel money to several Republican members of Congress from Ukrainians aligned with Russia have been dismissed by the Federal Election Commission.

It was the first FEC foreign money inquiry originating from the work of special counsel Robert Mueller, and it was an outgrowth of last year's conviction of Manafort in a case that centered on his illegal lobbying enterprises before he was Donald Trump's presidential campaign manager.

The two Republican commissioners voted to follow a staff recommendation to drop the case, Bloomberg Government reported. The two commissioners in seats reserved for Democrats voted to proceed.


One of them, Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, said in a statement posted by the agency Friday that there was ample evidence to support a full-fledged inquiry into whether a Manafort client, the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions, provided money to lobbyists that was then donated to several GOP lawmakers (without their knowledge of its source). Foreign contributions, and donations funneled through a third party, are against the law.

The FEC staff said the lobbyists working for Manafort should be taken at their word that they used their own money to make the donations.

"If Manafort and his foreign clients obeyed campaign finance law here, it was just about the only law they did obey," Weintraub said. "The commission should not have given a convicted criminal and fraudster the benefit of the doubt."

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Congress
RepresentUs

RepresentUs acquired 8,000 signatures on a petition asking Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez to keep working on a "revolving door" bill. Paula Barkan, Austin chapter leader of RepresentUs, handed the petition to Brandon Simon, Cruz's Central Texas regional director, on July 31.

Cruz, Ocasio-Cortez still discussing revolving door bill

Remember that tweet exchange in May between Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the one where they discussed bipartisan legislation to ban former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists?

To recap: Ocasio-Cortez tweeted her support for legislation banning the practice in light of a report by the watchdog group Public Citizen, which found that nearly 60 percent of lawmakers who recently left Congress had found jobs with lobbying firms. Cruz tweeted back, extending an invitation to work on such a bill. Ocasio-Cortez responded, "Let's make a deal."

The news cycle being what it is, it's easy to forget how the media jumped on the idea of the Texas Republican and the New York Democrat finding common ground on a government ethics proposal. Since then, we've collectively moved on — but not everyone forgot.

The government reform group RepresentUs recently drafted a petition asking Cruz and Ocasio-Cortez to follow through on their idea, gathering more than 8,000 signatures.

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Adults of all ages agree: There's little confidence in elected leaders

But in general, young adults have a lot more trust issues than their elders

Sixty percent of young adults in the United States believe other people "can't be trusted," according to a recent Pew Research survey, which found that younger Americans were far more likely than older adults to distrust both institutions and other people. But adults of all ages did agree on one thing: They all lack confidence in elected leaders.

While united in a lack of confidence, the cohorts disagreed on whether that's a major problem. The study found that young adults (ages 18-29) were less likely than older Americans to believe that poor confidence in the federal government, the inability of Democrats and Republicans to work together, and the influence of lobbyists and special interest groups were "very big problems."

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