Sweeping complaint about Trump campaign spending heads to FEC black hole
The Trump campaign is vowing to fight a complaint from a watchdog group alleging an unusually bold and broad violation of campaign finance law. But it might not have to fight too hard, because the matter is now before an essentially shuttered Federal Election Commission.
The allegation formally lodged Tuesday by the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for tighter money-in-politics rules, is that President Trump's reelection operation paid almost $170 million to companies affiliated with one-time campaign manager Brad Parscale and other campaign operatives — but did not disclose the intended recipients of the money, as the law requires.
While efforts to obfuscate campaign spending details are not uncommon, as candidates from both parties clamor for every tactical advantage, what the CLC described in its complaint as "laundering the funds" by Trump's team seems unprecedented in size and scope.
Minnesotans will be able to provide, and receive, an unlimited amount of help in the casting and delivery of absentee ballots starting this fall, a state judge has decided.
The ruling was one of three moves across the country Tuesday toward easing the regulation of voting by mail, which is going to soar this fall because of the coronavirus. All were in states already looking solidly blue on the presidential election map, and so not in President Trump's sights as he makes unsubstantiated claims about mailed ballots rigging the election.
A judge in Rhode Island struck down the state's mandate that a witness or notary countersign every absentee ballot envelope, leaving only 10 states maintaining such a rule for November. And legislators in neighboring Connecticut voted overwhelmingly to drop excuse requirements for voting absentee, if only this year.
Nevada will remain a state where politicians get to draw the election boundaries they run in. Advocates for turning the mapmaking over to an independent panel have conceded defeat.
Fair Maps Nevada announced Tuesday it was able to collect only 12,000 of the 98,000 signatures required to get their proposal on the November ballot, giving up a week ahead of the deadline. The group said it was stymied by the social distancing and safety protocols mandated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Assigning independent commissions to draw congressional and legislative district lines, instead of the state legislators themselves, is widely regarded as the best way to combat partisan gerrymandering. This year's election is effectively the last chance for states to make the switch in time for the maps being drawn for the next decade.
Businesses that finance super PACs could be exploited by foreigners who want to secretly and illegally spend millions to influence American elections, a campaign finance advocacy group warned Wednesday.
So long as they disclose their donors, super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts in support or opposition of candidates for president and Congress. But these donations too often come from opaque shell companies, Issue one said in a new study, obscuring the true source of the money and opening campaigns to even more interference by overseas adversaries.
A bipartisan nonprofit that advocates for a broad democracy reform agenda, Issue One says the remedy is more regulation of these shell companies. (The group operates but has no journalistic say over The Fulcrum.)
Should expats be counted in the census? Former Republican Party statistician and a longtime congressional aide Howard Gorrell says yes.
Wednesday's Word of the Week:
Express advocacy: Advertisements that explicitly encourage casting a vote for or against a candidate.