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Trump campaign fights a rival fundraiser, and watchdogs cry foul

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.

The campaign urged supporters this week to steer clear of solicitations from so-called "scam PACs," fundraising operations that raise money only to perpetuate their own existence and feather the nests of their operators. The warning came after revelations that the Presidential Coalition has raised $18.5 million since 2017 (with branding suggesting collaboration with Trump) but only spent 2 percent of its revenue on political activities. The rest went to support the super PAC's leader, David Bossie, a former Trump deputy campaign manager and still one of his most high-profile conservative allies. The details about the group's operation were reported by the Campaign Legal Center and Axios.

"Their actions show they are interested in filling their own pockets with money from innocent Americans paychecks," the Trump campaign said, without mentioning the Presidential Coalition by name. "We encourage the appropriate authorities to investigate all alleged scam groups for potential illegal activities."

The same warning also underscored that there are only four authorized fundraising committees and one "approved" super PAC, America First Action, raising money for the president's re-election.

Mentioning America First Action, without specifying there's a $5,000 donation limit to super PACs, violated federal law because doing so was seemingly a solicitation for unlimited contributions, Campaign Legal Center and End Citizens United alleged in a complaint filed Thursday with the Federal Election Commission.

"If candidates are not punished for working hand-in-hand with super PACs, campaigns will stretch the legal boundaries until there is no way to prevent the corruption of candidates beholden to big money," Adav Noti, CLC's chief of staff, said in a statement.

Whether such a technical violation will draw the attention of the FEC, which routinely deadlocks on far more egregious violations, is unclear at best.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a trio of democracy reform bills this week.

California governor signs three political reform bills

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law on Tuesday three democracy reform bills focused on local redistricting, voting access and campaign contributions.

The first piece of legislation prohibits partisan gerrymandering at the local level by establishing criteria for cities and counties to use when adjusting district boundaries. While California is the largest state to use an independent redistricting commission to draw its congressional and state district maps, local districts did not have the same regulations.

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Gov. Ralph Northam used his executive authority to restore voting rights for felons, noting that Virginia is among the states that permanently strips such rights after a felony conviction.

Virginia governor restores voting rights to over 22,000 felons

More than 22,000 Virginians with felony convictions have regained the right to vote thanks to executive actions taken by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam since he took office in January 2018, his office announced this week.

In a statement, Northam's office said he has so far restored the civil rights of 22,205 people who had been convicted of felonies and have since completed their sentences. Those civil rights include the right to vote as well as the right to serve on juries, run for public office and become a notary public.

Northam previously announced in February that nearly 11,000 convicted felons had their voting rights restored under his watch.

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