Saturday, May 9, 2020

It's About Suppression, Con't

For all the endless complaining that Republicans do about how voting by mail is "fraud", the GOP sure does like to steal elections.

Colorado Republican Party Chair Ken Buck, a U.S. representative from Windsor, pressured a local party official to submit incorrect election results to set the primary ballot for a state Senate seat, according to an audio recording of a conference call obtained by The Denver Post. 
“You’ve got a sitting congressman, a sitting state party chair, who is trying to bully a volunteer — I’m a volunteer; I don’t get paid for this — into committing a crime,” Eli Bremer, the GOP chairman for state Senate District 10, told The Post on Wednesday, confirming the authenticity of the recording. “To say it’s damning is an understatement.”

Buck says he was merely asking Bremer to abide by a committee decision. 
At issue is the Republican primary for the District 10 seat currently held by Sen. Owen Hill, who’s term-limited. State Rep. Larry Liston and GOP activist David Stiver both ran for it. To qualify for the November ballot via the caucus and assembly process, a candidate must receive 30% of the vote from Republicans within the district. 
During a district assembly in March, Liston received 75% of the vote and Stiver just 24%, according to documents filed later in Denver District Court. Stiver complained the election was unfair, and the issue was taken up with the state central committee, which agreed, Buck said in an interview Wednesday. 
The central committee consists of nearly 500 members, including elected officials and county officers. About 200 were on the line during an April 17 conference call in which the group voted to place Stiver on the ballot for the seat, even though he failed to receive 30% of the district’s votes. After the vote, Buck asked Bremer, the District 10 chair, whether he would comply with the committee’s decision. 
“Do you understand the order of the executive committee and the central committee that you will submit the paperwork to include Mr. Stiver and Mr. Liston on the ballot, with Mr. Liston receiving the top-line vote?” Buck said on the call. 
“Uh, yes, sir, I understand the central committee has adopted a resolution that requires me to sign a false affidavit to the state,” Bremer replied. 
“And will you do so?” Buck said. 
Bremer: “I will seek legal counsel as I am being asked to sign an affidavit that states Mr. Stiver received 30% of the vote. I need to seek legal counsel to find out if I am putting myself in jeopardy of a misdemeanor for doing that. ” 
Buck: “And you understand that it is the order of the central committee that you do so?”
Bremer: “I will consult with counsel. Yes, sir, I understand the central committee has ordered me to sign an affidavit stating that a candidate got 30% who did not. And I will seek legal counsel and determine if I am legally able to follow that.” 
Buck: “All right, Mr. Bremer, I understand your position; we will now move on.” 
Buck, a lawyer, told The Post on Wednesday that it has been the tradition in both parties for their committees to make such decisions.

Note here Buck isn't denying he basically committed a felony. His excuse is that COVID-19 makes elections hard and besides the Democrats do it too, so who cares?

But hey, the Supreme Court made it clear today that convicting state officials on fraud charges is no good.

The Supreme Court threw out fraud convictions on Thursday against two New Jersey officials involved in the "Bridgegate" political scandal, the George Washington Bridge traffic jam that rocked the administration of then-Gov. Chris Christie. 
Writing for a unanimous court, Justice Elena Kagan said that "for no reason" other than "political payback" the aides "used deception" to cut access lanes from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the bridge. 
The move "jeopardized the safety of the town's residents," Kagan wrote, but concluded that "not every corrupt act by state or local officials is a federal crime." 
Bridget Anne Kelly, who served as an aide to Christie, and Bill Baroni, the deputy director of the Port Authority, were convicted for their roles in the scandal and ultimately sentenced to 13 and 18 months in 2017. Currently out on bond, they asked the Supreme Court to reverse their convictions.

The ruling is the latest example of the court narrowing the type of conduct by public officials that can be considered fraud under federal law. 
In recent years, the court has decisively narrowed the government's ability to charge public officials with federal crimes for corruption offenses, most notably in 2016 after former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell took hundreds of thousands of dollars from a businessman who wanted the governor to intervene on his behalf with state officials to benefit his business. 
"Once again, the Supreme Court has thrown out federal criminal convictions of public officials who, by their own admission, abused their power for corrupt and illegitimate purposes," said Steve Vladeck, CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law. 
"The harder question is whether Congress will respond to rulings like this one by expanding the scope of these laws, or whether we're going to end up with a world in which criminal liability for such nefarious conduct depends upon the color of one's collar," Vladeck added. 
Christie's aides argued that they were wrongly convicted and that prosecutors overreached when they charged them under various federal fraud statutes.
Kagan added that the aides' scheme did not aim to obtain money or property, and therefore they could not have violated wire fraud laws. 
In a statement to CNN, Christie says members of his administration were "dragged through the mud" since the case was first taken up by the Justice Department. 
"As many contended from the beginning, and as the court confirmed today, no federal crimes were ever committed in this matter by anyone in my administration. It is good for all involved that today justice has finally been done," Christie said.

So even if Buck was charged, corruption isn't a federal crime.  Colorado's state Supreme Court is refusing to hear the case for the same reason.

Finally, let's not forget that the Trump regime is now openly stating that it will sue Democratic states "into oblivion" to stop voting by mail.

President Donald Trump’s political operation is expanding its legal effort to stop Democrats from overhauling voting laws in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican National Committee and Trump reelection campaign are doubling their legal budget to $20 million as litigation spreads to an array of battleground states. With the virus likely to complicate in-person balloting in November, Democrats have been pushing to substantially ease remote voting restrictions — something the Trump campaign and RNC are aggressively fighting in the courts.

Trump, who has long been fixated on voter fraud, has taken a personal interest in the project. He is expected to discuss the legal maneuvering during a meeting with his political team Thursday.

The battle over voting laws — specifically Democrats' efforts to make it easier for people to vote remotely during the pandemic — has emerged as a key front in the general election showdown between the parties.

More than two dozen Republican operatives are focusing on the legal battles and have been closely coordinating with party officials at the state and local levels. The Trump campaign and RNC recently intervened in Nevada, where Democrats are pushing for the state to ease restrictions by mailing ballots to all registered voters. Republicans have also been active in New Mexico, where they fought back a similar Democratic-led lawsuit.

The legal skirmishing has also been taking place in such battlegrounds as Pennsylvania and Georgia. While Republicans say they are open to some changes amid the pandemic, they are opposed to many of the farther-reaching reforms Democrats are pursuing.

“We will not stand idly by while Democrats try to sue their way to victory in 2020,” said RNC chief of staff Richard Walters. “Democrats may be using the coronavirus as an excuse to strip away important election safeguards, but the American people continue to support commonsense protections that defend the integrity of our democratic processes.”

The RNC and Trump campaign initially announced in February that they would direct $10 million to legal fights. But the party, Walters said, is prepared to sue Democrats “into oblivion and spend whatever is necessary.”

Democrats have long pushed to ease voting restrictions. Marc Elias, a prominent election law attorney who is leading the party’s effort, said Democrats were currently focused on litigation in more than a dozen states, including Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Many of the lawsuits, he said, involve expanding vote-by-mail rules.

He acknowledged, however, that the Republican Party’s massive investment is a hurdle.

“We’re not unrealistic about the fight that is ahead,” Elias said. “There is no question that Donald Trump and the Republican Party have made opposing voting rights a top priority for their campaign.”

We just have to accept that massive corruption and voter fraud by the GOP is standard in America, as one of the lawyers for the New Jersey plaintiffs argued.

"In an ideal world, public officials would always act solely in the best interest of the public," Roth argued. "But our world is decidedly not ideal, and politics is one of its inherent features, accepted as the cost of democratic accountability."

You play the game, you pay the cost.  Welcome to America.

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