The Supreme Court’s conservative majority has been at war with campaign finance laws for more than a dozen years, stretching at least as far back as its decision in Citizens United v. FEC (2010). On Monday, the Court’s six Republican appointees escalated this war.
The Court’s decision in FEC v. Ted Cruz for Senate is a boon to wealthy candidates. It strikes down an anti-bribery law that limited the amount of money candidates could raise after an election in order to repay loans they made to their own campaign.
Federal law permits candidates to loan money to their campaigns. In 2001, however, Congress prohibited campaigns from repaying more than $250,000 of these loans using funds raised after the election. They can repay as much as they want from campaign donations received before the election (although a federal regulation required them to do so “within 20 days of the election”).
The idea is that, if already-elected officials can solicit donations to repay what is effectively their own personal debt, lobbyists and others seeking to influence lawmakers can put money directly into the elected official’s pocket — and campaign donations that personally enrich a lawmaker are particularly likely to lead to corrupt bargains. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) manufactured a case to try to overturn that $250,000 limit, and now, the Court has sided with him.
Indeed, now that this limit on loan repayments has been struck down, lawmakers with sufficiently creative accountants may be able to use such loans to give themselves a steady income stream from campaign donors.
According to the Los Angeles Times, for example, Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) made a $150,000 loan to her campaign at 18 percent interest in 1998 — before the 2001 law was enacted. Though Napolitano did eventually reduce the interest rate on this loan to 10 percent, the high-interest loan allowed her to make a considerable profit from donors.
As of 2009, Napolitano reportedly raised $221,780 to repay that loan — $158,000 of which was classified as “interest.” Because the 6-3 decision in Ted Cruz neutralizes the 2001 law, lawmakers may now potentially use a similar scheme in order to funnel legal bribes into their personal bank accounts.
Other lawmakers might not be quite as brazen in seeking to line their own pockets. But they still may be inclined to reward donors who help them recoup the cost of personal loans. As Justice Elena Kagan writes in dissent, a candidate who receives money that goes directly into their own pocket is likely to be “more grateful than for ordinary campaign contributions (which do not increase his personal wealth).”
Monday, May 16, 2022
The 18-year-old suspected of opening fire at a Buffalo supermarket Saturday told authorities he was targeting the Black community, according to an official familiar with the investigation.
The alleged gunman made disturbing statements describing his motive and state of mind following his arrest, the official said. The statements were clear and filled with hate toward the Black community. Investigators also uncovered other information from search warrants and other methods indicating the alleged shooter was "studying" previous hate attacks and shootings, the official said.
The revelation comes a day after a gunman killed 10 people and wounded three others at the Tops Friendly Markets store in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo. Eleven of the people who were shot were Black, officials said.
The suspect was identified as a rifle-toting 18-year-old from Conklin, New York, who allegedly wrote a White supremacist manifesto online, traveled about 200 miles to the store and livestreamed the attack, authorities said.
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said Sunday the attack was a racist hate crime and will be prosecuted as such.
"The evidence that we have uncovered so far makes no mistake that this is an absolute racist hate crime. It will be prosecuted as a hate crime," he said. "This is someone who has hate in their heart, soul and mind."
Investigators believe the suspect acted on his own in the shooting, Gramaglia said. The suspect was in Buffalo a day before the shooting and did some reconnaissance at the Tops Friendly Markets store, the commissioner said.
The victims included a former Buffalo police lieutenant working as a security guard and the 86-year-old mother of Buffalo's retired fire commissioner, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said. Two people remain hospitalized in stable condition, a spokesman for Erie County Medical Center said Saturday night.
The demographics of the United States are changing, and the share of the population considered white is shrinking. This change is occurring faster than anticipated, thanks to the relative ages of white and nonwhite populations in the country — the nonwhite population trends significantly younger — and all national population growth is being driven by nonwhite groups, according to an analysis by Brookings. This confluence of death, birth, and immigration is in and of itself morally neutral, a matter of the natural ebb and flow of populations over time. But as the era of the white majority nears its end, a revanchist, racist right has treated the facts of demography as an occasion for a sweeping, violent moral panic.
Donald Trump’s ascendance was a key marker of the force of white racial panic; from the moment he launched his candidacy, his overt racism set the party’s agenda, and from the very first, his rhetoric directly provoked racist violence. Far from ebbing as Trump has ceased to be the party’s sole center, however, the tide of white animus has become even more central to a new crop of Congresspeople and candidates.
The Republican Party’s embrace of nativism has been more of a full-on dash than a slow slide, and it has been catalyzed by the vast constellation of right-wing media. Chief among these is the juggernaut that is Fox News. As a New York Times analysis revealed, the network’s flagship prime-time show, Tucker Carlson Tonight, has an obsession with replacement theory: In more than 400 shows the newspaper analyzed, Carlson evoked the idea of forced demographic change through immigration and other methods. Carlson is not alone: A Media Matters examination of Fox’s rhetoric throughout 2021 found that the network fulsomely embraced replacement theory, or, as it is more commonly known among extremists, “white genocide.” Such fears have become commonplace campaign talking points among Republican candidates: Ohio senatorial candidate J.D. Vance recently declared that Democrats are “bringing in a large number of new voters to replace those that are already here”; in Arizona, far-right state senator Wendy Rogers responded to an article about migrants with the ominous message, “We are being replaced and invaded.” Just hours after the mass shooting in Buffalo, Senate candidate Blake Masters posted a video appearance in which he declared that Democrats’ electoral strategy involves bringing in “millions” of immigrants to vote for them. Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene rode extremism into Congress, long after sharing a video that declared that an “unholy alliance of leftists, capitalists, and Zionist supremacists has schemed to promote immigration and miscegenation, with the deliberate aim of breeding us out of existence in our own homelands.” This clamor — from politicians and pundits, candidates and conspiracy theorists — has become the radioactive center of the right’s policy.
Once you understand an obsession with racial composition and white fertility to be the driving engine of Republican politics, a number of seemingly disparate movements begin to fit together into an ugly whole. Some aspects are obvious: The anti-immigrant movement that has seen U.S. refugee admissions at historic lows and asylum seekers marooned in purgatorial camps in Mexico continues to dominate the right-wing airwaves. Historic levels of gerrymandering are ensuring that a diversifying populace remains beholden to the views of a white minority — alongside openly antidemocratic restrictions on voting and changes in election administration.
Other aspects are more veiled, but no less vitriolic. Years of fearmongering about transgender rights, and in particular their influence on youth, are linked to fears of waning fertility: anti-trans demagogues like Abigail Shrier describe trans bodies as “maimed and sterile,” and, as such, a chief motivation for the legion of anti-trans laws passed by state legislatures is the future fertility of trans children born female. The violent antifeminism of a far-right movement that sees women principally as vessels for breeding a new white generation expresses itself in a fixation on a return to “traditional” gender roles. And the culmination of generations of right-wing activism, which will secure the “domestic supply of infants,” as Justice Samuel Alito memorably put it, is poised to arrive in the form of the dissolution of Roe v. Wade. Payton Gendron, and those like him, are listening: like Brenton Tarrant, the mass shooter at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, Gendron opened his manifesto with a screed on the supposedly apocalyptic consequences of “sub-replacement fertility rates” among white women.
In his manifesto, Gendron claims to have acted alone, while in the same breath admitting, “I’ve had many influences from others.” The 180 pages of the document reveal the breadth of those influences: it is largely pastiche, with page upon page of racist and antisemitic memes compiled in repulsive collages; collections of scientific studies of I.Q. differentials between racist groups; screenshots and links to news articles that confirm his prejudices; and segments of other manifestos, including Tarrant’s, bloat a thin line of racist scrawl. He may have, as he claims, become radicalized by over-enthused browsing of the Internet’s sewers, principally 4chan. But his fixations mirror those of the right wing more broadly, from violent transphobia to a loathing of immigration to a preoccupation with the possibility of civil war.
When the rhetoric of an entire movement devolves into Manichaean demonization of their political foes; when demographic shifts are represented as apocalyptic; and when a party can appeal to nothing but the consolidation of white power, it is an inevitability that such rhetoric will leave bodies in its wake. The Republican Party caters chiefly now to those who claim that to be born the wrong color is an act of genocide, and act with appropriate fervor. There has never been a lone wolf when it comes to racist terror in the United States; it suffuses every aspect of our politics and policy, and in latter years the mass howl of fear at change comes from a jaw that drips with blood. As long as we fail to recognize the wellspring of racial animus that animates the right wing in this country, the corpses will continue to accrue.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., on Monday accused House GOP leadership of enabling white supremacy and antisemitism, which she suggested has inspired people to act upon those threats, leading to dangerous consequences.
"The House GOP leadership has enabled white nationalism, white supremacy, and anti-semitism. History has taught us that what begins with words ends in far worse. @GOP leaders must renounce and reject these views and those who hold them," Cheney said in a tweet.
Support for abortion rights has reached a record high, and nearly two-thirds of Americans oppose the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, according to a new national NBC News poll conducted after the leak of a draft opinion that would strike down the constitutional right to abortion.
What’s more, the survey finds abortion climbing up the list of issues that Americans believe are the most important, and that Democratic interest in the upcoming midterms has increased since earlier this year.
But the poll also found that this Supreme Court draft opinion hasn’t substantially altered the overall political environment heading into November’s elections — with inflation and the economy remaining the public’s top issues, President Joe Biden’s job rating falling below 40 percent and a whopping 75 percent of Americans saying the country is headed in the wrong direction.
It’s the fourth straight NBC News poll with the wrong-track number higher than 70 percent, and the fifth time in the poll’s 34-year history when the wrong-track number hit 75 percent or higher.
The other times were in 2008 (during the Great Recession) and 2013 (during a government shutdown).
“It is a flashing red light when you see a number like this,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Jeff Horwitt of Hart Research Associates.
“Americans are telling us this is as bad as 2008,” McInturff added.
Yet given these numbers, Democrats are still tied with Republicans in the poll’s question of which party should control Congress.
“It is remarkable that preference for control of Congress is even overall, and that the gap in interest in the election has narrowed,” said Horwitt, the Democratic pollster.
Maybe more significantly, Democratic interest in the midterms has increased — from 50 percent of Democrats in March who indicated a high level of interest (either a “9” or “10” on a 10-point scale) to 61 percent now.
That’s compared to Republicans, who were at 67 percent high interest two months ago, versus 69 percent now.
“How [abortion] plays out in November is to be determined. but for now, it is injecting some much-needed enthusiasm into parts of the Democratic coalition,” said Horwitt, the Democratic pollster.
Sunday, May 15, 2022
Texas's third-world power grid can't keep up with demand as summer heat approaches, and instead of dying from freezing cold and no electricity to run water pumps, you can now die in sweltering heat with no cooling.
The operator of Texas' power grid asked residents to conserve electricity Friday after six power plants went offline amid soaring temperatures.
Brad Jones, CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said in a statement that the company had lost roughly 2,900 megawatts of electricity — or enough to power nearly 600,000 homes, the Texas Tribune reported.
Jones referenced the unseasonably hot weather, saying it was driving the demand for power across the state. Temperatures approaching 100 degrees were forecast from Austin to Dallas over the weekend and into next week.
Jones did not say why the plants went offline, and a spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment Friday evening.
The executive asked customers to set their thermostats to 78 degrees and avoid using large appliances in the afternoon and early evening.
The non-profit energy organization, which manages power for 90 percent of Texas' electrical grid, faced blistering criticism last year after blackouts left millions without power for days during subfreezing temperatures.
The main Texas grid is an island, not connected to the country’s two major power grids. That is by design, the result of state leaders’ actions decades ago to avoid federal regulation and encourage free-market competition. Multiple state agencies, as well as a nonprofit organization, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, govern the grid’s operations, writing rules based on laws passed by state legislators.
The legislators responded to February’s disaster by passing measures to improve the power system’s preparedness for winter. They established weatherization mandates but left it to state regulators to implement them.
Oklahoma’s six-week abortion ban, Senate Bill 1503, is only the second in the nation to go into effect. Texas, the first, has had its ban in place since 1 September. The impact of Oklahoma’s ban could be seismic in Texas and Oklahoma – last fall, Oklahoma emerged as the state that Texans seeking abortions were most likely to travel to for care. Some drove hundreds of miles, spending thousands of dollars to make the journey. Already, clinicians in Oklahoma are trying to devise strategies to help their patients get to clinics in neighboring Kansas. But there are limits to what they can do.
And even access at six weeks is not expected to last long. Last week’s draft leak has chilled abortion providers across the country, confirming what many had anticipated for months. Unless something dramatic shifts, the court will probably overturn Roe in a matter of weeks. When that happens, states will have the power to ban abortion entirely. And in both Oklahoma and Texas, that will happen. They are among the 13 states that have passed what are known as trigger laws – legislation crafted to ban abortion almost right away once Roe is struck down.
For many, the draft decision put a post-Roe reality into sharp clarity. But for clinicians in Oklahoma, like in Texas, the moment is already here. And few people are paying attention.
“There’s kind of this view of these states as disposable – that there aren’t valuable people that live here,” said Kailey Voellinger, who runs the Trust Women clinic in Oklahoma City. “It feels like we’re afterthoughts.”
Since the new six-week ban took effect, neither President Joe Biden nor his press office has put out a statement about Oklahoma’s new law, despite publicly condemning similar bans passed in Texas and Idaho, and criticizing other Oklahoma bans that have not yet taken effect. (Idaho’s six-week ban has been blocked by its state supreme court.) The Department of Justice – which sprang into action when Texas’s six-week ban took effect – has been similarly quiet.
And in the meantime, patients keep calling the state’s four clinics for appointments.
Trust Women and Tulsa Women’s Clinic are still providing the service. Those who are providing care are only seeing patients up to six weeks of pregnancy, but patients well beyond that are still calling to seek abortions. Many learn about the new six-week ban only on that initial phone call.
“There’s a lot of shock and disbelief from patients, reacting like, ‘What do you mean I’ve got to go out of state?’ ‘That’s crazy, I can’t afford to take off work, I can’t leave my kids that long, how am I supposed to do that?’” Gallegos said.
Patients are angry, Voellinger said. “I’ve had two staff people tell me they got off the phone with a patient who was like, ‘Well, what am I supposed to do? Kill myself?’
“People are exasperated and don’t know what to do,” she added.
In the clinics, the shift has been stark. Right up until the six-week ban took effect, appointments had been booked solid, the waiting rooms full of Texans and Oklahomans. Abortion appointments were booked two to three weeks out.
That has changed since last week. But in the days after the six-week ban took effect, the Tulsa Women’s Clinic performed abortions for eight patients, and then 10 the next day. That represented about half the people who came in for abortions, Gallegos said. The rest thought they were within six weeks of pregnancy, but learned at the clinic they were too far along. On the third day after the ban, 20 patients – two-thirds of the people who had booked an appointment – were able to get the abortions they had sought.
There are no more Texans coming for care. And the tight timeline of six weeks, Gallegos added, means that the patients who are coming for abortions have barely had time to think about their decisions. They’re being forced to rush, often without the luxury of even an extra day.
“It’s awful to have to tell the patients, ‘You can ultimately do what you need to do, but if you don’t do this today you don’t have the option any more,’” she said.
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE country’s loss is nearly impossible to grasp.
More Americans have died of Covid-19 than in two decades of car crashes or on battlefields in all of the country’s wars combined.
Experts say deaths were all but inevitable from a new virus of such severity and transmissibility. Yet, one million dead is a stunning toll, even for a country the size of the United States, and the true number is almost certainly higher because of undercounting.
It is the result of many factors, including elected officials who played down the threat posed by the coronavirus and resisted safety measures; a decentralized, overburdened health care system that struggled with testing, tracing and treatment; and lower vaccination and booster rates than other rich countries, partly the result of widespread mistrust and resistance fanned by right-wing media and politicians.
The virus did not claim lives evenly, or randomly. The New York Times analyzed 25 months of data on deaths during the pandemic and found that some demographic groups, occupations and communities were far more vulnerable than others. A significant proportion of the nation’s oldest residents died, making up about three-quarters of the total deaths. And among younger adults across the nation, Black and Hispanic people died at much higher rates than white people.
Understanding the toll — who makes up the one million and how the country failed them — is essential as the pandemic continues. More than 300 people are still dying of Covid every day.
“We are a country with the best doctors in the world, we got a vaccine in an astoundingly short period of time, and yet we’ve had so many deaths,” said Mary T. Bassett, the health commissioner for New York State.
“It really should be a moment for us all to reflect on what sort of society we want to have,” she added.
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia said the supermarket shooting suspect was wearing tactical gear and livestreaming as he entered the store.
"At approximately 2:30 today, an individual who the mayor stated is not from this area and is from hours away, drove to Buffalo and went to ... the Tops market. He exited his vehicle, he was very heavily armed. He had tactical gear. He had a tactical helmet on. He had a camera that he was livestreaming what he was doing,"
The suspect is an 18-year-old White male, he said.
He shot four people in the parking lot, Gramaglia said, three of whom died.
The suspect went inside the store, where a security guard and former Buffalo police officer engaged him.
"Because he had heavily armored plating on, the bullet had no round. The suspect engaged our retired officer and he was shot and deceased at the scene. He continued to work his way through the store," Gramaglia said.
He made his way back to the front of the store, where patrol officers were able to talk him into dropping his gun after he "put the gun to his own neck."
Police arrested the suspect and transported him to Buffalo Police Headquarters.
Stephen Belongia, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Buffalo Field Office, said the FBI is assisting in the investigation as well during a news conference.
Erie County Sheriff John Garcia called the shooting "pure evil" during the news conference."It was straight-up, racially motivated hate crime from somebody outside of our community, outside of the city of good neighbors as the mayor said, coming into our community and trying to inflict that evil upon us," Garcia said.
Out of the 13 victims, 11 are Black while two are White, according to Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia.
Officials said the gunman broadcast the attack live on Twitch, the live-streaming site owned by Amazon that is popular with gamers. Twitch said it had taken the channel offline. The channel’s page said only that it was “currently unavailable due to a violation of Twitch’s community guidelines or terms of service.” In a statement, a Twitch spokeswoman said the site “has a zero-tolerance policy against violence of any kind and works swiftly to respond to all incidents. The user has been indefinitely suspended from our service, and we are taking all appropriate action, including monitoring for any accounts rebroadcasting this content.”
The Fox News host has repeatedly fear-mongered about Democrats allegedly bringing in dark-skinned immigrants with the express purpose of “replacing” the American (read: white) electorate. On Wednesday night, he declared that the Biden administration is intentionally trying “to change the racial mix of the country” through immigration.
“In political terms, this policy is called ‘the great replacement,’ the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from far-away countries,” Carlson exclaimed. “They brag about it all the time, but if you dare to say it's happening they will scream at you with maximum hysteria.”
The so-called “Great Replacement” theory is a white-supremacist belief in a conspiracy among liberals and wealthy elites to demographically and culturally replace the white population of majority-white countries with immigrants of non-European descent. In recent years, the theory has served as the inspiration for racist mass killings in El Paso, Pittsburgh and Christchurch, New Zealand.
Yet, despite its overtly racist and antisemitic roots, the conspiracy theory—thanks in large part to Carlson’s embrace of it—has become more acceptable and normalized within the Republican Party, with numerous GOP lawmakers and officials openly citing it.
On Thursday, in response to Carlson’s latest segment, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt renewed his calls for Fox News to dump its biggest star.
“It cannot be overstated enough,” Greenblatt said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “For Tucker Carlson, host of one of the most-watched news programs in the country, to use his platform as a megaphone to spread the toxic, antisemitic, and xenophobic ‘great replacement theory’ is a repugnant and dangerous abuse of his platform.”
Greenblatt added: “If it somehow wasn’t clear enough before to the executives at Fox News that Carlson was openly embracing white nationalist talking points, let last night’s episode be case and point. We reiterate our call to Fox News and Lachlan Murdoch: Tucker Carlson must go.”
That was April 2021 and again in September.
Last December, the Associated Press and NORC conducted a large national poll examining conspiratorial ideas including this one. They found that nearly half of Republicans agree to at least some extent with the idea that there’s a deliberate intent to “replace” native-born Americans with immigrants.
The AP-NORC poll included several other questions related to the idea. They asked whether respondents were concerned about native-born Americans losing economic, political and cultural influence as the number of immigrants increased and whether they were concerned that the system under which elections are conducted discriminates against White Americans.
About 3 in 10 Americans overall agreed with the idea that intentional replacement was occurring or that native-born Americans were losing influence. About 1 in 5 agreed that the election system discriminated against Whites. In each case, though, Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express agreement or concern.
The pollsters also asked respondents what cable news channel they preferred. As might be expected, those who preferred Fox News were more likely than Americans overall or than those who preferred CNN or MSNBC to agree with the replacement theory idea. Three in 10 of those who prefer Fox News held the agree/concerned positions on the first two questions above. Among those who watched cable news closer to the right-wing fringe — One America News and Newsmax — the figure was 45 percent.
A shadow docket move late Wednesday means the 5th Circuit has sided with the Texas GOP allowing the state's anti-social media moderation law to take full effect while the law is being reviewed by the courts, meaning Texas citizens can now sue social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for any comment, content, or blocking moderation to the tune of billions.
A federal appeals court will let Texas enforce its new social media law — which targets Twitter, Facebook and other large platforms that Republicans accuse of censoring conservatives — even though the court has yet to rule on the law's constitutionality.
The one-sentence order by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, issued Wednesday evening, came with no explanation and was split 2-1, though the order did not indicate how the panel's three judges voted.
The law known as House Bill 20, approved largely along party lines by the Legislature last year, was blocked from taking effect in December by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin.
Siding with two tech industry groups that challenged the law, Pitman said HB 20 was an unconstitutional violation of social media companies' free speech rights — interfering with the platforms' editorial discretion and their First Amendment right to moderate the third-party content they disseminate.
"HB 20 prohibits virtually all content moderation, the very tool that social media platforms employ to make their platforms safe, useful, and enjoyable for users," Pitman wrote.
Wednesday's order came only two days after the appeals court heard oral arguments in which Texas lawyers defended HB 20 as a legitimate effort to ban platforms from censoring certain viewpoints.
Texas argues that the large platforms are "common carrier" public forums, subjecting them to state regulation to ensure free and unobstructed access without fear of viewpoint discrimination.
Ken Paxton, the state's Republican attorney general, called the ruling a "big win against Big Tech."
"Texas's HB 20 is back in effect," Paxton wrote on Twitter. "The 5th Circuit made the right call here, and I look forward to continuing to defend the constitutionality of HB 20."
The Texas law lets users sue if they are blocked from posting on a large platform or if their posts are removed.
Tech industry groups argued that HB 20 would open social media platforms to countless lawsuits, upending their ability to enforce content moderation policies and protect users from abusive posts, scams or falsehoods.
Carl Szabo, vice president and general counsel of NetChoice, which challenged the Texas law, said the industry group plans to immediately appeal the order, which he called "an unusual and unfortunate move" because it was issued without explanation or addressing the law's merits.
The countless lawsuits and inability to protect users from abuse, disinformation, and harassment is the entire point, and as of right now, expect any efforts to moderate the worst, most racist, most misogynist, most antisemitic content on social media to end immediately.
And if this is upheld by SCOTUS, and there's no reason to think otherwise, expect the end of social media as we know it.
Trump's Truth Social and white supremacist hotbeds like Gab and Parler will be the only games in town very soon.
Friday, May 13, 2022
A former elections supervisor in rural Coffee County, Ga., has told The Washington Post that she opened her offices to a businessman active in the election-denier movement to help investigate results she did not trust in the weeks after President Donald Trump’s 2020 defeat.
Trump had carried the conservative county by 40 points, but elections supervisor Misty Hampton said she remained suspicious of Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. Hampton made a video that went viral soon after the election, claiming to show that Dominion Voting System machines, the ones used in her county, could be manipulated. She said in interviews that she hoped the Georgia businessman who visited later, Scott Hall, and others who accompanied him could help identify vulnerabilities and prove “that this election was not done true and correct.”
Hampton said she could not remember when the visit occurred or what Hall and the others did when they were there. She said they did not enter a room that housed the county’s touch-screen voting machines, but she said she did not know whether they entered the room housing the election management system server, the central computer used to tally election results.
“I’m not a babysitter,” she told The Post.
Hall, who owns a bail bond business, did not respond to requests for comment.
Voting experts said that, whether they accessed sensitive areas or not, Hampton’s actions underscore a growing risk to election security.
In the year and a half since the 2020 election, there has been steady drumbeat of revelations about alleged security breaches in local elections offices — and a growing concern among experts that officials who are sympathetic to claims of vote-rigging might be persuaded to undermine election security in the name of protecting it.
“Insider threat, while always part of the threat matrix, is now a reality in elections,” said Matt Masterson, who previously served as a senior U.S. cybersecurity official tracking 2020 election integrity for the Department of Homeland Security.
Suspected or attempted breaches have spurred law enforcement investigations in Colorado, Michigan and Ohio. One such case has already led to criminal charges. Tina Peters, an elections official in Mesa County, Colo., was indicted in March on charges stemming from her alleged efforts to secretly copy a Dominion Voting Systems server last year.
Details continue to emerge from other places where outsiders may have sought access to voting machines. In Michigan, state police are investigating an alleged breach of voting equipment after the 2020 election in Roscommon County. A local NBC television affiliate in western Michigan reported last week that police had raided a township office in a different county as part of that investigation.
Meanwhile, some prominent election deniers have sought help from officials with access to protected voting systems, and others — including Peters in Colorado — are running to oversee elections as secretaries of state.
Voting systems are considered by the federal government to be “critical infrastructure,” vital to national security, and access to their software and other components is tightly regulated. In several instances since 2020, machines have been taken out of service after their chain of custody was interrupted.
Hampton told The Post she was unaware of guidance the Georgia secretary of state’s office had sent to county election administrators saying that voting equipment and software must not be released to the public absent a court order. And she questioned why access should be so restricted.
“I don’t see why anything that is dealing with elections is not open to the public,” Hampton said. “Why would you want to hide anything?"
Yes, because Republicans certainly would never use election data to defraud the public.
The same people screeching about "internet-connected voting machines" are the same people "opening their offices to random businessmen" and giving them direct voter data so it can be "used to investigate fraud".
You know, committing election fraud so they can investigate election fraud.
They won't stop this year or especially in 2024.
The House January 6th Committee is finally, finally, issuing subpoenas for sitting Republican lawmakers who were January 6th co-conspirators and terrorists.
The committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob has subpoenaed five Republican members of Congress, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), after they refused to cooperate with the panel’s inquiry.
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the select committee, said Thursday that the panel has subpoenaed McCarthy and Reps. Mo Brooks (Ala.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Scott Perry (Pa.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio).
The move marks a significant escalation in the committee’s efforts to obtain information related to lawmakers’ communications with then-President Donald Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows before, during and after the attack.
In a statement, Thompson said the committee “has learned that several of our colleagues have information relevant to our investigation into the attack on January 6th and the events leading up to it.”
“Before we hold our hearings next month, we wished to provide members the opportunity to discuss these matters with the committee voluntarily,” Thompson said. “Regrettably, the individuals receiving subpoenas today have refused and we’re forced to take this step to help ensure the committee uncovers facts concerning January 6th. We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done.”
Until Thursday, the committee had been reluctant to subpoena GOP lawmakers because of a variety of issues, including time constraints — a complex and lengthy legal fight could last beyond the November midterm elections — along with fears of retribution in the likely case that Republicans win back the House majority.
All five of the Republican lawmakers subpoenaed Thursday have declined to voluntarily provide information to the committee.
Federal prosecutors have begun a grand jury investigation into whether classified White House documents that ended up at former President Donald J. Trump’s Florida home were mishandled, according to two people briefed on the matter.
The intensifying inquiry suggests that the Justice Department is examining the role of Mr. Trump and other officials in his White House in their handling of sensitive materials during the final stages of his administration.
In recent days, the Justice Department has taken a series of steps showing that its investigation has progressed beyond the preliminary stages. Prosecutors issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration to obtain the boxes of classified documents, according to the two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
The authorities have also made interview requests to people who worked in the White House in the final days of Mr. Trump’s presidency, according to one of the people.
The investigation is focused on the discovery by the National Archives in January that at the end of Mr. Trump’s term he had taken to his home at the Mar-a-Lago resort 15 boxes from the White House that contained government documents, mementos, gifts and letters.
After the boxes were returned to the National Archives, its archivists found documents containing “items marked as classified national security information,” the agency told Congress in February. In April, it was reported that federal authorities were in the preliminary stages of investigating the handling of the classified documents.
The subpoena that was sent to the National Archives in recent days for the classified documents is one of a series of requests that the Justice Department has made to the agency for records from the Trump administration in recent months, according to the two people.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment. The public affairs office at the National Archives did not return an email message seeking comment. A spokesman for Mr. Trump, Taylor Budowich, said: “President Trump consistently handled all documents in accordance with applicable law and regulations. Belated attempts to second-guess that clear fact are politically motivated and misguided.”
Thursday, May 12, 2022
Republicans, in their never-ending quest to kill poor Black people before they become Medicaid "burdens", are now refusing to pay for any more vaccine doses until the Biden Administration comes up with a plan to "take responsibility and wind down" COVID-fighting efforts heading into the 2022 midterms.
Congressional Republicans' concerns about wasting COVID vaccines are colliding with the Biden administration's commitment to making the shots as widely accessible as possible, adding another wrinkle to the stalled COVID funding negotiations.
The intrigue: Some Republicans are growing skeptical of the currently available vaccines' ability to contain the Omicron variant, and don't want to allocate money for more doses without a firmer plan in place for the fall.
The big picture: Democrats stripped more than $15 billion of funding for more COVID countermeasures from a spending bill in March due to internal divisions over how the package would be paid for.Democrats and Republicans have been at loggerheads since then, and the administration has warned that the country won't have critical tools for managing the virus this fall without new funding. But two senior GOP Senate aides say that Republicans are also raising broader questions about the administration's vaccine strategy.
State of play: COVID vaccines are packaged and distributed in multi-dose vials. Once a vial of Pfizer or Moderna's mRNA vaccine is opened, it must be used the same day, because the vaccines don't contain preservatives.In practice, that forces a choice between throwing out unused doses and limiting the number of places offering vaccines at any given time to concentrate demand.
Yes, but: Republicans say the current strategy is wasteful, and it would be better to rein in accessibility so that more doses are likely to be used.Although the administration is working with vaccine makers on updated vial sizes, including single-use vials, these aren't expected to be ready until late this year or early next year, according to a senior Biden administration official.
"If someone arrives at a rural or urban site and they're the only one who shows up that day, they can get a vaccine," the official said. "From a public health policy, we want to ensure that everyone has easy access, no matter where they live."
By the numbers: As of now, 79% of available vaccine doses distributed in the U.S. have been administered to patients, according to Department of Health and Human Services officials.That figure is an average over the last year and a half, but there have been fluctuations. The administration didn't specify how many doses are currently going unused or how the rate has changed over time.
"Vaccine utilization was very high in the early months of the vaccination campaign and has decreased in recent months; however, our commitment to providing vaccine, and now boosters, to anyone who wants one remains unchanged," the HHS officials wrote in an email.
The other thing: It's no secret that Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines don't work as well against the Omicron variant, although they remain highly effective preventing hospitalizations and deaths. Pfizer and Moderna are testing updated vaccines that are target Omicron as well as the original COVID-19 strain.Some Republicans want to prioritize buying therapeutics, given the vaccines' reduced effectiveness and the evolution of the virus.
"Republicans are skeptical of using federal money to buy more vaccines that are proving not to last very long and questions remain if they will work against future variants," one senior GOP Senate aide told Axios. "We're not saying don't get vaccinated. We're saying that the current shot and boosters are reducing in effectiveness. New vax isn't ready and it's unclear where they are in the plan," the aide added. "Since there is no plan, we don't want to give them blank check."
The other side: The administration says it has a plan, and the problem is lawmakers haven't authorized the money to implement it.
Wearing a bright smile, Kathy Barnette shook hands and introduced herself around the patio of a Montgomery County country club: “I’m Kathy, and I’m running for United States Senate,” she said.
But many already knew that. ”People are hearing my story,” she told one voter Monday. “The momentum has been amazing.”
Few would disagree.
Running on a shoestring budget and with a personal story that begins on an Alabama pig farm, Barnette has rocketed to the forefront of Pennsylvania’s crucial Republican Senate primary, according to both public and private polling. She’s picked up late momentum as she challenges her big-spending rivals Mehmet Oz and David McCormick.
Her rise in the final days before Tuesday’s primary has stunned operatives in both parties, upending a Senate race that could decide control of the chamber.
“Everyone knows Oz is running for this race. Everyone knows McCormick is running in this race, and they’re holding their nose,” Barnette said in an interview Monday. “When they break, the undecideds, they’re gonna break in my direction. There’s nothing [Oz and McCormick] can possibly say to these people... that they haven’t already said, because they’ve spent such an insane amount of money.”
» READ MORE: From last year: She lost big in the Philly suburbs. She went hunting for voter fraud. Now Kathy Barnette is a rising GOP star.
Rival campaigns, along with news outlets, were scrambling this week to vet Barnette and her backstory. Top Senate operatives in both parties are so unfamiliar with her that they were at a loss about whether she’d make a strong general election candidate.
Questions are starting to simmer about some of Barnette’s links to fringe elements on the right, her false claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, and some of her past incendiary comments — including a 2017 tweet about banning Islam and a 2010 opinion piece claiming that the “homosexual AGENDA” was seeking “domination.”
But with less than a week to go, it was also unclear if any of that would sink in with voters.
“She’s a gigantic question mark,” said one Washington Republican closely following the race.
And she’s gaining steam.
Wednesday brought her a major endorsement from the political arm of the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, which also announced a $2 million TV ad buy to boost her. A day earlier, the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List backed Barnette, and a Fox News survey showed her effectively tied with Oz and McCormick, with all three polling within the margin of error of one another.
Barnette, of Montgomery County, argues that undecided Republicans are looking for a more authentic alternative after hearing so much from Oz and McCormick on TV. Despite spending tens of millions of dollars on the race, the two men who have sucked up most of the attention have failed, so far, to win over a decisive share of the electorate.
“What [supporters] find in me is a sense of authenticity,” Barnette told The Inquirer. “They see me as one of them. And if our leadership is listening, then they would pay attention to that.”
McCormick and two super PACs funded by his wealthy allies have poured more than $35 million into the contest, while Oz and his supporters have spent more than $18 million. Each man put in at least $11 million of his own money.
Barnette’s campaign had spent less than $2 million as of April 27, according to the latest financial filings.
But Oz and McCormick often skipped smaller public forums and relied on big-name support (including former President Donald Trump for Oz and Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, for McCormick), Barnette has kept a relentless campaign schedule, crisscrossing the state with a sharp-edged message and pugilistic debate performances. She would be the first Black person and the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania.
“I knew I would not be able to compete dollar for dollar with these people, but I believe I have a better message,” Barnette said. “And all I’ve done is just walk outside of my home to deliver that message.”
In the race for the GOP Senate nomination in Pennsylvania, another extremist zealot -- also an election truther -- might be poised for an upset win, and again, party regulars are panicking.Influential Republicans in Washington and among the nationwide party elite are having a belated "oh s--t" moment over the previously unimaginable prospect that Kathy Barnette could win their party's nomination for the open Senate seat in Pennsylvania....
Trump ally Steve Bannon described Barnette as an "audience favorite" for his "War Room" podcast....
He's praised her for having never stopped talking about decertifying the 2020 Biden election and for refusing to concede her own loss in a 2020 House race.
(Barnette refused to concede even though she lost that race by 19 points.)Barnette's also close to the pillow entrepreneur and "Stop the Steal" leader Mike Lindell. And she's effectively running on a ticket with the leading Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Doug Mastriano.She's surged in the polls from mid-single digits as recently as April to around 20% now.
She's only 2 points behind front-runner Mehmet Oz in the latest Fox poll.
Barnette has a social media history that could cause her problems in a general election.
She has also written that "the homosexual movement" seeks "domination" over the culture.So if she wins the nomination, maybe she'll have a harder time winning the votes of center-right upscale suburbanites than Oz or David McCormick would.
So what happens if one or both of these passionate election truthers loses by a few points in November? What happens if election truthers lose in other purple states -- Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin? An NBC story about Mastriano focuses on his possible role in the 2024 election if he's elected ("Should Mastriano win in the fall, he would have broad authority in overseeing elections by appointing a secretary of state") -- but what happens this year if he isn't elected, or if Barnette is the nominee and she isn't? Do you think the right will quietly accept any losses outside deep-blue states?
All the states I've named have Republican-dominated legislatures. I think there'll be demands for legislative intervention in any purple state where Democrats manage a statewide victory. There could be deomnstrations and violence. We could be looking at January 6-style insurrections all over the country, if the expected GOP wave doesn't happen.
When the media talks about threats to democracy, it focuses only on presidential elections. But democracy happens in the states, too. And that's where it might break down this year.
Attorney John Eastman urged Republican legislators in Pennsylvania to retabulate the state’s popular vote — and throw out tens of thousands of absentee ballots — in order to show Donald Trump with a lead, according to newly unearthed emails sent in December 2020, as Trump pressured GOP lawmakers to subvert his defeat.
This recalculation, he posited in an exchange with one GOP state lawmaker, “would help provide some cover” for Republicans to replace Joe Biden’s electors from the state with a slate of pro-Trump electors, part of a last-ditch bid to overturn the election results.
Per the exchange, Eastman suggested that GOP legislators could simply cite their concerns with Pennsylvania’s absentee ballot procedures and then use historical data to “discount each candidates’ totals by a prorated amount based on the absentee percentage those candidates otherwise received.”
“Having done that math, you’d be left with a significant Trump lead that would bolster the argument for the Legislature adopting a slate of Trump electors — perfectly within your authority to do anyway, but now bolstered by the untainted popular vote,” Eastman wrote in a Dec. 4, 2020 email to Pennsylvania Rep. Russ Diamond. “That would help provide some cover.”
Biden ultimately won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
The exchange was part of a batch of emails obtained from the University of Colorado, where Eastman worked as a visiting professor at the time he was helping Trump strategize ways to remain in power. The emails were obtained via public records requests by the Colorado Ethics Institute, which sent them along to the Jan. 6 select committee last month. It’s unclear whether the select committee had previously obtained these emails — which are available via public records requests — or whether they are in receipt of the Colorado group’s files.
The Denver Post first reported on the existence of the emails.
The Jan. 6 select committee is fighting a legal battle with Eastman in federal court in California to obtain hundreds of emails Eastman sent and received via his other previous employer, Chapman University. The panel has already won several rounds in this case, obtaining key emails Eastman sent from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7, 2021, but the panel is still fighting to receive thousands of pages sent in the run-up to Jan. 6.
The select committee and Eastman’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
The economist Lisa Cook was confirmed Tuesday as the first Black woman on the Federal Reserve Board in a historic moment for the central bank as it tries to stabilize a recovery that serves all Americans.
Cook was confirmed by a 51-to-50 vote in the Senate, with Vice President Harris casting the tiebreaking vote. No Republicans voted for Cook, and Democrats, who hold a razor-thin majority, had delayed moving forward on her nomination until they could assemble all 50 of their members to back her.
Cook is among the country’s preeminent economists and teaches at Michigan State University. Her research has focused on macroeconomics, economic history, international finance and innovation, particularly on how hate-related violence has harmed U.S. economic growth. Her work has analyzed how patent records show that the riots, lynchings and Jim Crow laws that targeted African American communities in the late 1800s and early 1900s hurt Black people’s ability to pursue inventions and discoveries at the time.
“If there is something that impedes the rate of arrival of ideas, you’re going to slow down the economy,” Cook said on the “Planet Money” podcast in 2020. “It’s not just for that period. And it’s not just for Black people. This is a cautionary tale for all economies.”
Cook also worked on the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration and has held visiting appointments at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the University of Michigan and the Federal Reserve Banks of New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and Philadelphia.
President Biden has sought to assemble the most diverse Fed board in the agency’s 108-year history. And Fed experts say the package of nominees the White House recently named goes a long way toward fulfilling Biden’s promise to make the Fed more reflective of the country it serves.
A group of Republican senators is calling for the country's television ratings system to warn parents about "sexual orientation and gender identity content" on children's TV shows.
In a two-page letter dated May 4, Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Roger Marshall, R-Kan., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Steve Daines, R-Mont., made the request to the chairman of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board.
The TV Parental Guidelines is a television and film content rating system that Congress, the broadcast industry and the Federal Communications Commission created in 1996 “to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV program.” The rating icons — including TV-G, TV-PG and TV-MA — are typically displayed at the top of a screen as a program begins.
“In recent years, concerning topics of a sexual nature have become aggressively politicized and promoted in children’s programming, including irreversible and harmful experimental treatments for mental disorders like gender dysphoria,” the letter reads. "To this end, we strongly urge you to update the TV Parental Guidelines and ensure they are up-to-date on best practices that help inform parents on this disturbing content."
The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board confirmed to NBC News that it had received the senators' letter, but it declined to comment further.
The senators' request comes amid a nationwide discussion over how and when children should learn about LGBTQ issues or identities, as well as an uptick in charged rhetoric surrounding the lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Because we can't for a second have anyone under 18 see any positive image of a gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, aromatic, asexual, queer, non-binary or any non heterosexual person at all.
Republicans are going to take power and regulate all non-white non-Christian, and non-straight people out of existence, especially in media. They've been playing the long game on this all my life, and they are absolutely winning.
Unless we stop them.
I'm thinking about it in connection with something else I'm reading that wouldn't seem to be related at all -- the 2010 memoir by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. He was a junkie for years, and he makes the point that he began using heroin at a time when the Stones were hugely successful and hobnobbing with swells. He writes:
And the reason I'm here is probably that we only ever took, as much as possible, the real suff, the top-quality stuff. Cocaine I only got into because it was pure pharmaceutical -- boom. When I was introduced to dope, it was all pure, pure, pure. You didn't have to worry about what's it cut with and go through all that street shit.
This was also a time when Britain registered heroin addicts and provided them the drugs. Richards says junkies claimed they needed twice as much as they were actually using, then sold the rest. Users like Richards bought it -- but it was unadulterated.
For abortion, I'm imagining a future when the medical procedure will be very difficult to obtain -- pursuing doctors who perform abortions will be a moral crusade, conducted with more righteous zeal than it was in the immediate pre-Roe era. And the same will be true for anyone who provides abortion drugs. And I think eventually abortion will be banned nationwide, by a Republican Party with full control in D.C.
Most recreational drugs are illegal in America, yet we get them. How? Thanks to organized crime. Organized crime is also how gay bars managed to stay in business before the gay liberation movement -- the Stonewall Inn was a Mob bar.
I'm imagining a future in which obtaining abortion drugs will be like buying cocaine or meth -- you'll be able to make the purchase because shady characters make it possible. If you have the money and the right connection, you'll get the pure abortion pills imported from Europe or Canada; if not, well, good luck. Probably you'll get something that's not (or not very) adulterated, but it'll come with no guarantees. It'll be "street shit."
Doctors who perform abortions might need organized crime protections, too. When a group of pre-Roe feminists known as the Janes began providing abortions in Chicago in the late 1960s, "it was rumored that many Chicago abortion services paid for Mob protection," according to Chicago magazine. One history of the group says that "Mike, the man who taught the first Jane volunteers how to perform abortions, had learned from a Mafia doctor." All this could be our future.
Tuesday, May 10, 2022
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis is saving kids from imaginary indoctrination in schools by government edict with actual school indoctrination edicts handed down by Florida Republicans.
Public school teachers in Florida will soon be required to dedicate at least 45 minutes of instruction on “Victims of Communism Day” to teach students about communist leaders around the world and how people suffered under those regimes.
Speaking at Miami’s Freedom Tower before a crowd of local lawmakers and supporters, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 395, which designates Nov. 7 as the state’s official “Victims of Communism Day,” making Florida one of a handful of states to adopt the designation.
It is, however, the first state to mandate school instruction on that day, as Florida Republicans continue to seize on education policy while placing school curriculum at the forefront of their political priorities ahead of the 2022 midterms. The bill, which DeSantis signed along with two street designations in honor of Cuban exiles, would require the instruction to begin in the 2023-2024 school year.
It would require teaching of Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and Fidel Castro, as well as “poverty, starvation, migration, systemic lethal violence, and suppression of speech” endured under those regimes.
“That body count of Mao is something that everybody needs to understand because it is a direct result of this communist ideology,” DeSantis said, noting that tens of millions of people died in China under his rule. “I know we don’t need legislation here to do this but I think it’s our responsibility to make sure people know about the atrocities committed by people like Fidel Castro and even more recently people like Nicolas Maduro.”
A new business lobby backed by Republican heavyweights is looking to build clout with GOP leaders amid high-profile splits between the party's policymakers and key segments of corporate America, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The American Free Enterprise Chamber of Commerce is positioning itself as an alternative to groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The new group's backers complain the Chamber has lurched left from its onetime post at the vanguard of a Republican-aligned political apparatus.The chairman of the AmFree chamber, as it's known internally, is Terry Branstad — the former Republican governor of Iowa and President Trump's ambassador to China.
Its CEO is Gentry Collins, a former political director of the Republican National Committee. The AmFree Chamber will provide an avenue for American businesses looking to influence Republicans, who appear poised to retake congressional majorities next year.
What's happening: The new chamber's formation comes as corporate America grapples with increasing pressure to engage on issues such as voting rights, racial justice and abortion — and the potential political fallout from doing so."I hope to make the case to our policymakers at all levels that we must move away from the trend towards socialism and back to a pro-business, pro-growth posture," Branstad told business leaders during a conference call last Thursday, which Axios also attended.
In a memo pitching the group to potential members, a copy of which was obtained by Axios, the AmFree Chamber offers "tools for American businesses to maintain access to the marketplace in the face of 'woke capital' and 'cancel-culture' threats," among other benefits.
The big picture: A high-profile split last year between the U.S. Chamber and congressional Republicans — including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the potential next Speaker — provides a lane for a group that can effectively wield influence among GOP leaders, say sources close to the project."The void that is filled is [the AmFree Chamber] isn’t dead to Hill Republicans who will likely control the floor of both House and Senate" next year, one Republican lobbyist told Axios.
A senior House leadership aide told Axios the U.S. Chamber has "become more interested in electing so-called pro-business Democrats who vote for their party’s decidedly anti-business, woke agenda. It’s no surprise Governor Branstad and others have recognized this and are stepping in to fill this void," the aide said.
What they're saying: "[W]e warmly welcome anyone who joins our agenda, advocating for businesses and their workers. We need the pro-business voices to be heard loud and clear," a U.S. Chamber spokesperson told Axios.The group "has worked with our network of state and local chambers across the country to secure important legislation, benefiting businesses of all sizes and our country as a whole," the spokesperson said, citing its work on trade, inflation, infrastructure and "the threat of government overreach." "To find viable solutions, we need to collaborate and work with all stakeholders."
Between the lines: Multiple sources close to the new Branstad group used the term "woke" to describe the U.S. Chamber, a social-justice buzzword that's been relegated largely to the domain of conservative critics.One source pointed to the group's engagement on ESG, or environmental, social and corporate governance business practices, and positions on tech sector regulation at odds with Republican critics of the industry.
Another brought up its preservation of scaffolding on its Lafayette Square headquarters covered by graffiti and artwork during 2020's Black Lives Matter protests. While candidates still regularly tout the endorsements from the chamber and its state affiliates, it's become a political epithet in some high-profile Republican primary contests.