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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com

 

Having failed to secure an endorsement from Trump, Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward of Arizona decided to go after a more attainable target, setting her sights on fired Trump adviser and Nazi sympathizer Sebastian Gorka.

Ward got the endorsement, which she proceeded to tout on social media, Fox News, and pretty much anywhere else she got the opportunity.

Interestingly, on the very same day that Gorka endorsed her, Ward paid him $5,240 for a “speaking fee.”

So what kind of speeches does Gorka deliver?

A look at his speaker bio shows that he advertises his availability to give paid speeches under the category “Endorsement/Spokesperson Campaign” — in other words, his endorsement is for sale.

 

Seb Gorka Speaker Bio
All American Speakers

While there’s no law prohibiting candidates from buying endorsements, one would think the public shame of doing so would be enough to stop anyone in their tracks.

But apparently, this is not a first for Gorka.

The Washington Examiner reported on April 9 that John McCann, a Republican candidate for New Jersey’s 5th District Congressional District, paid a familiar sum of money — $5,000 — to Gorka right around the same time that Gorka endorsed McCann and threw his weight behind his fundraising efforts.

Two months before that, the Washington Examiner reported on a similar payment made to Gorka by Nevada Republican Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian, who is running to unseat incumbent GOP Sen. Dean Heller. According to FEC filings, Tarkanian paid Gorka $5,000 for a one-time “speaking fee,” in December. Gorka endorsed Tarkanian on December 20, 2017 — one day after the date on the FEC filing.

As the Examiner noted, the payment is highly unusual, both in substance and in cost.

“A search of FEC records for ‘honorarium’ or ‘speaking’ left the Washington Examiner mostly empty-handed. In the last two election cycles, only three House candidates paid speaking fees (averaging less than $2,000) and not a single Senate candidate paid a speaking fee or honorarium according to this search,” the Examiner reported after looking for records of similar speaking fees paid by House and Senate candidates.

Gorka, the former Trump adviser and Breitbart columnist who’s been accused of having ties to a Hungarian Nazi group, is just the latest far-right figure to endorse Ward’s Senate campaign. Other notable far-right endorsements include outspoken racist Steve King of Iowa, as well as Sean Hannity, Steve Bannon, and a host of fringe conspiracy theorists.

But Ward didn’t have to fork over any money to win their endorsements — at least, as far as we know. Stay tuned.

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Eric Holder

The failure of major federal voting rights legislation in the Senate has left civil rights advocates saying they are determined to keep fighting—including by suing in battleground states. But the little bipartisan consensus that exists on election reform would, at best, lead to much narrower legislation that is unlikely to address state-level GOP efforts now targeting Democratic blocs.

“This is the loss of a battle, but it is not necessarily the loss of a war, and this war will go on,” Eric Holder, the former U.S. attorney general and Democrat, told MSNBC, saying that he and the Democratic Party will be suing in states where state constitutions protect voting rights. “This fight for voting rights and voter protection and for our democracy will continue.”

“The stakes are too important to give up now,” said Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has operated an Election Day hotline to help people vote. “Our country cannot claim to be free while allowing states to legislate away that freedom at will.”

In recent weeks, as it became clear that the Senate was not going to change its rules to allow the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to pass with a simple majority, there have been efforts by some lawmakers, election policy experts, and civil rights advocates to identify what election reforms could pass the Senate.

“There are several areas… where I think there could be bipartisan consensus,” said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, in a briefing on January 20. “These areas are all around those guardrails of democracy. They are all about ensuring that however the voters speak that their voice is heard… and cannot be subverted by anyone in the post-election process.”

Becker cited updating the 1887 Electoral Count Act, which addressed the process where state-based slates of presidential electors are accepted by Congress. (In recent weeks, new evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump’s supporters tried to present Congress with forged certificates as part of an effort to disrupt ratifying the results on January 6, 2021.) Updating that law could also include clarifying which state officials have final authority in elections and setting out clear timetables for challenging election results in federal court after Election Day.

Five centrist Washington-based think tanks issued a report on January 20, Prioritizing Achievable Federal Election Reform, which suggested federal legislation could codify practices now used by nearly three-quarters of the states. Those include requiring voters to present ID, offering at least a week of early voting, allowing all voters to request a mailed-out ballot, and allowing states to start processing returned absentee ballots a week before Election Day.

But the report, which heavily drew on a task force of 29 state and local election officials from 20 states convened by Washington’s Bipartisan Policy Center, was notable in what it did not include, such as restoring the major enforcement section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was removed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. It did not mention the Electoral Count Act nor growing threats to election officials from Trump supporters.

“This won’t satisfy all supporters of the Freedom to Vote Act, but this is a plausible & serious package of reforms to make elections more accessible and secure that could attract bipartisan support,” tweeted Charles Stewart III, a political scientist and director of the MIT Election Data and Science Lab. “A good starting point.”

The reason the centrist recommendations won’t satisfy civil rights advocates is that many of the most troubling developments since the 2020 election would likely remain.

Targeting Battleground States

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Former president Donald Trump

By Rami Ayyub and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) -The prosecutor for Georgia's biggest county on Thursday requested a special grand jury with subpoena power to aid her investigation into then-President Donald Trump's efforts to influence the U.S. state's 2020 election results.

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