Wisconsin's Top Election Denier Urges 'Revolution'

Wisconsin's Top Election Denier Urges 'Revolution'

Last week, former Wisconsin state Supreme Court Judge Michael Gableman repeated conspiracy theories and unproven allegations about the 2020 presidential election during a speech at a Republican fundraiser.

He also brought up the specter of "revolution."

Gableman's remarks came during an Outagamie County Republican Party Constitution Day dinner in Appleton, Wisconsin. The keynote speaker was Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November.

"It's a beautiful world, but it's that very comfort that is keeping us from what our founders knew to be the only way to keep an honest government, which is revolution," Gableman said during his speech last Friday. "Thomas Jefferson said that the Tree of Liberty must be watered by the blood of patriots every generation. I don't think that's going to happen, and our president has gone out of his way to say, 'Don't even think about a revolution, we've got F14s, and you've got...' Who talks like that?"

The speech was recorded by Lauren Windsor, who created the anti-Republican sting operation The Undercurrent.

Gableman, who served on the court from 2008 to 2018, was the subject of an investigation involving a possible breach of ethics in a campaign ad against one of his colleagues. The court deadlocked on disciplinary action before the case was ultimately dismissed.

Last year, Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired Gableman to conduct an investigation into alleged fraud in the 2020 election, following intense criticism by former President Donald Trump over what he baselessly claimed were irregularities in Wisconsin's electoral system. A partial recount and a review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, among other initiatives, found no widespread election fraud.

Gableman's recommendations included a section on providing a "method" for pre- and post-certification challenges to presidential elections. In this section he suggested that the legislature "might also consider formalizing the ability of candidates to assemble alternative slates of electors, to ratify an already lawful process."

Multiple state Republican state parties formed alternative slates of electors in 2020 in a bid to prevent President Joe Biden's win from being certified.

During his speech, Gableman repeated the outlines of his report, which largely involved what he characterized as a plot by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to put state election officials on his payroll and have them mobilize Black voters.

"In 2019," Gableman told the audience, "Mark Zuckerberg decided that he did not want Donald Trump to be president anymore and that he was going to use whatever part of his vast fortune was necessary to see to it that Trump was not reelected."

He went on to describe how Zuckerberg spent millions to win Wisconsin for Biden and claimed that he had followed a playbook designed by David Plouffe, a longtime advisor to former President Barack Obama.

Gableman was referring to an $8.8 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which is funded in part by Zuckerberg. The grant was distributed to five of Wisconsin's largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Green Bay — to assist with electoral logistics. This was especially needed during the 2020 election because of restrictions around voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vos fired Gableman in August, ending an investigation that had lasted more than a year and cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 million.

"We're going to continue to be paying for these lies both financially and morally. It is far past time that his lies and misinformation have been put to an end," Democratic state Sen. Melissa Agard told WisPolitics.

Michels himself has taken a page from Gableman's playbook by casting doubt on the 2020 election results.

"Certainly, there was a lot of bad stuff that happened," Michels told conservative radio host Joe Giganti in June. "There was certainly illegal ballots. How many? I don't know if Justice Gableman knows. I don't know if anybody knows."

Michels' campaign website features a "blueprint to restore election integrity," which echoes many of Gableman’s claims and recommendations, including the repealing of all of the Wisconsin Election Commission's guidelines and "freezing the issuance of new guidelines."

"We need to make it easier to vote, harder to cheat," the site says.

Michels has said he would also ban ballot drop boxes, and would require counties to provide judges on short notice to resolve disputes or emergencies at polling places on Election Day.

Ballot drop boxes were relatively uncontroversial before the pandemic. But during the 2020 election, they were used in greater numbers as more people were afraid to vote in person. Republicans have baselessly claimed that the boxes lead to fraudulent votes.

"We're gonna get those bills right, those bills Tony Evers vetoed, and we're going to get election integrity here in the state of Wisconsin. We're gonna stop the Zuckerbucks, stop the ballot harvesting," Michels said at last week's campaign event.

Referring to his service in the U.S. military, he noted that the oath he took to protect the country extended to protecting American democracy.

"We will have election integrity in Wisconsin," he told the audience. "We will lead the way for the United States of America to make sure the cheating stops!"

Michels has been accused of flip-flopping, especially when it comes to supporting Trump's election fraud lies. During a debate in July, he said that he would not make decertifying the 2020 election a priority, the New York Times reported, only to later say that he would consider any legislation supplied by the state legislature.

"Michels and Gableman have staked out the most radical positions on the 2020 election in order to pander to Donald Trump and his MAGA base," Hannah Menchhoff, rapid response director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, told the American Independent Foundation.

"We can safely say that Tim Michels and Michael Gableman are two peas in a pod when it comes to promoting election conspiracy theories and attempting to illegally overturn free and fair election results. Tim Michels wants to disenfranchise voters and take away their fundamental rights, proving once again that he is too radical for Wisconsin."

Neither Michels nor Gableman returned requests for comment on this story.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Michigan GOP Attorney General Nominee Probed In Voting Machine Scheme

Michigan GOP Attorney General Nominee Probed In Voting Machine Scheme

Michigan Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel announced in a press release on Aug. 8 that her department had petitioned the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council, a state agency that provides legal research to the state's prosecuting attorneys and coordinates their activities, to assign a special prosecutor to an ongoing investigation into efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Nessel's petition, based on evidence obtained during an investigation by the office of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, says that the Michigan Department of Attorney General and the Michigan State Police are investigating "a conspiracy to unlawfully obtain access to voting machines used in the 2020 elections." Named in the petition are a Republican candidate for Michigan attorney general, Kalamazoo lawyer Matt DePerno, and eight other people.

Chief Deputy Attorney General Christina Grossi said in a letter to Benson dated Aug. 5:

Ultimately, our investigation uncovered that, after the 2020 election, a group of individuals gained unauthorized access and compromised tabulators from the following clerk’s offices: the Roscommon County Clerk, the Richfield Township Clerk, the Lake City Township Clerk, and the Irving Township Clerk. All unauthorized access occurred between the dates of March 11, 2021, and late June of 2021. All impacted tabulators have been seized as evidence as part of our investigation and decommissioned from use in any future elections.

Nessel's petition states, "The Michigan State Police and the special agents with the MDAG have completed a preliminary review and it is now time for a prosecutorial review for charges that include but are not limited to Conspiracy ...; Using a Computer System to Commit a Crime ...; Willfully Damaging a Voting Machine ...; Malicious Destruction of Property ...; Fraudulent Access to a Computer or Computer System ...; and False Pretenses."

Through analysis of images included in a lawsuit filed in 2021 by DePerno and attorney Stephanie Lambert aiming to overturn the results of the election in Antrim County, Reuters connected DePerno's group, the "Michigan Antrim County Election Lawsuit and Investigation Team," with unauthorized access to vote tabulation equipment in Richfield County..

The lawsuit was subsequently dismissed, and the state Senate Oversight Committee called it "frivolous."

Former President Donald Trump and his supporters continue to claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him, despite investigations in Michigan and across the country turning up no evidence of fraud.

Also named in Nessel's petition is Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf, who has a history of associating with extremist militias and belongs to the far-right Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, whose members falsely insist that county sheriffs have absolute law enforcement authority in their jurisdictions, even above state and federal authorities, including governors and the president of the United States. In a special report on Leaf published in July, Reuters noted that in May the association had encouraged its members to investigate so-called fraud in the 2020 election.

Leaf did open an investigation and tried unsuccessfully to seize voting machines in an effort guided by Lambert, who was a member of a team of Trump lawyers spearheaded by Sidney Powell that filed a lawsuit in federal court in Michigan in a failed attempt to overturn the state's election results. Reuters reported that its investigation shows "People spearheading Trump's rigged-election claims in Michigan were deeply involved with Sheriff Leaf early on, making Barry County a pillar of their efforts to overturn the presidential vote in a fiercely contested state that Biden won by 154,000 votes of 5.5 million cast."

DePerno, who has been endorsed in his run for attorney general by Trump, defended his actions during an appearance August 8 on the podcast "Michigan's Big Show," telling host Michael Patrick Shiels:

[Nessel's] allegations are total garbage. This is coming strategically. She's trying to damage me right now, clearly. We have county conventions coming up Thursday, we have the state convention at the end of August. She knows right now that she's losing. The most recent assessment shows DePerno with a +1 advantage in this race, so she comes out with this nonsense, claiming that somehow I did something illegal, and that she's going to conduct an investigation. And that's a terrible thing for a sitting attorney general to do against a political opponent. She's weaponizing her office again, just like she did in the Flint water case.

DePerno's troubles did not begin with his attempts to overturn a free and fair election, however. He has also been dogged by allegations offinancial impropriety. He was fired by his former law firm on the basis of accusations of "fraud, deceit and dishonesty with regards to bogus billing, duplicate billing and write offs, in addition to other wrongful acts."

More recently, former Michigan House Speaker Tom Leonard, who is also running for the Republican nomination for attorney general, raised questions about $400,000 donated to an "Election Fraud Defense Fund" that DePerno managed, claiming that the money was donated directly to DePerno and hasn't been accounted for.

While DePerno is running for to be the top prosecutor in the state, he has no experience as a prosecutor.

DePerno's office did not return requests for comment for this article.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Environmental Groups, Bipartisan EPA Leaders Hail Biden’s Climate Bill

Environmental Groups, Bipartisan EPA Leaders Hail Biden’s Climate Bill

Environmental groups are hailing the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) as a desperately needed step to address catastrophic climate change. On Friday, three former Environmental Protection Agency administrators who served under Republican and Democratic presidents put out a joint statement in support of the bill.

The bill would cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030, according to environmental advocacy groups. That figure comes close to the Biden administration's goal of cutting greenhouse gases 50 percent by 2030.

The act would "be a huge step forward in the fight to preserve a livable planet and is one we need to take while we have the chance," according to the environmental law organization Earthjustice.

"We urge the Senate to move swiftly to pass the climate measures in the Inflation Reduction Act — and for the House to follow soon after — so we can keep building toward a more sustainable future," Kris Kuzdas of the Water for Arizona Coalition said in a press release on Wednesday.

The $739 billion legislation is the result of an unexpected agreement between Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV). On Thursday, the last Democratic holdout, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), said she would support the bill, allowing it to move forward with the votes of every Senate Democrat and no Senate Republicans.

The bill contains key climate provisions. These include multiple investments geared towards decarbonization. In the electric sector, the bill includes some $30 billion in the form of grants and loans for states and utilities to invest in renewables and clean energy.

The bill would also provide tax credits through 2033 for residential solar and geothermal heat pumps, solar investment, wind production, and offshore wind farms.

In transportation, the bill provides up to $4,000 in consumer tax credits for low- and middle-income individuals to purchase used electric vehicles and up to $7,500 for new electric vehicles.

The bill allocates $4.5 billion in rebates for home electrification for low- and middle-income households and allocates a further $4 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for affordable housing.

Further provisions address cleaning up legacy pollution, some $30 billion in environmental and climate justice block grants to disadvantaged communities, a $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, and resources for public lands and waters.

This winter, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its most dire warning to the planet:

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks.

This summer may be the hottest in United States history, according to one metric. The Southwest is struggling with the worst "megadrought" in 1,200 years. Texas is on track for the hottest summer it has ever recorded, threatening to break the 2011 record with more than 90 days above 100 degrees. Last week, dozens of people in St. Louis and Eastern Kentucky were killed as the region saw not one but two 1-in-1,000-year floods.

Arizona is already experiencing dramatically higher temperatures and more humidity. Phoenix was ranked by one study as the second fastest-warming city in the U.S. By 2050, the likelihood of severe summer droughts is expected to triple, and electricity bills will likely increase significantly as residents struggle to stay cool.

Some environmental groups say the Inflation Reduction Act doesn't go far enough to fight the devastating effects of climate change, citing the bill's provisions for new oil and gas leases.

"The deal is indeed a compromise," Earthjustice says in its press release, "that includes objectionable handouts to the fossil fuel industry."

However, on balance, the group says that the bill "would lower barriers to solar access, create good paying jobs, invest in underserved and overburdened communities, and put the country closer to achieving our climate targets."

Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon chapter of the Sierra Club, said the bill is flawed but still necessary.

"We need the tools in this bill to better ensure resiliency in frontline communities, to help clean up our air, and to provide jobs with these clean energy investments," Bahr told the American Independent Foundation. "This is not a perfect bill. There are some significant negative aspects including the harmful oil and gas leasing provisions. On balance, we think it is important that the good in this bill move forward."

The bill, while appearing to have total support from the Senate Democrats, still faces hurdles in the budget reconciliation process — a strategy for avoiding the filibuster. Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) said Republicans planned to vote on amendments that would make the bill less appealing to Democrats.

"This bill shouldn't pass and become law," Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) said. "It's going to cause a lot of pain for the American people."

More than 1,000 amendments were filed the last time the Senate passed legislation like this through reconciliation, according to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

Schumer has said that the Senate will likely start voting on the bill on Saturday, with a House vote expected next week.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Michigan Republicans Nominate Far-Right Extremists For Top State Posts

Michigan Republicans Nominate Far-Right Extremists For Top State Posts

Several far-right Michigan Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump won their statewide primary elections on Tuesday, including Tudor Dixon for governor, Kristina Karamo for secretary of state, and Matthew DePerno for state attorney general.

The top three races for statewide office this November will be between three Democratic incumbents and Trump-endorsed challengers who have furthered conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and who broadly oppose abortion rights.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will face off against Dixon, a businesswoman and conservative pundit who clinched the hotly contested GOP nomination for governor after securing Trump's endorsement. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will run against DePerno, a Kalamazoo lawyer who has tried to overturn Michigan's 2020 presidential election results. And Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will run against Karamo, a former community college instructor who is a follower of the far-right QAnon conspiracy theory.

The three Republican nominees have all promoted the lie that the 2020 election was rigged against Trump, and they all share extreme anti-abortion views that are outside the mainstream for many Michigan voters.

Whitmer, Nessel, and Benson, meanwhile, represent an anti-Trump triumvirate in the state and have starkly opposed his party's policies on abortion, voting rights, and COVID-19 safety measures, among other issues.

Benson's mailing of absentee ballots, which is completely legal, caused outrage among the far right, incentivized several candidates to run for office, and even generated a plot to kidnap Whitmer.

Dixon's father, Vaughn Makary, purchased a steel foundry and ran it as Michigan Steel. Dixon worked for her father's company in customer service and sales and later founded Lumen News to provide "Pro-America, pro-Constitution morning news programs to grade school students." From there, Dixon went on to work as a host for the conservative television outlet America's Voice News.

Dixon beat four contenders in a chaotic primary race. One of Dixon's opponents, realtor Ryan D. Kelley, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation over his involvement in the U.S. Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, another early frontrunner in the race, was forced to drop off the ballot after the Michigan Bureau of Elections found his campaign had collected fraudulent petition signatures. Trump endorsed Dixon just days before the primary election.

In her victory speech on Tuesday night, Dixon painted Whitmer as a callous autocrat who she said shuttered businesses, issued mask mandates, and prevented children from attending schools.

"This is personal for me, and I know it's personal for you too," she added.

Many of the GOP candidates on the ballot this week had little daylight between them. In the governor's race, all candidates supported the state's 1931 abortion ban, which is the focus of ongoing legal battles since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.

Dixon said she supports the 1931 state law, which bans abortions in all cases except for the life of the mother. She once claimed with no evidence that Planned Parenthood provides sex education to elementary and middle schools as a "business model," suggesting that their programs lead to teens getting pregnant later in high school.

Dixon has been endorsed by anti-abortion groups including Michigan Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List. The latter group's president has called abortion bans that include exceptions for rape "abominable."

The Republican candidates largely oppose protecting Michigan's natural environment from the fossil fuel industry. Dixon supports the opening of Line 5, a controversial oil and gas pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac, a cherished and vulnerable part of Michigan's natural environment. Environmental groups have warned that the continued operation of the 60-year-old pipeline could lead to a disastrous oil spill in Lake Michigan.

All of the Republican candidates in the race have promised to drastically cut taxes. Auto executive Kevin Rinke proposed abolishing Michigan's personal state income tax immediately, while Dixon suggested eliminating it in phases, so as to reduce the impact on the economy. Dixon has also promised to reduce regulations by "40%" without specifying which regulations would be cut and how.

Michael Greiner, assistant professor of management at Oakland University, said that while it's easy to promise tax cuts, those cuts will eventually come out of the budget somewhere. Dixon has so far failed to specify what parts of the state budget she would cut to make up for the tax cuts.

"The bottom line," Greiner told the American Independent Foundation, "is that Dixon appears to be making a bunch of promises she likely won't be able to keep."

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback proposed a similar policy of tax cuts, claiming that cutting taxes would lead to increased economic activity. That experiment failed, and the state's economy did not grow enough to substitute for the reduction in revenue.

"Her proposals are woefully short on detail," Greiner said of Dixon. "The Republicans have long been claiming that tax cuts will be made up for with higher economic activity. But we saw in Kansas how flawed that logic is."

In the state attorney general's race, Nessel will fend off a right-wing challenger in DePerno, who has worked to reverse the results of the 2020 presidential election in Michigan. On April 22, a state court threw out DePerno's case attempting to investigate alleged improprieties in the Antrim County voting precinct. The county featured prominently in Trump's attempt to overturn the 2020 election, owing to a mistake made by a Republican election official. The mistake was remedied, and Trump won the county as expected.

DePerno also opposes abortion rights with no exceptions, even when the life of the mother is at risk.

In the secretary of state race, Benson is challenged by Karamo, a political novice who has trafficked in right-wing conspiracy theories. A one-time community college instructor, Karamo, who identifies as a "Christian apologist," was a poll watcher during the 2020 presidential election, during which she claimed to have witnessed "irregularities." Karamo has ties to the QAnon conspiracy theory movement, and attended a convention of QAnon adherents in Las Vegas last year.

Karamo gave a press conference on Monday in which she baselessly called Benson "the most lawless secretary of state in Michigan's history." Benson, meanwhile, has reminded Michigan voters that the 2020 election was the largest and most secure in the state's history, and pledged to protect voting rights in this year's midterm elections.

In a press conference on Monday, Benson said that since the 2020 election, Trump and his allies have waged war on free and fair elections with "misinformation, lies, legislative strategy, meritless lawsuits, and threats to and harassment of election officials and their families."

Trump-endorsed candidates won further down-ballot as well on Tuesday. John Gibbs, a former Trump administration appointee and prominent election denier, beat freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI) in the state's 3rd Congressional District, and former Army veteran John James beat Tony Marcinkewciz in the newly drawn 10th District.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Neo-Nazis Promote DeSantis Outside Far-Right Youth Conference

Neo-Nazis Promote DeSantis Outside Far-Right Youth Conference

Republican luminaries such as Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ted Cruz took to the stage in Tampa to spew slurs and insults for an appreciative audience.

Republican Party luminaries gathered in Tampa July 22-24 for Turning Point USA's "Student Action Summit." The headliners at the conference of the right-wing organization, which says on its website that its "mission is to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote freedom," were Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former President Donald Trump, both of whom are widely expected to announce a run for president in 2024.

Over the course of the conference, speakers ranging from Fox News' Laura Ingraham to Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) repeated favored GOP talking points on issues such as the 2020 presidential election, which they continue to insist was stolen from Trump; public health mandates they consider tyrannical; and LGBTQ rights.

While speakers were addressing the attendees inside the Tampa Convention Center on July 24, neo-Nazis gathered: Several dozen protestors carrying signs showing swastikas and insignias of Adolf Hitler's elite SS armed paramilitary enforcers yelled at bystanders through megaphones. A video posted to Twitter on July 24 appears to show them saying through a megaphone, "Vote Ron DeSantis this year. Ninety-six percent of the media is owned by six Jewish corporations. You know it. ... It's a conspiracy. Just like the Holocaust."

The pro-DeSantis protesters held banners that read "DeSantis Country" as well as pictures of the Florida governor and anti-Semitic caricatures.

One of them told counter-protesters, "We kicked all your n** ass in Rhodesia. The Rhodesian Bush War — it was a race war in Africa between whites and Blacks. You guys got your ass kicked." The 50-year conflict between white settlers and Black insurgents in the territory that gained independence as Zimbabwe in 1980 has become a point of reference and an inspiration to many white supremacists.

The Florida Holocaust Museum issued a statement on Monday condemning the protest:

Openly and proudly displaying genocidal symbols is a direct threat to the Jewish community. Carrying the Nazi flag, or that of the SS, the organization responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the Holocaust, is an indefensible act of pure hatred.

This isn't about politics or religion. It's about humanity. The Florida Holocaust Museum calls upon everyone, Jew and non-Jew, regardless of political affiliation, to condemn this blatant antisemitism in the strongest possible terms. This should matter to everyone. When antisemitic incidents occur that leverage chilling Nazi symbols, we are reminded of the importance of The Florida Holocaust Museum's mission to preserve the memory of the Holocaust while educating future generations to prevent antisemitism and hatred of all kinds. We will not be deterred.

While the neo-Nazis marched outside, many of the most prominent members of the Republican Party addressed the audience inside.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) used her speech to ridicule concern about the spread of monkeypox, rates of which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says are higher in Georgia than in all but four other states. She also made fun of support for Ukraine and vaccinations against COVID-19 before going on to suggest that President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi should be impeached for security breaches during the Trump-inspired insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. (Biden was not yet president when the rioting occurred.)

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) ridiculed women protesting for reproductive rights, saying, "Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions? Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb." He also said, "Our America is not for the thugs and the criminals who would burn our cities and murder our citizens in the name of some bullshit social justice," later sharing video of the speech on Facebook with the comment, "When the Republicans are in the majority, and I have subpoena power, I will personally investigate #BLM like I'm a George Soros-funded prosecutor going after the Trump Organization."

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told the appreciative crowd: "It really is bat-crap crazy. Like, the left, you are no longer allowed to say — here's a radical statement, OK? Trigger warning: Women exist. But what the hell is wrong with you idiots? This is not — it, it, it's — they've gone to Crazy Town." Cruz said that a woman could be defined as "a homo sapien with two X chromosomes. This stuff ain't complicated."

Donald Trump, Jr. asked the crowd with regard to right-wing conspiracy theories, "All the things we've been talking about — has there been one that we were wrong about?" and also mocked concern about monkeypox, saying, "The monkeypox pandemic, folks! Monkeypox — it's very scary." Encouraging the crowd to boo the World Health Organization, which has issued warnings about the spread of the virus, Trump went on, "I don't know about you, but if — and I won't even say it here, because no matter what I say I will be criticized, but if you look at how you can get it ... I mean, I dunno, seems like it would be rather easily avoidable unless you're Hunter Biden."

Two Democratic candidates for governor of Florida, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, condemned the protesters outside the convention center.

Fried, standing where the protesters had been the day before, said on July 24: "I am asking for every elected official — I don't care if you're Republican, I don't care if you're Democrat, I don't care if you are independent: This is a time to say, No, we are not going to stand for hate and antisemitism and racism. And so I am asking you, Ron DeSantis, to denounce the Nazis that were here, here to celebrate your speech inside of this convention center. They were holding your pictures yesterday."

Charlie Crist tweeted that same day: "The reprehensible anti-Semitic hate and Neo-Nazi demonstrations from this weekend have no place in FL. We need a governor that'll forcefully condemn hate. DeSantis is coddling anti-Semitism because he views them as part of his base. It's just another reason he must be replaced."

A spokesperson for Turning Point USA condemned the protesters.

DeSantis has not mentioned the protest. His press secretary, Christina Pushaw, posted and then removed a tweet suggesting that the neo-Nazis were possibly DeSantis political opponents.

A straw poll conducted by Fox News found that 78.7 percent of attendees at the Turning Point USA event would vote for Trump for president in the general election, with only 19 percent preferring DeSantis.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

As Florida Confronts Climate Disasters, DeSantis Still Denies Science

As Florida Confronts Climate Disasters, DeSantis Still Denies Science

'We're not seeing a whole lot of common sense in his policies. He tends to toss aside serious ideas about climate change as just left-wing politics,' said Sierra Club Florida political director Luigi Guadarrama.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has been energetically whittling away at civil rights in his state, pursuing anti-LGBTQ policies, pushing intolerance and censorship in schools, and restricting voting rights.

The Supreme Court's decision on June 30 in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency will factor into another ideological battle the governor is fighting. Representatives of environmental groups in Florida told the Tampa Bay Times that the ruling, which restricts the EPA's ability to limit emissions from power plants, will have specific impacts on Florida. Susan Glickman of Florida Clinicians for Climate Action said, "It will slow Florida's transition to getting to zero carbon emissions" but added that "some of the transition to clean energy which is already underway will continue under its own momentum."

DeSantis has signed legislation during his term in office allocating resources for restoring the everglades and for sea-level rise preparedness. However, he has not addressed the overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused by the burning of fossil fuels, facts that a majority of Republicans in Congress, for example, deny are true as well.

Luigi Guadarrama, the political director of the Sierra Club's Florida chapter, said in an interview with the American Independent Foundation that DeSantis' support for so-called resiliency programs "makes him seem as if he's got environmental policies. But climate change is something around which there is scientific consensus. We're not seeing a whole lot of common sense in his policies. He tends to toss aside serious ideas about climate change as just 'left-wing politics,' not expert opinions from scientists."

During a press conference in December 2021, DeSantis accused advocates for the environment of having ulterior political motives and claimed that there has been no increase in the number of storms due to climate change:

What I've found is, people, when they start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. And so, we're not doing any left-wing stuff. What we're doing though is just reacting to the fact that, OK, we're a flood-prone state, we do have storms. I don't know that, we really haven't had more storms in the last 10-15 years than we had in other portions of — you can pick different periods, we've had a lot. But the bottom line is, this is something that has a huge impact. As our state becomes more populated, of course there's more property that can be damaged, there's more human lives that would be at stake. ...

Be very careful of people trying to smuggle in their ideology. They say they support our coastline or they say they support, you know, some, you know, difference, our water, environment, and maybe they do, but they're also trying to do a lot of other things, and if you look at the price of gas now, just imagine if they had their way, gas would be six or seven bucks a gallon, and we need to make sure people are able to have affordable energy.

However, recent studies have provided evidence for an increase in the frequency and intensity of strong hurricanes, to which Florida is vulnerable, as a direct result of fossil fuel-driven climate change. Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University, told Reuters, "There has been more uncertainty about the trends in tropical cyclone numbers." Evidence shows, he said, that "these will continue to increase, as long as we continue to warm the planet through fossil fuel burning and carbon pollution."

The Yale Center for Environmental Communication's Yale Climate Connections website ran a climate explainer story in 2019 that concluded "threats from tropical systems, and in particular from the most intense cyclones, are increasing. This trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Although some of these anticipated impacts are already baked into our warmer climate, the most serious escalations can still be averted. The only remedy is a rapid decarbonization of our economy and a society that is better prepared for threats coming our way."

In April, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest conclusions on climate change, noting, "Net anthropogenic GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions have increased since 2010 across all major sectors globally. An increasing share of emissions can be attributed to urban areas. Emissions reductions in CO2 from fossil fuels and industrial processes (CO2-FFI), due to improvements in energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy, have been less than emissions increases from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings." U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned:

"We are on a fast track to climate disaster: Major cities under water. Unprecedented heatwaves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals. This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. ... Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic. This is a climate emergency. Climate scientists warn that we are already perilously close to tipping points that could lead to cascading and irreversible climate impacts."

These are issues that hit Florida hard. The state is low-lying, with what the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calculates as 8,436 miles of coastline vulnerable to sea level rise and an aging demographic especially at risk from hotter, more humid conditions. A serious threat is salt water intrusion, jeopardizing freshwater resources like the Biscayne aquifer, which provides drinking water to 4.5 million people in Dade County.

DeSantis' promotion of measures to confront sea-level rise, among other environmental challenges, is good Florida politics: Guadarrama said that most Floridians support, for example, bans on offshore natural gas drilling. Environmental spending was a key issue in DeSantis' 2018 campaign for governor.

In May of this year DeSantis signed into law S.B. 1954, establishing a Resilient Florida Grant Program within the state's Department of Environmental Protection to help local governments plan programs for dealing with sea rise and mandating a statewide assessment of vulnerability to sea level rise and the allocation of resources to vulnerable areas.

DeSantis in May also signed H.B. 7053, which shifts the Statewide Office of Resilience from the state environmental protection department to the direct control of the governor; however, the Legislature blocked amendments submitted by Democrats that would have required actions aimed at achieving carbon neutrality and reducing "the root causes ... of sea level rise and flooding."

Sierra Club Florida acting director Deborah Foote stated in March 2021: "Governor DeSantis continues to avoid the important issues of addressing climate change by ending our dependence on dirty fuels and transitioning Florida to 100% clean energy. There isn't enough money in all of Florida to raise our roads, elevate buildings or create higher seawalls to avoid the impact of sea level rise."

Nikki Fried, Florida's commissioner of agriculture and a Democratic candidate for governor, tweeted on June 30 that the Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency "is a dangerous setback. We're in a race against time to minimize and avoid the host of calamities that will ensue if we fail to act on climate change, and Florida is ground zero for climate change"

Fried's opponent in the primary, former Florida governor and current House member Charlie Crist, tweeted: "Floridians feel impacts of the #ClimateCrisis daily. Today's SCOTUS ruling throws Florida under the bus by curtailing @EPA's ability to regulate harmful emissions from power plants. This is unacceptable - we can't continue to stick our heads in the sand!"

The Sierra Club's Guadarrama says that the governor's race will be tight. But, he said, "Floridians know that climate change is not theoretical anymore. It is here and now. They are motivated by this, especially the younger voters."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Judge Issues Injunction Blocking Florida's 15-Week Abortion Ban

Judge Issues Injunction Blocking Florida's 15-Week Abortion Ban

Judge John Cooper of the Florida Second Circuit Court in Leon County on Thursday issued a temporary injunction blocking a Florida law, scheduled to take effect on July 1, that would ban abortions at 15 weeks' gestation. The injunction, which takes effect as soon as the judge signs it, was issued in response to a lawsuit filed against state officials by a coalition of reproductive rights groups to block the law.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 5, known as "Reducing Fetal and Infant Mortality," in April. Abortion is currently legal in Florida up to 24 weeks' gestation.

The Florida Constitution guarantees individuals the right to privacy, and the plaintiffs in the suit, which include two state Planned Parenthood affiliates and a number of women's health clinics, based their challenge to H.B. 5 on that constitutional guarantee, saying in their complaint, "The Act, on its face or, in the alternative, as applied, violates the right to privacy of women seeking and obtaining abortions in the state of Florida, as guaranteed by article I, section 23 of the Florida Constitution."

In announcing his decision, Cooper said: "Florida passed into its Constitution an explicit right of privacy that is not contained in the U.S. Constitution. The Florida Supreme Court has determined, in its words, 'Florida's privacy provision is clearly implicated in a woman's decision of whether or not to continue her pregnancy.'"

The decision is expected to be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court, whose seven justices were appointed by Republican governors, three by DeSantis.

Planned Parenthood noted in a statement posted on June 1: "HB 5 will force Floridians to remain pregnant against their will, violating their dignity and bodily autonomy, and endangering their families, their health, and even their lives. The impacts of pushing reproductive health care out of reach in the middle of a maternal mortality crisis will fall hardest on Black women, who are nearly three times more likely than white women to die during childbirth, or shortly after."

On June 24, DeSantis tweeted his support for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that day in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that struck down the constitutional right to abortion nationwide affirmed in Roe v. Wade: "By properly interpreting the Constitution, the Supreme Court has answered the prayers of millions upon millions of Americans. ... Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care and child welfare."

State Republican lawmakers have already introduced anti-abortion bills, and in the wake of the Dobbs ruling, such bills could find more success. The "Florida Heartbeat Act," introduced by state Rep. Webster Barnaby last year, would have required physicians to test for what it misleadingly and incorrectly calls a "fetal heartbeat" before performing abortions and would have relied on "private civil enforcement" to implement it, encouraging a type of vigilantism also found in Texas' S.B. 8, which bans abortion at six weeks' gestation.

As gynecologist and obstetrician Jennifer Kerns told NPR for a story republished in May, "What we're really detecting [on an ultrasound] is a grouping of cells that are initiating some electrical activity. In no way is this detecting a functional cardiovascular system or a functional heart."

The Guttmacher Institute, the reproductive rights research and policy organization, designates Florida as "restrictive" with regard to abortion access in its mapping of the states post-Roe, putting it in the third-most restrictive category out of seven.

The court heard oral arguments in the case on Monday and Thursday. The New York Times reported that one of the plaintiffs, Dr. Shelly Hsiao-Ying Tien of Jacksonville, said in her testimony, "Women and girls who need abortions after 15 weeks tend to have the most challenging and compelling life circumstances," including poverty, domestic violence, and medical complications.

Restrictions on abortion in Florida affect people outside the state as well. As Politico reported on June 24, women in Georgia and Alabama, where abortion policies are more restrictive, have for many years traveled to Florida to obtain the procedure. Last year, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, 4,873 women came to the state for abortion services.

Nikki Fried, Florida's commissioner of agriculture, is running in the crowded Democratic primary to replace DeSantis as governor in November. In an interview on Fox News on June 25, Fried blasted the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs: "This is something that every single member of our Legislature and every single governor across the country needs to know that the people did not want this. Over 67% of my own state did not want a change in Roe v. Wade. And so the governor or any other Legislature continues to erode this right to privacy and this over-intrusion of government, then they're going to be voted out in November."

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist held a press conference before the ruling on Thursday morning during which he vowed to aggressively pursue reproductive rights for Floridians: "I won't stop until we win the war and we have a pro-choice governor back in Tallahassee."

In a statement released by the Center for Reproductive Rights, Kelley Flynn, president and CEO of A Woman's Choice clinics, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said: "While Floridians may soon be able to breathe a sigh of relief, make no mistake, abortion access is in real peril in our state. Already, lawmakers have made it incredibly difficult for our patients to access the essential health care they need and for us to provide that care."

Immediately after Cooper announced his decision, Fried tweeted, "The 15-week abortion ban was just ruled unconstitutional in Florida. Because it is. We won't go back. We will keep fighting."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

DeSantis Campaign Accepts Funds From Donor Who Tweeted Racial Slur Against Obama

DeSantis Campaign Accepts Funds From Donor Who Tweeted Racial Slur Against Obama

Steven Alembik, a Republican donor from Boca Raton, Florida, donated $5,000 to Ron DeSantis' reelection campaign for governor last month, after DeSantis' previous campaign for the position, in 2018, had said it would not take any more money from him over his offensive racist comments.

Alembik had in previous years donated more than $20,000 to DeSantis, but had been disavowed by DeSantis' first gubernatorial campaign in 2018 after he tweeted a racist slur against former President Barack Obama, writing out, "F--K THE MUSLIM N----R." In response, DeSantis campaign spokesperson Stephen Lawson said in a statement, "We adamantly denounce this sort of disgusting rhetoric." Lawson said that the campaign would not accept any more money from Alembik.

Alembik at first denied that he'd posted the slur, but then switched his story and told Politico, "So somebody like Chris Rock can get up onstage and use the word and there's no problem? But some white guy says it and he's a racist? Really?... I grew up in New York in the ’50s. We were the kikes. They were the n------. They were the goyim. And those were the spics." He said, "I'm an emotional human being. Do I have a filter on what I say? In public, yes. Would I use that word in public? No. This is Twitter."

Alembik was neither the first nor the last person associated with DeSantis to exhibit racist behavior. DeSantis himself said on Aug. 29, 2018, about his Democratic opponent for governor, Andrew Gillum, who is African American, that he would "monkey ... up" the economy.

Subsequently, Florida residents received robocalls from a person claiming to be Gillum, the first Black nominee for Florida governor from a major party, and speaking in what the New York Times called "the exaggerated accent of a minstrel performer" with jungle sounds in the background. The calls ended with a message saying they were paid for by the Road to Power, which the Anti-Defamation League says is an Idaho-based white supremacist and anti-Semitic broadcaster.

In February 2018, Alembik hosted a gala event for a conservative group called the Truth About Israel at Donald Trump's Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago. The resort had recently lost 15 bookings for events following Trump's remarks about there being "people that were very fine people, on both sides" at the white nationalist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017. DeSantis spoke at the event at Mar-a-Lago, as did fellow Republican Rep. Brian Mast.

In 2017, DeSantis attended a "Restoration Weekend" gathering organized by David Horowitz, an anti-Muslim activist and founder of the Islamophobic magazine FrontPage and the so-called David Horowitz Freedom Center. Other attendees that year included right-wing figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Sebastian Gorka, Steve Bannon, Charlie Kirk, and Devin Nunes.

In April, DeSantis signed the Stop W.O.K.E Act to eradicate so-called critical race theory and "woke" ideology from Florida schools and workplaces. Critics see it as a measure to outlaw the discussion of racial inequality in general.

DeSantis' office did not respond to inquiries from the American Independent Foundation regarding the donation by Alembik.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Gov. Ron DeSantis

DeSantis Vows To Eliminate Gun Permits And Background Checks In Florida

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed on April 29 that the state would "one day" have a permitless weapons carry law. "I'm pretty sure we can get it signed into law," he said during a news conference in the town of Williston, near Gainesville.

According to the Florida Phoenix, DeSantis said, "The legislature will get it done. I can't tell you if it's going to be next week, six months, but I can tell you that before I am done as governor, we will have a signature on that bill."

Permitless carry laws allow individuals to carry loaded, concealed handguns without a permit, background check, or firearms training. The Center for American Progress says in an FAQ on its website:

These laws reflect a relatively recent trend in which states are removing or weakening permitting standards for concealed carry.

On April 12, 2022, Georgia became the 25th state to enact legislation eliminating permit requirements for concealed carry and the 21st state to do so in the past seven years. Similar bills are pending in at least five state legislatures.

This movement toward permitless carry represents a massive step back for public safety and responsible gun ownership.

Under current Florida law, gun owners must be licensed, and the process of obtaining a permit includes required written proof of competency with a firearm.

In a report published in September 2021, the Center for American Progress noted that in Wisconsin, which in 2011 enacted a law allowing the concealed carrying of weapons after a permit to do so has been obtained, "an analysis of publicly available data from local agencies, the FBI, and other national databases suggests that the CCW law has led to negative consequences for safety in the state.

Three categories of violent gun-related crime have increased since its implementation: gun homicides, aggravated assaults that involve a gun, and gun-related homicides and assaults against law enforcement officers." The report concludes that "the overwhelming evidence out of Wisconsin is an important case study for why CCW laws are detrimental to public safety and why continued action on gun violence prevention remains critical."

CAP also found that "when Arizona repealed its concealed carry requirement in 2010, there was an 11 percent increase in gun injuries and deaths and a 24 percent increase in the probability that an individual involved in a violent crime would be fatally shot."

DeSantis, who is running for reelection, is pursuing a far-right political agenda that includes a host of bills affecting civil rights, including voter suppression and LGBTQ+ issues. In an op-ed published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel in March, historian Ruth Ben-Ghiat referred to the state as a "laboratory for autocracy," echoing the title of author and politician David Pepper's book "Laboratories of Autocracy," in which he argues that anti-democratic measures that threaten the U.S. system of government originate more and more in statehouses, not in the Congress.

Under Florida law, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is responsible for issuing concealed carry licenses. Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried said in a statement on her website about DeSantis' vow to eliminate gun licenses:

This is absurd political pandering from the Governor of a state that has experienced some of the worst mass shootings in our country’s history and in a nation where we have the highest rates of gun violence in the world. It’s an insult the memories and families of every victim of gun violence. We should be passing laws to prevent gun violence and working to fix our state’s affordable housing crisis, not creating chaos to score political points.

Fried is one of six Democratic candidates hoping to win their party's nomination for governor in the November midterms. DeSantis faces challenger Joseph Mercadante in the Republican primary.

Fred Guttenberg voiced outrage at DeSantis' announcement over the weekend:

I have questions for @GovRonDeSantis from his announcement yesterday. With permitless open carry, how am I supposed to know who intends to kill. For example, how can I differentiate the intent of Ron DeSantis as opposed to a murderer like my daughter's killer? How will I know who intends to use the guns to kill verse those like you who only want to politicize that possibility? There is no way to know.

Guttenberg's daughter Jaime was shot to death on February 14, 2018, when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding a further 17, in the deadliest high school shooting in the United States to date.

Florida ranks second in the number of mass shootings in any state since 1982, behind only California.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Civil War Erupts In Michigan GOP Over Trump

Civil War Erupts In Michigan GOP Over Trump

Michigan's GOP primaries have become a test of who is most 'cravenly loyal' to Donald Trump, one conservative strategist said.

The Michigan Republican Party is seeing a purge of state GOP officials and members who are perceived as not sufficiently loyal to former President Donald Trump and his false claims that the 2020 presidential election was "rigged" against him. Trump lost Michigan to President Joe Biden by a margin of 154,000 votes.

As the Michigan GOP arranges itself ahead of the primaries this August, it is facing a stark identity crisis. Having undergone a bruising season of conventions, the party now appears to be splitting along the lines of a MAGA faction and a more traditional Republican faction. Similar fissures have been cracking wide open in Republican primary races across the country ahead of this fall's midterm elections.

Last November, Trump called for a wholesale replacement of the Michigan legislature, which he considered disloyal to him. That call to action has resulted in an explosion of Republican primary challengers in the Midwestern battleground state. In 2018, just 20 percent of Republican lawmakers in Michigan faced challenges from within their own party. This year that number has tripled, to 67 percent.

Two of Trump's most fervent backers in the Michigan Republican Party are Meshawn and Matt Maddock. Meshawn Maddock is a former stay-at-home mom who became the co-chair of the Michigan GOP after the 2020 election. Matt Maddock is a Republican state representative and a bail bondsman. Both attended the January 6, 2021, rally in Washington, D.C., that preceded the U.S. Capitol insurrection.

Meshawn Maddock, for her part, arranged transportation for Michigan Republicans to attend the "Stop the Steal" rally where Trump supporters called for Congress to overturn Biden's victory. The Maddocks also went to the state Capitol in Lansing, Michigan, to present a slate of false Republican electors who had signed fake affidavits in an attempt to reverse Michigan's election results.

The couple has been instrumental in advising Trump on which candidates to endorse in the state's Republican primary contests, most of whom are election deniers. Most prominent among these are Matt DePerno, a lawyer from Kalamazoo, and Kristina Karamo, a community college instructor. Neither DePerno nor Karamo has experience in public office, and both are fervent promoters of the "rigged election" conspiracy.

Earlier this week, Matt Maddock was ousted from the House Republican caucus — after which he claimed to have his "best fundraising day." House speaker Jason Wentworth has not yet given a reason, but others in the party claimed that he broke the caucus rules regarding circulating sensitive information. The Detroit Free Press reported that he leaked information on incumbents to would-be challengers in a violation of protocol.

GOP strategist Jaime Roe told the Detroit Free Press, "You can pick sides in primaries for open seats, you can compete for leadership posts, but you don't recruit opponents against caucus members."

The rift in the party is now reflected in its fundraising. As reported yesterday in the New York Times, major party donors have been redirecting their funds from the increasingly Trump-dominated party to individual candidates. Jeffrey Cappo, an auto dealership magnate, who has in the past donated generously to the party, did not appear on the donor rolls in 2021. "Our political state," he told the Times, "is more dysfunctional than it has ever been."

Tony Daunt, a longtime conservative strategist, quit the state party committee altogether, telling the Times that the primaries have become a test of who is most "cravenly loyal" to Trump, who he called a "deranged narcissist" and an "undisciplined loser."

Daunt has close ties to Dick and Betsy DeVos, who served as secretary of education under Trump. The DeVoses are longtime Michigan Republican donors through their Freedom Fund political action committee. Betsy DeVos resigned her post after the deadly riots on January 6, 2021, and the Times reported that some inside the DeVos network are "frustrated" with the direction the party is taking.

State Republican party finances have reportedly dwindled recently to the extent that Michigan GOP Chair Ron Weiser is bankrolling the party with his personal wealth.

Michigan Republicans are no longer hiding their frustration with the intra-party fighting.

"We need to work together to beat the Democrats, but grassroots loyalty to Trump has been ignored in the last two years," Eric Castiglia, of the Macomb County Republican Party, told the American Independent Foundation.

He added: "The battle's just started. The war is yet to come."

Printed with permission from AmericanIndependent.