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

Gun Industry Pours Blood Money Into Republican Warchests

Republicans in Congress received all but $12,000 of the almost $984,000 in campaign contributions that the gun industry has donated to federal candidates so far this year.

Sen. Paul Rand (R-KY), who is seeking his third term, received the most, $38,458, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit that tracks money in politics. He was followed by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) with $38,380 and Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) with $25,610.

Scalise has remained a gun-rights supporter even though he nearly bled to death in June 2017 when he was shot at a baseball practice.

“The ability of the industry to use money to advance its policy agenda has increased given the dramatic rise in firearm sales that we’ve seen over the past two or three years,” said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University.

The Republican party’s support for gun rights led New York Times opinion writer Michelle Cottle to call it the “American Carnage Party.”

The National Rifle Association, the biggest contributor in the gun industry, gave $217,596 to candidates and parties and more than $5 million to other spending groups.

House Democrats are trying to pass bills that would raise the age to buy semiautomatic rifles from 18 to 21 and bar large-capacity magazines. Republicans in the Senate are expected to try to block these bills.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who has opposed eliminating the filibuster that allows Republicans to block gun safety legislation, is the only Democratic senator getting money from the gun industry. He has received $5,000 so far.

Researcher Dan Auble said Manchin’s donations were from board members of the Boone & Crockett Club, a wildlife conservation group, and Open Secrets is reviewing the classification of the contributions.

In the House, the gun industry gave $5,000 to Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) and $1,000 each to Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR). Schrader, who was first elected in 2008, lost his recent primary to progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, an attorney and business owner.

The owners of Daniel Defense, which made the rifle used in the Uvalde killings, donated $26,100 to Republican federal candidates and a total of $20,700 to WinRed, the GOP fundraising platform, and the PAC for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Company owners Marvin and Cindy Daniel contributed to the campaigns of Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) and Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA), who owns a firearms business.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has accused the NRA of using a network of shell companies to illegally coordinate spending millions with the Trump campaign and at least six other federal candidates including Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)

The Federal Election Commission, which Trump stuffed with anti-regulation attorneys, has failed to investigate the allegations that the NRA has violated federal election laws—despite a court order to do so. In November, Giffords, a gun-safety organization, sued the NRA’s political victory fund and its lobbying arm and the campaigns of Hawley and Matt Rosendale, who lost a 2018 Senate campaign but was elected to the U.S. House in 2020.

“It is clear that the NRA will continue to violate the law until someone stops them,” said David Pucino, an attorney for Giffords.

Reprinted with permission from DC Report.

Florida Legislator Threatens Biden Over Gun Safety Speech

A Florida state representative appeared to threaten President Joe Biden on Twitter after the president’s remarks about the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children and two adults were killed.

“I have news for the embarrassment that claims to be our President – try to take our guns and you’ll learn why the Second Amendment was written in the first place,” Rep. Randy Fine, a Republican who likes to say he represents the “southern portion” of Brevard County. That’s east of Orlando on the Atlantic Coast.

Fine later tweeted that the reaction to his tweet “exposes the lie of the left that they just want ‘common sense gun control.’ They want one thing and one thing only — gun confiscation and an end to the 2A — and the notion that Americans will exercise their right to fight them makes them go crazy. Boo hoo.”

On Facebook Fine called Biden “Traitor Joe.”

Fine’s threatening and fact-free tweets came after Biden called for action so America has fewer school shootings like the one in Uvalde.

“When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby?” Biden asked in remarks laced with religious references. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?”

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act which would have set up offices focused on domestic terrorism at the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance called Fine’s comments “the language of fascism, not democracy.”


Fine defended his comments as reasonable, even necessary.

“If the president of the United States wants to politicize a tragedy, he should expect people to get upset,” Fine said.

In a scrum with reporters, Fine called Biden’s remarks “incendiary” because the president spoke in support of gun control.

An FBI spokesperson declined to comment on Fine’s tweets. The Secret Service didn’t return an email from DCReport.

Federal law makes it a crime to in any way threaten to harm, kidnap, or kill the president. Typically public officials who make threats like Fine’s are ignored or get a visit from the Secret Service.

Fine has described a fantasy history of the Second Amendment, one popularized by pseudo-historians, white supremacists, religious fanatics, and gun manufacturers whose most profitable products are military-style assault weapons like the AR-15. Fine is all in on so-called "Constitutional carry," which would let anyone carry a gun openly with no training, no license, no firearms registration.

Fine articulated the gun industry’s Big Lie when he spoke with Florida reporters about his threatening tweets. “People need to understand the history of the Second Amendment,” Fine said. “The Second Amendment was created to protect people from an overarching government. That’s what it was created for. And when the government says we’re going to come after you and we’re going to treat you the way the Chinese treat their citizens, we’re going to take away your ability to protect yourself from an overarching government, people are going to be upset.”

As the Second Amendment states on its face it was enacted to make sure that each state could have a “well-regulated militia.” All Constitutional rights have limits, as our Supreme Court has held in many cases.

There have been 214 mass shootings so far this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Education Week, which tracks school shootings, said there have been 27 American school shootings with injuries or deaths this year. The United States this year has suffered more than one school shooting per week. Most countries have had zero school shootings this year.

Fine is a former gambling industry executive. He has an MBA and an undergraduate degree from Harvard University so he’s not lacking in education, just common sense and decency.

Fine’s threats and lies about the Second Amendment come as NRA-funded Republicans blocked the confirmation of David Chipman, Biden’s nominee to run our nation’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. Biden’s second choice for the job, former federal prosecutor Steven Dettelbach, also may not be confirmed because of Republicans toeing the line of the NRA, a former organization of hunters and target shooters that now represents gunmakers.

The ATF hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since 2015. Firearm lobbyists have even blocked the bureau from making a searchable database to trace weapons used in murders and other crimes.

Reprinted with permission from DC Report.

Stephen Miller Is Back — And He’s Attacking Black Farmers

Reviled Trump adviser Stephen Miller who helped shape Trump’s racist immigration policies has a new focus: sabotaging President Joe Biden’s plan to help struggling Black farmers who average $2,400 each in farm income.

Miller founded America First Legal Foundation (AFL), which is bankrolling a Texas lawsuit against Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. It’s over Biden’s planned debt relief for Black and other minority farmers. The lawsuit is one of at least 13 challenging the constitutionality of the program.

“AFL is filing a lawsuit . . .against the Biden administration to prevent it from administering programs created under the American Rescue Plan Act that discriminate against American farmers and ranchers based on the basis of race,” Miller said last year.

In 1910, Black farmers owned 16 million to 19 million acres, about 14% of our nation’s farmland. The number of Black farmers plummeted more than 90% from 1920 to 1969. In 2017, about 1.4% of our nation’s farmers were Black, and they operated about 0.5% of agricultural land.

Historian Pete Daniel said that federal agriculture offices increased discrimination against Black farmers after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954. Black farmers were excluded. Farm Service Agency county committees, which decided who qualified for loans, were dominated by white men.

In 2021, when Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rejected about 42 percent of Black farmers for direct loans compared with a rejection rate of nine percent for white farmers.

Florida farmer Kelvin Cannon told the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, which wants to intervene in the Texas lawsuit, that he had to resubmit his loan application in 2021 at least 15 times before he was approved for an FSA loan. By the time the loan was approved, it was too late to plant any soybeans, corn, or peanuts.

“If I do not receive my anticipated debt relief from the USDA, I will be unable to adequately support myself and my two little girls who are four and six years old,” Cannon said. “I’d lose everything – my house, my truck, and all my farm equipment. My family will be homeless.”

Under Biden’s American Rescue Plan, socially disadvantaged farmers could receive debt relief for up to 120% of the value of the loan. This includes African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Americans.

Rodeo cowboy Sid Miller, now the agriculture commissioner in Texas, and four other white farmers or ranchers sued Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in federal court in the northern district of Texas.

The Texas court is favored for Republicans because of Judge Reed O’Connor. He ruled against transgender rights and the Affordable Care Act in other cases, issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the USDA from making debt relief payments to minority famers while the lawsuit is active.

Judges hearing other cases over the constitutionality of the law have put those cases on hold until the Texas lawsuit is decided.

Jessica Culpepper, an attorney for Public Justice, said O’Connor is likely to find the law unconstitutional, following another case about help for restaurants that was decided in May.

Democrats are trying to include debt relief for minority farmers in Biden’s Build Back Better package, but that could exclude thousands of farmers debt relief was supposed to help because of changes in loan eligibility.

Bankers are also pushing back against federal help for Black farmers. The American Bankers Association and other banking groups told the USDA there could be adverse consequences to bank income because of help for financially struggling farmers.

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

Is Rittenhouse Acquittal The Beginning Of A Bloody New Era Of Gun Violence?

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Our nation's Supreme Court with three NRA-endorsed justices could unleash an army of Kyle Rittenhouse-wannabees on our nation's streets in a decision about who can be armed that can be expected next summer.

The Supreme Court heard arguments earlier this month in a case brought by the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. The NRA affiliate and two men who couldn't get gun permits in New York sued.

"I don't think people really understand the gravity of this case," said Kris Brown, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "It would upend the very framework of the country's public safety laws."

Rittenhouse, now 18, was acquitted Friday by a Wisconsin jury of homicide and other charges. Rittenhouse was 17 in August 2020 when he killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during civil unrest in Kenosha after the police shooting of a Black man who was left paralyzed.

Rittenhouse, who took an AR-15-style rifle that a friend had bought him to the demonstrations, claimed self defense. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a charge of illegal possession of the rifle before the jury began its deliberations.

"This is the world we could live in if the court decides that the Constitution entitles virtually anyone to carry guns virtually anywhere, to shoot people when they deem it necessary for self-defense," said Jonathan Lowy, Brady chief counsel.

In Wisconsin, there is no duty to retreat before using deadly force.

Federal and state courts have generally used a two-part test in more than 1,000 gun cases since a landmark Supreme Court case in 2008. Judges look at whether the activity is protected by the Second Amendment and then scrutinize it. Judges have used this test to reject most gun rights claims.

But the Supreme Court could throw out this test.

"The big question is whether the justices will announce a new test for the constitutionality of gun laws going forward," said Duke law professor Joseph Blocher.

During oral arguments in the New York case, most of the justices appeared skeptical of the New York law which limits who can carry a gun in public.

Chief Justice John Roberts asked if someone would have a greater need for self defense in a higher-density area.

New York is one of eight states that limit who can carry a gun in public. The others are California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

New York's Sullivan Act, named after Tammany Hall politician Timothy Sullivan, was passed in 1911 after the attempted assassination of a mayor and the murder of novelist David Graham Phillips.

New York also has the second-lowest rate of deaths from gun violence in our nation. In 2019, about four people per 100,000 died from gun violence in New York. Wisconsin, which ranked 12th, had a death rate more than twice as high.


NRA's GOP Stooges Aim To 'Nullify' Federal Gun Statutes

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Republicans funded by the National Rifle Association have borrowed from the ideology of the once slave-holding South to try to nullify federal laws about guns.

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Biden Justice Department Upholds Liability Shield For Gun Makers

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

President Joe Biden knows the anguish of two of his children dying, but his Justice Department is working to prevent grieving parents from being able to successfully sue gun dealers and manufacturers over the deaths of their children.

Mark and Leah Gustafson sued Springfield Armory, an Illinois gunmaker, and a department store in a Pennsylvania court over the death of their 13-year-old son, James Robert (J.R.) Gustafson Their son was killed on March 20, 2016, by a 14-year-old boy who mistakenly thought there were no bullets in the gun after he removed the magazine.

"For us to spend the holiday with him, we have to go to a cemetery," said Mark Gustafson.

More than 100 years ago, gunmakers invented a safety feature that disables a gun when the magazine is removed. But the 9 mm semiautomatic handgun that J.R.'s friend, John Burnsworth, pointed at him didn't have this safety device.

"This is not about the Second Amendment," said Gary Lynch, one of the attorneys for the Gustafsons. "This is about a defective product. A little boy is dead because the manufacturer didn't make a simple, innocuous fix that could have prevented this."\

My Daughter Was Murdered And My Senators Don’t Give A Damn

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

My oldest daughter was shot in the head in April while reading in her Kansas City apartment by someone who aimed through her first-floor window. Aviva lived for two more days, kept alive by machines until her brain swelled enough that she could be pronounced brain dead.

I watched as a doctor removed Aviva from the ventilator to see if she could breathe on her own, the final test, and then recorded the rising amount of carbon dioxide in her blood. My daughter was 24 and had her whole life ahead of her — or should have.

NRA-funded Republicans like Roy Blunt and Josh Hawley, my senators in Missouri, care more about pimping for the gun industry than the murders of their constituents. They have made our country a killing ground where any of us can be told that their daughter is in a hospital miles away and expected to die.

President Joe Biden asked Congress for only a modest five percent increase in funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Biden has nominated David Chipman to run the agency, a nomination that's in trouble because of opposition from the NRA and other gun groups. Biden has said he wants to ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Anti-gun violence groups would like to see:

Rising Murder Rates

Homicide rates in our country have largely declined since the early 1990s. But those rates rose about 30 percent in large cities in 2020, according to the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice. Kansas City was not included because researchers "were unable to validate incident-level data to published … data," said research specialist Ernesto Lopez.

The national jump in 2020 could eclipse the 1968 record jump of 12.7 percent when final numbers are released. In the first six months of 2021, the number of homicides in large cities rose by 16 percent, or 259 more deaths,compared with 2020.

Researchers Richard Rosenfeld and Thomas Abt wrote that the pandemic, protests and other factors appear to have created a perfect storm in our country to push killings to record levels. Violent crime rates did not increase in other countries.

So far this year, more than 28,000 people have been killed in our country by guns, according to the Gun Violence Archive. More than 43,570 were killed last year. More than half the gun deaths were suicides.

Mass shootings spiked 47 percent in 2020, compared with 2019. Five hundred and thirteen people died in 611 shootings. Another 2,543 were injured. The initial hospital costs of firearm injuries are estimated at more than $1 billion a year.

'Numb to the Numbers'

"We are numb to the numbers," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) at a hearing in March on gun violence. "Unless we are personally touched, it's just another statistic."

When Durbin spoke these words, my daughter was still alive.

I learned Aviva had been shot after receiving a message on Twitter and drove through the rain to reach Truman Medical Center shortly before midnight. There my daughter was intubated and still, unable to see or hear the people crying over her. I learned in a phone call in a parking lot that she was expected to die.

Aviva, an idealistic public radio reporter less than two years out of college, lived in Kansas City's Santa Fe neighborhood, once the home of Walt Disney and baseball great Satchel Paige.

Now liquor stores nearly outnumber neighborhood churches. A Kansas City Star article described sex workers loitering two blocks from a police department building. People living in disadvantaged minority neighborhoods such as Santa Fe are particularly at risk of being shot.

During the pandemic, gun sales have soared. About one fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time buyers. About 39 percent of American households own guns.

California researchers looked at the increase in gun buys and didn't find a relationship between the excess gun buys and the increase in shootings, except shootings in domestic violence.

Gun company profits soared, too. Smith & Wesson had the most successful fiscal year since it was founded in 1852 by Horace Smith and D.B. Wesson, making more than $252 million in profit. Ammunition manufacturer Ammo Inc. is building a new factory in Wisconsin.

Our country has more firearms than people. Americans make up less than five percent of the world's population, but we own about 45 percent of the world's privately held firearms. Americans are 25 times more likely to be killed by a gun than people in other wealthy countries.

Biden's ATF is trying to regulate ghost guns, so named because criminals can buy kits to make firearms that can't be traced. Almost 24,000 suspected ghost guns were found by police at potential crime scenes from 2016 to 2020, including in 325 homicides or attempted homicides.

Bryan Muehlberger's 15-year-old daughter Gracie Anne, a high school freshman, was killed with a ghost gun in November 2019 at her California school. Another student shot her in the back. The bullet punctured her left lung, and Gracie drowned in her own blood.

"I just remember saying, you know, like, 'Please, no. Don't – don't tell me the bad news please,'" Muehlberger said.

Assault Ban Expired

Since 1994, when President Bill Clinton signed the crime bill that included a 10-year ban on the sale of assault weapons, Congress has not passed any major laws restricting access to weapons. The ban expired in 2004. A study published in April found that 30 mass shootings that killed 339 people and injured 1,139 could have been prevented if the ban had remained.

NRA-funded Republicans are helping the gun industry profit. House Republicans are pressuring the Biden administration to drop its proposed ghost gun rule. Our nation's lawmakers have even blocked the ATF from making a searchable database to trace weapons used in my daughter's killing and other crimes.

Our nation's federal system for tracing guns is so bad that even the online card catalog of a small-town public library is more advanced.

In Texas, where the NRA wanted to reorganize after it filed for bankruptcy, people will be able to carry a gun without a permit or training starting September 1. At least 20 other states, including Missouri, have similar laws.

The NRA spent $16.3 million to try to reelect Trump and $12.2 million across 145 congressional races, helping to reelect Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)

Tillis, who has taken more than $4.4 million from the NRA, ranks fourth among senators receiving NRA campaign donations, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Ernst with more than $3.1 million is seventh; Cornyn, who has accepted almost $79,000, is 35th.

In Missouri, which has an average of 1,074 guns deaths a year, Blunt is a lifetime member of the NRA. He is third among our nation's senators taking cash from the NRA with more than $4.5 million. Blunt, whose son has served on the NRA board, has opposed federal funding to study gun violence and voted against banning gun magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

Hawley, Missouri's junior senator, is one of the politicians named in a lawsuit filed by Giffords, a nonprofit founded by former Congresswoman and gun victim Gabby Giffords, against the Federal Election Commission. The lawsuit said the NRA used a network of shell corporations to illegally coordinate spending millions with the campaigns of Trump, Hawley, and at least five other federal candidates.

Hawley has been in office less than three years, but he is 15th among senators taking NRA cash with almost $1.4 million in donations.

Will Biden's Federal Election Commission Go After Dark Money?

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

Before leaving office Donald Trump stuffed the Federal Election Commission with ineffective anti-regulation attorneys; now President Joe Biden can nominate at least two commissioners.

The FEC spent much of the presidential election year of 2020 not even able to meet because it didn't have enough commissioners.

The terms of Sean Cooksey, previously the general counsel for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Steven Walther, an independent appointed by President George W. Bush, expire next Friday.

Presidents typically nominate commissioners in pairs, one Democrat and one Republican.

The six-person independent commission set up after Watergate is supposed to investigate allegations of illegal campaign spending and issue advisory opinions.

Republicans have used the tradition of how presidents nominate commissioners to fill half of the commission seats with people who pander to dark money and oppose strict regulation.

"These people are carefully chosen by Mitch McConnell to make sure that not much happens," said Craig Holman of Public Citizen. As Senate majority leader under Trump, McConnell promoted GOP intransigence in most matters.

Trump nominated the three Republicans who are on the commission:

Trey Trainor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate last May. Trainor:

Trainor supported right-wing attorney Sidney Powell, who is being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems over her comments about the 2020 election.

"I've never known fellow TX lawyer @SidneyPowell1 to be anything but forthright and honest in everything she's ever taken on," Trainor tweeted in November. "If she says there is rampant voter fraud in #Election2020, I believe her."

In March, CNN reported Powell said that reasonable people wouldn't have believed as fact her assertions of fraud after the 2020 presidential election.

Allen Dickerson was confirmed by the Senate in December.

Dickerson previously was the legal director for the Institute for Free Speech, a nonprofit involved in a lawsuit against the FEC that allowed super PACs which can spend unlimited money.

Dickerson didn't work at the institute when that case was decided. But he was at the nonprofit, then known as the Center for Competitive Politics, when it sued then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now our vice president. The suit was over a rule requiring nonprofits raising money in California to disclose donors.

Sean Cooksey also was confirmed in December.

He fills the seat previously held by Lee Goodman, a Republican appointed by President Barack Obama. Cooksey also worked as deputy general counsel for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

The divided FEC has meant that a third of the commission's votes in 2019 on proposed enforcement were split, resulting in no decisions.

Actions such as making rules, levying major fines, or issuing advisory opinions require at least four yes votes.

The commission didn't have a quorum in late 2019 and much of 2020, meaning it couldn't meet and accumulated a backlog of more than 400 cases.

The head of the FEC is Shana Broussard, a Democrat. She started working for the commission in 2008 in enforcement and became the attorney for Walther, the independent member.

H.R. 1, the For the People Act, would shrink the commission to five members so that one party couldn't effectively neuter the commission. The House passed the bill in March.

Biden Moves To Strengthen EPA For First Time In Decades

Reprinted with permission from DC Report

The Biden administration is asking Congress for more than $110 million to hire and support scientists and staff at the Environmental Protection Agency, which the previous president decimated.

The EPA lost almost 1,000 scientists and other employees under Donald Trump administrators Andrew Wheeler and Scott Pruitt.

The budget was cut yearly or stagnant for decades. In inflation-adjusted dollars, it was more than 50 percent higher under President Ronald Reagan than it is today.

"The 2022 budget proposal is an excellent first step in rebuilding EPA's funding and strengthening the agency," said Michelle Roos. She is executive director of the Environmental Protection Network of former EPA employees and appointees.

The proposed funding is part of $11.2 billion the Biden administration is asking to fund the EPA. That request represents a 21 percent increase.

The Biden administration is also asking for $75 million to help designate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl, or PFAS, as hazardous substances and set enforceable limits for the chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The poisons, made since the 1940s, are sometimes called "forever chemicals" because they don't break down in the environment and can remain in our bodies for years. Designating the chemicals as hazardous substances would give the EPA more power to clean up contaminated sites.

The "announcement recognizes that science is at the core of all we do at the EPA," said current EPA Administrator Michael Regan.

Betsy Southerland, who oversaw science and technology issues in the EPA Office of Water, told the House science committee's investigations and oversight panel that the Biden administration should restore funding to bring EPA to its average over the past four decades. The cost to rebuild the budget over four years would be $11.4 billion in 2019 dollars.

Southerland was one of the EPA employees who left. She resigned in 2017, saying "the administration is seriously weakening EPA's mission."

About $48 million of the $110 million to hire EPA staff would go to the EPA Office of Air and Radiation to implement climate change programs under the Clean Air Act. The office is led by acting assistant administrator Joseph Goffman.

Bill Wehrum, who sued the agency at least 31 times as a corporate lawyer, headed that office for much of the Trump administration. Under Wehrum, who resigned in 2019 during a federal ethics investigation, the office worked to help coal-burning Martin Lake Power Plant in east Texas.

The plant spews out more sulfur dioxide which causes acid rain than any other power plant in America. Wehrum was a partner at a law firm that lobbied for the plant's owner.

Latest Trump Ruling Risks An American Bhopal Disaster To Enrich Oligarch

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

The weakening of regulations that save us from oil chemical apocalypse appears to have been influenced by a friend of Russian leader Vladimir Putin's oligarchs.

Putin, of course, is the presumed friend of lame-duck and impeached President Donald Trump who is a proven enemy of environmental safeguards.

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States Banning Deadly Paint Stripper Allowed By Trump

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Wendy Hartley, whose son Kevin died at age 21 after using a toxic paint stripper, met with ex-EPA chief Scott Pruitt two years ago to urge him to ban a chemical in the stripper that has killed people since 1947.

But when the EPA evaluated the chemical, methylene chloride, under the Toxic Substances Control Act, the agency decided the chemical didn't present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment under some conditions.

"Nothing short of a ban would be sufficient," said Hartley, who brought photos of her son and his death certificate to her meeting with Pruitt.

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Judge Strikes Down Trump Scheme To Force Elderly Into Nursing Homes

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

TheTrump administration has lost a court battle that could have pushed our nation's low-income elderly, disabled, and blind out of their own homes and into deathtrap nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

A California federal judge called the Trump rule that bars states from withholding part of the paychecks of some home healthcare workers for things like health insurance and voluntary union dues a "legal error."

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Trump Must Go, But He Plans To Kill Grandma First

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Team Trump is trying to force our nation's low-income elderly, blind and disabled out of their own homes and into death trap nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

Joseph Hunt, who has since left the Justice Department, represented the Trump administration in a California lawsuit over Trump efforts to weaken working conditions for low-paid aides who help our nation's elderly and disabled stay in their homes. The workers, mostly female, do chores like cooking meals, changing adult diapers and helping with baths.

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Trump’s EPA Permits Dumping Of Poisonous Coal Ash

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Retiree Julie Pease and her husband moved into their modest lakefront home near Herrington Lake in Kentucky eight years ago, but she won't eat the fish. The lake is polluted by coal ash from the nearby power plant.

Team Trump recently pushed back the deadlines for utilities to close an estimated 523 leaking, unstable or dangerously-sited coal ash ponds. Kentucky Utilities, which operates the E.W. Brown power plant in Harrodsburg, Ky., closed its main coal ash pond in 2008, but the six million tons of coal ash that remain at the site has polluted Herrington Lake.

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Fearful Senate Republicans Drop Pendley Nomination

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

William Perry Pendley, the embattled attorney who is acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, is out as a candidate for the permanent job.

Trump withdrew Pendley's nomination on Saturday because it could have caused problems for three Republican senators in tough re-election races who would have voted whether to confirm him: Steve Daines of Montana, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Martha McSally of Arizona. He is expected to remain as acting director.

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Minnesota Natural Wonder Is On Trump Team’s Hit List To Despoil

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Trump administration action that could spoil a Minnesota wilderness with acidic damage for centuries would benefit the landlord of the president's children.

Former President Jimmy Carter signed a law more than four decades ago to prohibit mining in the Boundary Waters, a pristine wilderness. With more than 1,000 lakes, it stretches almost 200 miles along the U.S.-Canada border in Minnesota.

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Trump’s USDA Speeds Up Meatpacking Despite Virus Deaths

Reprinted with permission from DCReport

Trump administration officials may have used misleading data to analyze safety so that meatpacking plants could skirt a safety rule regulating their processes. The rule regulates how fast pigs can be slaughtered.

The USDA Office of Inspector General recently released a report expressing concern about faulty data, as COVID-19 cases soar in the meatpacking industry.

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