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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 23, 2021
Another Cuban Crisis:
'BradCast' 7/22/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with journalist and author Anthony DePalma...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic flooding in central Chinese; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
Previous GNRs: 7/20/21 - 7/15/21 - Archives...
'Our Darkest Hour, Our Selma Moment...We Must Act': 'BradCast' 7/21/21
Guest: Voting rights champion Helen Butler, after her GOP removal as a GA election official; Also: Tragic ends for COVID deniers; More clues AZ's election 'auditers' are clueless...
Fact-Checking Right (Phony AZ 'Audit') and Left (Garland's DoJ): 'BradCast' 7/20/21
Also: Chair of Trump Inaugural Committee, Tom Barrack, arrested, charged with acting as foreign agent, lying to FBI...
'Green News Report' 7/20/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Europe flooding shows nowhere safe from our climate emergency; Parts of Amazon now emit more carbon than they absorb; PLUS: High-tide flooding is about to get much, much worse...
Previous GNRs: 7/15/21 - 7/13/21 - Archives...
Callers Explain Their Refusal to Get Vaccinated as Deadly Delta Variant Surges: 'BradCast' 7/19/21
Also: New analysis finds fewer than 200 POTENTIAL cases of voter fraud in AZ...
Sunday 'Critical Erase Theory' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the best, unavoidable, toons of the week...
Critical Failure in Coverage of RW 'Critical Race Theory' Hoax: 'BradCast' 7/16/21
Guest: Media analyst Eric Boehlert; Also: Masks back on in L.A. County; Deadly climate change-fueled deluge in Germany...
The REAL Cost of the Maricopa, AZ 'Audit': 'BradCast' 7/15/21
Also: GOPers laughing at, thanking Manchin, Sinema; Good news on Dem infrastructure bill; Trump's COVID Death Cult rising...
'Green News Report' 7/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Senate Dems unveil $3.5 trillion infrastructure and climate deal; EU unveils landmark 'Green Deal'; PLUS: More evidence that climate action would save lives and money...
Previous GNRs: 7/13/21 - 7/8/21 - Archives...
EAC Sued Over Guidelines After Secret Meets with E-Vote Vendors Allows Modems: 'BradCast' 7/14/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Dems' $3.5T health, climate, infrastructure deal...
'Test of Our Time': Biden Steps Up for Voting Rights, Democracy: 'BradCast' 7/13/21
Also: 2020 Election Night genesis of the 'Big Lie'; Heroic TX Dems land in D.C. to press for federal reform...
'Green News Report' 7/13/21
Western grid tested by massive fires, more extreme heat; CA expands state drought emergency; June 2021 hottest ever in U.S.; PLUS: Fox to launch a weather channel...
Amid CA Emergencies, State GOP Tries to Oust Dem Guv in Recall: 'BradCast' 7/12
Guest: Ernie Canning on reforming CA's Recall process; Also: TX DEMS FLEE STATE TO BLOCK GOP VOTE-SUPPRESSION BILL...
Sunday 'Delta is Ready' Toons
PDiddie is ready when you are, with his latest collection of the week's best (and worst!) political toons...
SCOTUS' Disregard of Constitution's Plain Text Augurs Dark Days: 'BradCast' 7/9/21
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern on Alito's 'fabricated' rules for the VRA and much more...
Now May Be a Good Time to Reform or Eliminate CA's Gubernatorial Recall System
CANNING: GOP abuse of the time-honored progressive process is wearing thin...
COVID Surge in Trump Country; US (Almost) Out of Afghanistan: 'BradCast' 7/8/21
Also: Rudy's woes worsen; U.S., Canada heat wave kills 100s; Murdoch's Fox 'News' broke the nation and planet...
'Green News Report' 7/8/21
While we were out...Historic heat wave killed hundreds, shattered all time records in PNW, Canada; Exxon lobbyists caught on tape; PLUS: Record-breaker Elsa...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Also: New analysis finds fewer than 200 POTENTIAL cases of voter fraud in AZ last year...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2021 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's not only Trumpers who are wildly misinformed when it comes to the COVID vaccines. Callers ring in today (many who claim they are not Trumpers) to explain their reasons...as deadly and misinformed as they may be. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, however, as the clown show "audit" theater by the Cyber Ninjas continues into its third month in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, Associated Press has published their own analysis of voter fraud in the state last November, as based on actual evidence. Through public records requests filed in each of AZ's 15 counties, the news organization has found there is evidence for fewer than 200 potential cases of voter fraud last year out of more than 3 million votes cast. That's a very far cry from the "massive voter fraud" our disgraced former President has claimed was carried out to give Joe Biden his 10,400 vote victory in the state. The evidence comes via both Democratic and Republican County and State officials, including investigations currently under way by Arizona's Republican state Attorney General. To date, indictments have been filed in just four (4) cases. Two of those cases involve Democrats, two involve Republican voters. Most of the known cases are unlikely to result in charges, as many of them could be book-keeping errors or innocent mistakes by voters who attempted to vote twice (once by mail and once in person, or even in two different states) for perfectly understandable reasons we discuss on today's show.

Then, as the Delta variant of the coronavirus tears through largely unvaccinated pockets of the country, COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates are on the rise again in the U.S. While the vast majority of those who become severely ill and/or die are unvaccinated (more than 95%), the threat of new variants which may not respond as well to existing vaccines looms --- as mask mandates are being restored in some places and as the nation's economy is once again under threat.

We recently covered heart-breaking stories of deadly --- because they were completely unnecessary and avoidable --- spikes in Trump-supporting states like Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee. Today, Arkansas is taking the lead in new cases for no good reason other than usually misinformed, unvaccinated residents in the rural areas of the state. The New York Times, over the weekend, ran a devastating report out of the state, detailing the surge in severely ill patients and hospitalizations --- almost all of them unvaccinated and many of them now MUCH younger than during previous COVID surges.

But, it's not only in Trump Country. Even here in Los Angeles County, there are many among the vaccine hesitant. Over the weekend, L.A. chose to reinstate its indoor mask mandate as rates, even here, are beginning to increase again.

We wondered why this is, and what sort of information people are receiving that would lead them to avoid the live-saving vaccines, so we opened up the phones to exactly that today. The reasons, apparently, are many and varied. Some are certain that Big Pharma is pulling a hoax on all of us. (Though one caller cited information from "the inventor of the mRNA vaccines," Robert Malone, who, as it turns out, isn't the inventor at all, despite his claim. One wonders why anybody would therefore take his advice --- that the mRNA vaccines are dangerous --- seriously.) Others cite racial elements, buttressed by the tragic Tuskegee Experiment. But, as one caller notes, the tragedy of that study occurred because black men were not given life saving medicine as part of the study.

At least one caller believes evolution should be allowed to run its course, no matter how many tens or hundreds of millions are likely to die on the long and deadly road to "herd immunity".

In any event, it was an interesting hour (we hope) that may shed some light on the mess we are now in, as the nation --- with plenty of life-saving vaccine for all --- could, nonetheless, soon find itself locked down all over again due to massive misinformation that continues to pollute the body politic...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Condo collapse in FL; Dems hopeful, cautious on bipartisan infrastructure 'deal'; Pelosi's announces 1/6 committee; Giuliani's NY law license suspended; MI Repubs eviscerate 2020 'fraud' claims...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2021 5:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was one of those days. Again. Everything all at once. Again. We do our best to help you make sense of it all. Again. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories, many of them still breaking as we went to air, covered on today's program...

  • High-rise condominium building collapses in South Florida near Miami Beach. As of air-time, 1 person was announced as dead and 99 others currently unaccounted for, as rescuers continue to comb through the deadly rubble searching for survivors.
  • President Biden declared "we have a deal" on an infrastructure package. It's a $1.2 trillion bipartisan "compromise" deal in the U.S. Senate on his proposed $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan. That proposal is one part of his infrastructure plan for things like roads, bridges, the electrical grid, and broadband Internet. The other part of his two-part proposal is the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, which includes the "human infrastructure" part of the package, focused on childcare, education and healthcare. While Biden lauded the "compromise" struck among Republicans and conservative Democrats in the Senate, House Speaker Pelosi promised she would not bring up the compromise proposal for a vote in the House until the other part of the package --- the American Families Plan and, presumably, whatever is being left out of the "compromise" bill --- is passed with a simple majority vote in the Senate under Budget Reconciliation rules which allow lawmakers to avoid the anti-democratic Senate filibuster rule. "Make sure you understand this," the Speaker vowed during her presser today, "there ain't gonna be no bipartisan bill unless we are going to have the Reconciliation bill."
  • Pelosi, who has seen her fair share of Republicans reneging on deals at the last minute, also announced that she intends to create a House Committee to investigate the deadly, Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. That, after House Dems had struck a deal with Republicans earlier this year for a bi-partisan, evenly divided, independent Commission, only to see Republican leadership, after the deal was already struck, go on to vote against the bill in the House and kill it entirely with the filibuster in the Senate.
  • Speaking of the filibuster, which would need to be reformed if Democrats hope to pass their sweeping elections, voting rights and campaign finance reform bill known as the For the People Act through the Senate, three moderate Senate Democrats (Mark Kelley of Arizona, Michael Bennett of Colorado, and Catherine Cortez-Masto of NV) spoke to the need to do exactly that during a private conference call this week. The audio, obtained by the Colorado Newsline, reveals each moderate Dem discussing the need to reform the filibuster and suggesting that intra-caucus negotiations are well underway to try and figure out how to do exactly that.
  • In New York, an appeals court has accepted the recommendation of a state committee of attorneys to immediately suspend Rudy Giuliani's license to practice law, citing "uncontroverted evidence” that he “communicated demonstrably false and misleading statements to courts, lawmakers and the public at large in his capacity as lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump and the Trump campaign in connection with Trump’s failed effort at reelection in 2020." That conduct, the court agreed, "immediately threatens the public interest and warrants interim suspension from the practice of law." While the disgraced former U.S. Attorney and NYC Mayor will be allowed to argue against the suspension in an upcoming hearing, experts believe the action today, however, is likely to lead to permanent disbarment. "The seriousness of respondent's uncontroverted misconduct cannot be overstated," the court wrote [PDF]. "This country is being torn apart by continued attacks on the legitimacy of the 2020 election and of our current president, Joseph R. Biden." That, after Giuliani spent months on behalf of Trump, following the November election offering one false claim after another to one state legislative committee after another, pretending to cite evidence that the election was stolen from the disgraced former President.
  • Those unsubstantiated and false claims, at least in Michigan, were devastatingly rebutted and debunked on Wednesday, by a Republican state Senate committee on Wednesday. In their unsparing 35-page point-by-point report [PDF], the lawmakers absolutely eviscerate Giuliani's, Trump's, Sidney Powell's, Jovan Pulitizer's and all of the other GOP grifters and con-artist's evidence-free claims about "voter fraud" and theft by computer voting and tabulation systems. Every Republican on the state's Senate Oversight Committee signed on to the brutal report, compiled over the past eight months, and responding to each and every phony claim suggesting systematic fraud in the state. The Committee found no basis for any of the wild accusations and even calls for a legal investigation and potential prosecution by the state's Attorney General for "those who have been utilizing misleading and false information...to raise money or publicity for their own ends." Ouch.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with, well, not much good news today. The worsening drought in the West is now threatening drinking water; The Siberian Arctic(!) is facing a record heatwave, with temperatures topping out above 110 (in the Arctic!); A new report finds climate change is making heat waves hotter; And a whole bunch of other news that I don't have the heart to share with you here...

Enjoy!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Very good U.S. COVID news; More bad news for Exxon (but good news for the planet); Bad news for Postmaster General DeJoy...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2021 5:44pm PT  

We're old enough on The BradCast to remember the days when the news got really slow during the summer months after Memorial Day. These are no longer those days. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

Among the many and various stories covered on today's program...

  • Thanks to the Biden Administration's COVID vaccine efforts, infection rates in the U.S. are now as low as they have been since March of 2020 --- the very beginning of the pandemic --- and are still dropping. Death rates have plummeted as well. Infection and death rates elsewhere in the world, however, are still soaring. So, even while upping their efforts to get folks vaccinated in the U.S. in June, the Biden Administration is finally taking action to help the rest of the world as well, vowing to distribute 80 million doses to nations in need --- near and far --- over the next month.
  • On our Green News Report earlier this week, we reported on Big Oil's very bad day last week, which is now being referred to as "Black Wednesday" for the fossil fuel industry. It was the day that Shell, Chevron and Exxon each got very bad news in either the courtroom or the boardroom. While the news was bad for them, it was great for the planet and those of us concerned about global warming amidst our worsening climate emergency. For Exxon, the bad news was that two "activist" candidates for its Board of Directors were elected by shareholders to push the company toward a more sustainable business model. Two other climate advocate candidates, also backed by large, forward thinking hedge funds, were also on the ballot last week. But their contests, we were told, were too close to call. As of last night, Exxon announced a third activist candidate was indeed also elected to the company's 12-member board.
  • Bad news for Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (who, unfortunately, is still somehow in charge of the U.S. Postal Service, despite his best efforts to dismantle it.) The FBI is now said to be investigating DeJoy for unlawful campaign fund raising for Trump and the GOP, after a report last year by the Washington Post revealed he had allegedly pressured employees at his company (before being appointed Postmaster) to give contributions to Republicans for which he would later paid them back. "Straw-donor" campaign finance schemes like that are unlawful. But while DeJoy has previously denied violating any campaign finance laws, his defense, since reportedly being subpoenaed recently by the FBI, has changed in a noteworthy way, which we explain.
  • That, of course, was just a preamble today for our coverage of the ongoing Texas Republican attempt to pass a massive new voter suppression law, known as Senate Bill 7 (or SB7). Yes, that's the measure that was blocked over the weekend, at least temporarily, when Democratic state lawmakers walked out at the end of the year's legislative session over the weekend, denying Republicans a quorum in the House and final passage of the bill for this session along with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Greg Abbot has vowed to call an "emergency" special session to get it passed in the near future.

    In the meantime, the GOP claims that the new law is needed to combat "voter fraud" in the state, even after their own Secretary of State in March declared the 2020 election to have been "smooth and secure". That, after the state's Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick offered a $1,000,000 reward for evidence of voter fraud (still no takers, apparently), and the state's Attorney General Ken Paxton (indicted on multiple felony counts of securities fraud, but still somehow in office), logged 22,000 staff hours to sniff out voter fraud, coming up with barely a handful of cases out of more than 11 million ballots cast in 2020.

    The TX GOP's "voter fraud" claims are --- as they always have been --- built on a house of blatant lies. We walk you through the real facts about their phony "voter fraud" claims today and explain why they're really hoping to get this bill passed, above and beyond hoping to disenfranchise voters of color. Also, we offer a big hat-tip to CNN's Brianna Keilar who shut down some serious bullshit lies this week by her guest, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, the bill's lying lead sponsor.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, very busy, Green News Report, including news of a major ecological disaster in Sri Lanka; bad news about global warming and heat deaths; bad news regarding water in the U.S. Southwest; tragic news about the REAL death toll from Texas' winter storm and completely avoidable power blackouts; but good news for Alaska (and the nation), as the Biden Administration is now blocking the Trump-era scheme to lease oil and gas wells in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Preserve...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Election integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn with callers ringing in...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2021 7:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast, (riddled with a few tech probs at the station, so apologies for any incoherence on my part!) we bring you up to date on some of the latest developments in the insane, dangerously non-transparent "audit" theater in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona being carried out by the Trump-supporting Cyber Ninjas company. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.

[ALSO: See important "SHOW NOTE" at end of this summary!]

Notably, a story we broke some weeks ago, after the Ninjas were forced by a state judge to publicly release what suffices as their procedural documents [PDF] for the "audit" (they had claimed their procedures for counting public ballots from the 2020 election were "trade secrets") was confirmed, at least in part, by an excellent article at Slate this weekend by Jeremy Stahl. In short, we had explained weeks ago how the Ninjas poorly documented procedures (see p. 178 in the PDF linked above) allows them to change a MINIMUM of 42,000 votes in their so-called "audit", without setting off any internal or external alarm bells. Stahl's lengthy, well-reported story on the Maricopa mess, headlined "What if the renegade Arizona audit declares Trump won?" details, among many other things, the same point, that the Cyber Ninjas' own procedures allow them to change far more votes than would be needed to falsely declare Trump actually won the state. Any such mistally is considered an acceptable rate of error in their own documented procedures --- even though Joe Biden was certified to have won the state by just over 10,000 votes.

Moreover, if and when they do declare that AZ was somehow stolen from Trump, there is little that can be done to dispute such a claim, since the secure chain of custody for the 2.1 million actual ballots cast in Maricopa last year has now been irrevocably broken. Only yet another hand-count could prove or disprove such a claim by the Ninjas, since --- unlike real audits --- they have not allowed the public to track or oversee their daily tallies. But, after the private, Florida-based company took custody of the County's ballots weeks ago, they could have added, removed or changed ballots at any time since.

All of that, meanwhile, as a real audit continues in Windham, NH, being run transparently by actual voting system, cybersecurity and post-election audit professionals who are allowing full public oversight. And as a judge in Georgia just granted permission for yet another post-election audit of copies of the 2020 ballots cast in Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's Presidential race last year.

Of course, all of these questions about the results of last year's elections --- whether offered in good or bad faith --- might have been avoided years ago had Democrats insisted on fully overseeable public elections, instead of allowing private voting machine companies to, by and large, take over America's election with computers that tally votes, essentially, in secret. We have been warning about this nightmare for years, and now it is coming home to roost.

As our guest today, San Francisco-based attorney, election integrity advocate and Twitter rockstar JENNIFER COHN pointed out in a recent smart Twitter thread, Republicans spent years blocking Democratic legislation, the SAFE Act, which would have at least mandated post-election audits for federal races in every state. Now, Republicans are claiming they are needed all over the country. But, oddly enough --- for reasons that Cohn has been unable to determine so far --- Dems have failed to reintroduce the SAFE Act in this session of Congress.

She speculates today that the legislation may now be seen by Democrats as feeding into the GOP's evidence-free claims of fraud in the 2020 election, not unlike how Dem fears of being labeled as "conspiracy theorists" over the years prevented them from challenging and demanding hand-counts after what her thread describes as "fifteen years of poll-defying victories" for Republicans.

"I don't want to imply that I think they are equally to blame," Cohn tells me. "But I do think that it's a failure of leadership. Because leadership isn't about just reacting always to what the other party does. It's about standing for something." She goes on to correctly note that Democrats "had an opportunity after 2016 to really be the champions of election security, and to even incorporate that into their campaign platforms, and they didn't do it." Doing so, "behind the scenes does not win the court of public opinion" and now that has "allowed Trump to hijack that narrative."

"It should have been the Democrats to take that to the people, to take that to the court of public opinion. Had they done that, Trump would not be in a position to play the victim. Had the public known about the SAFE Act, and that Republicans blocked it, they would not be in the position they were to pretend to be victims" today.

Cohn is a longtime, dyed-in-the-wool Dem. So she does not level such accusations lightly. We discuss those concerns and many other points regarding the various audits --- and several splits in the Election Integrity community about them --- before opening up the phone to listeners with thoughts and questions for her and/or me on all of the above today.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

SHOW NOTE!: We've just learned from my landlord that major construction --- tearing up a walkway to install a new security gate --- will begin on Tuesday and last anywhere from 7 to 14 days! That means jack-hammers outside of our studio will make it impossible for Desi and I to do shows for the rest of the week and maybe even next week. Our beloved guest host Nicole Sandler has agreed to fill in for us for the rest of the week...and then we'll see where we are after next Monday's holiday. It could be a week of re-runs, but I hope not! Just letting you know why we are forced to suddenly and unexpectedly disappear for at least the rest of the week! My apologies. Though, as usual, Nicole will do a swell job of covering for us in our unexpected absence! Thanks for your understanding! --- BF

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Former FEC Chair Ann Ravel on FEC Repubs killing 'slam dunk' hush-money conspiracy 'directed' by Trump; Also: Computerized voting and tabulation has allowed my election nightmares to come true...
By Brad Friedman on 5/10/2021 6:46pm PT  

We've got two lede stories really on today's BradCast. You can decide for yourself which one is the more maddening. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Late last week, the bi-partisan Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced they were ignoring the advice of their own General Counsel by voting down further investigation of the Stormy Daniels hush-money case payoffs by a former disgraced President. Two Republican appointees voted to kill, two Dem appointees voted to continue the probe (with one Repub recusing and one independent absent for the vote). The way the broken, six-person FEC is structured, no investigations of campaign finance reform violations --- no matter how obvious and blatant, as in this case --- can move forward unless there are four votes to do so.

Here, it's a slam dunk. Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, was already found guilty and sent to prison for the criminal campaign finance conspiracy in which he paid off the adult film star to keep quiet about her affair with Trump. The affair took place ten years before the 2016 election. The payments were given to her just days before the election. It was clearly an election related expense, yet the Trump Campaign failed to report it, and Trump himself paid Cohen back for the payouts during his time as President.

Both Cohen and the DoJ stated in Court, before Cohen went to prison, that the payments were part of a criminal conspiracy "directed by" and "for the benefit of" Trump himself.

The explanation of the Republican commissioners on the FEC for killing the probe is ridiculously laughable, as we discuss with our guest today, former FEC Chair ANN RAVEL. She was appointed to the Commission under President Obama in 2013 and served until 2017. She, too, agrees this was a "slam dunk" case against Trump, which serves to highlight how the GOP have permanently "captured" the Commission in order to make certain that Republicans are never held to account for violations of federal campaign finance laws.

"Wanting to do nothing is exactly how the Republican Commissioners have always been able to assure that the Commission doesn't do what it is supposed to do to make elections and the electoral process fair, and to make sure that there is total disclosure of campaign finance activities," Ravel explains. "You're right to say that it's a 'slam dunk' case. In particular, because the [FEC's] General Counsel said [Trump's behavior] was 'knowing and willful', which it clearly was. 'Knowing and willful' is the criminal standard. So that may be an alert to the Justice Department that they need to now go forward and prosecute the case."

The DoJ prosecuted Cohen for participating in the conspiracy. Now the nation's top law enforcement agency needs to prosecute the man that the DoJ has already said "directed" it!

Ravel also offers her insight on how the FEC became so captured and broken in the first place (Hint: Trump's former White House Counsel and longtime GOP operative Don McGahn struck a corrupt bargain with Mitch McConnell years ago) and on the Democratic plan in the For the People Act (otherwise known as H.R.1 and S1) to reform the FEC. The plan would restructure it from a 6-person panel designed to deadlock and never move anything forward, to a 5-person panel of appointees selected by non-partisan judges and attorneys, with the fifth appointed by the President. No more than two people from any one political party could serve on the Commission at once, and appointees would have to have spent a number of years not working on political campaigns or as staffers for elected officials, among other sensible restrictions.

"The positive about what they have proposed in HR1 is that there would be a blue-ribbon commission, comprised of people who actually believe in the law and enforcement of the law, who would be nominating and reviewing particular individuals to be on the commission who would abide by the law. That is key to making the change --- to have people who are not beholden to a particular political party, who independently would look at the law and make decisions based on what the legal requirements are."

Naturally, Republicans oppose the reform (along with HR1 in its entirety) and are lying about it to say that it would turn the Commission from a bi-partisan commission into one that gives Democrats partisan control.

Ravel also explains how the Stormy Daniels case --- which can still be prosecuted on a criminal level by the DoJ --- is not necessary over at the FEC either, since the vote to kill the inquiry can now be appealed in a court of law by an outside group.

Then, I've got a bit of a today on the absurd clown show of an audit of the 2020 Presidential election still under way in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (which we've been covering in detail for the past several weeks); the legitimate audit, being led by several top shelf election and voting systems experts set to begin this week in Windham, New Hampshire (as we detailed in some length last Friday); and the remarkable 8,500 word deep-dive investigative report published over the weekend by Washington Post, detailing how the phony myth of Donald Trump's "stolen" 2020 election came together beginning way back in 2018.

In short (which is not easy with an 8,500 word story!), a wealthy Texas businessman and some Republican operatives calling themselves Associated Specials Operations Group (or ASOG) took the research on vulnerabilities in computer voting and tabulation systems compiled by folks like Bev Harris of Black Voting, Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, myself and others, to morph those very real vulnerabilities into phony claims of actual election fraud. Simply because a system is vulnerable, does not mean the vulnerabilities have been exploited. But such distinctions did not matter to this group which is clearly operating in bad faith, or to Trump who was happy to highlight any lie to cover for his shame of having been a failed, one-term President.

As I have been trying to explain for nearly 20 years on this beat, whether an election is stolen or not, the fact that we now use privatized, non-overseeable computers to cast and tabulate votes is itself a grave threat to democracy. Ultimately, as I've warned over and over again over the years (and as we are now seeing play out), it doesn't matter if an election is 100% accurate and secure if the public can't know that it is. Secret software and concealed vote counting inside computers run by private companies --- even when done perfectly and securely --- allows those operating in bad faith (as is the case with Republicans right now), to claim an election was stolen, even when there is no proof to support such an extraordinary charge. It's nearly impossible to refute such claims, bogus or otherwise.

I have warned about exactly this scenario as a dangerous threat to democracy itself for years, and now, as I explain on today's show, my worst nightmare is now playing out before all of our eyes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: L.A. Times energy reporter Sammy Roth; Also: DeSantis signs new FL voter suppression bill on Fox 'News'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/6/2021 7:23pm PT  

We apologize in advance for any whiplash induced by today's BradCast. The continuing madness and unending idiotic fallout from Donald Trump's Big Lie about a "stolen" 2020 election forces us to keep an eye on the MAGA Mob in the rear view mirror, even as we continue to try to look forward to Joe Biden's long-overdue efforts to save humanity by ensuring a livable planet...even for insane people. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

Join us for today's sunbelt trip from Sunny Florida to Sunny Arizona to Sunny California. Do buckle up first.

First up, Florida's new voter suppression bill --- which we discussed in detail with longtime, legendary Leon County, FL Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho earlier this week --- was signed into law today by the man Sancho warned is "far sharper than our ex-President" though "more vile, because he understands what he is doing". That would be the state's Republican Governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. And he signed the bill to make mail-in voting harder live on Fox "News"! Locking out his own local media from the ceremony in the bargain. That story should tell you just about everything you need to know about what the GOP has now come to. And what you can look forward to before 2024.

Next, the good news is that the rest of the media, and elected officials in Arizona, and even federal law enforcement officials at the U.S. Dept. of Justice are finally catching up with much of what we have been warning over the past week or two about what is going on in the "audit" theater circus show happening right now in Maricopa County (Phoenix). We told you on last Wednesday's BradCast --- via an exclusive, hour-long interview with two election integrity experts who had spent time inside the secret, tax-payer funded "audit" of the county's 2.1 million ballots by Cyber Ninjas, the private rightwing company with no experience in elections or voting systems --- about the lack of public or media oversight; lack of security of ballots (which, according to federal law, are supposed to remain in secure election official custody for 22 months after an election); lack of public tracking of tallies by the paid counters; ever-changing counting methods that couldn't possibly be completed by May 14th, when the Ninjas lose access to the rented Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum; and much more, including the news that ballots were being examined under microscopes and UV lights for evidence of things like missing folds in mail-in ballots and...yes, bamboo fibers in the ballot paper, which the QAnon folks carrying out this "audit" believe would be an indication that the ballots came fraudulently from China.

We then warned you on Monday's BradCast that the procedures document [PDF] turned over by the Ninjas in response to a court order after they argued their "audit" processes were "trade secrets", would allow them to change a minimum of 42,000 votes without setting off any mistally alarm bells inside the secret count. That, despite Biden having been certified as the winner of the state by just over 10,000 votes. I'm not sure that anybody else has noticed that part yet.

But the good news is that --- thanks to another court order --- some media and some officials (including a few from the AZ Sec. of State's office) are finally being allowed into the venue for limited observation of this GOP state Senate sponsored scam. AZ's Democratic Sec. of State Katie Hobbs has now sent a "sharply-worded" letter [PDF] with a litany of concerns --- many of which we've been trying to alert the world to --- to the defendants in the state lawsuit (the Ninjas, the state Senate President, and the Senate's liaison to the "audit", former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett), who must now reply, as per a settlement struck in court this week. The Dept. of Justice has also taken notice of what's going on, and has sent a letter [PDF] regarding some of the potential violations of federal law (such as the 22-month ballot retention issue.)

But it was some out-of-context remarks from John Brakey --- a longtime Democratic election integrity expert, founder of AUDIT USA, and my guest last week on The BradCast --- which seem to have set off the loudest alarms in the Twittersphere and Mediasphere. Dennis Welch, Political Editor for Arizona's CBS5 News and TV3, shamefully posted a truncated, minute and a half long clip of Brakey, who is observing the "audit" and assisting Bennett (for free, with no NDA!) describing what the wingut Ninjas are seeking in their search for bamboo fibers in the ballots.

It was only later that Welch posted the next sentence or two from Brakey (all 33 seconds of it) in which he explains: "I don't believe any of that" and that he hopes this "audit" will eventually "ungaslight" people who have been conned by the rightwingers. (Much as he had told us on the show last week.)

Unfortunately, more than a million viewers have seen the first clip on Twitter. That's more than ten times the number who saw the second one. So, Brakey --- who I had personally warned many times shouldn't be involved with these folks operating who are operating in bad faith, for exactly this reason --- was unfairly tarred by many as a QAnon conspirator. He isn't. At all. But that hasn't stopped some idiots --- some of whom should know better --- from attacking him as such and refusing to correct or remove their attacks even after learning they were wrong. John was explaining it, not supporting it!

In any event. At least BambooGate has got people noticing the Maricopa scam. We'll hope our friend and longtime colleague Brakey doesn't pay too high of a price for it.

Then, we finally get to look forward for a few blessed minutes today! President Biden recently doubled down on President Obama's pledge to cut deadly emissions that cause global warming, by vowing to cut greenhouse gas emissions by half (as compared to 2005 levels) by 2030. That ambitious goal is paired with an even more ambition pledge to reach net-zero emissions, economy wide in the U.S., by 2050!

While that seems difficult to imagine, perhaps it shouldn't be. As our guest today, SAMMY ROTH, energy reporter for Los Angeles Times details, the state of California's main grid actually reached 95% renewable energy usage for the first time one week ago Saturday! The milestone didn't happen long, and it was on a sunny, mild weekend day. Still, it's an encouraging sign for what is now quietly being done in the nation's most populous state.

The state grid, however, does not include the cities of Los Angles and Sacramento, which use their own power supplies. And Los Angeles is actually still using some energy created by coal. But Roth has good news there as well, after a landmark new report commissioned by L.A. from the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory lays out a road map for how one of the nation's largest cities could be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2035!

And, of course, if CA and Los Angeles can do it, so can the rest of the nation --- if they (and we) can overcome the political obstacles and dead-end fossil fuel industry money --- so that we can all safely survive to continue bickering about evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" for generations to come!...

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Also: Special election goes poorly for Dems in TX; The musical Marsh Family brighten our pandemic; Callers ring in on second shots...
By Brad Friedman on 5/3/2021 6:54pm PT  

After getting our second COVID vaccine shots on Friday, we return for today's BradCast. For Desi, it was mostly a breeze. For me, just a few hours after taking the photo at right, as discussed on today's show, it was a bit of a nightmare (if a worthwhile one) --- as explained today along with some special election news out of Texas and some disturbing exclusive information out of the 2020 election "audit" theater being carried out by Trump supporters in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

First up, news out of the Saturday special election in Texas' 6th Congressional District for a U.S. House seat left vacant by Republican Congressman Ron Wright, who died from COVID last December. His widow, Susan Wright, was the top vote-getter in the 23-person, all-parties race. And another Republican, GOP fundraiser and state Rep. Jake Ellzey reportedly came in second, narrowly edging out Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez by less than half a percentage point. Sanchez conceded on Sunday in the contest where most votes were cast at polling places on 100 percent unverifiable touchscreens and none of the candidates came close to the 50 percent mark that they'd need to beat to avoid an upcoming runoff election for the seat. Dems hopes of expanding their narrow majority in the U.S. House were dashed with the loss in the mostly rural, reliably Republican district south of Dallas.

While there were no challenges to the unverifiable results in Texas with two Republicans winning, Trump supporters in Arizona continue their tax-payer funded [PDF], but privately-run "audit" of 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots in Maricopa County, as we discussed last week in detail on the show with two experienced election auditors who had rare access inside the secret counting at the Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum, while media were locked out. Late last week, in response to a state judge's order, the Florida tech firm --- a group named Cyber Ninjas, with no experience in either elections or voting systems, who were retained by the GOP-majority state Senate to carry out this unprecedented "audit" --- revealed a 191-page document [PDF] supposedly detailing their recount and forensic audit procedures. (Though in fact, as we also report, these procedures have been changed many times since the "audit" began over a week ago.)

Many questions, such as why they are running ballots through a UV light, are not answered by the documents, which the far-right group, whose leader has claimed last year's Presidential election was stolen (without offering actual evidence to support the claim), attempted to keep concealed as "trade secrets".

Other information was revealed, however, such as the group's process for tallying ballots which, as I explain today, would actually allow the group to add (yes, steal) a minimum of 42,000 votes for Trump, without ever raising any alarms or red flags in the group's internal procedures. That, in race that was decided statewide for Joe Biden by just over 10,000 votes.

Worse, because the Ninjas are keeping all of their daily counts and tally sheets secret from the public, there will be no way to know at the end of the process (if they even finish before they must leave their rented venue on May 14), how they actually derived their numbers or if they, in any way, match up with what the paid counters actually tallied.

In short, we support any citizens being allowed to examine ballots to determine if elections are accurately tabulated --- even extreme partisans. But their are rules that need to be minded to assure integrity of that process as well. The process currently under way in AZ is a joke. It is election "audit" theater. That's because there is zero real oversight by the public in place. And the state GOP Senate has forced the County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D, who all opposed this privatized, tax-payer funded charade) to give up secure control of the actual ballots to the Ninjas, who could now do anything they want to them.

And while the documents are short on details on the group's actual tallying procedures, they are long on concerns about how "Antifa" might use extreme violence to attack the venue with firebombs and chemical weapons. Seriously. That's who these people are and how they think.

Finally, it was a looong weekend for me, after suffering from a couple of days of seemingly endless chills, fever and pounding headaches after receiving my second Moderna shot on Friday. For Desi, beyond a few mild aches and pains, it was a breeze. Still, it was in those horrible, fever dream moments that I came to appreciate how important it was for everyone to get their shots anyway. I knew I was lucky enough that whatever I was going through would not, in fact, be "endless", as it has been for so many unfortunate people who contracted the actual virus. So, I tell some truths about both what I went through (which media too often downplay), and why that made me happy --- not upset --- to have gone through it...and why you should too.

Also today, we share one of the great "parody" songs by the Marsh Family in Great Britain, who have become a bit of a sensation during the pandemic in the UK. Today's song is a beautiful, moving yet amusing take off on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, directed toward vaccine skeptics, called Have the New Jab. I liken this adorable family to the Family Von Trapp of Sound of Music fame!

And then we open up the phone lines to listeners who have recently had their 2nd jabs, to hear how things went for them, and if it was more like my experience or Desi's...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: John Brakey of AUDIT USA and Ray Lutz of Citizens Oversight from inside the 'secret' rightwing tally and forensic probe of 2.1M ballots from 2020, why there's so little transparency, and why it all matters..
By Brad Friedman on 4/28/2021 4:44pm PT  

Okay. Buckle up for today's BradCast special coverage. Seriously. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

As you've almost certainly heard by now, the Republicans in the Arizona state Senate have contracted [PDF] a rightwing tech outfit with no experience in elections or voting systems --- calling themselves Cyber Ninjas --- to oversee an unusual, controversial hand-count audit of the 2.1 million hand-marked paper ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona's 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections. Apparently, the only elections the Senate GOP believe may have been stolen by Dominion Voting Systems tabulation computers or by stuffing ballot boxes were the two statewide elections each won by Democrats for the first time in decades.

The Florida-based Cyber Ninjas are being paid $150,000 tax-payer dollars for this post-election investigation, while collecting an unknown amount of dark money from unknown sources. They have, to date, kept the entire process pretty much a secret, locking out the public and media alike from overseeing the (at least partially) tax-payer funded process inside the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix. The only window into the process for the public, by and large, up until now, have been from 9 video cameras streaming wide shots from different angles of whatever is going on on the main floor of the arena.

The Cyber Ninjas' leader, a guy by the name of Doug Logan, had promoted false, often ludicrous and evidence-free claims of fraud following the 2020 election, asserting that the election must have been stolen from Donald Trump. So, of course, the Arizona GOP Senate hired him to run this effort. In this case, the results in question in Maricopa --- a state which Biden reportedly won by just over 10,000 computer-scanned votes (less than half of a percentage point) --- were certified by the five-person GOP-majority Maricopa County Board of Supervisors (4 Rs and 1 D), the state's Democratic Sec. of State and Arizona's Republican Governor. It's only the state's far-right GOP Senate --- and millions of Trump supporters --- who believe the election must have been stolen for Joe Biden.

Still, some GOPers have their doubts. And we're always in favor of the public being able to check the results of hand-counted paper ballots for themselves whenever there are any questions --- justified or not --- regarding the results of any election, so that all voters can have confidence in the reported results. That is critical to the survival of American democracy. That said, such processes, particularly when they are tax-payer funded, must be open, transparent, overseeable and completely public processes. This process being carried out in Maricopa has decidedly not been that. With the Cyber Ninjas firm even arguing in court that their forensic processes must be kept a trade secret, just like the computer voting machine companies they (and we, for many years!) have complained about.

With no media allowed in (until a court order seems to have finally loosened that up a bit as of last night), there has been little if any information available to the public as far as what the hell is going on. The only reporter who seems to have gained access had signed up as an observer to work a 6-hour shift on Day 1 and discovered the counters were using blue pens --- which can be used to mark or spoil ballots. Following her complaints, they have been swapped out for red and green pens which cannot be read by the optical scanners. Beyond that, we've received little or no information on the process or progress of the count from public observers or media.

But we've had an inside track since the start of the count. And on today's show, we've got two long-time election integrity advocates who have been inside the Coliseum to observe over the last several days, one of them has been there since Day 1.

JOHN BRAKEY, Director of AUDIT USA, is actually working along side AZ's former Republican Sec. of State Ken Bennett --- as of now anyway, as Bennett serves as the Senate GOP's liaison to the count. Brakey, a longtime election integrity champion and transparency activist, is largely the only one involved in the effort who has experience with post-election audits and recounts. He's a Tucson-based Democrat, but has long fought for public oversight in elections across the country and joins us on the show today.

We're also joined by RAY LUTZ, Founder and Exec. Director of San Diego-based Citizens' Oversight Projects, which has helped organize and oversee many post-election audits over the years --- particular of electronic digital ballot images created by scanners when ballots are initially tallied. He spent the last several days inside the Coliseum, observing the count, by invitation of Brakey, until he'd decided he'd "seen enough" and headed back home to California last night.

Both explain what they have seen, what the secret process actually is (as far as they have been able to understand it); some of the positive elements that may come out of this exercise; and a number of very serious concerns they each share about the process, particularly when it comes to the lack of transparency for how the operation works, the lock out of media and the public, the lack of publicly disclosed running totals of the count (as in actual recounts) or comparisons to the initial tallies, and more.

In Brakey's case, he's taking action to try and improve the process. He tells us he filed a Public Records Request today with the Maricopa Board of Supervisors (which has long opposed this exercise) for the original counted vote records of the batches of ballots now being examined in the 15,000 seat arena. His hope is that the Cyber Ninja group, for their part, will publish their own daily results at the same time, so that there can be at least some public oversight of the process. That remains a work in progress, he explains. But Brakey --- who is receiving no money for the work (unlike pretty much everyone else involved in it) and has refused to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (as the Ninjas had initially asked) --- asserts that he is happy to talk about everything that he has seen and is prepared to walk away from the project if transparency is not quickly improved.

"That's what I'm doing here. I'm criticizing. I'm on them," he explains, after pushing to allow media in for several days. "I want you to know they have media in there right now. They have two people, they have a pool camera. They were nervous and I said, 'Don't be. This is the media. Give them what they need.' I want them to have the same access that they would get in [a public Maricopa County recount], and I'm fighting for that, and I'm winning."

For his part, Lutz says he had already grown somewhat frustrated with the lack of transparency, and decided to leave after observing for about two days. He details the complicated, incredibly slow, table-by-table, ballot-by-ballot effort that is being carried out. After he initially estimated the process they were using would take about 15 months to complete, Lutz explains that changes made to simplify the process have brought the task down to one that could be carried out in about a month, unless additional counting shifts are added. That, even though the group is supposed to have completed the entire effort just over two weeks from now, on May 14th.

"This group came in with no experience at all," Lutz says today, "with a lot of new-fangled ideas about how it would work. Apparently no one did any basic math to work out how long it would take. Now they're sitting here with a real big problem on their hands."

"I have to say, it looked like more of a big show than anything else when I first saw it," he says, referring to the color-coded tables and t-shirts being worn by workers, before explaining some of the efficiencies that have been implemented since the counting began. "Now, I have to say that a lot of what I see there is appropriate and pretty good in terms of their fencing off the ballots and how they keep them under control." Still, he is worried about what happens to the tally sheets being created at each individual table, because those are not being shared publicly and are being handed to someone who enters the numbers into a computer --- correctly or otherwise. "What we normally want to have --- and Citizens Oversight has watched many, many of these audits --- we want those sheets to be scanned immediately and published so they can't be altered, because those tally sheets now become just like ballots, but even more so, because they're the accumulation of all the ballot tallying."

He's also critical of the particular hand-count process being used which, he believes, may have an error rate of 1 to 2%, in order to somehow confirm the accurate tabulation of an election that was decided by less than one half of one percent. And we all discuss the unusual efforts by workers to do things like examine ballots under microscopes and with a UV light (apparently to look for bamboo fibers, suggesting the paper came from China, or to find a lack of creases in mailed-in ballots, suggesting the ballot box was somehow stuffed). Lutz also details the effort to take meticulous measurements of the size and thickness, as well as high-def photos, of each ballot, as part of some unclear process to determine whether they are real or fraudulent.

Yes, it's somewhat as nuts as it sounds. But voters are allowed to be nuts, if they like. Locking out the public from the process, however, remains a very serious concern, and leads to some heated exchanges, to say the least, on today's special BradCast coverage...offering a unique and exclusive look inside the Maricopa County, AZ "audit/recount".

"Somebody's going to throw the gauntlet down, and I'm throwing the gauntlet down," Brakey asserts under my questioning about oversight concerns. "And I guess if they don't want to do that, then I guess there's going to be a separation, and all of a sudden I'm going to be on the outside. And maybe that's what has to happen. Because I know that transparency is the solution. We're going to keep improving this process, or I'm outta here," he vows.

As noted, buckle up for this one. You've been warned...

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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

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Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

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Working class, poor waited decades for Dems' progressive, equitable, paradigm-shifting $1.9T COVID rescue, relief and stimulus package
Also: Rememberinig 1 year since the world locked down, 10 years since Japan's triple disaster; And Trump is in big trouble in GA...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2021 6:34pm PT  

If nothing else, the thing to remember from today's BradCast is that not one single Republican in either the House or Senate voted for Joe Biden and the Democrats' remarkably robust, progressive and equitably written American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion COVID rescue and relief package that history may someday regard as the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Reagan Era.

The President signed the sweeping bill on Thursday, which our friend David Dayen at The American Prospect described today as "maybe the largest pure economic uplift bill in U.S. history." GOPers may come to rue the day they didn't vote for it. Especially in 2022 when some of the key provisions --- like lowered health care premiums and monthly checks amounting to up to $3,600 per child, per year --- will expire unless those provisions are made permanent.

We discuss today a number of the less reported pieces built into the ARP, most of which --- unlike previous stimulus and rescue plans over the past several decades --- are crafted to benefit the poor and working class, and actually help lift many of them out of poverty. That is, by contrast, with the Trump/Republican 2017 tax cuts which also cost about $2 trillion, but overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the already wealthy.

All Republicans in both house of Congress voted against a nearly $2 trillion measure meant to largely help the middle class and the poor. Yet all Republicans in both houses of Congress voted in favor of the nearly $2 trillion measure to help the rich and corporations, which were already enjoying record profits at the time. Got it? Please keep that in mind --- and share it with your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers, in case they are lied to about all of this --- when 2022 rolls around.

This bill marks a fundamental progressive change in the way our federal government has been doing business for the past four decades since the so-called Reagan Revolution. And it comes not a moment too soon, as we discuss today.

Today also marks the one year anniversary since the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be an official pandemic, when I stated on the program (to the surprise of, at least, Desi Doyen) that America was "shutting down". We share a clip of that somewhat breathtaking historical moment today.

More than 2.5 million have since died around the world, but the U.S., under Donald Trump's horrifically failed leadership, saw more deaths than any other country, with more than half a million lost here and still counting. That, even as we represent only about 5 percent of the world's population.

It is also the 10th anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011. We remember that still-ongoing disaster as well today, and the nearly 16,000 lives that were lost that fateful day.

In somewhat brighter news...As Republican state lawmakers around the country are moving hundreds of bills in more than 40 states to try and disenfranchise voters in a way not seen since the end of Reconstruction, according to a new analysis by Washington Post, it may be Donald Trump's attempted election fraud that could be the biggest news in coming weeks. It appears he may be in even more trouble than it previously appeared in the state of in Georgia!

A new recording of his phone call to the top Georgia state election investigator, made during a post-election audit in Cobb County prior to Christmas last year, was released Wednesday night by the Wall Street Journal. We share the full, gob-smacking conversation, in which our then President is heard buttering up the investigator and telling her, among other things, that "when the right answer comes out, you'll be praised."

The newly released 6-minute recording with the Georgia Secretary of State's chief investigator Frances Watson, can't really be heard in any other way than Trump hoping to encourage her into finding "fraud" where none existed. The recording is now undoubtedly part of the growing body of evidence being examined by Fulton County, Georgia's District Attorney, Fani Willis. The Democratic prosecutor is investigating "the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration" after the 2020 Presidential election in the Peach State.

Willis has reportedly hired a racketeering and conspiracy expert for her grand jury probe, which could ultimately rope in Trump, his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who are all known to have tried to encourage state officials to change the results of Georgia's 2020 Presidential election after Trump lost. That alone is a state felony punishable by a year in jail. With added charges for racketeering and conspiracy, those convicted under those state felony statutes could face 20 years in jail!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more on the 10-year anniversary of the still-ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant and several much brighter and more hopeful pieces of news...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Among the stories covered on today's show...

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

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Guest: Slate's legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Virginia is no longer for death penalty lovers...
By Brad Friedman on 2/24/2021 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Try as they did, Donald Trump and the Republican Party were unable to steal the 2020 Presidential election. But they've got their plans in place for how to try and do it next time. They just need their currently stolen and packed Republican U.S. Supreme Court majority to help them pull it off. This week, SCOTUS chose not to do so --- even if they may in the future. But, in a separate decision, the Court did radically help increase the odds that our disgraced former President could be headed to jail before he's even able to run for office again. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some good news out of Virginia, where more people have been put to death by the Commonwealth's government than in any other state in the nation. Since their founding as a colony in 1608, some 1,390 people have been executed by the government there. Since SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty in 1976, Virginia has executed 113 people. That is more than any other state but Texas. This week, however, following Democrats gaining majorities in both chambers of the legislature, Virginia will now become the first Southern state --- and the 23rd in the union --- to abolish the abhorrent practice. And not a moment too soon, particularly given the systemic racism of their death penalty practices. For example, as the Death Penalty Information Center pointed out to Washington Post this week, "From 1900 to 1969...Virginia did not execute a single White person for any offense that did not result in death, while 73 Black men were executed for rape, attempted rape or robbery." So, yeah. Very good news out of Virginia this week, as Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to sign the long-overdue measures finally adopted by the state legislature.

Speaking of state legislatures, on yesterday's BradCast, we reported on this week's decision by SCOTUS to purge a bunch of held over Trump/GOP challenges to the 2020 election. Cases from Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona were all dismissed as moot. But dismissal of the Pennsylvania cases found three Justices --- Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch --- in dissent [PDF]. The two nearly identical cases in question had challenged the PA state Supreme Court's decision to extend the deadline [PDF] for the return of absentee ballots by three days after Election Day, due to the pandemic, slowdowns by the U.S. Postal Service and a provision in their state constitution mandating fair elections.

With all of their many other attempts to steal the 2020 election having failed, the GOP has now latched on to a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause to argue that only state legislatures --- not Governors, not Secretaries of State, not State Elections Board or even state Supreme Courts --- may set any procedure for federal elections. Therefore, the Trumpers argued in their now-dismissed Pennsylvania challenges, the three day extension by the PA Supreme Court to enforce their state's Constitution by allowing for the arrival of late mail-in ballots cast by Election Day, was an unlawful violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Though no SCOTUS majority has ever affirmed this extreme reading of the federal Constitution, this is what many Republicans have now decided to believe to make themselves feel better after losing last November. In Pennsylvania, however, there were only 10,000 late arriving ballots and Joe Biden won the Keystone State by about 80,000. So SCOTUS decided the issue was moot and dismissed the cases. But Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch argued the case should have been heard anyway.

"A decision in these cases would not have any implications regarding the 2020 election," Alito wrote in dissent. "But a decision would provide invaluable guidance for future elections." On yesterday's program, I actually agreed with Alito and explained why.

Today, for a counter-point, we're joined by Slate's great legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN who offered a very different view from mine in his own coverage of Monday's decision by the high court. While justifiably destroying Justice Thomas' solo dissent in which he argued that mail-in ballots are bad even if there is no fraud, simply because people may think there is fraud, Stern also argued that SCOTUS was right to dismiss the case, rather than hear it. In part, he argues, that's because this Court has been packed so far to the extreme right. "We should be very afraid of what the Court would say," he tells me. "And that fear is enough for us to just hope that the Justices put off a decision on this matter for as long as humanly possible."

But I disagree with Stern and, in a very spirited debate, explain why. Who wins that one? Tune in and decide for yourself.

Stern also comments today on whether our failed former President should be concerned that his own packed and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, in an apparently unanimous decision on Monday, finally allowed Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to obtain Trump's financial and tax records as part of Vance's grand jury criminal probe into alleged bank, tax and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization. In short, Stern asserts, "the answer is yes," Trump should be very concerned. "They're looking at felony offenses here, not just civil offenses, run-of-the-mill white collar stuff, but serious crimes. I do think there's a serious chance that we could see an indictment of Donald Trump coming down the pipeline in the near future." Though he does add a caveat or two.

Of even more immediate concern, Stern recently wrote, Trump's efforts to interfere with Georgia's election results --- for example, cajoling and threatening the state's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to "find" enough votes to declare him the winner --- could spell trouble, and even jail time, even sooner.

"You'll see some people argue that Trump can't be convicted under this law --- the ban on criminal solicitation of election fraud --- because he didn't have the requisite state of mind, because he didn't actually want the Sec. of State to falsify records because he was deluded enough to believe that there were actually 12,000 secret votes for him out there that could be found. That's a question for the jury, that's not a question for the prosecutors or the grand jury. That is something Trump could argue at a criminal trial," says Stern, before adding: "I think that any reasonable reading of that transcript proves that Trump was, in fact, looking for the Secretary of State to falsify records, to commit election fraud. It is very difficult to read those sentences in any other way."

He explains why Trump could soon be looking at anywhere from 1 to 3 years in that criminal probe by the Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney and whether he thinks it is actually possible that a former President of the United States may actually receive prison time before all of this is said and done...

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Special Coverage Day 2 with former Deputy Asst. AG Lisa Graves on the point-by-point case against Trump and how he might respond; Also: GA prosecutor opens criminal probe of Trump's attempted election theft...
By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: On the same day that news broke that Fulton County (Atlanta), Georgia's newly elected prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into Donald Trump's apparent attempt to steal the 2020 Presidential election in her state, the U.S. House Impeachment Managers began their not-unrelated and rather damning opening argument against the disgraced former President in his historic second U.S. Senate Impeachment Trial. And though it was not necessarily surprising, it was still stunning to see that Fox "News" didn't even bother to carry some of the most disturbing and chilling testimony and video presented on Wednesday. [Audio link to show follows below summary.]

Our special, seat-of-our-pants coverage continues today, as Democrats from the House laid out what certainly came across as a compelling, seemingly air-tight, point-by-point case against Trump. They detailed, through his own repeated tweets and media statements, all the way back to last Summer, how he cultivated and prepared his supporters for his false claim that, if he lost the election, it could only be due to massive election fraud.

While the Article of Impeachment itself, for "Incitement of Insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, focuses largely on that day's deadly attack by his MAGA Mob, Trump had laid the groundwork for the assault for months. The House Managers offered a meticulous presentation of tweets and media statements from the then-President, detailing how he used his various platforms to gin up false outrage about a "stolen election", both before and after the election itself. That, despite a lack of evidence to support his claims and his carefully orchestrated attack on the last day possible to prevent the final certification of Joe Biden's decisive Electoral College victory.

Lead Impeachment Manager Jamie Raskin (MD), describing Trump as "the Inciter-in-Chief," charged that his scheme was "the greatest betrayal of the Presidential Oath in the history of the United States." The entire team of Managers spelled out exactly how Trump "praised, supported and cultivated" the eventual violence that resulted in five deaths that day, including a Capitol Police officer, two officer suicides in the days that followed, and well over 100 serious injuries to police attempting to protect the Capitol and the hundreds of lawmakers inside.

"For months," Rep. Eric Swalwell (CA) explained during his presentation, "Trump assembled the logs and the kindling" to convince his supporters that the election would be rigged, "so if he lost, his supporters would be ready to light the match."  And they were --- especially after Trump "doused the flames with kerosene" once he lost the election and eventually ran out of non-violent option to overturn it.

Unfolding, appropriately enough, like a violent crime prosecution, the Managers detailed how Trump ignored more than 60 court challenges he lost (several of which were at the hands of federal judges he himself had appointed); pressured and threatened election officials in several states to change results in his favor; attacked Senators and members of the House for failing to take action on his behalf; pressured the Dept. of Justice to bring fraudulent fraud cases; and even used his platforms to repeatedly attack his own Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to try and steal the election for him.

By the time his supporters were primed to storm the Capitol on January 6, as previously unseen video and federal charging documents reveal, many in Trump's mob were focused on the assassinations of Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others. Chilling surveillance footage of fleeing lawmakers and courageous, quick-thinking law enforcement officials also reveals how close the insurrectionist mob actually came to being able to do so. It's miraculous that there weren't even more deaths.

Underscoring the entire case, however, is the fact that none of it --- none of the violence, none of the death --- would have occurred, had not Trump incited it and then failed to stop it. All of it. On purpose. Unapologetically, even now.

We're joined today for insight on today's historic proceedings and how Trump's defense team can possibly respond to it, by LISA GRAVES of True North Research. With her experience as a former Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the U.S. Justice Dept., a former Chief Counsel in the U.S. Senate, and a former Deputy Chief for the U.S. Court system, she brings a broad and helpful perspective to all of this.

Among the points discussed today, in addition to her general opinion of the case to date by the House Managers: How this Impeachment Trial differs both from Trump's first one and Bill Clinton's; Whether she would like to see witnesses called during this trial and, if so, who?; How much of this matter should be seen as "Kabuki Theater" given the general belief (true or not) that there are unlikely to be 17 Republican Senators willing to vote for conviction, as needed; Whether this Impeachment Trial helps or hurts the odds of criminal charges being brought against Trump in the future for this matter; And what she might expect from Trump's defense attorneys in response.

"I think it's vital that, under our Constitution, these proceedings take place even if there are members of that body who do not have the courage -- the moral courage --- or the devotion to our Constitution to do the right thing, based on the evidence that's been presented so far, to convict Donald Trump," Graves tells me. "I think there should be accountability for members based on how they vote in this trial. And people should be held to account for whether they are willing to speak up against this unprecedented assault on our democracy, on our legislative branch of government, on the rule of law, and on the very notion of how you determine elections are valid, which is the certification process that every single state engaged in."

"So, I think it's an important thing historically," she argues. "It's important for our Constitution. It's important for the people, regardless of the outcome."

Finally, we get to our latest Green News Report, with some troubling news across the planet, but also some fun, funny and even encouraging news to end a somewhat disturbing and chilling day in D.C....

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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