News You Can Use Digest - January 21, 2022 - State and Federal Communications

January 21, 2022  •  

News You Can Use Digest – January 21, 2022


DirecTV Says It Will Sever Ties with Far-Right Network One America News
MSN – Timothy Bella (Washington Post) | Published: 1/15/2022

DirecTV announced it will sever ties with One America News (OAN) after this year, pulling the conservative news channel from millions of homes. The channel, which has promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election and coronavirus pandemic, will be dropped in April when its contract expires. OAN’s sister channel, A Wealth of Entertainment, will also be removed from the satellite provider. AT&T has been criticized for playing a foundational role in building up OAN into a Donald Trump-friendly alternative to Fox News. Though DirecTV is now its own company, AT&T owns 70 percent of the satellite provider.

ExxonMobil Aims to Use a Radical Texas Law to Silence Its Critics – in California
Mother Jones – Chris McGreal | Published: 1/18/2022

ExxonMobil is attempting to use an unusual Texas law to target and intimidate its critics, claiming lawsuits against the company over its long history of downplaying and denying the climate crisis violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of free speech. ExxonMobil is asking the Texas Supreme Court to allow it to use the law, known as rule 202, to pursue legal action against more than a dozen California municipal officials. Exxon claims that in filing lawsuits against the company over its role in the climate crisis, the officials are orchestrating a conspiracy against the firm’s first amendment rights.

FEC Report Shows How National Party Committees Allegedly Blow Past Contribution Limits
MSN – Isaac Stanley-Becker (Washington Post) | Published: 1/14/2022

A fundraising committee operated jointly by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee in 2016 served as a vehicle for state parties to FEC’s general counsel found almost three years ago. The general counsel’s report, available since 2019, was newly released in an updated and unredacted form because of a development in an associated case. It mirrors findings from the general counsel’s office about similar activity by a joint fundraising committee benefiting Hillary Clinton in 2016. The alleged sum funneled through state party committees in that case was even larger: $112 million.

House Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Giuliani, Sidney Powell
MSN – Jacqueline Alemany and Tom Hamburger (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2022

The House committee investigating the insurrection of January 6, 2021, issued subpoenas to members of former President Trump’s outside legal team who pursued and disseminated unfounded claims of mass election fraud, including Trump’s former personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani, former White House aide Boris Epshteyn, and lawyers Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell. The committee has also subpoenaed and obtained records of phone numbers associated with Eric Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancé of Donald Trump Jr.

How More Than $404 Million in Taxpayer Money Got Locked Away in a Forgotten Government Fund – and Lawmakers Won’t Spend It or Return It
Yahoo News – Dave Levinthal (Business Insider) | Published: 1/18/2022

Holed away in a government account is a massive cash stash most anyone, from depleted federal programs to coronavirus-throttled charitable causes, would love to tap. But it sits idle and untouched. The intended beneficiaries of the taxpayer-fueled Presidential Election Campaign Fund – presidential candidates – do not want it, as they are soured by its restrictions on their fundraising and spending. Conservatives in Congress would prefer to disband the fund and repurpose its money. Many Democrats want the money to seed a reimagined public campaign finance program contained within a broader “democracy-reform” agenda.

Lawmakers Coming Under Increased Threats – Sometimes from One Another
Yahoo News – Rebecca Beitsch (The Hill) | Published: 1/17/2022

A little over a year after the violent attack on the Capitol, threats targeting lawmakers have only increased alongside a surge of violent speech shared online and even inside the building. Threats against lawmakers have reached an all-time high of 9,600, according to U.S. Capitol Police data. On the anniversary of that attack, the Department of Homeland Security warned that calls for violent action against lawmakers were picking up steam online. That includes a video calling for lawmakers to be hung in front of the White House that has now been viewed more than 60,000 times. Some of the violent rhetoric is coming from within Congress.

Legislatures Across Country Back Off Pandemic Protocols
Colorado Newsline – Sean Scully | Published: 1/19/2022

Across the nation, lawmakers are gathering for the annual ritual of legislative sessions, which in most states takes up the early months of the year. Unlike recent years, when masks and social distancing were common, if not the explicit rule, in many states hardly anyone would know the country was entering the third year of a pandemic. Even in states where COVID-19 protections do remain in place, the issue has exposed a sharp partisan divide and provoked unrest among lawmakers.

Manchin, Sinema Join with GOP in Rejecting Attempt to Change Filibuster Rules, Effectively Killing Democratic Voting Bill
MSN – Mike DeBonis (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2022

The year-long Democratic push for federal voting rights legislation died in the Senate after Republicans blocked an elections bill for the fifth time in six months and Democrats failed to unite their caucus behind a plan to rewrite the chamber’s rules and pass it anyway. The vote amounted to a bitter but unsurprising finale for the Democratic voting rights effort on Capitol Hill, a campaign backed by top party leaders and pushed by key elements of its coalition even as Sens. Joe Manchin and Kirsten Sinema made clear they would not weaken the 60-vote rule, defending it as a tool to protect minority-party rights and promote bipartisanship.

Now with Senate Allies, Spanberger’s Legislation to Ban Members of Congress from Trading Stock Gains Traction
MSN – Meagan Flynn (Washington Post) | Published: 1/17/2022

More than a year since U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger first put forth legislation that would ban members of Congress from trading stock, a flurry of action in the Senate has injected some momentum into the proposal. While it is traditionally tough to get Congress to police itself, Spanberger and her co-lead on the legislation, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), have built a bipartisan coalition around the issue spanning the ideological spectrum after several stock-trading controversies during the pandemic raised eyebrows.

Supreme Court Rejects Trump’s Request to Withhold Jan. 6 Materials from House Committee Investigating Capitol Riot
MSN – Robert Barnes (Washington Post) | Published: 1/19/2022

The Supreme Court rejected former President Trump’s request to block the release of some of his White House records to a congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. The order turned aside Trump’s request to block the records’ release while the case regarding his assertion of executive privilege continues through the courts. It means there is no legal obstacle to release of the materials from the National Archives and Trump’s lawyers have argued that would make the case moot.

Ted Cruz Finds Friendly High Court Audience in Campaign Finance Challenge
Courthouse News Service – Kelsey Reichman | Published: 1/19/2022

Members of the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority seemed sympathetic to Sen. Ted Cruz in a challenge he brought to a provision of campaign finance law limiting the repayment of federal candidates’ loans to their campaigns. The law places a $250,000 limit on the repayment of personal loans from candidates to campaigns using money from postelection donations. Seeking to test the constitutionality of the law, Cruz lent $260,000 to his 2018 re-election campaign. Cruz says the provision has the effect of deterring the loans. The Biden administration argues Congress intended the provision as an anti-corruption measure.

The Justice Dept. Alleged Jan. 6 Was a Seditious Conspiracy. Now Will It Investigate Trump?
MSN – Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Tom Hamburger, and Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) | Published: 1/15/2022

The Justice Department’s decision to charge Oath Keepers with seditious conspiracy makes clear prosecutors consider the attack on the U.S. Capitol part of an organized assault to prevent the peaceful transfer of presidential power. But so far, the department does not appear to be directly investigating the person whose desperate bid to stay in office motivated the mayhem, former President Trump, either for potentially inciting a riot or for what some observers see as a related pressure campaign to overturn the results of the election.

From the States and Municipalities

California Fired OC District Attorney’s Investigator Who Accused Todd Spitzer of Bribery Gets Job Back in Arbitration
Orange County Register – Tony Saavedra | Published: 1/17/2022

Michael Leb, a fired Orange County district attorney’s office investigator who accused District Attorney Todd Spitzer of “pay-to-play” schemes, won back his job in arbitration. Arbitrator Michael Leb, who concluded the firing process “was tainted. The charges were not proven, and the termination of Tucker was not for reasonable cause.” Tucker will be paid more than a year in back pay. Tucker was fired amid allegations he unilaterally began investigating his suspicions that Spitzer was giving preferential treatment to campaign donors. Tucker also accused Spitzer with colluding with investigation bureau chief Paul Walters to bury the findings.

California Tech Companies Spend Millions on California Political Gifts
MSN – Don Thompson (Associated Press) | Published: 1/14/2022

Gov. Gavin Newsom solicited donations totaling nearly $227 million from Facebook, Google, and other private California companies and groups to combat the coronavirus pandemic and help run parts of his administration, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission. While California limits the amount of the gifts and campaign contributions to politicians, there are no limits on so-called behested payments. They are reportable only if they are made at the suggestion of a public official to someone else for a legislative, governmental, or charitable purpose, and only if payments from a single source reach $5,000 in a calendar year.

Colorado Campaign Contributions Didn’t Require Commissioner’s Recusal, Court Rules
Legal Newsline – Daniel Fisher | Published: 1/19/2022

Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional boundaries for determining political conflicts-of-interest, a Colorado court rejected claims that Larimer County Commissioner Tom Donnelly should have recused himself from voting on a concrete plant permit because the company’s shareholders contributed several thousand dollars to his campaign. Central to the decision was the Supreme Court’s 2009 decision Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., which said the due process rights of citizens can be violated in “rare,” “exceptional,” and “extreme” cases where a politician’s vote appears to reflect large campaign contributions.

Colorado Grand Jury to Investigate Election Tampering Allegations in Mesa County
Canon City Daily Record – Saja Hindi (Denver Post) | Published: 1/13/2022

State and local officials are launching a grand jury investigation into allegations of election equipment tampering and official misconduct in Mesa County, Colorado. Authorities have been investigating a possible security breach in County Clerk Tina Peters’ office after Peters and others allegedly allowed an unauthorized person access to elections equipment. The secretary of state’s office asked Peters to sign a document that placed limits on what she can do for the 2022 elections if she wants to return as clerk, but Peters rejected the offer.

Florida Florida Governor Proposes Special Police Agency to Monitor Elections
MSN – Lori Rozsa and Beth Reinhard (Washington Post) | Published: 1/18/2022

A plan by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would establish a special police force to oversee state elections, the first of its kind in the nation, and while his fellow Republicans have reacted tepidly, voting rights advocates fear it will become law and be used to intimidate voters. The proposed Office of Election Crimes and Security would be part of the Department of State, which answers to the governor. DeSantis is asking the Legislature to allocate nearly $6 million to hire 52 people to “investigate, detect, apprehend, and arrest anyone for an alleged violation” of election laws. They would be stationed at unspecified “field offices throughout the state” and act on tips from “government officials or any other person.”

Florida Records: Tallahassee strategist helped boost ghost candidates with dark money ad buy
MSN – Samantha Gross (Miami Herald) | Published: 1/18/2022

A longtime political strategist paid for more than $500,000 in misleading mailers promoting no-party candidates in three key Florida Senate races in 2020, according to court records released as part of a public corruption probe. Investigators say the ads were meant to confuse voters to benefit the Republican candidates in the races. The mailers featured messaging on issues that historically appeal to Democrats and promoted no-party candidates who had not actively campaigned. The ads urge voters to “cut the strings” from party-backed candidates.

Georgia Atlanta Public Corruption Trials to Begin After Four Years, Trump-Related Turnover of Prosecutors
Saporta Report – David Penered | Published: 1/18/2022

The federal prosecution of alleged corruption at Atlanta City Hall appears to be advancing after a delay. There are four upcoming trials that could last through the year, and perhaps longer. Authorities filed indictments against public officials and vendors whose city contracts ranged in the millions of dollars. Former President Trump may have had a role in the prosecution’s delay. Three U.S. attorneys have served in Atlanta in the past year. The fourth prosecutor in line to lead the office is Ryan Buchanan, who was nominated by President Biden and is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Illinois ‘They All Need Somebody That Does What I Do’; Unsealed affidavit reveals new details in Ald. Edward Burke corruption probe
Yahoo News – Jason Meisner (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 1/14/2022

An FBI search warrant affidavit that led to the 2018 raid on Ald. Edward Burke’s City Hall offices was made public, providing new detail on the hundreds of audio and video recordings made in the corruption case that rocked Chicago politics. The affidavit paints a picture of Burke at the height of his power as chair of the Finance Committee, accusing him of constantly prowling for new business for his private law firm and making repeated offers to grease the wheels at City Hall for those he favored.

Maryland Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby Indicted on Federal Charges She Lied on Financial Transactions to Buy Homes in Florida
Yahoo News – Justin Fenton (Baltimore Sun) | Published: 1/13/2022

A federal grand indicted Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, on charges of perjury and making false statements with a series of financial transactions that helped her buy a condominium on Florida’s Gulf Coast and another property near Orlando. Mosby is charged with falsely claiming to suffer financial hardship from the coronavirus to obtain an early withdrawal from her retirement savings to purchase the homes. Prosecutors also allege she lied on a mortgage loan application by hiding an outstanding federal tax debt.

Massachusetts Lyft Makes Largest One-Time Political Donation in Massachusetts History, Fueling Gig Worker Ballot Fight
MSN – Matt Stout (Boston Globe) | Published: 1/18/2022

The coalition pushing petitions that could reshape how gig economy workers are classified in Massachusetts took in the single largest political donation in state history, helping fund a phalanx of consultants, pollsters, and signature gatherers driving the questions toward the ballot. The rideshare giant Lyft gave $14.4 million to a committee supporting the petitions, most of which came in a $13 million donation on December 30. The committee enlisted Conan Harris & Associates, a management consulting firm founded by the husband of U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Michigan Ex-Detroit Councilman André Spivey Gets 2-Year Sentence in Bribery Case
Detroit News – Robert Snell and James David Dickson | Published: 1/19/2022

A federal judge sentenced former Detroit City Councilperson André Spivey to two years in federal prison for receiving almost $36,000 in bribes, part of a sprawling corruption scandal engulfing City Hall and the police department. Spivey received about $36,000 in the scheme from a towing industry figure who was working undercover for the FBI, prosecutors said. Spivey received the money on eight separate occasions during a five-year period ending in 2020, including cash during a secret payoff at his 46th birthday party.

Michigan Michigan Attorney General Refers Investigation into Fake Republican Electors to Federal Prosecutors – Malachi Barrett | Published: 1/14/2022

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she gave federal prosecutors the details of a year-long investigation into Republicans who signed false documents asserting former President Trump won Michigan’s Electoral College votes. Sixteen Republicans falsely identified themselves as Michigan’s “duly elected and qualified electors” in unofficial certificates that were sent to federal officials who record the Electoral College vote following the 2020 election. Nessel said federal prosecutors could consider fraud and charges, and her office is still considering whether to bring state-level charges.

Missouri The Kansas City Star Seeks to Intervene in Independence Suit, Unseal Mayor’s Deposition
Kansas City Star – Kevin Hardy | Published: 1/19/2022

The Kansas City Star asked to intervene in a civil lawsuit in Independence for the purpose of unsealing the sworn testimony of Mayor Eileen Weir. In its motion, The Star argues Weir failed to show any legal cause for sealing her deposition and says its closure is a violation of First Amendment protections. Rules say individuals may seek protective orders “for good cause shown.” The Star argues Weir included no justification, but only referenced the fact that she was the mayor and third parties were seeking copies of her deposition transcript.

Montana Federal Judge Strikes Down Montana’s Clean Campaign Act
Helena Independent Record – Sam Wilson | Published: 1/18/2022

U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy ruled a Montana law that was meant to curb last-minute campaign attacks violates free speech rights. Molloy said the Clean Campaign Act “delays, and sometimes even prevents, political speech on the basis of content.” Montana Citizens for Right to Work sued after the state’s Commissioner of Political Practices found it failed to follow the law’s “Fair Notice” provision by giving candidates a heads-up on negative mailers sent out shortly before Election Day in 2020. It is unclear whether the state will appeal the ruling.

New York N.Y. Attorney General Outlines Pattern of Possible Fraud at Trump Business
MSN – Jonah Bromwich, Ben Protess, and William Rashbaum (New York Times) | Published: 1/19/2022

New York Attorney General Letitia James accused Donald Trump’s family business of repeatedly misrepresenting the value of its assets to bolster its bottom line, saying in court papers the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices. The filing marked the first time the attorney general’s office leveled such specific accusations against the former president’s company. Her broadside ratchets up the pressure on Trump as he seeks to shut down her investigation, which he has called a partisan witch hunt.

Ohio FirstEnergy Collected $460 Million from Customers; Auditor Unsure If It Was Spent on Bribes
Ohio Capital Journal – Jake Zuckerman | Published: 1/18/2022

There is no clear evidence to show the $460 million that FirstEnergy charged its customers went to its stated purpose of modernizing the electric grid, an audit found. A 2019 Ohio Supreme Court ruling blocked the company from continuing to apply the charge to customer bills. Daymark Energy Advisors, in an audit for the Public Utility Commission sought to follow the money. The audit comes as consumer advocates have demanded answers as to whether FirstEnergy used the funds in its $60 million political bribery scheme it operated.

Ohio Ohio Supreme Court Invalidates GOP-Approved Congressional Map ‘Infused with Undue Partisan Bias’
Yahoo News – Jessie Balmert and Laura Bischoff (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 1/13/2022

The Ohio Supreme Court struck down the state’s congressional district map, saying Republicans violated the Ohio Constitution by drawing districts that favored GOP candidates. That violated language overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2018 to prevent a map that unduly favored one party or its incumbents. “When the dealer stacks the deck in advance, the house usually wins,” wrote Justice Michael Donnelly in the court’s opinion.

Pennsylvania Pa. Legislature’s Redacted Legal Bills Flout Court Ruling, Leave Taxpayers Guessing
Spotlight PA – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) and Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 1/11/2022

In May, GOP lawmakers who control the state House and Senate hired the chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania to represent them in legal matters at $575 an hour. Within three weeks, Lawrence Tabas and his law firm had charged the chambers more than $36,000 for 78 hours of work, records show. What Tabas did for the Legislature, however, is a mystery. Republican leaders redacted all details about his work from his contract and other public records, continuing a pattern of secrecy surrounding the Legislature’s agreements with private lawyers.

South Carolina Will 2022 Be the Year for Ethics Reform in South Carolina?
Charleston Post and Courier – Avery Wilks | Published: 1/17/2022

Months after a newspaper investigation exposed how dozens of political officials across South Carolina get away with refusing to pay their ethics fines, state lawmakers appear to be taking action. A Senate committee will soon debate a proposal to ban such officials from seeking reelection unless they pay their penalties, an effort to make politicians take the state’s ethics laws, and the watchdog that enforces them, more seriously. It is one of more than two dozen good government bills lawmakers could consider as they begin their 2022 session.

South Dakota Investigators Say South Dakota AG Was Untruthful About Crash
Yahoo News – Stephen Groves (Associated Press) | Published: 1/19/2022

Criminal investigators told South Dakota lawmakers they did not believe the state’s attorney general when he told them he never saw the body of the man he fatally struck in a crash in 2020. Investigators said they doubted Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s insistence, both in public and in law enforcement interviews, that he initially thought he hit an animal. A House committee is weighing whether Ravnsborg should face impeachment charges for his conduct. He pleaded no contest to a pair of misdemeanors last year and has said he did not realize he struck Joseph Boever until returning to the scene the next day.

Tennessee Former Tennessee House Speaker Casada and Ex-Aide Subpoenaed Over Faith PAC
Yahoo News – Andy Sher (Chattanooga Times Free Press) | Published: 1/15/2022

The Tennessee Registry of Election Finance moved to subpoena former House Speaker Glen Casada in an effort to audit the Faith Family Freedom Fund, a PAC that spent $7,000 attacking an incumbent lawmaker in 2020. The registry also targeted Casada’s former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, and state Rep. Todd Warner. The fund’s treasurer, Sydney Friedopfer testified she opened the PAC at the request of Cothren, her then-boyfriend. The PAC was used to attack then-Rep. Rick Tillis in the GOP primary race with Warner.

Tennessee State Officials Fine Nashville Council Member $360K for 36 Campaign Finance Violations
Yahoo News – Cassandra Stephenson (The Tennessean) | Published: 1/13/2022

Nashville Council member Jonathan Hall failed to file multiple mandatory campaign finance reports on time, or at all, during election cycles in 2018 and 2019, according to a letter from the Bureau of Ethics and Campaign Finance. The agency’s counsel, Lauren Topping, said the allegations span 36 individual violations. Of the reports that Hall’s campaign did file, some lack required donor and vendor information and itemized expenses. Some contain unexplained discrepancies deemed “troubling” by Assistant District Attorney General Brian Ewald. Hall is liable for $360,000 in civil penalties in the case.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller’s Political Consultant Indicted on Charges of Theft, Bribery in Hemp License Scheme
Texas Tribune – Sneh Dey | Published: 1/18/2022

Todd Smith, a top political consultant to Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, was indicted on felony charges of theft and commercial bribery related to taking money in exchange for state hemp licenses that are doled out through Miller’s office. Smith and others were accused of soliciting up to $150,000 to get an “exclusive” hemp license from the Department of Agriculture. Smith allegedly said $25,000 would be used for a public poll on hemp. A hemp license from the state costs $100, according to the arrest warrant.

Texas Election Officials in Texas Reject Hundreds of Ballot Applications Under State;s New Voting Restrictions
MSN – Eugene Scott (Washington Post) | Published: 1/14/2022

Election officials in one of the most populous counties in Texas have rejected about half of the applications for ballots because of the state’s new voting restrictions enacted by Republicans last year. The clerk’s office in Travis County, the fifth-most-populous county and home to the capital of Austin, cited the law’s recent changes to identification requirements in rejecting about half of the 700 mail-in applications. Other county clerk’s offices in the state are also rejecting applications that fail to meet the new standard.

Virginia Republican Anger, Progressive Concern Combine in Push to Ban Political Spending by Utilities
Virginia Mercury – Sarah Vogelsong and Graham Moomaw | Published: 1/18/2022

Legislative proposals to curb Virginia utilities’ political contributions may be gaining new traction in Richmond as old resentments over a 2015 utility rate freeze law combine with progressive Democrats’ skepticism of utility influence and Republican anger over Dominion Energy’s contributions to a shadowy PAC attacking Gov. Glenn Youngkin during the 2021 elections. Political contributions by utilities have been a hot-button issue in Virginia in recent years largely due to Dominion, the state’s largest electric utility and for many years the biggest corporate donor in state politics.

Virginia Youngkin’s Cabinet Shares Ties to Fossil Fuels and Energy Companies
Center for Responsive Politics – Jimmy Cloutier | Published: 1/13/2022

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be his secretary of natural resources drew backlash from Democratic lawmakers and climate activists, who expressed concern about the onetime lobbyist’s ties to the coal industry and his environmental record under former President Trump. As secretary of natural resources, Wheeler would occupy the state’s top environmental post. Wheeler is not the only nominee or staff member in Youngkin’s incoming administration to share ties to fossil fuel companies and energy providers.

Washington DC DC Pay-to-Play Law to Take Effect November 2022
JD Supra – Staff | Published: 1/18/2022

The District of Columbia’s long-awaited “pay-to-play” law will take effect on November 9, 2022, after over two years of delay. Under the law, certain entities and individuals will be prohibited from making political contributions to certain government officials. In general, the ban will affect those having or seeking business of $250,000 or more with the city government. The individuals covered generally include senior officers at covered entities.

Wisconsin Wisconsin Clerks Rush to Rewrite Voting Instructions After Judge Rules Absentee Ballot Drop Boxes Are Illegal
Yahoo News – Patrick Marley (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) | Published: 1/14/2022

Election clerks around Wisconsin scrambled to rewrite their instructions to voters after a judge ruled absentee ballot drop boxes are not allowed under state law. The ruling by Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Michael Bohren is likely to be appealed, but for now, clerks are assuming the decision will remain in place. Bohren’s ruling also barred people from returning any absentee ballots other than their own. That means political groups cannot pick up ballots for voters, but also that people cannot return the ballots of their spouses, parents, or neighbors.

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