News You Can Use Digest - July 23, 2021 - State and Federal Communications

July 23, 2021  •  

News You Can Use Digest – July 23, 2021


2020 Presidential Polls Suffered Worst Performance in Decades, Report Says
MSN – Dan Balz (Washington Post) | Published: 7/18/2021

Public opinion polls in the 2020 presidential election suffered from errors of “unusual magnitude,” the highest in 40 years for surveys estimating the national popular vote and in at least 20 years for state-level polls, according to a study. Polls understated the support for then-President Trump in nearly every state and by an average of more the three percentage points overall. Polls in U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races suffered from the same problem. Task force members were not able to reach definitive conclusions on exactly what caused the problems in the most recent polls and therefore how to correct their methodology ahead of the next elections.

‘A Propaganda Tool’ for Trump: A second federal judge castigates attorneys who filed a lawsuit challenging the 2020 results
MSN – Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 7/16/2021

Two Colorado lawyers filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of 160 million American voters, alleging a vast conspiracy to steal the 2020 presidential election by the voting equipment manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems, Facebook, its founder Mark Zuckerberg, his wife Priscilla Chan, and elected officials in four states, and asking for $160 billion in damages. The case was dismissed in April, but a federal judge is considering disciplining the lawyers for filing a frivolous claim – sharply questioning the duo in a hearing about whether they had allowed themselves to be used as “a propaganda tool” of former President Trump.

Battle for Power in Haiti Extends to Lobbying in Washington
New York Times – Kenneth Vogel and Natalie Kitroeff | Published: 7/21/2021

The struggle for power in Haiti after the assassination of the country’s president has spilled onto K Street, where rival Haitian politicians, business leaders, and interest groups are turning to lobbyists to wage an expensive and escalating proxy battle for influence with the United States. Documents, interviews, and communications among Haitian politicians and officials show a scramble across a wide spectrum of Haitian interests to hire lobbyists and consultants in Washington and use those already on their payrolls in the hopes of winning American backing in a period of leadership turmoil in Haiti.

Bipartisan House Probe of Jan. 6 Insurrection Falls Apart after Pelosi Blocks Two GOP Members
MSN – Marianna Sotomayor, Jacqueline Alemany, and Karoun Demirjian (Washington Post) | Published: 7/21/2021

Plans for a bipartisan committee to investigate the January 6 insurrection fell apart after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved to block two controversial Republicans appointed by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy from sitting on the panel, paving the way for two separate and largely partisan investigations of the violent attack on the Capitol. Pelosi called on McCarthy to name two new Republicans to the committee after refusing to appoint conservative Reps. Jim Jordan and Jim Banks, a privilege she has as speaker. As staunch backers of former President Trump, both members voted against his impeachment and pushed to overturn the election results.

Democrats Leverage Legal Experience in Voting Rights Push
MSN – Michael Macagnone (Roll Call) | Published: 7/21/2021

There are a handful of House voting rights attorneys-turned-lawmakers helping to write the latest version of Democrats’ Voting Rights Act bill, which include provisions to push back on a swath of changes to election laws state Legislatures across the country have passed. Critics argue those changes will make it harder for many Democratic-leaning groups, including minority communities, to cast a ballot. About a dozen legislators on both sides of the aisle, although mostly Democrats, have formal experience with redistricting, as attorneys or state legislators.

Did Rick Scott Break Campaign Finance Law in 2018? Federal Regulators Tie, Case Closed.
Miami Herald – Steve Contorno | Published: 7/16/2021

A three-year probe into U.S. Sen. Rick Scott ended with the FEC deadlocked on whether he and a political committee he once led violated campaign laws during his 2018 bid for Senate. A split decision along party lines comes as the FEC’s general counsel concluded there was reason to believe Scott broke the law. At issue is Scott’s involvement with New Republican PAC, a committee first created in 2013 by a Republican operative.

It’s Not Just Voting Rights. Republicans Are Going After Ballot Campaigns.
Yahoo News – Liz Crampton and Mona Zhang (Politico) | Published: 7/20/2021

There is a wave of legislation moving through GOP-controlled state Legislatures that is intended to combat progressive policymaking at the ballot box. Successful referendums to expand Medicaid, legalize marijuana, and fund public education through taxes on the wealthy have all faced similar threats following consternation from conservative lawmakers. As Democrats have decried Republican efforts to restrict voting rights, lawmakers have also quietly chipped away at the citizen-driven referendum process in statehouses across the country. Lawmakers have also attempted to retroactively undo parts of initiatives approved by voters in some states.

Justice Department Curtails Seizure of Reporters’ Phone, Email Records in Leak Investigations
MSN – Devlin Barrett (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2021

Attorney General Merrick Garland sharply limited how and when prosecutors can secretly obtain reporters’ phone and email records, formalizing a Biden administration decree that the government would stop using secret orders and subpoenas for journalists’ data to hunt for leakers. The previous Justice Department rules for using reporters’ data to pursue unauthorized disclosures of classified information were widely criticized by First Amendment advocates and members of Congress.

Lobbyists with Biden Ties Enjoy Surge in Revenue, Clients
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 7/21/2021

Lobbyists with ties to President Biden are flourishing as corporate clients seek to influence Biden’s ambitious agenda. Business is booming on K Street, with many of the leading lobbying firms enjoying record revenues in recent months. Lobbyists sporting connections to the White House are in high demand as Biden negotiates trillion-dollar spending plans and his administration attempts to aggressively regulate corporate giants.

‘Normal Is Not Good Enough’: After Trump, pressure’s on Biden to create new ethics rules
MSN – Anita Kumar (Politico) | Published: 7/16/2021

Six months into President Biden’s term, watchdog groups and some Democratic lawmakers are pushing the president to follow through on his campaign promise to press for an aggressive 25-point plan for ethics reform, fearful the window to do so may be closing and with it an opportunity to prevent the lapses of the Trump years from happening again. Biden established strong ethics rules for his own aides, but executive actions only last as long as the president in office is willing to live by them. The longer lasting reforms, reform groups say, come through legislative action.

Rep. Michelle Steel Reported $7,900 Donation from Woman Who’d Died Months Earlier
MSN – Kate Ackley (Roll Call) | Published: 7/19/2021

A joint fundraising committee controlled by U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel disclosed a contribution of $7,900 earlier this year. But the reported donor had been dead for seven months. Steel’s campaign amended disclosure forms filed to show the money coming from the decedent’s husband, who was also a donor on the original disclosure. Dead people are not supposed to make political contributions unless they leave instructions for managers of their estates to do so. But one expert said other campaigns have run into trouble in the past when depositing checks from joint accounts, which appears to be what happened in Steel’s case.

Trump Adviser Tom Barrack Arrested on Foreign-Agent Charges
MSN – Josh Gerstein (Politico) | Published: 7/20/2021

Tom Barrack, a longtime supporter of and adviser to former President Trump, was arrested on charges he secretly acted in the U.S. as an agent for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Barrack is accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and four counts of making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors allege Barrack used his relationship with Trump to lobby on behalf of the UAE without registering as a lobbyist or telling administration officials he was working on the country’s behalf. They also say he lied to FBI agents during an interview about his dealings with the Persian Gulf nation.

Trump Foreign Business Dealings Attract Scrutiny as New York Probe Heats Up
Center for Responsive Politics – Anna Massoglia | Published: 7/20/2021

As the New York attorney general’s criminal investigation into the Trump Organization heats up, former President Trump’s business empire is facing further scrutiny in Scotland while scrubbing longtime Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg’s name from corporate filings across the globe. Weisselberg is facing a 15-count indictment against him and the Trump Organization in New York. Scotland’s Court of Session has heard arguments in a judicial review of the Scottish government’s decision against investigating purported discrepancies in Trump’s financial reporting and two golf club purchases.

Trumpworld Lobbyists Find Life Just Isn’t the Same Under Joe
Politico – Theodoric Meyer | Published: 7/21/2021

When Donald Trump took office in 2017, the handful of K Street lobbyists who could boast ties to him were inundated with calls from potential clients. Six months into the Biden administration, several Trump-connected firms together are down millions of dollars in fees compared to a year earlier; one prominent firm with Trump ties has collapsed, and another has withdrawn from Washington entirely. K Street always experiences shake ups when power changes hands. But the dearth of lobbyists with connections to Trump when he assumed office in 2017 drew a clutch of operatives with ties to him to Washington.

What Were the Capitol Rioters Thinking on Jan. 6?
MSN – Dan Zak and Karen Heller (Washington Post) | Published: 7/20/2021

Were the people involved in the breach of the Capitol acting on their most deeply held convictions, or were they somehow not themselves on January 6? Months of evidence, court filings, and motion hearings have created a composite sketch of the people arrested and of the country many said they were fighting for. Some defendants seemed bent on bloodshed and were charged with felonies including conspiracy. Many defendants are charged with misdemeanors, such as disorderly conduct; their legal defense rests on the distinction between causing the chaos and merely being swept up in it.

Zombie Campaigns-to-Be Hold Millions in Cash with Murky Rules
Bloomberg Government – Kenneth Doyle and Nancy Ognanovich | Published: 7/19/2021

Federal law says campaign contributions must be used to run for office or pay for official expenses – “personal use” of the money is barred. But the line between personal and political is becoming blurred, with ex-lawmakers in recent years spending millions of dollars to help elect other candidates, including family members, or to fund nonprofit organizations they support. If a recent court decision holds up, former lawmakers may even be able to tap campaign funds to repay old personal loans they made to their accounts. Many of these so-called zombie committees last for years after the lawmakers who established them left electoral politics.


Canada Several of Doug Ford’s Key Pandemic Decisions Were Swayed by Business Interests, Star Analysis Suggests
Toronto Star – Richard Warinca | Published: 7/15/2021

At crucial points large and small since Ontario first declared a state of emergency in March of 2020 the government has made decisions that align with the interests of lobbyists – many of whom have close ties to Premier Doug Ford, his party, or both – and the businesses they represent. Those decisions have often favored certain sectors over others and have, at key moments in the pandemic, gone against public health advice, delaying or fracturing lockdowns.

From the States and Municipalities

Arizona Judge: Arizona Senate must disclose who is funding its election review
Tucson Sentinel – Jim Small (Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting) | Published: 7/15/2021

A judge said the Arizona Senate’s reasoning for why it rejected a public records request for documents relating to the ongoing ballot review, including who is funding the effort, would lead to the “absurd result” of effectively gutting state public records law and “erode any sense of transparency” in government. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp sharply criticized the Senate’s defense in rejecting the chamber’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by American Oversight.

California San Diego City Attorney Withdraws Law Firm’s $250,000 Contract to Help Defend New Franchise Deal with SDG&E
San Diego Union Tribune – Rob Nikoleswki | Published: 7/20/2021

The San Diego city attorney withdrew a contract of up to $250,000 from an international law firm after a potential conflict-of-interest was pointed out by two opponents of the city’s recently signed agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The city attorney originally sought to retain the services of Dentons to provide legal services for handling implementation and litigation dealing with the new franchise agreement. But two people said after each performed a Google search, they came across a presentation from Dentons that included a mention the firm had represented Sempra, the parent company of SDG&E, regarding projects Sempra had in Mexico.

California Who’s In? California Recall Candidate List Draws Confusion
MSN – Michael Blood and Kathleen Ronayne (Associated Press) | Published: 7/18/2021

The official list of who is running in the recall election of California Gov. Gavin Newsom remained unsettled, with conservative talk radio host Larry Elder maintaining he should be included but state officials saying he submitted incomplete tax returns, a requirement to run. Among other candidates, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s campaign was in a dispute with state officials over whether he could be listed as the city’s “retired” mayor and YouTube creator Kevin Paffrath said he planned to sue to get his YouTube nickname on the ballot. Caitlyn Jenner was reportedly in Australia filming a reality show, though she tweeted she and her campaign team are “in full operation.”

Colorado Disclosure, Questions Over Reporting Requirements
Colorado Springs Daily Gazette – Evan Wyloge | Published: 7/18/2021

Colorado’s independent redistricting commissioners are in the middle of a statewide tour, listening as members of the public give their opinions on what they want the next decade’s congressional and legislative maps to look like. But that is not entirely what has been going on. In at least one example at a public input hearing, a woman who implied no political connection, gave specific map suggestions after being coached by a paid political consultant. After reporters began asking questions, it was reported as part of a paid lobbying effort. A constitutional amendment requires paid efforts to sway the commission be publicly reported.

Idaho North Idaho Rep. Faces Ethics Hearing for Publicly Naming Alleged Sexual Assault Victim
MSN – Hayat Norimine (Idaho Statesman) | Published: 7/20/2021

After calls from sexual assault survivors and advocates, an Idaho House member now faces an ethics hearing over her behavior as a representative. Rep. Priscilla Giddings will face a hearing on August 2 over her conduct when a 19-year-old legislative intern alleged that another Republican lawmaker sexually assaulted her. Complaints alleged Giddings retaliated against the intern by disseminating “defamatory writings” that identified her. Complaints also said Giddings misrepresented her actions to the ethics committee.

Illinois FEC Rules US Rep. Robin Kelly Cannot Raise Money for Nonfederal Candidates, Leaving Her Largely a Figurehead as Illinois Democratic Chair
MSN – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 7/15/2021

The FEC ruled U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly cannot be involved in raising or spending money for state and local office candidates in her new role as Illinois Democratic Party chairperson, relegating her largely to figurehead status within the party. Kelly is also prohibited from using her name and title on state fundraising solicitations because, as a federal officeholder, she is bound by federal laws on raising campaign cash that are stricter than those of the state. Under the ruling, the state Democratic Party must create a special committee to oversee state fundraising for nonfederal campaigns with no involvement by Kelly.

Illinois On First Full Day as Official Candidate for Reelection, Gov. J.B. Pritzker Indicates He’ll Sign Controversial Ethics Bill, Pledges Return to ‘Kitchen Table’ Issues in Second Term
MSN – Rick Pearson (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 7/20/2021

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker indicated he will sign a controversial ethics bill he acknowledged “didn’t go far enough,” saying he believes it makes some progress toward restoring the public’s trust in state government. Controversy has surrounded many provisions and the state’s legislative inspector general, Carol Pope, contended lawmakers “demonstrated true ethics reform is not a priority” when she announced her resignation recently.

Illinois Rep. Marie Newman Settles Lawsuit Alleging She Bribed Potential Opponent
MSN – Chris Marquette (Roll Call) | Published: 7/20/2021

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging she bribed a potential primary opponent not to run against her, putting to rest a bizarre episode in Illinois politics. Iymen Chehade alleged he and Newman entered into an employment contract in December 2018 that said if Newman won the race in Illinois’ Third Congressional District in 2020, Chehade would be hired in her office and paid between $135,000 and $140,000 annually.

Iowa Iowa Group That Backed Ernst Fights to Block Donor Disclosure
Iowa Capital Dispatch – Clark Kauffman | Published: 7/21/2021

A group that supported U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst’s 2020 re-election bid is asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit it says would give “the wolf the keys to the henhouse” and allow others to “rifle through” records pertaining to its donors. Iowa Values allegedly spent close to $1.5 million supporting Ernst’s successful re-election campaign and is now being sued by the Campaign Legal Center. The lawsuit marks the first known use of an obscure provision in federal campaign law that allows a private individual or group to take a claim of campaign finance violations directly to federal court.

Minnesota Minn. State Rep. John Thompson Faces Calls to Resign Over Allegations of Domestic Violence, Indecent Exposure
MSN – Julian Mark (Washington Post) | Published: 7/19/2021

Minnesota Rep. John Thompson launched his political career after a police officer shot and killed his friend Philando Castile during a July 2016 traffic stop. Thompson pledged to reform policing in the state and was elected this past November. Now, state Republican and Democratic officials, including Gov. Tim Walz, are calling for Thompson’s ouster after his own recent traffic stop led to new revelations about his past. Since the stop, police reports surfaced showing that years ago, Thompson was accused of choking and hitting a girlfriend on multiple occasions and once exposing himself to two women while children were present.

Missouri Is Columbia Mayor Brian Treece Violating Campaign Finance Law? Veto Renews Questions
Columbia Daily Tribune – Charles Dunlop | Published: 7/15/2021

Nearly two years ago, attorney Dan Viets filed a complaint with the Missouri Ethics Commission regarding Mayor Brian Treece and his candidate committee. Viets is still waiting on an answer to his inquiry. The delay could be related to House Bill 685, Viets said. This bill, which included changes to requirements to run for public office, was vetoed by Gov. Mike Parson. The law in question requires that any person who registers as a lobbyist must dissolve their candidate committee for any public office in Missouri and disburse the funds either by refunding money to donors, giving it to charity, or donating to a political party committee.

New Mexico Powerful Ties: New Mexico attorney general accused of violating state ethics laws
MSN – Lindsay Fendt (Searchlight New Mexico) | Published: 7/16/2021

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas’ close relationship with a local law firm is under scrutiny amid allegations that attorney Marcus Rael Jr. used his influence with the attorney general to convince Balderas to sign off on a multi-billion-dollar utility merger. The merger between a global energy giant and New Mexico’s largest utility could drastically change electricity distribution in the state, with hundreds of millions of dollars for New Mexico utility customers hanging in the balance.

New York Adams’ Top Aide Doubled Her Salary While Moonlighting on His Campaign
The City – Greg Smith | Published: 7/21/2021

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ top aide doubled her salary during the mayoral primary race by working both for his campaign and at her taxpayer-funded job. Ingrid Lewis-Martin earns $172,900 annually as Adams’ deputy borough president. Starting April 15, Adams’ mayoral campaign started paying her $6,500 on a biweekly basis for a total of $40,000 through June 30, records show. Even as she worked on Adams’ successful campaign, she proved a crucial contact for lobbyists seeking support from her boss in his role as borough president.

New York Ethics Agency Probing Cuomo Aide’s Calls
Albany Times Union – Chris Bragg | Published: 7/20/2021

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) is investigating a series of phone calls made by a former top aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which some county executives felt improperly mixed politics with vaccine distribution efforts. A JCOPE investigator has been calling county executives to set up fact-finding interviews concerning their interactions with Larry Schwartz, who is one of Cuomo’s most trusted advisers and had served as New York’s “vaccine czar” during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New York Mayor Lovely Warren Pleads Not Guilty to Firearms, Child Endangerment Charges
MSN – Gary Craig and Will Cleveland (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) | Published: 7/21/2021

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren denied she illegally possessed firearms or took any actions that endangered the well-being of her young daughter. Warren, also facing allegations of campaign finance fraud, pleaded not guilty in court to firearms possession and child endangerment charges. Having lost the Democratic primary, Warren appears to be in her final months as mayor. Yet, while trying to navigate a surge in gun violence, as well as the usual day-to-day responsibilities of a mayor, she also is now confronting multiple criminal allegations.

Ohio A House Race in Cleveland Captures the Democrats’ Generational Divide
New York Times – Jonathan Weisman | Published: 7/20/2021

On August 3, the voters of Ohio’s 11th Congressional District will provide some indication of the direction the Democratic Party is heading – toward the progressive approach Nina Turner embodies or the reserved mold of its leaders in Washington, D.C., shaped more by the establishment than the ferment stirring its grassroots. The party establishment is throwing time and money into an effort to stop Turner, a former state senator. The Congressional Black Caucus’s PAC endorsed Turner’s main rival, Shontel Brown, the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chairperson.

Ohio A Year Out, $60M Bribery Scandal Felt in Business, Politics
MSN – Mark Gillispie and Julie Carr Smyth (Associated Press) | Published: 7/19/2021

The arrests one year ago of then-Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder and four associates in connection with an alleged $60 million bribery scheme have rocked business and politics across the state, and events over the last year suggest a federal probe’s tentacles only continue to grow. Householder pleaded not guilty. He was removed from the speakership last year, reelected to office in November despite felony racketeering charges, then expelled from the chamber. His political adviser Jeff Longstreth, lobbyist Juan Cespedes, and Generation Now, a dark money group accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes, pleaded guilty and await sentencing.

Ohio Federal Prosecutors Portray Cleveland Councilman Kenneth Johnson as a Swindler Who Fleeced Taxpayers
MSN – John Caniglia (Cleveland Plain Dealer) | Published: 7/21/2021

A longtime Cleveland recreation worker testified he signed years of city timesheets for work he never did for Councilperson Kenneth Johnson. The council member used the timesheets to obtain $127,200 in reimbursements from January 2010 to October 2018 and deposited the money in his bank account, prosecutors said. Johnson is on trial, accused of 15 theft-related counts. Prosecutors also have accused Johnson of working with John Hopkins, the former executive of the Buckeye-Shaker Square Development Corp., to steer at least $100,000 in federal block grants.

Ohio FirstEnergy to Pay $230M in Settlement in Ohio Bribery Case
MSN – Mark Gillispie (Associated Press) | Published: 7/22/2021

FirstEnergy agreed to a $230 million penalty for bribing former House Speaker Larry Householder and former Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Chairperson Sam Randazzo. FirstEnergy is charged with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud involving what authorities called the largest bribery scandal in Ohio history. FirstEnergy Corp. and FirstEnergy Solutions, now called Energy Harbor, allegedly donated $59 million to Generation Now, a “dark money” group controlled by Householder, who is listed as Public Official A in the information. FirstEnergy is also accused of influencing Randazzo, identified as Public Official B, via a $4.3 million payment.

Ohio From Donations to Lobbyists, Ohio’s 15th Congressional District Candidates Have Ties to House Bill 6
MSN – Haley BeMiller (Columbus Dispatch) | Published: 7/21/2021

Every corner of Ohio politics has been touched in some way by former state Rep. Larry Householder and the House Bill 6 scandal. The special election in the 15th Congressional District is no exception. Multiple candidates in the crowded Republican field can be traced to the controversy through votes, donations, and ties to a coal lobbying group that benefited from its passage. The arrests of Householder and four operatives did not seem to affect statehouse races a few months later. But Democrats have signaled they plan to make the scandal and the legislation key issues in future campaigns, including for the 15th District.

Oregon Audit Finds Tax Funded Forest Institute in Oregon Misled Public, May Have Broken State Law
MSN – Tony Schick (OPB) and Rob Davis (Portland Oregonian) | Published: 7/21/2021

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI), established by state lawmakers in 1991 to provide credible public education based on facts and reliable science, operates with broad authority and almost no oversight, undermining its public benefit and credibility, according to a state audit. The report said the findings “reasonably raise the question” of whether OFRI broke the law, which bars the agency from attempting to influence the actions of any other state body. A media report found the agency sought to discredit climate scientists and operated as a de facto lobbying and public relations arm for the timber industry.

Pennsylvania Indicted Philly Lawmakers Collect Legal Defense Cash Gifts from Parking Magnates, Strip Club Owners and Lobbyists
Billy Penn – Max Marin and Ryan Briggs | Published: 7/16/2021

Philadelphia City Councilmembers Bobby Henon and Kenyatta Johnson both accepted tens of thousands in cash donations to support legal defense costs related to their respective indictments on federal corruption charges, including some from prominent political donors, lobbyists, and even a strip club owner. Such legal aid contributions are considered “gifts” under city ethics laws, which generally prohibit gifts from entities seeking to influence government officials. But Henon accepted money from parking magnate Joseph Zuritsky and later co-sponsored a bill designed to cut parking taxes.

Pennsylvania Pa. Decertifies Fulton County’s Voting System After Third-Party Audit Done for GOP
U.S. News and World Report – Marc Levy and Mark Scolforo (Associated Press) | Published: 7/21/2021

Pennsylvania’s top election official decertified the voting machines of a small county that disclosed it had agreed to requests by local Republican lawmakers and allowed a software firm to inspect the machines as part of an “audit” after the 2020 election. The action by Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid almost certainly means Fulton County will have to buy or lease new voting machines. The lawmakers’ request for the review came amid former President Trump’s baseless claims the 2020 election was rigged against him in Pennsylvania and other battleground states.

Washington DC Conflict of Interest? Company Hired to Review Troubled DC Crime Lab Wins New Contract with Same Lab
WTOP – Jack Moore | Published: 7/19/2021

In May, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced she was bringing a forensic consulting firm to perform an independent review of the city’s troubled crime lab, which had just seen its accreditation stripped and is the subject of a criminal investigation over its handling of errors in a murder case. In a letter to city council members, the mayor described SNA International as an “independent firm with extensive forensic sciences laboratories experience.” But the letter did not mention the company had previously done work for the lab, and had been preliminarily approved for what has been described as a “critical upgrade” to the lab’s case-tracking system.

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