October 22, 2021 •
News You Can Use Digest – October 22, 2021
Advocates Worry Biden Is Letting U.S. Democracy Erode on His Watch
MSN – Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager, and Amy Gardner (Washington Post) | Published: 10/16/2021
Voting rights advocates meet once every week or two with White House officials via video conference, and in almost every session, an advocate speaks up to say President Biden must do more, that American democracy is under threat and the president is not meeting the challenge. In the nine months since Biden took office, GOP officials throughout the country have baselessly challenged the 2020 results, conducting clumsy audits. States have restricted voting and have changed their procedures to allow political influence over elections. Many in Trump’s camp have taken to lauding the deadly January 6 attack on the Capitol.
As Some Black Staff Members Leave Congress, Those Who Remain Call for Change
New York Times – Aishvarya Kavi | Published: 10/17/2021
Black staff members in Congress are sounding the alarm on a “painful” two years, including the coronavirus pandemic and the January 6 attack on the Capitol, they say have exacerbated the challenges they face in pursuing a career on Capitol Hill. Two congressional staff associations called for better pay and “a stronger college-to-Congress pipeline” to recruit Black graduates. They also urged voters to push lawmakers to diversify their staff. Published on behalf of more than 300 Black staffers, the letter offers a glimpse at the experiences of those who work behind the scenes drafting policy, interacting with constituents, and advancing agendas.
As Trump Thunders About Last Election, Republicans Worry About the Next One
Yahoo News – Jeremy Peters (New York Times) | Published: 10/18/2021
The Republican Party’s ambitions of ending unified Democratic control in Washington in 2022 are colliding with a considerable force that can sway tens of millions of votes: former President Trump’s increasingly vocal demands that members of his party remain in a permanent state of obedience, endorsing his false claims of a stolen election or risking his wrath. “If we don’t solve the Presidential Election Fraud of 2020, Republicans will not be voting in ’22 or ’24. It’s the single most important thing for Republicans to do.,” Trump said in a recent statement.
David Cameron Cleared Over Unregistered Lobbying on Work for US Biotech Group
Financial Times – Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe | Published: 10/20/2021
Former United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron was cleared by the lobbying regulator over whether he should have registered as a consultant lobbyist while working with biotechnology group Illumina. OpenDemocracy reported that Cameron, who is a paid adviser for Illumina, met the then vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi just months after the company was granted £870,000 of contracts with Public Health England. The registrar assessed four pieces of communication by the former prime minister, which included text messages referencing Illumina that were sent in 2021 to Zahawi.
Drain the Swamp? This Guy’s Trying to Fill It.
Yahoo News – Hailey Fuchs (Politico) | Published: 10/15/2021
Ivan Adler is a recruiter who specializes in plucking lawmakers and staffers off Capitol Hill or elsewhere in government and placing them into jobs on K Street in trade associations, corporations, law practices, and lobbying firms. There are other lobbyist recruiters in Washington, but few, if any, do it with as much bravado as Adler. His name is well-known among lawmakers who are leaving their posts for jobs in the private sector. Adler said he is so plugged in that he is sometimes among the first to know a member of Congress is contemplating whether to seek reelection.
FBI Searches D.C., NYC Homes Connected to Russian Oligarch Oleg Deripaska
MSN – Devlin Barrett, Spencer Hsu, and Rosalind Helderman (Washington Post) | Published: 10/19/2021
FBI agents searched homes connected to sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, one in Washington, D.C. and one in New York City, as part of an unspecified criminal investigation into the activities of a man who has not set foot on U.S. soil in years. His name came up repeatedly in recent investigations involving Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Deripaska is a billionaire and has long been a key ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also did business for years with Paul Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairperson, although he and Deripaska eventually had a falling out.
Fed Ethics Office Warned Officials to Curb Unnecessary Trading During Rescue
New York Times – Jeanna Smialek | Published: 10/21/2021
As the Federal Reserve was taking steps to shore up financial markets at the onset of the pandemic last year, its ethics office sent out a warning. Officials might want to avoid unnecessary trading for a few months as the Fed dived deeper into markets, the Board of Governors’ ethics unit suggested in an email, a message that was passed along to regional bank presidents. But the recommendation did not go far enough to prevent a trading scandal that is now engulfing the Fed and being leveraged against its chair, Jerome Powell, as the White House mulls whether to reappoint him before his leadership term expires early next year.
House Jan. 6 Panel Votes to Hold Ex-Trump Advisor Stephen Bannon in Contempt
Yahoo News – Del Quentin Wilber (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/19/2021
A congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol voted to hold former Trump advisor Stephen Bannon in contempt for not cooperating with its inquiry, a significant escalation in the panel’s efforts to get answers about the insurrection from the political operative. Former President Trump has told allies not to cooperate with the inquiry. Bannon helped run Trump’s 2016 campaign and served briefly in the White House but was a private citizen in the run-up to the insurrection. If the full House votes to endorse the resolution, Bannon will be referred to the Justice Department for possible prosecution.
K Street Revenues Boom
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 10/20/2021
The leading K Street firms continue to rake in record sums of cash as corporate clients push their chips in to influence President Biden’s ambitious domestic agenda. Companies and trade associations, fighting to stave off corporate tax hikes and other Democratic proposals to reshape sections of the economy, are leaning on lobbyists who have cultivated close relationships with congressional leaders and Biden administration officials. Nearly all the top lobbying firms increased their third-quarter revenue over the same period last year.
Lobbying Groups’ Effectiveness Hits New High This Year: Study
MSN – Karl Evers-Hillstrom (The Hill) | Published: 10/19/2021
Trade associations are finding unprecedented success in influencing policymakers this year. An APCO Worldwide study surveyed 322 congressional staffers, executive branch officials, and private sector executives, and reported trade groups are having their best year since APCO started tracking their effectiveness in 2013. That finding comes after trade groups launched extensive lobbying campaigns to influence Democrats’ coronavirus stimulus package, the bipartisan infrastructure bill, and the $3.5 trillion social spending plan. Their efforts are bolstered by Democrats’ thin majorities and divisions between the party’s moderates and progressives.
Nebraska GOP Rep. Fortenberry Indicted
MSN – Hailey Fuchs and Olivia Beavers (Politico) | Published: 10/19/2021
A federal grand jury indicted U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, alleging he concealed information and made false statements to authorities. The Justice Department said Fortenberry repeatedly lied to and misled authorities during an investigation into illegal contributions to his reelection campaign that were made by a Nigerian-born billionaire, Gilbert Chagoury. The charges against Fortenberry emerged from a case against Chagoury, who under federal law cannot contribute to U.S. elections but admitted to providing approximately $180,000 to make campaign donations.
Political Nonprofit Fundraising Off Breast Cancer Has Deep Ties to Scam PAC Networks
Center for Responsive Politics – Roger Sollengberger and Anna Massoglia | Published: 10/15/2021
Although it sounds like a noble charity, the American Breast Cancer Coalition (ABCC) is a political group and rather than trying to address breast cancer, it appears to be a scheme to extract millions of dollars in donations, mostly from small donors. In recent robocalls, a female voice claims the goal of the group’s fundraising is to “support legislators who will fight for the fast-track approval of life saving breast cancer health bills and breast cancer treatment drugs to the FDA.” But IRS records tell a different story, revealing payments to firms with ties to a multimillion-dollar “scam PAC” network.
Staffers Keep Clashing Over Masks in the Capitol Hallways
MSN – Chris Cioffi (Roll Call) | Published: 10/21/2021
One congressional staffer said he almost always wears a mask at work. His closest colleagues do too. But everywhere the Democrat looked recently, bare faces rushed by, ignoring the signs: “Use of face covering is required.” Some staffers say they feel trapped in a never-ending proxy war, squabbling over masks as larger partisan tensions rage in Congress. Nineteen months into the pandemic, masks are still much more than simple pieces of fabric and that is especially true when you work on Capitol Hill, in the heart of political Washington, D.C.
From the States and Municipalities
Arizona – ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’: Arizona GOP goes full fringe
MSN – David Siders (Politico) | Published: 10/20/2021
As the Republican Party hardens around its fealty to former President Trump, the Arizona GOP is filling up its midterm ballot with a roster of conspiracy theorists and extremists that could threaten the party’s prospects in a state that has drifted leftward in recent elections. The latest of those candidates is Ron Watkins, a celebrity in the QAnon conspiracy world suspected of being Q, who announced his plans to run for Congress recently. It is not just that Watkins embraces the baseless claim the November election was stolen. It is that an entire ticket is running on that falsehood now.
California – California #MeToo Leaders Say Capitol’s Sexual Harassment Unit Is Too Close to the Legislature
MSN – Hannah Wiley (Sacramento Bee) | Published: 10/18/2021
A network of activists called We Said Enough launched in October 2017 with a Los Angeles Times op-ed that called out a “pervasive” culture of abusive behavior by men in California’s institutions of power. More than 140 women, including several lawmakers and party leaders, signed the letter. In the following months, three lawmakers resigned amid public sexual misconduct allegations and investigations. The Capitol responded to the movement by setting up an independent review panel it dubbed the Workplace Conduct Unit to field new complaints. Activists say problems still persist.
California – California Board Diversity Requirements Face Legal Challenge
MSN – Ellen Myers (Roll Call) | Published: 10/14/2021
California, one of the first states to require companies to include women on their boards of directors, may see its ability to enforce director diversity laws upended depending on the outcome of multiple lawsuits. One of those lawsuits is a complaint from three California taxpayers over enforcement of Senate Bill 826, which requires public companies with principal executive offices in the state to incrementally increase the number of women on their boards. It will head to trial on October 25.
California – Top California Labor Official and Husband Accused of Grand Theft, Embezzlement and Tax Evasion
MSN – Taryn Luna (Los Angeles Times) | Published: 10/13/2021
The top staff member at California’s largest labor union resigned after she and her husband were charged with felonies including tax fraud. Alma Hernandez served as executive director for SEIU California since 2016. Hernandez faces two charges of grand theft and one of perjury for her work as treasurer on a 2014 political committee supporting a state Senate candidate. The complaint alleges she directed nearly $12,000 in campaign money to her husband for campaign food services that he never provided. That political committee received numerous contributions from the SEIU California’s political arm.
Colorado – Colorado County Clerk Who Embraced Conspiracy Theories Is Barred from Overseeing Elections
MSN – Emma Brown (Washington Post) | Published: 10/13/2021
A Colorado judge prohibited Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters from overseeing this November’s election. The effort by Peters to ferret out supposedly hidden evidence of fraud in the 2020 election amounted to an escalation in the attacks on the nation’s voting systems, according to experts. Secretary of State Jena Griswold filed a lawsuit seeking to strip Peters of her election duties after passwords for Mesa County’s voting machines were posted online and copies of the hard drives were presented at a symposium hosted by MyPillow executive Mike Lindell, who denies President Biden won the 2020 election.
Connecticut – Guilty Plea Entered in State Senate Election Fraud Case
MSN – Associated Press | Published: 10/20/2021
A former campaign worker for a state Senator in Connecticut pleaded guilty to federal charges she conspired to fraudulently obtain public funds for the senator’s 2018 legislative campaign. Tina Manus worked on the campaign of Sen. Dennis Bradley, who is awaiting trial on charges his campaign ran a scheme to make it look as though he qualified for funds to which he was not entitled. Manus pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and agreed to cooperate in the investigation.
Connecticut – State Rep. Michael DiMassa Arrested by FBI in Probe of Misuse of COVID Relief Funds, Accused of Stealing More Than $600,000
MSN – Edmund Mahoney (Hartford Courant) | Published: 10/20/2021
Connecticut Rep. Michael DiMassa was arrested, accused of stealing more than $600,000 in federal COVID relief money by billing the city of West Haven, where he also worked as an aide to the city council, for pandemic related consulting services that federal officials said he never performed. Federal prosecutors said a portion of the alleged thefts appear to correspond with DiMassa’s purchase of tens of thousands of dollars in gambling chip at the Mohegan Sun Casino.
Florida – ‘It Gets Complicated’: Inconsistencies emerge when commissioners declare conflicts of interest
Tallahassee Democrat – Jeff Burlew | Published: 10/20/2021
Citing actual or apparent conflicts-of-interest, Leon County and Tallahassee city commissioners refrained from voting on issues big and small, from COVID-19 relief efforts to legal fees and development minutia. An investigation based on voting conflict forms and other public records found commissioners were sometimes inconsistent as they navigated what remains a complicated and grey area of the law. They often relied on an exemption in state statutes allowing them to abstain for mere appearances of a possible conflict-of-interest, though that provision is supposed to be applied narrowly.
Illinois – Chicago Sky Owner Michael Alter Agrees to Pay Fine for Lobbying Mayor Lori Lightfoot
MSN – Gregory Pratt (Chicago Tribune) | Published: 10/20/2021
Chicago Sky owner Michael Alter will pay a $5,000 fine to the city after the ethics board sanctioned him for unregistered lobbying of Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Alter argued earlier this year that the board was wrong to fine him for unregistered lobbying after The Chicago Tribune obtained emails showing he asked Lightfoot for help gaining a gambling license. But he has since reversed course and agreed to pay the fine.
Illinois – Indicted Former City Club President Fined $75K by Ethics Board for Violating Lobbying Rules
WTTW – Heather Cherone | Published: 10/19/2021
Jay Doherty, the former head of the City Club of Chicago, was fined $75,000 by the Chicago Board of Ethics for violating the lobbying law. An investigation concluded Doherty “violated the ordinance on three occasions by lobbying on behalf of entities for which the individual had not duly registered as a lobbyist, and on four occasions lobbied but failed to properly report that lobbying activity as required on the quarterly lobbying activity reports.” Doherty has pleaded not guilty to charges that accused him of being part of a scheme to reward those loyal to former House Speaker Michael Madigan with money and jobs in exchange for Madigan’s support.
Illinois – Three-Judge Panel Declares Illinois Legislative Redistricting Plan Unconstitutional
Courthouse News Service – Dave Byrnes | Published: 10/20/2021
A three-judge panel declared Illinois’ June 2021 state legislative redistricting unconstitutional, in a rebuke to the Legislature’s Democratic-controlled State Board of Elections. A lawsuit alleged that, as the redistricting plan was based on preliminary 2015-2019 state population estimates made by the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and not the official 2020 Census results, it violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The judges said the redistricting plan apportions state legislative districts in such a way that some districts are severely under-populated, while others are severely over-populated.
Louisiana – Gary Smith Sr. Files Ethics Disclosure on Debris Deals, the First Such Disclosure in Years
New Orleans Advocate – Sam Karlin | Published: 10/18/2021
The father of state Sen. Gary Smith Jr. filed an ethics disclosure for debris-staging contracts worth more than $105,000, the first such disclosure anyone has made to the Louisiana Board of Ethics in six years. The Smith family owns a network of companies that has long made money off hurricane work. After Katrina in 2005, one of the companies won a controversial FEMA deal to provide trailers for more than $100 million. It is not clear why such disaster contract disclosures are so rare.
Maine – Maine Ethics Watchdog Turn Back CMP Allies’ Request to Investigate Corridor Foe
Bangor Daily News – Caitlin Andrews | Published: 10/15/2021
The state’s ethics commission rejected a request from Central Maine Power Co. allies to investigate a top opponent of their $1 billion corridor project, Sandra Howard, who leads the nonprofit Say No to NECEC, over a large contribution from a political group she runs to a nonprofit she also runs. The vote means the commission will not investigate the anti-corridor side during the last weeks of a referendum campaign that has drawn more than $60 million in spending.
Massachusetts – Grand Jury Is Said to Have Heard Testimony About Potential Campaign Finance Violations by MassGOP Head, Republican State Senator
MSN – Emma Platoff (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/18/2021
A state grand jury has heard testimony about potential campaign finance violations by the head of the Massachusetts Republican Party and a state senator, according to a person who received a subpoena and spoke before the panel. Sources said the probe appears focused on GOP Chairperson Jim Lyons, Sen. Ryan Fattman, and his wife, Worcester County’s register of probate, Stephanie Fattman. In April, campaign finance regulators told state prosecutors the Republicans might have violated campaign finance laws. The work of the grand jury would mark an escalation in the probe and suggests authorities are pursuing it as a criminal matter.
Massachusetts – High-Powered Lobbying Firm Arrives in Boston Touting Ties to Labor Secretary Martin Walsh
MSN – Neya Thanikachalam (Boston Globe) | Published: 10/15/2021
An influential national lobbying firm opened a Boston location touting a potentially valuable advantage – connections to former mayor and current U.S. Labor Secretary Martin Walsh. Ballard Partners said its new location will be headed by Eugene O’Flaherty, the former city attorney under Walsh. O’Flaherty, who joined Ballard Partners days after Walsh was confirmed, has lobbied the Labor Department on behalf of at least eight clients. Virginia Canter, the chief ethics counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, suggested Walsh make his calendar public to show he was not prioritizing lobbyists’ agendas.
Michigan – Michigan SOS Must Release Documents on Deal with Pro-Whitmer Group, Court
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 10/18/2021
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office must release more internal records on how it handled campaign finance violations by a group that backed Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s election in 2018. Court of Claims Judge Christopher Murray ruled the secretary of state’s office had improperly withheld some documents in response to a public records request by the conservative group Michigan Rising Action. The ruling could shed light on the behind-the-scenes discussions that led to Build a Better Michigan agreeing to a $37,500 settlement.
Michigan – Whitmer’s Campaign Might Have to Return Excess Contributions Soon, Filing Says
Detroit News – Craig Mauger | Published: 10/15/2021
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign could have to return or donate $3.4 million in excess contributions it collected outside the state’s normal donor limits as soon as January, according to a new court filing on behalf of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The filing came in response to the Michigan Republican Party’s lawsuit in federal court, challenging the Democratic governor’s use of a decades-old state policy on recalls to garner large contributions, above the normal $7,150 limit on individual donors, to bolster her reelection campaign account.
Missouri – Missouri Governor Accuses Journalist Who Warned State About Cybersecurity Flaw of Criminal ‘Hacking’
MSN – Elahe Izade (Washington Post) | Published: 10/15/2021
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson lashed out at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after the newspaper informed the state of a data risk that left 100,000 Social Security numbers vulnerable to public disclosure. Parson said the Cole County prosecutor and the Missouri Highway Patrol would investigate the matter. He said the news outlet that uncovered and reported the vulnerability would be held accountable. The governor said the “”ndividual” who alerted the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education was attempting to “embarrass the state and sell headlines for their news outlet.”
Nevada – State Ethics Panel: Bonnie Weber didn’t break law over quarterly meetings with developers
MSN – James DeHaven (Reno Gazette-Journal) | Published: 10/20/2021
Reno City Councilperson Bonnie Weber did not break the law by hosting a series of “summits” with prominent developers. The Nevada Commission on Ethics dismissed a complaint that accused Weber of improperly using public funds to entertain city developers at the Bonanza Casino. The complaint also alleged at least one other city employee joined Weber for the quarterly meeting. Commissioners gave the city three months to come up with rules that “adequately address” situations where city staff are asked to work at closed-door events organized by an elected official.
New York – Top Brass Head for Exits as Chaos Engulfs NYC Consulting Firm
MSN – Sally Goldenberg (Politico) | Published: 10/14/2021
One of New York’s leading lobbying and consulting firms is in disarray, feuding with its corporate owner as top executives head for the exits. Mercury Public Affairs, a global company that has been embroiled in litigation against parent company Omnicom Medias Group in California, is now facing an exodus of key personnel in New York City as they prepare to battle Omnicom’s mandated noncompete requirements for departed staff. At issue in New York is Omnicom’s insistence on restrictive covenants that stipulate departed staffers cannot continue to represent the firm’s clients or work together for at least a year.
New York – Trump Organization, Already Under Indictment, Faces New Criminal Inquiry
New York Times – William Rashbaum and Ben Protess | Published: 10/20/2021
Former President Trump’s business, which is under indictment in Manhattan, is facing a criminal investigation by another prosecutor’s office that has begun to examine financial dealings at a golf course the company owns, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The district attorney’s office in Westchester County, New York, subpoenaed records from the course, Trump National Golf Club Westchester, and the town of Ossining, which sets property taxes on the course. The district attorney appears to be focused, at least in part, on whether the Trump Organization misled local officials about the property’s value to reduce its taxes.
Ohio – Stow Councilwoman Faces Ethics Charge Over Failure to File Financial Statement
MSN – Krista Kano (Akron Beacon Journal) | Published: 10/20/2021
The Ohio Ethics Commission is pursuing legal action against Stow City Councilperson Christina Shaw for failure to file a required financial disclosure statement in 2019. An arraignment is scheduled where Shaw is to be charged with a fourth-degree misdemeanor. Commission spokesperson Susan Willeke said the commission generally grants extensions and “going to court isn’t necessarily the first step.”
Pennsylvania – PA Lawmakers Spend Millions of Tax Dollars on Private Lawyers, but Often Don’t Reveal Why
MSN – Angela Couloumbis (Spotlight PA) and Sam Janesch (The Caucus) | Published: 10/12/2021
The Pennsylvania Legislature spent nearly $10 million during the past two years on private lawyers but routinely shielded the purpose of those expenses, hiding which lawmakers and their staff members required representation and why. A review of thousands of pages of legal invoices and engagement letters from 2019 and 2020 shows the cases ranged from public records fights to attempts to overturn last year’s presidential election. In many instances, Republicans and Democrats in both chambers blacked out the reason for hiring lawyers, flouting case law that requires them to make public those details. Other records were so vague it was impossible to identify the reason for the representation.
Virginia – New Political Ad Strategy in Virginia: Promoting news articles in Google search results
MSN – Karina Ellwood (Washington Post) | Published: 10/18/2021
Google ads purchased by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign feature links to news and opinion articles about his opponent, Glenn Youngkin. The ads show up at the top of search results for keywords such as “Glenn Youngkin,” and include a disclosure that they are advertisements, as well as an additional tag required for political advertisements indicating they are paid for by the McAuliffe campaign. But the ads include titles written by the campaign, which are subtly different from the original search engine headlines written by the publications and appear in the same format as a headline would appear in a search result.
Washington – Facebook Provided False Testimony in Campaign Transparency Lawsuit, Washington Attorney General Says
Seattle Times – Daniel Gutman | Published: 10/13/2021
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said a Facebook representative provided false testimony in a lawsuit that accuses the company of violating state campaign finance laws. Ferguson says both the company and its attorneys knew the testimony was false. Ferguson sued Facebook last year, alleging it has “repeatedly and openly” violated disclosure laws by selling political ads without providing required details of the spending. The company has argued Washington’s laws are unconstitutional and violate both free speech protections and the Commerce Clause, which gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce.
Washington DC – D.C. Housing Authority Board Chair Steps Down Amid Questions Over Conflicts of Interest
MSN – Marissa Lang, Michael Brice-Saddler, and Steve Thompson (Washington Post) | Published: 10/20/2021
Neil Albert, who has for the last four years served as the chair of the District of Columbia Housing Authority’s board of commissioners, resigned amid questions over alleged conflicts-of-interest. Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability to look further into allegations made in recent news reports that Albert did not properly disclose his romantic partnership with the chief executive of an architectural firm that has worked with authority.
Wisconsin – Calls Intensify to End Wisconsin’s Election Review Amid Blunders by Ex-Judge in Charge
MSN – Elise Viebeck (Washington Post) | Published: 10/14/2021
After a series of blatant errors, Michael Gableman, the former judge leading the Republican review of the state’s 2020 presidential election, admitted he does not have “a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.” The latest round of reversals and blunders is intensifying calls to end the probe, one of several recent efforts around the country to revisit Joe Biden’s win in states where former President Trump and his supporters have leveled baseless accusations of voter fraud.
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