Archive for legal issues

Guess who spent over $1 million in legal fees since '12? Hint: Scott Walker's campaign.

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scott walker criminal scheme legal fees

It seems like a day doesn't go by that there isn't some news involving Wisconsin's slimy Governor Scott Walker and the infamous John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. Just the other day, we here at TPC posted this: Subpoenas issued in WI John Doe probe, so GOP tried to change law. (And right after that, in an unrelated matter, we learned that the WI GOP may allow cameras next: Poll watchers already allowed 3 feet from voters.) Welcome to Walker World. The latest installment concerns the legal fees Walker's campaign has been racking up. No surprise there.

Per the Wisconsin State Journal's piece regarding a campaign finance report, we find out that since 2012, Team Walker has spent more than a million smackeroos on said legal fees. Wowzers, they must be rich! Oh, but I kid the Big GOP Spenders:

The report, which covers the first six months of this year, doesn’t specify what the money was spent on. But Walker’s campaign has been entangled in a John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination among conservative groups and Republican political campaigns during the 2012 recall election. [...]

Democratic Party of Wisconsin spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff called the amount of money the campaign has spent on legal fees “completely stunning.”

“The bipartisan (John Doe) investigation isn’t over yet, and we have every reason to believe Walker will spend tens of thousands more, but the staggering amount already spent should be a huge concern for every Wisconsinite who cares about good government,” Baldauff said.

More at the link. Stay tuned, or as Rachel Maddow likes to say, "Watch this space."

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Subpoenas issued in WI John Doe probe, so GOP tried to change law

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As I mentioned in my previous post, Another CA city sues over voting rights law, if you can't win on the merits of your arguments, on your policies (or lack thereof), your talent, or on your powers of persuasion, then hey, cheat. Dirty tricks abound in politics, and Wisconsin's John Doe criminal investigation is no exception. In this case, some subpoenas were sent out in the case involving alleged GOP campaign finance shenanigans, so what's a Republican to do? Why, quietly change the law to suit their needs. No sense in succumbing to potential criminal status when you can use a Mr. Dirty Tricks Clean Magic Eraser to whisk away the dirt!

mr. clean magic eraser

As you may recall, there is an ongoing John Doe investigation into possible illegal coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups. Poor Scotty. So many issues, so little time. He's accused of being part of "criminal scheme," which can't be boosting his image or helping his potential 2016 presidential run at all. His troubles just keep on a-mounting. And Walker and his GOP buddies are amounting... to a big stack of fail.

PRWatch.org has the goods:

New documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation.

Legislative Republicans surprised many in the state in March of 2014 when they tried to rush Senate Bill 654 through the legislature to explicitly carve-out an exception to the state's campaign finance statutes for so-called "issue ads," those thinly-veiled election messages that stop short of telling viewers to vote for or against a candidate.

cya smaller

The Wisconsin State Journal called it "dodging public scrutiny." I call it CYA.

On October 3, 2013, prosecutors secretly served Wisconsin Club for Growth director Eric O'Keefe with a subpoena in the John Doe investigation, and executed search warrants on the homes of Walker's top campaign advisor R.J. Johnson (who also was the Club's chief strategist) and his associate Deborah Jordahl.

Two weeks after the secret subpoenas were issued, drafting records show that an aide to [Sen. Mary Lazich (R)], Zach Bemis, contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau and requested a bill that would rewrite state law, reverse court of appeals precedent, and exempt "issue ads" from Wisconsin campaign finance statutes. [...]

By changing the law to put issue ads beyond the reach of Wisconsin's campaign finance statutes, Lazich's bill would have had the effect of legalizing the issue ad coordination under investigation. Lazich was the subject of a recall attempt in 2011.

You can find more details here, definitely worth a read.

Welcome to Walker World.

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Scott #Walker part of "criminal scheme;" prosecutor closing in on Chris #Christie

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Mr. Toast  criminal investigations

When it rains it pours in GOP ScandalLand! Today's episode includes some ominous news for both criminal (allegedly) Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and everyone's favorite entertainer, criminal (allegedly) Gov. Chris "Who moi?" Christie of New Jersey.

Where to begin? All my salivating is distracting me, but not enough to prevent bringing you the latest.

Let's start with Scott "Who Needs a Recall When We Have a Legal Case?" Walker. Politico has the scoop:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker participated in a “criminal scheme” to coordinate fundraising for Republicans trying to beat back efforts to recall him and state senators from office, local prosecutors argue in court documents released Thursday.

Walker, his chief of staff and others were involved in the coordination effort with “a number of national groups and prominent figures,” including Karl Rove, special prosecutor Francis Schmitz alleged.

“[T]he evidence shows an extensive coordination scheme that pervaded nearly every aspect of the campaign activities during the historic 2011 and 2012 Wisconsin Senate and Gubernatorial recall elections,” Schmitz wrote in a December motion, on behalf of five attorneys from some of the state’s most liberal counties, just now unsealed by an appellate court judge.

Ruh roh!

Scotty's in a neck-and-neck race for re-election, so this may very well complicate matters for him. And don't even get me started about his shrinking chances for a 2016 presidential run. Dems are ecstatic.

Moving on to Bridgegate and poor, put-upon Gov. "Heartbroken." This reporting comes via Esquire, where the sub-headline is "Indictments against four cronies are near certain, sources say. Only question is if David Samson, Christie's longtime crony, will flip."

naked nude man covers crotch ouch

Two sources with intimate knowledge of the case say Fishman’s pace is quickening -- he has empaneled a second grand jury, and the U.S. Justice Department has sent assistant prosecutors and FBI agents to work the case. [...]

Fishman’s challenge is to nail down specific criminal charges on several fronts -- the diversion of Port Authority money to fund New Jersey road and bridge projects; the four-day rush-hour closures of George Washington Bridge lanes in Ft. Lee; and a web of real-estate deals spun by David Samson, long a Christie crony, when he chaired the PA’s Board of Commissioners as Christie’s appointee. [...]

The question that truly matters is whether Fishman’s pursuit leads to the governor himself. Christie’s Port appointees -- not only Samson, but former PA Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni and his oddball sidekick David Wildstein -- all face near-certain indictment and are being pressed to hand up Christie, as is the governor’s former chief counsel, Charlie McKenna... Fishman has cut no deals with anyone so far, and the looming indictments have encouraged Christie’s PA appointees to sing.

On source said that Samson "is toast." "They’ve got him cold... He got sloppy, arrogant, and greedy. Samson will want a deal."

GIF happy DancingSnoopy

Both articles are must-reads, and they're relatively short, so have at it.

What was that again about 2016? Methinks we may have a twofer here. With any luck, we can show both lying, arrogant, slimeball Republican governors the door.

buh bye by Kelly Kincaid

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Decades of research show that teachers are not the problem. #Vergara got it wrong.

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Vergara
I’ve covered the Vergara trial pretty extensively, thanks to and with the help of my contacts who attended. But unfortunately, there's a sad ending: The judge sided with the billionaires over the public school teachers.

For those of us who paid attention to the trial, it was pretty clear that this was never about how to improve education. If it were, they would have focused on trivial little things that actually matter to, you know, student outcomes and achievement.

Nowhere in the decision does the judge mention important matters like poverty, segregation, unequal funding or the consequences of high-stakes testing. The decision actually reads like like it was written by, you should excuse the expression, a Michelle Rhee-ish "reformer."

What’s amazing is that there was evidence presented by the best education experts that said the “reformers” are wrong. Stanford’s Linda Darling-Hammond and Harvard’s Susan Moore Johnson are considered the best in the field of education. The judge completely ignored what they had to say. Berkeley’s Jesse Rothstein completely refuted Chetty and Kane, noting that using student test scores to judge teachers just doesn’t work.

AFT president Randi Weingarten really got it right. Here's her this statement:

"It's surprising that the court, which used its bully pulpit when it came to criticizing teacher protections, did not spend one second discussing funding inequities, school segregation, high poverty or any other out-of-school or in-school factors that are proven to affect student achievement and our children.  We must lift up solutions that speak to these factors—solutions like wraparound services, early childhood education and project-based learning.”

BUT... there are some rays of hope. First, this was only a superior court judge. Which means it will be appealed. And this is a pretty darned thin decision without much reasoning. Why, it's almost as if the judge said “I don’t like teachers unions, so I’m going to side with the other guys.”

Even one ed reformer pointed out that there are problems with this decision. So let's keep our fingers and toes crossed that this will be overturned on appeal.

Second, CA Superintendent of Public Education Tom Torlakson came out against the decision. He’s doing a fantastic job, which is why hedge funds and ed deformers are funding his challenger, Marshall Tuck, a guy who has never taught.

"All children deserve great teachers. Attracting, training, and nurturing talented and dedicated educators are among the most important tasks facing every school district, tasks that require the right mix of tools, resources, and expertise. Today's ruling may inadvertently make this critical work even more challenging than it already is.

"While I have no direct jurisdiction over the statutes challenged in this case, I am always ready to assist the Legislature and Governor in their work to provide high-quality teachers for all of our students. Teachers are not the problem in our schools, they are the solution."

For those of us who really care about crazy things like equity and preserving a public education system that serves all kids, regardless of their zip code, the take away should be this: the privatizers will do anything to create headlines that pits teachers against students.

That is sad.  We have to continue to show that teachers and students are on the same side. When you attack a teacher, you hurt a student. I know that, having taught in public schools for years. Attacks like Vergara must stop.

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Oops! Republican: I never drew Fla. redistricting maps favoring GOP. You used my name!

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gerrymandering, redistricting via Doonesbury

Note: Headline corrected, changed.

One of the reasons it is so important to get out the vote in November is that Republicans have concocted redistricting maps to favor their party, making it nearly impossible for Democrats to win. Unless, somehow, by some miracle, Dem voter turnout is so huge that they can pull off a victory despite the gerrymandering.

That's how desperate the GOP is. They know they can't win on the issues, because they have no ideas, other than bashing President Obama, holding fake hearings on fake scandals, and obstructing every Democratic piece of legislation that comes their way. So they resort to dirty tricks like lying about redistricting.

As a friend of mine put it, "They put the mandering in gerrymandering."

gerrymander

ˈjerēˌmandər/

verb

manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.

achieve (a result) by manipulating the boundaries of an electoral constituency.

"a total freedom to gerrymander the results they want"

Redistricting is one thing, but cheating outright (allegedly) is quite another. Now the GOP in Florida is in legal hot water.

Via the Miami Herald:

The trial over Florida’s redrawn congressional districts took a dramatic turn Thursday when the judge closed the courtroom to the public and a private citizen — whom legislators had commended for having drawn portions of the final congressional map — testified he did not draw any maps and that his name was used without his permission. [...]

The plaintiffs, a coalition of voters led by the League of Women Voters and seven Democratic-leaning individuals, accuse legislators of allowing political operatives to conduct a “shadow” redistricting process to benefit Republican incumbents and candidates in violation of the Fair District amendments to the Florida Constitution. [...]

Posada testified he never drew the map, never submitted it, and the Gmail account in his name that was used to submit the maps was not his. [...] John Devaney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, argued that the Florida Supreme Court has said that any partisan bias nullifies the maps under the Fair District standards. “If it’s not this case, there will never be one,” he said.

P.S. and by the way, the mystery map maker was a former member of the Florida State University College Republicans. The GOP exploited a loyal member of their own party.

And that concludes today's episode of "Republicans Eating Their Own."

eating their own

gotv 3

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Judge who ended #Walker probe attended junkets financed by Kochs (VIDEO)

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citizens united check republic billionaires Koch brothers dark money

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A judge is supposed to be impartial. A judge, well, judges, and so he or she must be fair and dispassionate. A judge should not feel pressured or indebted to any party while rendering a decision. He or she should only rely on evidence presented.

So, when reports surfaced that the judge who halted the Walker "John Doe" criminal investigation attended all-expenses paid "judicial junkets," that raised a few eyebrows. Why?

Those little "junkets" were funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and other ideological and corporate interests. And by now, it's common knowledge that Walker and the Kochs are BFF. Well, Walker and the Kochs' wallets are BFF, because nothing defines friendship like corporate cash.

Did I mention that same judge has an assistant who is married to a Walker campaign lawyer?

Chris Hayes covered the corrupt judge story on "All In" last night. PR Watch wrote it up a few days ago:

On May 6, federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa blocked an ongoing John Doe criminal probe into allegedly illegal coordination between nonprofit groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 million on electoral ads during Wisconsin's recall elections, and the recall campaigns of Governor Scott Walker and state senators. John Doe investigations are similar to grand jury investigations, and Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and its director, Eric O'Keefe, a longtime compatriot of the Koch brothers -- asked the federal court to stop the probe, alleging it violated their "free speech" rights.

Judge Randa sided with O'Keefe, and also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation, an extraordinary edict in a criminal case made even more astounding by the fact that it came in the context of a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit has blocked this part of his ruling; an appeal of the remainder of his decision is pending.

An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).

The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical.

Much more at the link.

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Justice Alito said what again? "New, unwise turn" in law relies on "private professional associations"

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justice alito shakes head at SOTU smallerJustice Alito Shakes Head When Obama Criticizes Campaign Finance Decision

Wait, what? Isn't this the Supreme Court that has a corporation fetish? Isn't Justice Alito one of the conservative members who believes in privatization, corporate personhood, and equating money with free speech? As in Citizens United and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission?

Think Progress: And he’s a strong supporter of “forced arbitration,” a practice which allows employers to shunt discrimination lawsuits into a secretive and privatized arbitration system rather than allowing those cases to be heard by a real court.

Respriv.org: For Alito, and the rest of the Court’s right-wing majority, the severity of Bartlett’s injury proved inconsequential when measured against Big Pharma’s bottom line and their interest in selling generic drugs, which account for 75% of the prescription drugs sold in the U.S.

StopTheCap.com: Justice Samuel Alito was forced to recuse himself from nearly six dozen cases brought to the Supreme Court in the last 10 months because the Alito family owns stock in many of the corporations involved in litigation.

In light of the above examples, I found the following passages ironically amusing. Via the Los Angeles Times article, Supreme Court says IQ cannot determine mental fitness in capital cases:

In dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. faulted the majority for a "new and unwise turn" in the law by relying on "private professional associations" to establish constitutional values.

In the past, he said, the court had looked to states and to public opinion to judge American values. "Now the court strikes down a state law based on the evolving standards of professional societies, most notably the American Psychiatric Assn.," he said. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

Whatsa matter, Judge A. and company, don't you love "private professional associations" as much as you used to? Should they feel jilted? Doesn't the NRA "unwisely" influence (read: pressure) the "constitutional values" of Congress members so heavily that they shun common sense gun laws that public opinion supports by a landslide? What do you have to say now?

crickets

Oh, but I kid Justice Alito.

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