Election Fraud

The Nine Million Dollar Black Robe — Michigan’s High (Fashion) Court

Michigan may be in an economic perma-funk, but it is rapidly emerging as the high fashion capitol of the rust-belt.

And the little black robe is all the rage.

Just in — the 2012 television ad dollars on judicial races in the mitten state rang-up to a total of around $9M, comprising slightly over 30 percent of all national spending combined. It’s shocking enough that nearly $29,701,040 is poured into attempts to buy black robes across our nation, but Michigan, a state that’s been in a depression for over a decade, really knows how to strut down the runway. Fashion hungry Michigan consumers eagerly gobbled-up over 16,000 judicial-related television spots over the past few months.

It’s not as if this is a new trend — Michigan holds the title for hosting the most expensive judicial race in history, shelling-out over $5M in 2010 for one set of shiny black duds. Geez, even Dorothy’s ruby slippers went for a mere $15,000. The average Oscar runway look only runs a bargain-basement $75,000 per glitterati. Yet Michigan Supreme Court robes are simply the height of haute couture and are taking the state’s corporatocracy by storm — a “must have” item for every CEO’s closet. After all, you can hide a lot behind those billowing garments.

And they do.

In a previous report on the high court, Democracy Tree found the following:

With 63% of Michigan voters believing that campaign money influences judicial decision making, it seems voters are not naive after all. The National Institute on Money in State Politics reports in The New Politics of Judicial Elections in the Great Lakes States, that 86% of cases before the Michigan Supreme Court involved one or more campaign contributors to one or more of the justices. And, that’s just the money we know about because it’s been properly reported under the rules set forth in the Michigan Campaign Finance Act. However, the overwhelming bulk of the money is spent by shadowy third-parties on issue ads, of whom we know virtually nothing.

While Michigan’s former middle-class is left to picking-over “gently worn” clothes at their local resale shop, they can at least look up to the Supreme Court and know that their rights are in the hands of well-dressed men and women wearing the hottest corporate labels.

 

Amy Kerr Hardin at Democracy Tree

 

Blocking the Vote in 2016–Already VIDEO

The election was just two weeks ago but some republicans are already coming up with new ideas to suppress the vote in 2016.  People like Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who is already looking to rig the electoral college vote.

Please click here to watch this video

 

2012 – An Awakening Electorate and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)

Op-Ed by Exec. Dir. Bob Sloan

As pressure has been brought to bear upon the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) over the past couple of years, many of their far-right conservative initiatives were brought into the light along with that organization’s secretive memberships and vast influence.

Articles began surfacing that advised voters of ALEC’s involvement in crafting and urging passage of key state legislation designed to suppress voter rights, tort reform (to limit consumer protections) and on social issues involving abortion, separation of church and state, privatization of public schools, utilities and abolishing or repealing the Affordable Care Act.  They have written and disseminated labor legislation to end collective bargaining, reduce Union and worker wages and other legislation beneficial to their corporate members.

Most Americans were completely unaware of ALEC from it’s conception in 1973…and those who did know ALEC existed, were uninformed as to what ALEC actually did.  All of that changed in May 2011 when hundreds of ALEC’s documents were turned over  to the Nation Magazine and the Center for Media and Democracy by a concerned whistleblower.  In July CMD and the Nation launched “ALEC Exposed” a joint project to fully expose ALEC to the public.  When the site went public, there was less than 18 months remaining until the 2012 election, requiring those of us knowledgeable about ALEC to work quickly to make voters fully aware of ALEC.

Other organizations and groups joined CMD in helping to pull ALEC from the dark shadows and expose their activities to all Americans. Groups such as Common Cause, Color of Change, PFAW, Progress Now, Democracy Now and Walden Asset Management  joined with CMD in an effort of enlightening everyone about ALEC – and demonstrating why their activities were so dangerous to democracy and the very fabric of our Nation.  Jointly they issued state reports identifying ALEC state legislative members, the legislation they were responsible for writing and passing in each state.  They issued reports on the corporate members of ALEC that funded and co-wrote free market legislation for the state members to introduce and pass in each state.

Here at VLTP we launched in-depth reports informing of ALEC’s involvement at the federal level, the 100 + ALEC alumni serving in congress and their exporting of a conservative American agenda to foreign countries through the formation of a UK based affiliate, the Atlantic Bridge Charity and an ALEC International Relations “Task Force”.

With the final results we learned that many of our efforts were successful.  Voters in Wisconsin were informed of the long and close relationship between ALEC and former Governor and Senator Tommy Thompson and defeated him at the polls, choosing Tammy Baldwin instead.  Similarly in Virginia, ALEC’s alum and former US Senator and Governor, George Allen was exposed and then beaten at the polls by former VA Governor Tim Kaine.  This was important as Allen was the first “ALEC Federal Forum Task Force” Co-Chair in 2005-06.

Education

An additional plus was the defeat of Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett.  Bennett has been criss-crossing the US advocating and lobbying for ALEC’s educational legislation and policies.  He is particularly fond of Common Core Standards and has pursued passage of that nationally.

Bennett presented the pro-Common Core case to the board of ALEC .   Dr. Bennett is also on the Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), one of the two trade associations managing the Common Core Standards (along with the National Governors Association).  Additionally, he is the Chairman of Chiefs for Change, an initiative of Jeb Bush’s Foundation for Excellence in Education.  The Foundation for Excellence in Education and CCSSO have received $1,000,000 and $70,000,000, respectively, from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the primary force financing and pushing the Common Core.

Bennett was defeated by a Democrat who issued statements Tuesday night that two immediate reforms she will make in Indiana is the repeal of Common Core and ensuring that public money is used to fund public schools.  This represents a 180 degree change from what this state has been subjected to under Bennett.

In a win for labor and education, voters in Idaho rejected two referenda to uphold 2011 education laws that had limited collective bargaining for teachers. Proposition 1 to limit teacher contracts failed, with 43 percent voting for and 57 percent against. Proposition 2 also failed, with 42 percent voting for and 58 percent against.

Unfortunately Georgia voters weighed in on a proposal to give the state legislature the right to create public charter schools. The measure passed, with 58.5 percent voting for and 41.5 percent voting against.  An ALEC win.

Washington State voted on a proposition to allow the creation of 40 charter schools in the next five years. It has been called the “billionaires initiative” because its signature drive was primarily funded by Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the parents of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. The measure passed, with 51.24 percent voting for and 48.76 percent against. Another ALEC win.

In Idaho teachers opposed Propositions 1, 2 and 3 – in an effort to overturn the so-called “Luna laws.” These harmful education laws, which are named after the state’s schools Superintendent, Tom Luna, are now history. All three propositions were rejected.

Amendment 8 in Florida was pushed by its supporters as a matter of religious freedom when it would have actually allowed the state to publicly fund religious schools and institutions, taking away resources from public schools (more ALEC initiatives). Voters saw through the misleading rhetoric and defeated the measure.

Criminal Justice

Other legislation ALEC has been responsible for are laws dedicated to keeping the “War on Drugs” going.  The laws written by them and passed nationwide has been responsible for imprisoning more than 2 million Americans, imposition of long and harsh sentences for marijuana use, possession or cultivation.  Related laws involving privatizing prisons, criminal bonds and prison healthcare have resulted in huge profits to corporations involved in each – such as former ALEC members, Geo Group and Corrections Corp. of America – began to experience fear for bottom lines as two states (Colorado and Washington) legalized recreational marijuana use, effectively decriminalizing the drug which will reduce jail and prison populations and costs of imprisonment overall.

Colorado and Montana Vote Against Citizens United.  Colorado’s Amendment 65 and Montana’s Initiative 166 are ballot propositions designed to challenge the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. FEC that lifted bans on corporate political spending.

Massachusetts voters passed a proposition to legalize medical marijuana.

California voters approved a softening of the state’s “three strikes” sentencing law but upheld the death penalty.

Labor

California’s Proposition 32 has been called the “Paycheck Protection” Initiative — a name straight out of the playbook of ALEC. As CMD has reported, this proposition has been spun as campaign finance reform but would actually “eviscerate labor” by banning employers from withholding union dues and reimbursing the union.

The measure failed to pass, with 43.8 percent voting for and 56.2 percent voting against, but labor spent$75.2 million to hold off the attack. Similar measures have failed twice before in California.

Healthcare

Voters in Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Montana, and Wyoming weighed in on propositions to block aspects of 2010 federal health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare.” ALEC has been pushing similar laws nationwide.

The measures fared as follows: passed in Alabama, failed in Florida, passed in Missouri, passed percent in Montana, and passed in Wyoming.

Miscellaneous

Michigan

Michigan’s controversial Emergency Manager Law, 2011 Public Act 4, allowing the governor to appoint emergency managers to take over local municipalities in place of elected officials was on the ballot in that state. Volunteers collected over 200,000 signatures to get a referendum — Proposal 1 — on yesterday’s ballot to overturn the law.  The measure to keep the law in place failed, with 48 percent voting for and 52 percent against, successfully overturning the law.

Michigan voters also voted on a proposition sponsored by the front group Michigan Alliance for Prosperity (again taken right from ALEC’s playbook). The Michigan Taxation Amendment, Proposal 5, is similar to ALEC’s Super-Majority Act and would amend the state constitution to require a 2/3 majority in the legislature to enact an increase in state taxes.

The measure failed, with 31 percent voting for and 69 percent against.

Maryland

Maryland voters upheld their state’s DREAM Act, which ensures that all Maryland kids whose families pay Maryland taxes are able to pay in-state tuition.

Minnesota

Voters in Minnesota* rejected a voter restriction amendment, which would have placed additional burdens on voting. This marks the first time a popular vote has rejected voter restriction tactics.

It is important to note that though the GOP in Congress is adamantly claiming that the electoral outcome on Tuesday is not a “mandate” for the President’s policies and agenda, that claim is totally false.  Those considering whether this claim has merit or not should include the voter suppression factor when calculating the actual will of the people.

Efforts by ALEC Alums Governor Kasich and Sec. of State Husted in Ohio to install voter ID laws, limit early voting and reduce the number of days of early voting had an as yet undetermined impact upon voters.  The Ohio efforts were mirrored nationwide by states that had passed similar laws or were implementing regulations to reduce the time for early voting and requiring ID’s – such as in Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and more than 20 other states.  Efforts of suppressing the vote to prevail in key races failed – but undoubtedly those laws did affect turnout of minorities; African Americans, Latino’s, Senior citizens and College Students (unable to use their school ID’s to vote) – and thus had a measurable impact upon electoral outcome(s).

Currently with Florida not determined yet, the President won the popular vote by a margin of 2.9 million votes.  The latest estimate of the number of voters who were disenfranchised by these ALEC voter ID laws has been reported as 5 million.  Thus, the margin of President Obama’s victory could/should have been as much as 7.9 +/- million votes.  There is no way of estimating how the disenfranchised would have impacted the final results in other state and national races or upon referenda, ballot issues or questions.  Without the extensive voter suppression laws put in place by the GOP through ALEC model legislation, the election outcome would have been considered a landslide rather than just an ass whipping.

What Karl Rove and the donors to his PAC’s and dark money funds got in return for the hundreds of millions contributed to advancing the ALEC/GOP agenda was a lessening of the number of voters able to cast their ballots.  While they didn’t prevail in the face of a huge turnout of Democrats, if left in place such voter laws will have an impact upon the 2014 and subsequent election cycles.  An effort must be made immediately to begin to repeal such laws to enable the electorate to vote freely without intimidation or further suppression efforts put in place by one party.  Hopefully repeals will be introduced between now and 2014 in the states or better yet, a federal bill to prohibit such suppression.

2012 Voting Machines Altering Votes

Please watch the video at http://youtu.be/Fg6DvjfLz5Q

My wife and I went to the voting booths this morning before work. There were 4 older ladies running the show and 3 voting booths that are similar to a science fair project in how they fold up. They had an oval VOTE logo on top center and a cartridge slot on the left that the volunteers used to start your ballot.

I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.

There is a lot of speculation that the footage is edited. I’m not a video guy, but if it’s possible to prove whether a video has been altered or not, I will GLADLY provide the raw footage to anyone who is willing to do so. The jumping frames are a result of the shitty camera app on my Android phone, nothing more.

Oregon Election Worker Fired for Altering Ballots to Republican Straight Ticket

An election worker in Oregon is facing a criminal investigation for allegedly altering multiple ballots to benefit Republican candidates.

In a press release on Monday, Clackamas County spokesperson Tim Heider said that 55-year-old Deanna Swenson had been “relieved of duty immediately after the alleged ballot tampering was discovered.”

Swenson, who was registered as a Republican, was accused of filling in a Republican straight ticket on ballots where voters did not specify a choice.

Contacted by Willamette Week, Swenson tearfully insisted that it was “only the two” ballots that had been altered.

The Oregon Department of Justice began an investigation last week after an elections official reportedly observed ballots being altered.

“At this point, it is unclear how many ballots the employee at issue had access to, or what will be done with those ballots,” the sheriff’s office said on Monday.

At a Monday emergency meeting, officials in Clackamas County announced that the altered ballots would not be counted. Since ballots were anonymous, disenfranchised voters would not be given a chance to re-cast their votes.

So, the supporters of Voter Fraud legislation are caught with their hands in the cookie jar once again.  How many ballots will be disqualified?  At least two voters have been disenfranchised by this illegal act.

To read the entire report and watch the embedded video please click here

The video can also be seen by clicking here

UAW, SEIU PFAW and Other Org’s File Charges Against Romney for Violating Federal Ethics in Government law

From Nation of Change, by Greg Palast

United Auto Worker’s President, Bob King announced today that his Union and a consortium of other organizations that include the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), People for the American Way, SEIU, Public Campaign and the Social Equity Group has initiated and brought formal charges against Mitt Romney for “hiding” between $15.3 million and $115.0 million in Ann Romney’s so-called “blind” trust.

The formal charge filed with the US Office of Government Ethics focuses attention upon an aspect of the Romney “family” that has been previously overlooked – the financial manipulations by Mitt and Ann Romney serving to hide their huge wealth.  It also demonstrates that the relationship between Mitt Romney and one of his main contributors, Paul Singer is more than just that of a candidate and supporter.  This scheme began three years ago and partnered Ann Romney with hedge fund manager Singer, who would later become Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s key donor.

This disgusting tale exemplifies precisely why what Romney and his Bain Company does has been defined as “vulture capitalism”.  When the economy collapsed in 2009 the Romney’s and Singer saw an opportunity to capitalize off of the dire straits the U.S. automakers found themselves facing.  Under their partnership Singer and Romney secretly bought controlling interest in Delphi Auto (the former GM auto parts division) through Singer’s Hedge Fund, Elliot Management.

With the government stepping up to bail out GM and Chrysler, Ann Romney and Singer “stepped up” to reap a windfall of money out of the TARP funds by extorting $12.9 Billion in taxpayer funding from GM and the government.  By threatening to cut off the supply of key steering columns to GM unless they received funds from the bailout, this extortion was successful.  The “profits earned” by the Romneys from this extortion scheme were then hidden in a trust after allegedly being laundered through an offshore corporation and a limited partnership agreement…

The union chief says, “The American people have a right to know about Gov. Romney’s potential conflicts of interest, such as the profits his family made from the auto rescue,” “It’s time for Gov. Romney to disclose or divest.”

“In 2009, Ann Romney partnered with her husband’s key donor, billionaire Paul Singer, who secretly bought a controlling interest in Delphi Auto, the former GM auto parts division.  Singer’s hedge fund, Elliott Management, threatened to cut off GM’s supply of steering columns unless GM and the government’s TARP auto bail-out fund provided Delphi with huge payments.  While the US treasury complained this was “extortion,” the hedge funds received, ultimately, $12.9 billion in taxpayer subsidies.

“While Romney was opposing the rescue of one of the nation’s most important manufacturing sectors, he was building his fortunes with his Delphi investor group, making his fortunes off the misfortunes of others,” King added.”The Romneys’ gigantic windfall was hidden inside an offshore corporation inside a Limited Partnership inside a trust which both concealed the gain and reduces taxes on it.”

This is but one of possibly many such manipulations and transactions involving the Romneys and other corporate owners during the period 2008 to today that were used to increase personal wealth at the expense of taxpayer bailouts used to save our nation’s economy.  One can almost hear the loud sucking vacuum as more and more tax dollars are being swept upward to the top 1% of the wealthiest families and owners of multi-national corporations…we can also imagine the mocking laughter emanating from behind closed boardroom doors of America’s Hedge Fund companies as they count and exchange the status of money from tax dollars to “earned” investor profits.  This truly is a form of vulturous activity which is being used to further break the backs of America’s working middle class.

Read the full Nation of Change Palast article here

How big business wants to shrink the electorate

From San Diego City Beat By Zach Hagadone

“Astonishing.” “Remarkable.” “Sinister.” Those are words that come up again and again when confronting the wave of voter-identification laws that has recently swept through more than 30 Republican-dominated state legislatures. The measures sound innocuous enough: When a voter shows up on Election Day, he or she must present valid photo ID in order to cast a ballot…

According to figures from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, as many as 11 percent of adult U.S. citizens do not have any form of government-issued photo identification, accounting for more than 21 million people. Among that group, 18 percent of citizens 65 years of age or older don’t have government-issued photo ID (more than 6 million seniors), and, based on 2000 U.S. Census figures, more than 5.5 million African-American adults lack photo ID—a full 25 percent of eligible black voters. Meanwhile, U.S. citizens, regardless of ethnicity, age or gender, who make less than $35,000 “are more than twice as likely to lack current government-issued photo identification as those earning more than $35,000 a year,” the Brennan Center reported, meaning at least 15 percent of voting-age Americans in the lowincome bracket lack valid ID.”
To read the full City Beat article, click here….

Corporate Control of Candidates & Elections – Topics, Contributions, Candidates and ALEC

It’s called “Corporatocracy” and as I’ve written for more than two years now, it is alive, well and on the rise.  Corporate involvement in government controls, regulations and programs has become dominant over the past two decades – and in the past four years it has increased exponentially following the election of America’s first African-American President.

Over the aforementioned twenty plus years, corporations have diversified their interest(s) from strictly business and manufacturing to an agenda of creating and urging the passage of pro-corporate friendly legislation beneficial to their bottom line(s) – regardless of the impact upon consumers, patients or voters.

Today more than three hundred and fifty multi-national companies are “officially” members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) where they take part in crafting/drafting legislation that limits consumer rights, suppresses voter rights, increases gun sales, privatizing; education (K-12 & college), prisons, prison services and public utilities.   Others are hidden members of ALEC including the businesses, companies and corporations who are members of the Chamber of Commerce, the National Foundation of Independent Business (NFIB – which claims a membership base of 350,000) and PhRMA (listing 53 member pharma companies) that has membership and key positions within ALEC.  This organization serves as the legislative voice of corporate interests, the “go to” charity used by companies such as Coca~Cola, Koch Industries, Microsoft, AT&T, PhRMA and Eli Lilly to lobby for and secure legislation reducing regulations on operations, lower taxation and less oversight and consumer protections.

Numerous other initiatives are pursued by these corporate players but this article isn’t about their anti-consumer activities or the legislation they have managed to pass (though for purposes of demonstration tort reform is explained below).  Rather it is about the pursuit of controlling our Legislative, judicial and executive branches of government (state and federal).   They are no longer content with paying huge sums of money to get the legislation passed…they want to cut out the middlemen.

Historically we have elected politicians who we believed would adequately and properly represent the rights and interests of our state citizens and the US population collectively.  Since the general election in 2008 all that has changed.  Corporations and businesses are no longer content with “owning” lawmakers with campaign contributions, bribes and expensive organizations such as ALEC.  Today they want to replace actual political candidates with current or former corporate executives and owners – who will advance a free-market, pro-corporate agenda. More →

The Voter Protection Hotline–Accept No Lies

Posted on our VLTP Facebook Page by member Dov Rosenberg.  Don’t let anyone illegally take away your right to vote!

PLEASE SHARE: The Voter Protection Hotline (855.868.3171) is staffed by attorneys who can quickly respond to questions and report any issues that may arise. If you have any questions, please call the voter protection hotline:
(855) VOTE-171 or (855) 868-3171

Most Common Voter Protection Issues:
· Intimidation

· Misinformation
· Voter does not have correct ID
· Long line
· Qualification or proof of residence questions
· Voter was convicted of a felony and completed both sentence and parole

Texas AG threatens to arrest monitors observing US election

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has monitored several previous elections in the US. Photograph: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

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State Attorney General calls international group’s plan to watch for fairness at the polls ‘legally irrelevant in the United States’

The Texas attorney general, Greg Abbott, has threatened to arrest international election monitors invited by liberal groups to observe the conduct of next month’s presidential vote in states accused of attempting to disenfranchise minorities.

Abbott has written to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe warning that its monitors have no right to monitor the vote even though they have observed previous US elections.

“The OSCE’s representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place. It may be a criminal offence for OSCE’s representatives to maintain a presence within 100 feet of a polling place’s entrance,” he said. “Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE’s representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law.”

The OSCE is sending 44 observers to voting stations across the US at the request of various groups, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union, because of “an unprecedented and sophisticated level of coordination to restrict voting rights in our nation”. These include attempts by several states, including Texas, to introduce voter identification laws and other measures blocked by federal courts which have ruled they were motivated by racial discrimination.

Well, we’re finally regarded as a nation that cannot conduct honest democratic elections, as reported in this article from the Guardian U.K., and as essentially verified by conservatives’ reaction to this action by the OSCE.  Isn’t that something to be proud of.  Brought to you by the same Party that increased our deficit by getting our nation’s credit rating lowered.  There is a lot more to read in this article, so please click here to read it all.