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Legislative Ethics

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Ohio Capital Journal: Legal expert, voter advocates slam Ohio GOP plan to make citizen ballot initiatives harder to pass

Some activists, like Catherine Turcer with Common Cause Ohio, say this would make it significantly harder for Ohioans, regardless of political affiliation, to have their voices heard. “It’s just like putting your hand on the scale making it even harder for citizens to challenge the authority of the state legislature,” she said. “And direct democracy is about a check on the state legislature.” “We’re talking about the need to do a citizen initiative to take the mapmaking away from elected officials and create an independent commission,” she said. “The only reason to do this is to thwart the will of the people and to retain power — and the power to gerrymander,” she added.

Los Angeles Times: Why redistricting is such a hot topic in the leaked L.A. City Council audio

The main reason behind the fight over assets, said Jonathan Mehta Stein of California Common Cause, is the political benefits they can bring to a council member. “It all goes back to campaign fundraising and building power,” said Stein, who is the group’s executive director. Those benefits are twofold, Stein said. First, having a business or commercial hub in your district puts you in contact with business owners who want to curry favor with you, which translates into campaign donations. And second, having a significant asset such as a major event space or a high-profile business gives you opportunities to hobnob with VIPs and powerful state figures. “You’re building your networks; you’re building your Rolodex,” developing social cachet that will come in handy when you’re running for higher office, he said. What the call revealed was council members “trying to build the political power of one racial or ethnic group at the expense of another,” Stein said. “But their own interest in the future of their political careers was also at play amid all the racism. ... When they’re trying to secure economic assets in their districts or their friends’ districts, they are trying to secure a glide path to more power, more influence and higher office for themselves and their friends.”

Voting & Elections 10.14.2022

States Newsroom/Pennsylvania Capital-Star: U.S. Supreme Court to consider case that could radically reshape the country’s elections

“Our government will be run by and for the politicians, not the people,” said Suzanne Almeida, Common Cause’s director of state operations, during a Wednesday conference call with reporters. “The danger is not just that partisan political leaders will handpick winners and losers … It’s that we the people will no longer have a fully representative government.”

ProPublica/Miami Herald: DeSantis broke Florida precedent and maybe the law, too, in making congressional map

The court’s decision in Rucho v. Common Cause barred federal court challenges to partisan gerrymanders. Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said it was not an issue for the federal judiciary to decide, but emphasized the ruling did not “condemn complaints about districting to echo into a void.” In fact, the issue was being actively addressed at the state level, Roberts wrote. He cited Florida’s amendment and one of Pariente’s opinions. Responding to liberal justices who wanted to reject Rucho’s map as an unconstitutional gerrymander, Roberts wrote they could not because “there is no ‘Fair Districts Amendment’ to the Federal Constitution.”

New York Post: Failed New York panel gets second chance to redraw Assembly lines

“We’ve seen this movie before. We know how it ends. Skip to appointment of special master who is familiar with New York immediately and stop wasting New Yorkers time and money with a useless bipartisan commission that defaults to the Legislature,” Susan Lerner, executive director of the good government group Common Cause New York, said in a statement.

Charlotte Observer: NC case at Supreme Court ‘should keep every American up at night,’ ex-AG Eric Holder says

Bob Phillips, director of Common Cause North Carolina, said court oversight is important. He noted that every election here in the last decade was held using Republican-drawn maps that were later ruled unconstitutional, for either racial or partisan gerrymandering. “We feel strongly that the state courts should not be taken out of the equation,” Phillips said in a media briefing this month. His briefing, as well as Holder’s, focused mostly on turning the national media’s attention toward the North Carolina case. Reporters for outlets like CNN, NBC, CBS and Politico attended. Kathay Feng, who leads Common Cause’s national redistricting efforts, said it’s not only Republican-led states that gerrymander their congressional maps. She pointed to New York and Maryland as examples of Democratic gerrymandering.

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