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Voting & Elections 02.2.2023

Associated Press: Voting experts to guide new Wisconsin poll watcher rules

“Election workers need to know they are supported by a clear set of rules and will not have to endure the threat of intimidation or attack by observers who do not follow those rules,” Jay Heck, executive director of watchdog group Common Cause Wisconsin, said in a statement sent to the commission. Commissioners asked Common Cause Wisconsin to appoint a member to the new committee, as well as voting advocacy groups including Souls to the Polls, Forward Latino and the Wisconsin Election Integrity Network. As the four parties with ballot access in Wisconsin, the Democratic, Republican, Constitutional and Libertarian Parties were each also asked to appoint a member.

Associated Press: Advocates warn House rule change could undermine voters

As lawmakers prepare to debate bills on abortion access, LGBTQ rights and immigration, Miles Beasley, a Historically Black Colleges and Universities fellow at Common Cause North Carolina, said he worries the rule could be abused to further disadvantage vulnerable communities. “These surprise votes rob us of our right to speak to our representatives before important votes happen, cutting us out of the lawmaking process,” said Beasley, a student at Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh. He urged House Republicans not to resort to “petty power plays” when they vote on permanent rules in the coming weeks.

Roll Call: McCarthy names GOP members to House Ethics Committee

“The appointment of Rep. Andrew Garbarino (R-NY) to the House Ethics Committee is especially revealing,” said Aaron Scherb, a senior director of legislative affairs at Common Cause, in an email to CQ Roll Call. “When the committee is investigating Rep. George Santos’ numerous lies, fabrications, and significant ethical lapses, a reasonable observer could call into question the ability of Rep. Garbarino to be an objective investigator.” 

Media & Democracy 01.31.2023

TV Tech: Common Cause Calls on Senate to Confirm Gigi Sohn to FCC

Common Cause has issued a strongly worded plea for the U.S. Senate to confirm Gigi Sohn as a new commissioner to the FCC, saying that “in recent weeks, industry and big money opposition have continued to run a smear campaign to stall Gigi Sohn’s confirmation to serve as FCC commissioner. These attacks have now turned to a more bigoted and hateful nature in an effort to keep the FCC deadlocked. A deadlocked FCC is unable to advance key priorities that address the communications needs of all households. Common Cause calls on the Senate to condemn these attacks and rapidly confirm her to the FCC.” “It is disgraceful that the FCC has been forced into deadlock since the beginning of the Biden administration while big money opposition continues to run a sleazy and bigoted campaign to stall Ms. Sohn’s confirmation,” added Michael Copps, former FCC commissioner and Common Cause special adviser in a statement to the press. “Industry gatekeepers will go to any lengths to smear Ms. Sohn’s name, all to derail her confirmation because they know a fully functional FCC will hold them accountable for engaging in anti-consumer practices.” “Ms. Sohn is more than qualified to be a commissioner and has spent her entire career fighting for the public interest – the core mission of the FCC,” Copps said. “She has the support of nearly 250 organizations including groups from across the political spectrum. We urge the senate to condemn the continued smear campaign against Ms. Sohn and quickly confirm her to the FCC.”

Associated Press: Group: N.C. request for redistricting rehearing ‘frivolous’

Hilary Klein, an attorney for Common Cause, wrote that the rehearing petition is “frivolous.” She referred specifically to House Speaker Tim Moore’s public statement that another look at the cases was needed because the “people of North Carolina sent a message election day” to reject the ruling of the “outgoing (judicial) majority.” The petition “is therefore motivated by improper purpose and grossly lacking in the requirements of propriety,” Klein wrote.

Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com: Corporate jets, bribes and dark money: Householder trial spotlights weaknesses in Ohio ethics laws

Catherine Turcer, executive director of the good-government group Common Cause Ohio, said it’s “astonishing” that lawmakers have yet to take up any reforms in response to the Householder scandal. “It’s clear to me that the people in power like the structure that we have right now, and that they’re benefitting from the lack of transparency,” Turcer said. ... Turcer said there’s a public interest in limiting lawmakers’ and other politicians’ ability to accept trips on private jets. “Any time our lawmakers are given perks from folks who want something, it’s a problem if our goal is reducing quid pro quo,” Turcer said. ... Turcer, the good-government advocate, said a lack of transparency in political spending is the core issue behind the abuses revealed by the House Bill 6 scandal. She said campaign-finance laws won’t prevent future scandals. But they could discourage them, she said. “I look at them like guardrails,” Turcer said. “If we have a speed limit that’s 55, 65, 70. You have people who might go 72. They might even go 80. But they aren’t going 120.”

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