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NPR (Audio): Elected officials in Detroit face a widening federal public corruption probe

NEWMAN: The hope for many residents is that the current political upheaval will lead to reforms. Beth Rotman agrees. She's with the policy group Common Cause. BETH ROTMAN: Often, these scandals lead to more public awareness of how these ties can actually begin on the campaign trail and also in the relationships that form because of the connections between wealth and policy outcomes.

Voting & Elections 07.30.2021

Associated Press: Experts raise alarms over fundraising for GOP ballot reviews

“You are not giving them a real audit at the end of the day,” Susannah Goodman, an election security expert with Common Cause, said of the GOP reviews in Arizona and elsewhere. “It’s like going to a snake oil medicine doctor and paying him a lot of money and he gives you a bottle of green goop saying this will cure your cancer.”

Associated Press: Lawmakers eye more exemptions to target “abuse’” of FOIA

Claire Snyder-Hall, program director for Common Cause Delaware, a good-government group, said the bill would allow public bodies to deny FOIA requests that they consider “inconvenient or embarrassing.” “How will ambiguous and expansive words like “unduly burdensome,” “intended to disrupt” and “abusive” be interpreted in practice?” she asked. “The problem is that the language in the bill is so broad that it could easily be used by corrupt officials to hide information they do not want public to know about,” Synder-Hall added. ”.... It is a basic premise of our system of government that we cannot rely on the goodwill of people in power.”

Money & Influence 05.25.2021

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: One election, two sets of rules with new campaign finance law

“This bill will enable security for incumbency,” Aunna Dennis, the executive director of Common Cause Georgia, told me. “It really tramples the person who wants to be the community change agent from becoming an elected official through the legislature, because it’s allowing big donors to create war chests for incumbents.”

Voting & Elections 05.20.2021

Associated Press: Iowa Republicans pass new absentee ballot restrictions

Sylvia Albert, voting and elections director for the voter access advocacy group Common Cause, said curtailing ballot collections would hurt those living in rural areas, native communities, nursing homes, colleges and anyone who lives far from polling sites or doesn’t have the economic means to get there. “Just like everything else, these kinds of illusions and lies about there being problems are being used to suppress access to the ballot for millions of Americans,” she said, referencing the national GOP push to rollback voting rights. “When we don’t allow for access for everyone we’re letting legislators choose their voters, as opposed to letting the voters choose the legislators.”

Voting & Elections 05.7.2021

TIME: Texas Was Already One of the Hardest States to Vote in. It May Get Even Harder

But voting rights advocates like Anthony Gutierrez, executive director at Common Cause Texas, an advocacy organization focused on promoting democracy, point out that “in Texas, there’s a really long history of poll watchers inside poll sites disrupting voting and being problematic and needing to be removed.” Partisan poll watchers who were suspected of being affiliated with True the Vote, a nonprofit that grew out of a Tea Party group and is focused on rooting out fraud in elections, reportedly harassed voters in several minority neighborhoods in Harris County in 2010. As a result, the Harris County attorney created new guidelines dictating where watchers could be at polling sites and how close they could stand to voters while they cast their ballots. On April 8, Common Cause published a leaked video revealing that the Harris County Republican Party is planning to mobilize an “Election Integrity Brigade” by building an “army of 10,000 people” to serve as poll watchers and election workers. The group said they are recruiting those who “have the ‘confidence and courage’ to go into some of Houston’s most diverse, historically Black and Brown neighborhoods to stop alleged voter fraud,” Common Cause said in a press release.

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