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Salon: Did Mitch McConnell block relief bill for months because of a Kentucky nursing home mogul?

Richard Beliles, chairman of Common Cause Kentucky, a group that advocates for accountability and equity in government, has stood opposite McConnell on most issues for decades, specifically campaign finance. He told Salon that Forcht and McConnell likely have a broader long-term goal, and may be trying to wrap otherwise untenable liability protections in the bunting of the pandemic. "These liability protections might help someone like Forcht, but many more people who may be accidentally injured, they're sort of out of luck," Beliles said. "I'm hoping that maybe now, with Biden coming in, [McConnell] can do everything right for this issue that affects the needy in this country," Beliles said. "I know we really need it, the people of Kentucky need it." "I guess I sound like an optimist, in terms of cooperation between the Democrats and Republicans," Beliles added. "But if we're this close, I don't want to offend him."

New York Times: In Farewell Speech, Udall Says Senate Has Become ‘Graveyard for Progress’

“I’m not the first to say this in a farewell address, and I won’t be the last, but the Senate is broken,” Mr. Udall, Democrat of New Mexico, said on Tuesday in what is likely his final speech after 12 years in the deeply divided institution. “The Senate is broken,” he repeated for emphasis. For months, Americans have watched in anger as Congress remained mired in partisan paralysis over more pandemic relief, allowing unemployment benefits to lapse as many suffer from joblessness. Fewer people approve of the job lawmakers are doing in Washington than at almost any time in recent history. And the government watchdog group Common Cause ranked the current Congress the “least productive in history,” noting that only about 1 percent of bills introduced became law. Mr. Udall emphasized this dysfunctional state of affairs on the floor, calling on senators to gut the legislative filibuster — which effectively requires a 60-vote supermajority to advance any major legislation — and change a culture he said valued partisanship over the country’s best interests.

Associated Press: Bribery scheme implicating Madigan revives term limits talk

So remarkable is his run that, for many, “term limits is code in this state for opposition to the speaker,” said Jay Young, executive director of Common Cause Illinois. Young calls limits a “blunt-force tool” when other reforms, such as overhauling the way legislative districts are drawn, would do more good.

Money & Influence 07.21.2020

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Federal charges describe elaborate scheme, bankrolled by FirstEnergy, to corrupt Ohio politics and secure nuclear bailout

"It is a shocking day: The only thing that is clear to me is that pay-to-play is rampant in Ohio," said Catherine Turcer of the government watchdog group, Common Cause Ohio. "Utility money is the grease of the machine of the Statehouse."

Associated Press: Old tech has third of Kansas lawmakers’ disclosures offline

Beth Rotman, national director of the government watchdog group Common Cause’s ethics and money in politics project, said the forms should be disclosed in a way that average voters are able to see, and online data is quickly accessible and searchable. “The public should have timely access to complete, searchable statements of their lawmakers’ financial disclosure statements so the public can evaluate any potential conflicts or red flags in real time,” Rotman said. “In many cases, delayed disclosure will equate to non-disclosure if the public lacks access to the information when they are evaluating whether their representatives appear to be acting in the best interest of their members — those every day Americans they represent — or their own pocket.”

Voting & Elections 04.7.2020

NPR: Long Lines, Masks And Plexiglas Barriers Greet Wisconsin Voters At Polls

"Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that has failed to step up and respond responsibly and safely to the current national health pandemic emergency," Jay Heck, director of voting rights group Common Cause in Wisconsin, said in a statement. 

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