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Money & Influence 01.22.2021

Statesman Journal (Op-Ed): A bill of, by and 'For the People'

Now is the time for political leadership. In the wake of the Jan. 6 armed insurrection attempt to overturn our 2020 presidential election, we should expect our elected leaders to strongly confront the lies, conspiracy theories and white nationalism that have polarized this nation. But it will take more than that. Our democracy was, and continues to be, under attack, and we must immediately fix it. The U.S. House of Representatives will soon be voting on H.R. 1, the For the People Act, the most transformative democracy reform package since the Watergate era. This comprehensive set of democratic reforms and anti-corruption measures will protect and expand the right to vote, reduce the role of big money in politics, end racial and partisan gerrymandering and amplify the voices of hard-working Americans.

Media & Democracy 01.16.2021

Salon: Despite Parler backlash, Facebook played huge role in fueling Capitol riot, watchdogs say

Larger companies were eager to single out Parler to avoid the "potential legal implications" from "associating yourself with an app or platform that is encouraging and inviting actions that will lead to violence," said Yosef Getachew, director of the media and democracy program at the watchdog group Common Cause. Parler played a role in the "organizing" of the siege and amplified calls to violence but "it wasn't just Parler, it was social media platforms across the board," Getachew said. Facebook in particular has "done a poor job of consistently enforcing their content moderation policies," he added. This isn't just a case of "one platform is a bad actor," Getachew said. "All platforms have not done what they need to do to prohibit this type of disinformation and incitement of violence." ... These groups didn't just spread misinformation but actively "encouraged people to attend the riot last week and to potentially arm themselves and to potentially engage in other violent acts," Getachew said. "These are the types of things from a public interest side that make it harder to monitor because the groups are closed, right? You need permission to enter and Facebook isn't doing a good enough job of actually facilitating or moderating these groups to prohibit this type of content, or to ban these groups altogether."

Center for Public Integrity: DEMOCRATS PUSH WIDE-RANGING VOTING, ETHICS REFORMS IN CHARGED MOMENT FOR DEMOCRACY

“While neither party will have 60 seats in the Senate any time soon, there are a number of options being considered to get his bill across the finish line,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs for the watchdog nonprofit group Common Cause, which supports the bill.

Voting & Elections 01.14.2021

TIME: After Georgia Flips Blue, Voting Rights Advocates Brace for New Voting Restrictions

Voting rights groups say the atmosphere in Georgia has been increasingly tense in recent months as they’ve worked to get out the vote. Aunna Dennis, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, has been wary of what she describes as “angry mobs” at the Capitol, explaining that “there has been a hostile presence with the Stop the Steal rallies.” As a Black woman, she feels particularly unsafe around the area which she is used to visiting as she does her election protection work, she adds.

Philadelphia Inquirer: First it was ‘fraud,’ then they just didn’t like the rules: How Pa. Republicans justified trying to overturn an election

“Part of democracy is being willing to accept the results of a legitimate election, even when it doesn’t favor you. We’ve just lost sight of that,” said Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, a nonpartisan advocacy group that supports voting rights. “Now what we’re hearing is this rhetoric that is leading people to believe democracy doesn’t work if it doesn’t get me my outcome. ....That rhetoric is absolutely decimating confidence in our democracy.”

New York Times: Will Congress pass ethics changes swiftly after Trump leaves office?

Actually, the I.G. protection component of the reform package has received early action in the House, according to Aaron Scherb of Common Cause, one of the watchdog groups pushing for these changes. On Jan. 5, the eve of the Capitol riot, the bipartisan Inspector General Protection Act — introduced by Representatives Ted Lieu, Democrat of California, and Jody Hice, Republican of Georgia — passed the House by voice vote. The act would help protect inspectors general from retaliation, for example by requiring the executive branch to notify Congress before placing an I.G. on administrative leave. And it would help ensure that vacant I.G. slots are filled promptly by requiring the executive to provide Congress an explanation for failing to nominate an I.G. after an extended vacancy.

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