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Voting & Elections 03.25.2020

Newsweek: CONGRESS' $2 TRILLION CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PACKAGE NOT 'NEARLY ENOUGH' TO SAFEGUARD 2020 ELECTION, EXPERTS SAY

"I think we could see, worst-case scenario, millions of Americans disenfranchised and would not be able to have their voices heard or votes counted," said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at the nonpartisan government watchdog Common Cause. "We should really be able to get to a bipartisan solution to prevent the worst-case scenario from happening."

Voting & Elections 03.24.2020

Washington Post: Election officials in both parties call for emergency funding to expand voting by mail before November

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said she expected the legislature to be receptive to recommendations from voting rights advocates. But whatever happens, she said, officials must clearly communicate their decisions to the public. “People are sitting at home, and they are anxious,” Turcer said, arguing that confusion about elections “just compounds people’s worries” about the covid-19 crisis. “There are pros and cons of all sorts of decisions we could make here, but what we really do need is that clarity.”

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Sen. Rand Paul’s positive coronavirus test negatively affects other senators, but Ohio senators still on the job

Common Cause legislative affairs director Aaron Scherb said Paul’s failure to quarantine himself potentially endangered the hundreds of individuals he came into contact with in the U.S. Capitol complex in addition to U.S. senators, including janitors, police officers, and food service workers. His use of the Senate gym after its March 19 closure to stop the spread of COVID-19 “calls into question his ability to follow rules,” said Scherb, adding that Paul should have known better because he’s a doctor. “As a U.S. senator, he should certainly set an example for everyone else especially during a pandemic like this,” said Scherb. “I am sure he wouldn’t be the first Senator who has ignored rules. Some of them think they’re invincible.” He said Paul’s diagnosis would likely curtail further use of the Senate gym during the pandemic, and would make the coronavirus issue even more personal for Senate members. “The average age of the U.S. Senate is above 60,” said Scherb. “They are not immune to this.”

CNBC: Sen. Loeffler, NYSE CEO husband defend stock sales after her private coronavirus briefing

Common Cause said the trades by the senators as alleged involved “potentially criminal misconduct.” “These Senators appear to have used classified intelligence briefings as stock tips and sold off significant holdings to avoid losses in the markets,” said Paul Ryan, Common Cause Vice President for Policy and Litigation. “These laws are on the books for a good reason, without them the potential to abuse the power of elected office for personal enrichment would be virtually unlimited.”

Money & Influence 03.20.2020

HuffPost: Mike Bloomberg Lays Off Entire Campaign Staff And Scales Back Election Spending Plans

Bloomberg’s campaign presents “novel challenges” because it was funded entirely with his own money, according to Beth Rotman, campaign finance expert at Common Cause, a nonpartisan good government nonprofit. This makes the $18 million donation through his campaign look like a new way to evade the contribution limits put in place to deter corruption and ensure equality in political campaigns. “It’s very troubling that Bloomberg appears to be evading the federal contribution limits of an individual to a party committee,” Rotman said. Common Cause is considering filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission challenging this donation.

Politico: Burr moves to quell fallout from stock sales with request for Ethics probe

Common Cause, a Washington-based watchdog group, filed complaints against all four lawmakers — Burr, Loeffler, Inhofe and Feinstein — with the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Senate Ethics Committee, citing the STOCK Act. “These potential violations of insider trading laws and the STOCK Act by these Senators ... show what appears to be contempt for the law and further a contempt for the American people these Senators have sworn to serve," Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, said in a statement.

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