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Voting & Elections 04.6.2021

Austin American-Statesman: Political fight over GOP election bills intensifies in Texas with economic effects debated

For example, in the name of standardized voting practices, SB 7 would close mega-voting centers at arenas and stadiums in large cities and ban extended voting hours, Common Cause Texas spokesman Anthony Gutierrez said. It also would allow poll watchers to shoot video of disabled voters getting help casting a ballot, change mail-in ballot drop-off rules and ban local officials from sending a vote-by-mail application unless requested by voters, he said. "SB 7 is over 30 pages of substantive and discriminatory changes to how voting works," Gutierrez said. "Dan Patrick is straight-up lying to Texans in an attempt to save his floundering voter suppression bill."

Media & Democracy 04.6.2021

Seattle Times (Editorial): FCC, restore limits to media ownership

The silver lining is that the Supreme Court ruling affirmed the FCC has authority to help make things right. “The way I read it, that means the FCC has broad discretion to enact substantive, meaningful ownership rules,” said Michael Copps, a former FCC member now advocating for diversity in media ownership.

Voting & Elections 04.6.2021

TIME: Marc Elias Fought Trump's 2020 Election Lawsuits. Can He Win The Battle Over Voting Rights?

Elias has also been scrutinized by watchdog groups for his work on campaign finance issues, including his role in convincing the Federal Election Commission to loosen restrictions on congressional lawmakers engaging with Super PACs. “He is not a big fan of restrictions on money in politics,” says Paul S. Ryan, Vice President of Policy and Litigation at the non-partisan accountability group Common Cause. “He has done a very good job as an attorney of fighting for the ability of political parties to raise and spend money however they choose.”

Voting & Elections 04.6.2021

The Guardian: The next Georgia: Texas and Arizona emerge as voting rights battlegrounds

Anthony Gutierrez, the executive director of the Texas chapter of Common Cause, a government watchdog group, said those statements were significant and could help sway lawmakers, including Dade Phelan, the speaker of the Texas house of representatives. Gutierrez has been involved in fights over voting rights for over a decade and said he could not recall another instance where there was the kind of broad opposition to the bills that exists now. “A lot of us are thinking that Texas is the next Georgia, but I think the big difference is all these prominent voices weighing in are coming in much earlier,” he said.

Money & Influence 04.5.2021

Bloomberg: Trump Keeps History at Bay by Putting Off Presidential Library

He told supporters before he left office in January that he wanted to raise $2 billion for a presidential library, according to the Washington Post, which would be the most ever. The most likely vehicle would be a nonprofit charity, the model used by modern presidents, because donations are tax deductible and the entity doesn’t have to pay tax on the money it raises, said Paul Seamus Ryan of the government-accountability group Common Cause. He could legally accept money in unlimited amounts from sources including foreign countries, and disclosure of the donors’ identities isn’t required except by registered lobbyists who give $200 or more.  Yet such a charity requires that expenditures are used for the public good and not for private benefit of individuals, Ryan said, and Trump has faced questions before about his use of charity funds.

Voting & Elections 04.4.2021

HuffPost: John Lewis’s Final Fight For Voting Rights

“It’s absolutely the case that his legacy lives on here,” said Stephen Spaulding, senior counsel for public policy at Common Cause, a nonpartisan nonprofit backing the For the People Act. “I just remember it being a very iterative process by which they worked very closely with outside groups to craft the most robust bill,” Spaulding, who was involved in the roundtable discussions, said. “Mr. Lewis was very involved in the details, as was his staff.”

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