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Roll Call: Advocacy groups denounce GOP proposals to ‘gut’ ethics office

“At first glance, it comes across as neutral, but it seems clear it hamstrings OCE,” said Aaron Scherb, senior director of legislative affairs for Common Cause. “Without a full slate, then they can’t really take actions. Another provision says they have to make hiring decisions within the first 30 days, but they can’t do that without a full slate of board members.” 

Insider: Trump won't be able to terminate the US Constitution but a Republican-led effort to rewrite it continues

"We also know hearing what the opposition is talking about that they are going to be hitting every state that they can think of," Viki Harrison, director of Constitutional Convention and Protecting Dissent Programs at Common Cause, told Insider. Harrison and others involved in trying to thwart the movement have said that the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has fundamentally changed how Americans respond to this issue. While the high court has no role in a convention, Harrison said people are now aware that major changes to fundamental rights can occur. "We're talking about rights about Americans have taken for granted," Harrison said. "I think that is what has woken the public up and why I am talking to way more about this this year than last year ."

Money & Influence 12.30.2022

Associated Press: FEC levies $30K penalty tied to Kobach’s 2020 US Senate bid

The agreement came more than three years after two watchdog groups, Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center, filed formal complaints about a July 2019 fundraising email for Kobach’s U.S. Senate campaign. Kobach, who is a polarizing advocate of tough immigration measures, lost the Republican primary for an open U.S. Senate seat in August 2020.

Voting & Elections 12.28.2022

Minnesota Public Radio: Democrats see ‘mandate’ to rewrite election laws

Common Cause Minnesota Executive Director Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera said narrow DFL margins could also doom election law changes. “Now that the Democrats have the House and the Senate, wow, easy peasy, we're just going to roll with all of these reforms, that's not going to be the case,” Belladonna-Carrera said. “There are still intra-caucus dynamics, there is over-promising. And only five months in the legislative session.”

New York Times: The Jan. 6 Report Is Out. Now the Real Work Begins.

This response to Watergate was not inevitable. Reform depended on the establishment or expansion of a robust network of organizations, including Common Cause and Congress Watch. Those organizations insisted that legislation creating stronger checks on the executive branch, strengthening Congress and imposing laws to make it easier to hold officials accountable were the only ways to check bad behavior. ... The problems that the Jan. 6 report highlights are different in nature from the problems during Watergate. Though addressing abuses of executive power, the Jan. 6 report reveals how our flawed election system creates opportunities to subvert the democratic process. And recreating the kind of coalition that was central to the post-Watergate period will be challenging. Republicans, who will control the House, have doubled down on election denialism and voter restrictions. It’s difficult these days for Congress to pass a budget, let alone major reform legislation. Anti-democratic forces benefit from a conservative media ecosystem that propagates disinformation and conspiracy theories. But Democrats and reasonable Republicans have to play the long game, as reformers did after Watergate, by revising proposals, keeping public attention on the issue and being prepared to move forward on legislation when the next opportunity emerges. The good news is that there now exists a wide array of groups, such as Common Cause and the Brennan Center for Justice, working on these issues. Moreover, the radicalized Republican Party ensures that the threats won’t disappear from public attention.

CBS News: George Santos won a seat in Congress on a resume full of inconsistencies. Some supporters now want answers.

Ethics watchdogs are also monitoring developments. Susan Lerner, executive director for Common Cause New York, called on Santos to resign. Lerner told CBS News she had never seen an instance like this. "This is really, really breathtakingly shocking," Lerner said. "There have been instances where candidates have exaggerated their background…haven't seen anybody who's made up an entirely false life story." It's unclear whether House GOP leadership will urge any action. "There are always charlatans who will try and fool the system. And the question really is, can the system protect itself? And that's what we're going to see," Lerner said. "Can Congress set standards for who is appropriately a member of the House of Representatives or not?"

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