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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Posh southwestern Pa. party spotlights how lawmakers and lobbyists mingle out of the public eye

“There’s so little trust that there has to be an environment of complete and utter transparency,” said Khalif Ali, executive director of Common Cause PA, a nonprofit government watchdog group.   “What we’re seeing with these situations — because of the campaign finance laws, donor disclosure, the wide-open structure of lobbying disclosure — there are a number of ways to circumvent the laws,” Mr. Ali said.

Insider: Trump-endorsed J.R. Majewski, an Ohio Republican running in one of the nation’s hottest congressional races, is violating federal law by not disclosing his personal finances

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, a nonpartisan government watchdog organization, said all congressional candidates should follow the law about personal financial disclosures — especially in a race as close as the one for Ohio's 9th Congressional District. "It allows voters to consider the statements the candidates make, it allows voters to consider any conflicts of interest," Turcer said. "Transparency allows voters to be educated … and to know what each of the candidates are all about and how responsible they are."

Money & Influence 08.4.2022

Daily Beast: How a Trumpy Billionaire Is Single-Handedly Reshaping Campaigns

“There’s definitely disproportionate involvement of single-candidate super PACs this cycle,” Aaron Scherb of government watchdog Common Cause observed. “These groups tend to have a small number of donors, and they often silence and drown out the voices of small donors and everyday voters.” “Often these donors want something in return,” he said. ... “There’s definitely more danger of a quid pro quo with these groups,” Scherb said. “At the very least it creates the perception of corruption, which in many ways can be just as damaging.”

Voting & Elections 08.3.2022

Associated Press: Election skeptics rise in GOP races to run state elections

Although secretaries of state are important positions, they do not have unlimited power, said Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for expanded voter access. “Even in states where the secretary of state has an enormous amount of power, a secretary of state cannot — by themselves — overturn a democratic election,” Albert said. “Even where these individuals may want to take actions to undermine the ability for voters to vote and have a ballot count, they are still limited by the law and checks and balances in place.”

Voting & Elections 08.2.2022

Voice of America: Justice Department Investigating More Than 100 Cases of Threats Against Election Workers

The 1,000-plus harassing and hostile contacts made to election officials covered the period from June 2021 to June 2022. The trend continued in July, the task force told the election officials, according to Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections for Common Cause, who attended the briefing. ... In total, 89% of the contacts made to election officials were deemed protected speech and could not be investigated. “A lot of the questions were aimed at ‘Wait. Really? You can only investigate 11% of cases?’ And them saying, ‘Yes, I'm sorry but we can only investigate things not protected by First Amendment,’” Albert said.

Media & Democracy 08.2.2022

Broadcasting & Cable: Groups Say Tegna Deal Will 'Jack Up' Cable Prices

Common Cause, news and broadcast unions and UCC Media Justice, Which petitioned the FCC to deny the Standard General-Tegna merger, told the FCC Tuesday (Aug. 2)  just what it thought of the those merging parties' defense of the deal, including that the petitioners had no legal right to challenge it. In their comments, the groups minced no words. "The Applicants and their anonymous funders located in the Cayman and British Virgin Islands have proposed a complex series of transactions designed to weaken local journalism and jack up cable subscriber fees," they said. "Grant of their pending applications will do nothing to create a more accurate, diverse or independent media." 

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