Talking Points Memo: Judicial Takebacks: Reagan Nominee Overlooked Supreme Court Ruling On Corporate Donations

-By Ryan J. Reilly

May 31, 2011- Last week a federal judge nominated by President Ronald Reagan rocked the campaign finance world when he ruled that corporations could give directly to candidates. Now he's signaled he might want a do over.

James C. Cacheris of the Eastern District of Virginia indicated in an order issued Tuesday that he's considering whether his ruling ignored Supreme Court rulings in 2003 (FEC v. Beaumont) and 1997 (Agostini v. Felton) which upheld the ban on corporate donations.

Cacheris requested that both federal prosecutors and lawyers representing two businessmen who allegedly reimbursed their employees' donations to Hilary Clinton file briefings on his decision by 5 p.m. Wednesday. He wants the briefings to be less than 10-pages in length and has scheduled a court hearing for Friday morning.

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Fox News: Groups Target Thomas’ Wife’s Work to Force Him to Sit Out High Court Rulings on Health Care

May 30, 2011- Eyeing a potential 5-4 decision on President Obama's Affordable Care health care reforms, some Democratic lawmakers are trying to pressure Justice Clarence Thomas to sit out any health care case that may come before the Supreme Court.

And in an added tack to influence the court's decision-making, one election watchdog has demanded an FBI probe of the justice over a 2010 campaign finance ruling.

The months-long efforts to target Thomas focus on his financial disclosure forms, of which amended versions were filed earlier this month and released publicly on Friday. In them, Thomas reveals that his wife, Ginni Thomas, received a salary in 2010 from Liberty Central, a group that she helped found and which supports the repeal of the health care law.

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The Brad Blog: WI State Election Board Failed to Review Minutes from Waukesha County ‘Recount’

Mountains of irregularities, more than 800 official exhibits, and objections by candidate's attorneys never examined by top state election authority before razor-thin results for 10-year seat on state's high court certified as 'correct'…

-By Brad Freidman

May 30, 2011- Last Monday, May 23rd, Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election agency, officially certified [PDF] the controversial results of the extraordinarily close April 5th statewide Supreme Court election and its subsequent "recount."  

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NYT: Republican Legislators Push to Tighten Voting Rules

-By Lizette Alvarez

May 28, 2011- Less than 18 months before the next presidential election, Republican-controlled statehouses around the country are rewriting voting laws to require photo identification at the polls, reduce the number of days of early voting or tighten registration rules.

Republican legislators say the new rules, which have advanced in 13 states in the past two months, offer a practical way to weed out fraudulent votes and preserve the integrity of the ballot box. Democrats say the changes have little to do with fraud prevention and more to do with placing obstacles in the way of possible Democratic voters, including young people and minorities.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas signed laws last week that would require each voter to show an official, valid photo ID to cast a ballot, joining Kansas and South Carolina.

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Cap times: Why voter ID bill may be unconstitutional

-By Scott Ross

May 28, 2011- We believe Wisconsin’s new voter ID law is overly burdensome on voters and that the state is simply unequipped to administer this law and ensure legal voters will not be disenfranchised or subject to a poll tax. We continue to confer with legal counsel about what potential legal challenges can be made against Gov. Scott Walker’s voter suppression bill.

The bill originally was based on Indiana’s voter ID bill. According to the U.S. Supreme Court case upholding Indiana’s bill, the lower court found that “99 percent of Indiana’s voting age population already possesses the necessary photo identification to vote under the requirements.” The Supreme Court concluded that Indiana’s law was constitutional, specifically because so few Indianans were without the state-issued photo identification.

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Politico: Kathy Hochul: From unknown to overnight star

-By Marin Cogan

May 25, 2011- Virtually overnight, Democrat Kathy Hochul went from little-known county clerk to a national standard-bearer and symbol of hope for her party in 2012.

But in her speech after pulling off an upset victory in a House special election, Hochul went out of her way to play down the partisan implications of her win.

She eschewed an introduction from a national Democrat and had her college-age daughter introduce her instead. And she sought to keep things humble, emphasizing her local connections in a traditionally Republican district.

“The last couple weeks hanging out with my mom, I’ve come to view her as a superhuman,” Katie Hochul, who was a senior at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia this year, said to more than 200 supporters at the victory party in Amherst, N.Y.

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Huffington Post: Anthony Weiner Tweet-Taunts Clarence Thomas About Financial Records News Dump

May 27, 2011- Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent his Friday afternoon pestering Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for executing a classic news dump: a release of his financial disclosure filing on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend.

The Congressman spent the day tweeting to his heart's content, first alerting his 43,000-plus followers to the likelihood that someone on the Court was going to try and bury an embarrassing story while the world's attention was turned toward the commute and barbecue ahead:

"Friday dump Scotus style? I'm hearing disclosures released today. #ConflictsAbound," he tweeted.

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St.Petersburg Times: Elections supervisors in key counties refuse to implement new law

-By Marc Caputo

May 28, 2011- The elections supervisor in Rick Scott's home county refuses to recognize a new law the governor signed out of concerns that the U.S. Department of Justice hasn't decided whether it violates a law protecting minority voters.

In a letter to the state's elections division, Collier County Elections Supervisor Jennifer Edwards pointed out that her county is one of five in Florida that needs Justice Department pre-approval "or preclearance" under the 1965 Voting Rights Act before it makes any voting changes.

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Salon: Another fake “grass-roots” group exposed

The GOP campaign outfit American Action Network was funded in its first year by just a handful of super-rich donors

-By Justin Elliott

May 26, 2011- Last year we spent some time reporting on the tiny group of billionaires that, virtually on their own, put up the money for a heavy-hitting conservative campaign group associated with Karl Rove, American Crossroads.

Now it looks like another one of the outside groups active buying ads in the 2010 campaign was also funded by just a handful of super-rich donors. Led by former Sen. Norm Coleman, American Action Network was created in 2010 and presented itself as a "grass-roots" group. It is organized under a section of the tax code that allows it to keep donors' identities secret.

AAN does, however, have to make certain public disclosures with the IRS, and the Washington Post has a story on what a new filing from the group shows:

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LA Times: GOP seeks to block disclosure requirements for political donations

Amendment is one of 152 offered to Defense spending authorization 

-By Kim Geiger

May 25, 2011- House Republicans voted Wednesday to try to block the Obama administration from requiring companies that bid on federal contracts to disclose how they spend money to influence elections.

The measure was adopted roughly along party lines as an amendment to a massive defense bill, and was meant to pre-empt an executive order by President Obama that federal agencies obtain information on political donations by companies seeking to do business with the government.

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