Category: Ethics

Three-judge federal panel orders Wisconsin state legislative maps redrawn. What happens now?

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author of this blog post is not an attorney and is not a Wisconsin resident.


Yesterday, a three-judge federal appellate court panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of the 7th Circuit ordered the Wisconsin State Legislature redraw the Wisconsin State Assembly map because the current state assembly map is deemed by the 7th Circuit panel to be such an extreme partisan gerrymander that it violates the U.S. Constitution. It’s not immediately clear if the Wisconsin State Senate map will have to be redrawn as well, although Article IV, Section 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution states, in part, “…no assembly district shall be divided in the formation of a senate district….”, although Katelyn Ferral of the Madison-based newspaper The Cap Times has interpreted the ruling as meaning that the state senate map would have to be redrawn as well:

The order is specific to Wisconsin’s Assembly map but essentially invalidates both the Assembly and Senate district maps because the Senate district map is based on the Assembly’s map. In November 2016, the court ruled that the state’s Assembly district maps were an unconstitutional gerrymander, a ruling that has gotten national attention. Wisconsin’s case is the first gerrymandering case of its kind to go to trial in 30 years, according to the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group that has worked with the plaintiffs.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to consider the possibility of state senate maps being redrawn as uncertain until and unless there is some kind of specific ruling from a federal court regarding that matter.

With the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature about to redraw Wisconsin’s state legislative maps, you may be asking yourself…what happens next?

One thing is for certain…the Republicans are going to try to get the U.S. Supreme Court, with or without a Donald Trump appointee on the bench, to overturn the federal appellate court’s ruling, which would result in the current maps being upheld and used for the 2018 and 2020 Wisconsin State Legislature elections.

Possibility #1: Legislature takes redistricting out of its own control and puts it in the hands of an independent process

While a number of Wisconsin Democrats have publicly called for making the redistricting process independent of the state legislature (see here and here for examples), and I think that it would be an awesome idea, I seriously doubt that Republicans would support this for two reasons. One, the court order directs the state legislature, not a governmental entity that has not (yet) been created, to redraw Wisconsin’s state legislative maps, and it’s not clear if a court would allow an independent redistricting body to redraw Wisconsin’s state legislative maps between federal Censuses instead of the state legislature. Two, the Republicans don’t want to draw any more Democratic-leaning districts than what currently exist, and they are probably going to completely disregard the rationale for the court ruling altogether.

Possibility #2: Legislature tries to draw an even stronger GOP gerrymander

As I stated above, I fear that the Republicans that control the state legislature are going to completely disregard the rationale for the court ruling altogether and attempt to draw an even stronger gerrymander. Regardless of whether or not the state senate map has to be redrawn, State Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) is one state assembly member that could have her district, Assembly District 71, redrawn in such a manner to make it more favorable for a Republican challenger. Daily Kos Elections (DKE), the election analysis arm of the progressive website DailyKos, calculated that Hillary Clinton got a narrow majority of the vote in the presidential race in Shankland’s district (Shankland was unopposed in her state assembly race last year). It would not be unthinkable for the GOP to try to redraw Shankland’s district in such a manner that it becomes a Republican-leaning district, making it harder for Shankland to win re-election. State Reps. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), who represents Assembly District 54, and Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton), who represents Assembly District 57, could also find their districts redrawn to include more Republican-leaning areas, and a few other Assembly Democrats could find themselves in Republican-leaning districts as well if the GOP tries to draw an even stronger gerrymander.  Of course, doing that would be completely against the rationale of the court ruling.

If the state senate map is redrawn as well, the GOP could decide to…you guessed it, completely disregard the rationale for the court ruling altogether and try to draw multiple districts that are currently held by Democrats and make them Republican-leaning. State Senate districts 25 (held by State Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Ashland)), 30 (held by State Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay)), 31 (held by State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma)), and 32 (held by State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse)) could all be drawn to be made more Republican-leaning, and redrawing the state senate map to make it a stronger GOP gerrymander could open up Republican opportunities to draw even more Assembly Democrats into Republican-leaning districts.

Any attempt by the GOP to draw an even stronger gerrymander would probably be struck down by federal courts since they struck down the current state legislative districts, which are strongly gerrymandered.

Possibility #3: Legislature tries to reduce the size of the State Senate

There is a big wild card that the Republicans who control the Wisconsin Legislature could attempt to play, and that would be in the form of reduction of the size of the state senate. Article IV, Section 2 of the Wisconsin Constitution governs what sizes of each house of the state legislature are permissible:

The number of the members of the assembly shall never be less than fifty-four nor more than one hundred. The senate shall consist of a number not more than one-third nor less than one-fourth of the number of the members of the assembly.

Given the requirement that assembly districts be nested within senate districts (this is the part of Article IV, Section 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution that I mentioned earlier), it would be permissible for the Republicans to reduce the currently 33-seat state senate (with a 99-seat state assembly) to as low as 14 seats (with a state assembly of 56 seats), although the Republicans could end up with a higher percentage of state senate seats with a 25-seat state senate (with a state assembly of either 75 seats or 100 seats). With a 25-seat state senate, it would not be unthinkable for Republicans to draw a map in such a manner that Republicans could have the same number of seats they currently hold in the state senate, 20, while reducing Democratic-leaning seats to only five: a district in the most densely-populated parts of Dane County, a Rock County/southern Dane County district, and three districts including the most Democratic-leaning parts of Milwaukee County. This would give Republicans 80% of the state senate seats in a state that gave Donald Trump a plurality of the vote.

However, there is a multitude of reasons of why the Republicans may not try such a plan. First off, it’s possible that federal courts may not permit the number of seats in either house of the legislature to be changed between federal Censuses. Secondly, federal courts are probably not going to permit anything resembling a stronger Republican gerrymander. Additionally, it’s not clear if federal courts would approve of a state senate redraw of any kind. Furthermore, Republican legislators don’t want their own district eliminated: for example, if the Republicans were to attempt a 25-seat state senate gerrymander, State Sens. Stephen Nass and Van Wanggaard, both Republicans from the southeastern part of Wisconsin, would probably be drawn into the same district in order to make the district of State Sen. Janet Bewley, a Democrat from the opposite end of the state, more favorable to a Republican opponent. This is because Southeastern Wisconsin would probably lose two or three state senate districts if the state senate is reduced from 33 seats to 25 seats.

Possibility #4: Legislature’s GOP majority actually abides by the rationale of the federal court ruling

Of course, it’s possible, although probably wishful thinking on my part, that the Republicans who control the state legislature actually decide to abide by the rationale of the federal court ruling and draws a state assembly map that is less gerrymandered than the current state assembly map. If the state senate map is not redrawn, one district that would likely be made more favorable to Democrats is the 26th Assembly District, which could be redrawn to include all of the City of Sheboygan and as many of the voting wards of Sheboygan County where, in the 2014 Wisconsin gubernatorial election, Mary Burke got at least 35% of the vote as possible. Currently, the district includes the southern five-eighths or so of the City of Sheboygan and heavily-Republican areas south of the city. Another district that could be redrawn to be made more favorable to Democrats is the Wausau-based 85th Assembly District, which currently extends from Wausau to the heavily-Republican eastern end of Marathon County. The district could be redrawn to make the district more compact and replace the areas along the eastern border of Marathon County with parts of north-central Marathon County, making the district slightly more Democratic-leaning. If the state senate map has to be redrawn as well, then there’s going to be at least 2 or 3 state senate districts that would be made more favorable to Democrats and several, if not a dozen or more, state assembly districts which would be drawn to make it more favorable to Democrats.

Possibility #5: A federal court redraws the map(s)

There is one scenario in which the feds would step in and redraw Wisconsin’s state assembly map, and, if a federal court deems it to be necessary, state senate map. If the state legislature and Republican Governor Scott Walker cannot agree on a new map or new maps by November 1, 2017, then it would be likely that a federal court would take over redrawing the map(s). Of course, there’s one last possibility.

Possibility #6: The U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 7th Circuit’s ruling and upholds the existing GOP gerrymander

The Republicans that control Wisconsin’s state government are currently trying to get the three-judge federal panel’s ruling overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS), which will be either with or without a Donald Trump appointee on the bench by the time SCOTUS hears the Wisconsin redistricting case, along with a similar case regarding North Carolina’s Republican-gerrymandered state legislative maps. If SCOTUS overturns the lower court’s ruling in the Wisconsin case, the current, Republican-gerrymandered state legislative districts in Wisconsin would be upheld. If there’s still a single vacancy on the SCOTUS bench, and the justices split 4-4 in regards to the Wisconsin case, then the lower court’s ruling is upheld, meaning that the state assembly, and possibly the state senate, maps would have to be redrawn, although no major precedent would be set. However, the four liberal justices and one of the conservative justices (probably Anthony Kennedy or, much less likely, a Donald Trump appointee to the bench who turns out to be less conservative than originally thought to be) could rule 5-4 or 5-3 in favor of the lower court’s ruling, which would require a new Wisconsin State Assembly, and possibly a new Wisconsin State Senate, map to be drawn with precedent set for future redistricting cases before the federal judiciary.

Betsy DeVos confirmation hearing POSTPONED because Trump’s appointees aren’t being properly vetted

The controversy regarding Republican President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican allies in Congress attempting to ram through Trump’s appointees without Trump’s appointees being properly vetted by federal ethics officials is not going away. In fact, one of Trump’s appointees, Betsy DeVos, who is Trump’s pick for U.S. Education Secretary, has had her confirmation hearing postponed until next week because the federal Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has not been able to complete its end of the vetting process:

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee announced late Monday that it had rescheduled the confirmation hearing for Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos.

“At the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule, we have agreed to move the nomination hearing of Betsy DeVos to Tuesday, January 17th at 5:00 p.m.,” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a release late Monday.

While Betsy DeVos has made it clear for a long time that she wants to destroy public education in America, what is an even bigger problem than that is the fact that multiple Trump appointees, apparently including DeVos, have not been properly vetted to the legal standard, not a political standard, for vetting a presidential appointment. I’ll even add that, given the seriousness of the fact that OGE has not been able to properly vet Trump’s appointees, the letter from the OGE Director regarding the issue should have been addressed to the entire Senate, not just Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards

As 2016 comes to a close, I hereby present the 2016 Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards. The Person of the Year will earn a spot on the list of members of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner. Starting in 2017, listings of individuals on the list of recipients of the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner will become separate from the Order of The Progressive Midwesterner Awards.

PERSON OF THE YEAR – JENNIFER WEISS-WOLF

2016 was, all around, an awful year for progressives, both in the United States and worldwide. However, one bright spot in progressive advocacy is Jennifer Weiss-Wolf, a women’s rights advocate from New York City. Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy for increased access to feminine hygiene products in public restrooms and advocacy for abolition of sales taxes on tampons and other feminine hygiene products has earned her support for her ideas from Democrats and even a few Republicans. States like New York and Illinois have eliminated sales taxes on tampon thanks to Weiss-Wolf’s advocacy, and Weiss’s hometown of New York City has mandated that tampons be made freely available in public restrooms of city schools, jails, and shelters. Jennifer Weiss-Wolf is the ProgMid Person of the Year for 2016.

ELECTED OFFICIAL OF THE YEAR – BERNIE SANDERS

For the second time in consecutive years, Sanders, who represents Vermont in the U.S. Senate and unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, is the recipient of a ProgMid award. Although Sanders didn’t win his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination and isn’t technically a Democrat, he has had a significant and largely positive impact on the Democratic Party. Sanders successfully pushed to make the national Democratic Party platform, which is non-binding for Democratic candidates, more progressive than in previous years and decades. Sanders helped bring progressive policies like making higher education truly affordable, single-payer health insurance, and expanding Social Security into the American political mainstream, even though none of those ideas will be enacted in the near future, at least at a national level. Furthermore, Sanders’s candidacy has led to the creation of the DNC’s Unity Commission, which will examine potential reforms to the Democratic presidential nomination process for the 2020 presidential election and future presidential elections after 2020. For his advocacy for progressive ideals and his efforts to improve the Democratic Party, Bernie Sanders is the ProgMid Elected Official of the Year for 2016.

ATHLETE OF THE YEAR – LILLY KING

While 2016 was a banner year for the far-right Vladimir Putin regime in Russia, one thing that did not go well for Russia this year was their performance in the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Russia sent considerably fewer athletes to Rio than originally planned after the Putin regime was caught running a large-scale doping operation. Even worse for the Russians, they were completely embarrassed by Lilly King of the United States, who, after publicly criticizing Russia’s Yuliya Yefimova for doping, defeated Yefimova in the pool for the gold medal in the women’s 100m breaststroke swimming event. King was also a member of the U.S. team that won gold in the women’s 4 x 100m medley relay in Rio. For continuing the time-honored tradition of Americans defeating Russians in international sport, and for promoting ethical competition in sport, Lilly King is the ProgMid Athlete of the Year for 2016.

PLACE OF THE YEAR – REPUBLIC OF AUSTRIA

While the far-right has gained significant ground worldwide, Austria is, to an extent, an exception. Austrians rejected a far-right presidential candidate not once, but twice, in 2016. In the first of effectively two presidential elections held in Austria in 2016, left-leaning European federalist candidate Alexander Van der Bellen received more votes than far-right fascist candidate Norbert Hofer in a runoff election after no candidate received an outright majority of the vote in the first round of the first election. However, the Constitutional Court of Austria annulled the runoff results because Hofer complained of election irregularities, resulting in the runoff being re-held. Voters gave Van der Bellen an even larger majority in the re-run of the runoff, and Hofer finally conceded. For rejecting a fascist would-be head of state not once, but twice, in the same year, the Republic of Austria is the ProgMid Place of the Year for 2016.

 

CONCEPT OF THE YEAR – POLITICAL RESISTANCE

As I’m sure that virtually everybody who reads this blog knows, Republican Donald Trump won this year’s presidential election despite winning a minority of the national popular vote. Not surprisingly, I’ve seen more than a few people on the left, and even many establishment Democrats, call for a non-violent political resistance to the incoming Trump Administration. With a barrage of right-wing federal legislation likely to be enacted starting early next year, progressives are going to expect resistance from the Democratic minorities in both houses of Congress. Political resistance is the ProgMid Concept of the Year for 2016.

My thoughts about a certain individual’s claims of voter fraud

As someone who will be one of thousands of people across this country who will be responsible for administering the November 8, 2016 elections, I cannot remain silent regarding a certain individual, who does not need to be named, making claims about voter fraud in the upcoming elections.

I take allegations regarding violations of election laws very seriously. Quite frankly, the individual who is making the loudest complaints about voter fraud appears to be using political hyperbole and does not appear to be making any credible claims about violations of election laws.

Voting is something I regard as a very important civic duty for those who are legally eligible to vote. In fact, I consider voting to be the single most important civic duty that a citizen of the United States of America is expected to do.

I have voted in every single election in my home precinct here in Illinois since the November 2008 elections. In every election except the one which will be held next month (I have already voted in-person early for the upcoming election), I have voted in-person on the date of the election. I have never once experienced a single problem at the polls. I want voters in the precinct where I and four other individuals will be responsible for precinct-level, Election Day administration to have the same positive experience at the polls in their home precinct that I have had in my home precinct.

I have absolutely no interest in rigging the elections for particular candidate(s). I promise that I will conduct my Election Day duty in a fair, honest, and ethical manner, in accordance with federal law, Illinois state law, and the election judge training that I have received. In Illinois, both major political parties will be represented at the judges’ table in every Illinois precinct, as state law demands that three of five election judges in each precinct be of one of the two major parties and the other two be of the other major party.

Quite frankly, I take offense to the kind of claims that are coming from the certain individual about a rigged election. If I were asked by someone to rig an election for any given candidate(s), I would refuse to serve as an election judge. The fact that I am serving as an election judge for a two-year term in my home county here in Illinois is proof that I have full faith in the democratic process and my ability, as well as the ability of my fellow election judges, to ensure that the democratic process works smoothly for all voters. I regard democracy and the ability of citizens of this great country to participate in the democratic process as very important, and I promise to do everything possible to ensure that those who are eligible and willing to vote in the precinct where I will serve as an election judge are able to exercise their civic duty of voting.

Donald Trump implicated in Scott Walker corruption scandal in Wisconsin

A recent leak of documents from the John Doe II investigation into allegations that Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) illegally coordinated with outside political groups (most notably the Wisconsin chapter of the right-wing group Club for Growth), has, yet again, shown that the Walker Administration in Wisconsin is grotesquely corrupt. You can view the documents here, and the British newspaper The Guardian has a special feature on the document release here.

As evidenced by the leaked documents, the corruption trail is so deep in Wisconsin, it leads right up to the individual that the Republican Party nominated for President of the United States in this year’s presidential election, Donald Trump.

According to a recently leaked email, Walker was scheduled to meet with Donald Trump at 725 Fifth Avenue in New York City on the afternoon of April 3, 2012. 725 Fifth Avenue is the street address of Trump Tower, the headquarters of Donald Trump’s business empire. At the time, Walker was facing a recall attempt against him, with the recall election scheduled for June of that year (Walker went on to survive the recall attempt against him).

On the exact same day that Walker was scheduled to meet with Trump, Trump wrote a check, a photocopy of which was recently leaked, for $15,000. The check was not written either to Scott Walker personally or to Friends of Scott Walker, Walker’s official gubernatorial campaign committee, but instead to “Wisconsin Club for Growth Inc.”. Wisconsin Club for Growth is an outside political group that has spent millions of dollars supporting Republican political efforts in Wisconsin.

I don’t think for one second that Wisconsin Club for Growth receiving a check from Trump on the same day Walker met with Trump is merely a coincidence. In fact, the document leak, at a minimum, suggests that Trump has been an active player in Republican corruption in Wisconsin.

Crooked Donald Trump used his foundation to buy off Florida Attorney General

By Donald Trump’s own standard of using a personal or family foundation for corrupt purposes, Trump is even more crooked than the Clintons ever could be.

Amid all of the corporate media hullabaloo about the Clinton Foundation and their corrupt dealings is recent media attention to a 2014 fundraiser for Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, which was hosted by Trump:

…In March 2014, Donald Trump opened his 126-room Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi. The Florida attorney general, who was facing a tough re-election campaign, had recently decided not to investigate Trump University.

Trump did not write a check to the attorney general that night. The previous fall, his personal foundation had given $25,000 to a pro-Bondi super PAC. But by hosting her fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and bringing in some of his own star power, Trump provided Bondi’s campaign with a nice financial boost.

Since he began his run for the White House, Trump has repeatedly claimed that Bondi is merely someone he has supported politically. But his fundraising efforts for her were extensive and varied: In addition to the $25,000 donation from his foundation and the star-studded Mar-a-Lago event, Trump and his daughter Ivanka each gave $500 to Bondi’s campaign in the fall of 2013. The following spring, Ivanka and her father donated another $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ― Bondi’s single biggest source of campaign funds.

The reason why Trump’s ties to Bondi have come under public scrutiny in recent days is because of a couple of reasons.

First, that $25,000 check from Trump’s personal foundation to And Justice For All, a pro-Bondi SuperPAC, was a violation of IRS rules for Trump and his foundation. The IRS levied a $2,500 penalty against Trump for the illegal campaign donation from his foundation.

Second, Trump got something that is, to use a Rod Blagojevich saying, (expletive) golden in return for his efforts in helping Bondi get re-elected. Bondi’s office is supposed to be responsible for processing complaints against the fraudulent Trump University and its fraudulent predecessor Trump Institute, both of which masqueraded as online higher education institutions. However, Bondi’s office has done virtually nothing with the complaints, while the Connecticut Attorney General’s office, which is currently held by Democrat George Jepsen, has successfully helped people refunds for people who are victims of Trump’s deceptive practices.

Donald Trump has been caught engaging in some of the most blatant political corruption I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Although I’m probably asking too much of the GOP-controlled Florida state government, the State of Florida should assign a special prosecutor to determine whether or not criminal charges should be filed against Trump.

My use of “New York values” versus Ted Cruz’s use of “New York values”

As a lifelong Midwesterner, it’s hard to resist the opportunity to bash New York City. Another person who likes to bash New York City is Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, who has made “New York values” a common phrase in his stump speech.

However, the “New York values” I like to bash and the “New York values” that Ted Cruz likes to bash are two different concepts.

The “New York values” I like to bash are corruption and the political boss culture within New York State (especially within New York City), as well as corporate-owned politicians who represent Wall Street’s political interests and not the people of New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), a pro-Wall Street “Democrat” who is one of the most corrupt elected officials in America, is someone who exemplifies the New York values that I despise. I’ll often use “Chicago values” to mean the same thing in an Illinois context, “Milwaukee values”, “Philadelphia values”, “Los Angeles values”, “Detroit values”, etc. in the context of other states/regions, and, in a national context, “big-city values” or “DNC values” (the latter referring to the corporatist Democratic National Committee).

Ted Cruz, on the other hand, uses “New York values” as a form of coded racism, bashing New York because it has a lot of people who aren’t white, Christian bigots. Additionally, Cruz uses “New York values” to bash fellow Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is from New York City. This is very common in the Republican Party, in fact, Wisconsin Republican politicians are known for bashing Milwaukee at every opportunity.

However, Cruz sure loves New York values when it comes to filling his campaign coffers with cash:

Ted Cruz might say he has a problem with “New York values,” but he seems happy to take New York money.

The Texas senator’s swipe at Donald Trump in Thursday’s debate didn’t just earn the ire of the New York Daily News (whose front page today showed the Statue of Liberty giving him the finger) and New York Mayor (Bill) de Blasio (who took to CNN demanding an apology) — it also might alienate the city’s donors he has been carefully courting.

Cruz’s campaign raised $223,750 from New Yorkers, according to finance reports available through September. Robert Mercer, the hedge fund investor who has given $11 million to a pro-Cruz super PAC and is one of his most important backers, lives on Long Island.

Ted Cruz may hate New York City just as much as the guys on the old Pace Picante ads, but loves taking New Yorkers’ money.

Why the Bernie Sanders campaign probably has a solid case against the DNC

Although I am not an attorney, having read the lawsuit filed by the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) over the ongoing voter list controversy, it’s pretty clear to me that the DNC and their voter list vendor did not follow proper procedure for dealing with the breach of the DNC master voter list.

Paragraph 13 of the lawsuit (pages 3-4) quotes part of the agreement that the Bernie campaign signed with the voter list vendor:

In view of the national political importance of the Campaign — and by extension, the importance of the Voter Data and the Agreement — the Agreement substantially restricts both Parties’ rights of termination to cases of prolonged and voluntary breach. The Agreement states, in relevant part:

Either party may terminate this Agreement in the event that the other party breaches this Agreement; the non-breaching party sends written notice to the breaching party describing the breach, and the breaching party does not cure the breach to the satisfaction of the non-breaching party within ten (10) calendar days following its receipt of such notice.

That is a very important part of the Bernie campaign’s argument, since this is clearly a contract law case.

Paragraph 14 (page 4) describes how what was outlined in Paragraph 13 is the only legal method of stripping the Bernie campaign of access to the voter list:

The Agreement does not permit either Party to suspend its performance of the Agreement prior to terminating the Agreement in accordance with the provision above.

In other words, the only way that the DNC and their vendor can legally deny Bernie access to the voter files is through the ten-day process described in Paragraph 13.

Paragraphs 20-22 (page 5) describes the glitch in the voter list database that allowed the breach to take place:

On the morning of December 16, 2015, NGP VAN released a modification (the “Release”) to the software that the Campaign and other candidates use to access Voter Data.

This Release contained a critical security flaw (the “Bug”) that allowed the Campaign and other presidential candidates to view Confidential Information disclosed by competing campaigns.

The Bug was resolved within approximately four hours, by the afternoon of December 16, 2015.

Paragraph 24 (page 6) outlines the Bernie campaign’s role as the breaching party:

Before the Bug could be resolved, several staff members of the Campaign accessed and viewed Confidential Information (the “Disclosed Information”) disclosed to the DNC by the 2016 campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (the “Competing Campaign”).

Paragraph 27 (page 6) describes the DNC’s violation of the contract between the vendor and the Bernie campaign:

On December 17, 2015, at approximately 2:47 p.m., the DNC suspended or terminated the Campaign’s Voter Data access. The suspension or termination of the Campaign’s access was undertaken without contractual cause, and in contravention of the Agreement’s termination protocols.

To put that another way, the DNC suspended the Bernie campaign’s access to the master voter list only one day after the breach occurred, and without following the ten-day process for terminating the contract outlined in the contract between the Bernie campaign and the voter list vendor. I’m not an attorney, but this looks like a solid case for the Bernie campaign.

DNC launches desperate attempt to derail Bernie Sanders campaign over voter lists

Less than 48 hours after Bernie Sanders scored two major endorsements, from the Communication Workers of America (CWA) labor union and the progressive group Democracy for America (DFA), and less than 48 hours before the third of six scheduled Democratic presidential debates, multiple media outlets are reporting that a major breach occurred with the master voter list of the Democratic National Committee (DNC):

After NGP-VAN – the company that administers the DNC’s voter file – updated its system on Wednesday, a glitch reportedly made some confidential data from Hillary Clinton’s campaign briefly accessible to the Sanders campaign and one campaign staffer was able to access that information. The staffer has since been fired. The glitch was first reported by the Washington Post.

The DNC, in a desperate attempt to frame the Sanders campaign in order to deflect from its vendor’s own fuck-up, has shut off the Sanders campaign from access to the DNC voter list:

As a result of this temporary breach, the DNC has indefinitely cut off the Sanders campaign’s access to the voter file, which functionally halts its field operation. The move by the DNC raises eyebrows as many Democrats, including Sanders and fellow presidential candidate Martin O’Malley have long accused the DNC’s chair, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, of attempting to rig the presidential process to benefit Clinton. In particular, they have raised questions about the relative paucity of debates, which have been scheduled for weekend evenings and to coincide with other events such as a major University of Iowa football game.

In other words, the Sanders campaign is being punished by the DNC for a fuck-up by a DNC vendor that the Sanders campaign reported and is taking all appropriate action in response to. Keep in mind that it’s possible that the security breach may have allowed the Hillary Clinton and/or Martin O’Malley campaigns to access confidential information of their Democratic opponents, although this isn’t confirmed. However, the DNC has not cut off voter list access to either Hillary or O’Malley. Interestingly, the Hillary campaign is not officially commenting on this matter at this time for reasons unknown.

On a related note, although I’ve never worked for a political campaign, right before the Wisconsin state Democratic convention earlier this year, an error-filled list of delegates to the state convention from the most populous Wisconsin county, information that is not supposed to be publicly available, was leaked to me earlier this year. I’ve long since deleted the data in question.

It’s pretty clear to me that the DNC is absolutely incompetent at maintaining voter lists and the security of confidential data, and this is something that will only cause more public distrust of the DNC and the Democratic establishment. My advice to future Democratic candidates for public office is to not trust the DNC or any other Democratic Party organization in regards to anything and build your own voter list independently of any political party organization.

No surrender

No surrender

I haven’t written much about Illinois state politics in recent months, largely because there’s not much going on due to the ongoing state government shutdown.

However, the website of The New York Times has published this report on how a handful of wealthy individuals, some of which aren’t Illinois residents, are holding the state of Illinois hostage by way of big-money politics:

In the months since, Mr. (Kenneth C.) Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

[…]

Many of those giving, like Mr. Griffin, come from the world of finance, an industry that has yielded more of the new political wealth than any other. The Florida-based leveraged-buyout pioneer John Childs, the private equity investor Sam Zell and Paul Singer, a prominent New York hedge fund manager, all helped elect Mr. Rauner, as did Richard Uihlein, a conservative businessman from the Chicago suburbs.

In short, Republican Governor Bruce Rauner, who spent tens of millions of dollars of his own money on his gubernatorial campaign last year, also spent millions upon millions of dollars of money from a handful of wealthy individuals, and now Rauner is holding Illinois hostage by demanding a Scott Walker-style far-right economic agenda that would hurt Illinois’s economy in return for a functional state government.

To the Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly and the people of Illinois, I have two words for ya’ll: No surrender! Illinois cannot afford busting unions, driving down wages, making it harder for working Illinoisans who are injured on the job to get workers’ compensation benefits, cuts to pension benefits, and every other item of right-wing economic policy that would hurt Illinois’s economy by taking away disposable income from Illinois consumers. Illinois cannot afford surrendering to Bruce Rauner and his big-money cronies from the finance industry.