American Oversight’s fight for transparency in the Arizona Senate’s sham “audit” of ballots cast in Maricopa County continued this week, with the court on Thursday scheduling an oral argument for July 7 in our lawsuit seeking the release of planning documents and records of related communications.
Even if the process has concluded by then, transparency is coming. In fact, American Oversight this week began obtaining and publishing emails of Senate President Karen Fann, showing her work setting up the audit, including her communications with a reporter from the right-wing One America News Network and with the conspiracy-embracing CEO of Cyber Ninjas, the cybersecurity firm hired to run the audit.
But while it has prompted fierce objections from other Arizona Republicans — and with one of the contractors backing out — the partisan process is inspiring similar efforts in other states, adding yet more fuel to the ongoing attempts to undermine the 2020 election and providing pretense for new voting restrictions:
- A judge in Georgia ordered Fulton County, home of Atlanta, to allow voters to inspect mail-in ballots from the 2020 election. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger — a target of ire from former President Trump for his refusal to go along with Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results — has voiced support for the unnecessary review.
- Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is hiring former police officers to investigate the election; the investigators will have subpoena power and will likely provide a report in the fall. While Vos claims he is not trying to change the election’s result, the bogus investigation is yet another official exercise in the service of perpetuating the baseless claims of widespread voter fraud. American Oversight will be investigating — check our website for updates.
- As politically motivated calls for recounts pop up in Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has warned county clerks against ordering such processes, saying they would be illegal and void the security warranties of voting equipment.
Meanwhile, Arizona’s Republican lawmakers have introduced a bill that would strip Secretary of State Katie Hobbs of her authority to defend election lawsuits, transferring that power to Attorney General Mark Brnovich through the end of both his and Hobbs’ current terms. And the push for new voting restrictions remains a threat in other states as well. Some headlines:
- Polling places for urban voters of color would be cut under Texas Senate’s version of voting bill being negotiated with House (Texas Tribune)
- New Montana ballot collection law raises concerns over voting access (Montana Public Radio)
We’re also following closely the ongoing negotiations over the establishment of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol building. With Senate Republicans expected to block it, American Oversight’s executive director, Austin Evers, has outlined in Just Security the next best option for uncovering the truth and putting forward recommendations. But news about the riot continues to emerge, demonstrating how important and needed a commission would be:
- Pennsylvania GOP lawmaker Doug Mastriano says he left the Capitol area before the riot. New videos say otherwise. (Philadelphia Inquirer)
- Why service members charged in the Capitol riot are staying in uniform — for now (Washington Post)
- Right-wing extremists set up a planning meeting ahead of the Capitol Riot in January (BuzzFeed News)
On the Records
Newt Gingrich’s 5G Pitch to FCC
In 2019, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was worried about China’s role in the deployment of 5G — and records obtained by American Oversight show just how aggressively he pushed the Federal Communications Commission, including then-Chairman Ajit Pai, toward a 5G vision that aligned with the business interests of a company linked to a major Trump supporter. Read more here.
FDA Convalescent Plasma Communications
In August 2020, the FDA granted emergency use authorization (EUA) to convalescent plasma as a Covid-19 treatment, a decision that had been aggressively pushed by Trump in the weeks prior. We obtained emails from that time showing FDA officials’ frustration with other science agencies over the delay in the EUA, including anger regarding a New York Times story from just a few days before the EUA, in which an official at the National Institutes of Health had said the EUA was on hold. (In February, the FDA narrowed the EUA to recommend the use of convalescent plasma for Covid-19 only in specific circumstances.)
A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general found that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not consistently provide migrant parents who had been separated from their children with the opportunity to bring their children with them when they were deported. We previously uncovered a 2018 email showing that ICE wasn’t always giving parents reunification forms in the correct language.
Other Stories We’re Following
From the States
- Wisconsin conservatives file new election challenges but aren’t trying to overturn results (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- Oklahoma attorney general resigns following news of divorce, alleged affair (The Hill)
- Texas Gov. Dan Patrick calls for June special session after three of his priority bills fail in Texas House (Texas Tribune)
- Nevada GOP thrown into turmoil after avowed Proud Boys member said he participated in censure vote of state official (Washington Post)
- South Dakota‘s Noem launches legal strategy to take on Biden (ABC News)
The Coronavirus Pandemic
- Immunity to the coronavirus may persist for years, scientists find (New York Times)
- Resistance to vaccine mandates is building. A powerful network is helping. (Washington Post)
- Ousted dashboard designer’s claims don’t add up, former colleagues and experts say (WPEC West Palm Beach)
- Biden orders intelligence inquiry into origins of the coronavirus (New York Times)
- Moderna says that its vaccine is effective for 12- to 17-year-olds and that it will seek FDA authorization (New York Times)
- Trump acolytes craft parallel GOP universe so Trumpism lives on (Bloomberg)
- Son, ghostwriter of late senator say Trump intervened to stop Spygate probe (ESPN)
- Key impeachment witness Gordon Sondland sues Mike Pompeo and U.S. for $1.8 million in legal fees (Washington Post)
- Steve Bannon’s fraud case dismissed after months of haggling over Trump pardon (Washington Post)
- EPA admits to altering science under Trump, pledges new course (Government Executive)
- Faulty redactions in court document show federal investigators seized more info in case against Rudy Giuliani than previously disclosed (CNN)
- Commerce Department security unit evolved into counterintelligence-like operation (Washington Post)
- Biden faces pressure to stop Trump-era border expulsions (New York Times)
- Migrant children are languishing at an Army base for ‘alarming’ periods of time (CBS News)
- Biden’s giant tent city for migrant kids relies on Alabama’s ‘Master of Disaster’ (Vice)
- Biden administration reins in street-level enforcement by ICE as officials try to refocus agency mission (Washington Post)
- ‘Shadow wins’: How ICE avoids judicial accountability by quietly releasing immigrants who challenge being detained (ProPublica)
- Justice Department wants casino mogul Steve Wynn to register as a foreign lobbyist (Wall Street Journal)
- Deep-rooted racism, discrimination permeate U.S. military (Associated Press)
- D.C. accuses Amazon of controlling online prices (New York Times)
- Since leaving office, Trump has charged the Secret Service more than $40,000 to use space at Mar-a-Lago (Washington Post)