Newsletter: Not Above the Law

Donald Trump has become the first president in U.S. history to be convicted of a felony.

The jury in his hush money trial found him guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records. The verdict could have major implications for the presidential election, and is an important reminder that no one — not even former presidents — are above the law.

Our democracy depends on an informed public and leaders who are held accountable. That’s why this week American Oversight and the ACLU of Arizona sued Sheriff Mark Lamb and Pinal County, Ariz., for the release of a range of public records that could shed light on Lamb’s election denial and anti-immigration activities. 

Lamb has emerged as a key figure in the far-right constitutional sheriffs movement, whose adherents believe that sheriffs are the ultimate authority in determining the constitutionality of the laws they must enforce. 

Among the records sought in our lawsuit are:

  • Lamb’s communications with organizations and individuals who falsely claim widespread voter fraud and undermine public confidence in the 2020 election;
  • Documents related to his attendance at a June 2022 rally put on by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a group known for its anti-immigrant initiatives; and
  • Records that could shed light on his ties to the constitutional sheriffs movement.

“Sheriff Lamb’s connections with those who have falsely claimed widespread voter fraud are part of a concerning trend of law enforcement cozying up with the election denial movement,” said American Oversight’s interim Executive Director Chioma Chukwu. “Similarly, his attendance at anti-immigration and constitutional sheriffs events reflects a disturbing level of extremism.”

Investigating Trump’s ‘Schedule F’ Plans
Also this week, we asked a federal court to allow us to amend our ongoing lawsuit for records related to Schedule F, Trump’s 2020 executive order aimed at turning the federal workforce into a bureaucracy of loyalists.

  • The order was rescinded by President Biden shortly after taking office in 2021. It would now be harder — but not impossible — for a potential second Trump administration to reinstate the policy, which would strip federal employees of certain protections and make it easier to hire or fire them. And Trump reportedly intends to reimpose it if elected.
  • We sued the Office of Personnel Management in February for related communications with the Trump White House, as well as for guidance and directives and any records of internal dissent.
  • This week’s proposed amendment adds the Office of Management and Budget as a defendant, and now includes three additional records requests to which OMB has failed to provide a sufficient response.

On the Records

Idaho AG contracts with Alliance Defending Freedom
Idaho AG Raúl Labrador has contracted with the far-right Alliance Defending Freedom to serve as outside counsel in several cases challenging the state’s total abortion ban and ban on gender-affirming care for minors. 

  • American Oversight obtained contracts that show ADF represented Labrador’s office in US v. Idaho, Washington v. FDA, Roe v. Critchfield, and Poe v. Labrador.
  • In each case, ADF — which the Southern Poverty Law Center classifies as an anti-LGBTQ hate group — agreed to represent Labrador’s office “without charge.”
  • Read more about our investigation into attacks on gender-affirming care here.

ADF has been behind many of the efforts to roll back abortion and LGBTQ rights, including having drafted the Mississippi abortion ban that led to the 2022 Dobbs decision. 

Other Stories We’re Following

Election Denial and Threats to Democracy
  • Florida is using a fraud-hunting tool used by the right to look for voters to remove from the rolls (NBC News)
  • Jenna Ellis, Trump lawyer who pleaded guilty in Georgia case, is barred from practicing law in Colorado for three years (Colorado Sun)
  • Rudy Giuliani receives summons in Arizona fake electors case at birthday party (Arizona Republic)
  • Eastman is first Trump ally arraigned in Arizona election case (New York Times)
  • Nessel, Benson remind county canvassing boards about their duty to certify election results (Michigan Advance)
  • Activists fail to convince Board of Elections to move toward hand-counting (South Dakota Searchlight)
  • Judge wants to throw out lawsuit alleging fraud in Shasta County’s primary election (Redding Record Searchlight)
  • Virginia board considers ousting GOP election official accused of sharing voting machine info (Virginia Mercury)
  • Michigan clerks hit with ‘new reality’ as activists seek voting records in lawsuits (Detroit News)
  • After Florida left voting system, tips about illegal voters plummeted (Tampa Bay Times)
Voting Rights
  • Prominent pollster spreads Dominion voting machine misinformation (Washington Post)
  • Texas officials compromised ballot secrecy as they increased election transparency (Votebeat/Texas Tribune)
  • Pennsylvania’s rule on dating mail ballots faces new challenge in state court (Votebeat)
  • Bill to require citizenship documents for NH voter registration would be unique in US (New Hampshire Bulletin)
In the States
  • At least 66 members of far-right group in rural Oregon standing for office (Guardian)
  • Group seeks to recall Assembly Speaker Robin Vos a second time (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
  • Texas’ attorney general is increasingly using consumer protection laws to pursue political targets (ProPublica)
  • Pronouns and tribal affiliations are now forbidden in South Dakota public university employee emails (Associated Press)
  • Therapists, social workers face scrutiny in Missouri AG investigation of transgender care (Missouri Independent)
  • Atlanta police surveil people opposing ‘Cop City’: ‘There’s this constant stalking feeling’ (Guardian)
National News
  • Amy Coney Barrett’s husband is representing Fox in a lawsuit (Rolling Stone)
  • County sheriffs wield lethal power, face little accountability: ‘A failure of democracy’ (CBS News)
Abortion and Reproductive Rights
  • Despite pressure, Amarillo City Council punts on abortion travel ban petition (Texas Tribune)
  • Tennessee governor OKs penalizing adults who help minors receive abortions, gender-affirming care (Associated Press)
  • Nebraska activists seek to put opposing abortion questions on the ballot (NPR)
  • Nebraska abortion initiative with the most votes would become law, if voters pass more than one (Nebraska Examiner)
Threats to Education
  • School choice programs have been wildly successful under DeSantis. Now public schools might close. (Politico)
  • Free speech groups say Florida misrepresents book objection law, causing mass removals (Palm Beach Post)
  • How did Moms for Liberty end up on WA’s approved list of groups training teachers? (News from the States)
  • Critics call updated training for public school librarians on book challenges confusing (Florida Phoenix)
Government Transparency and Public Records Law
  • New records shed small light on state dollars spent for Rokita discipline, Bernard cases (Indiana Capital Chronicle)
  • Journalism groups sue Wisconsin Justice Department for names of every police officer in state (Associated Press)
Trump Accountability