campaign finance irregularities

Evidence shows Burr coordinated with NRA in 2016 Election

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The only time he actually does something always involves campaign money:

Back in 2016, when North Carolina Republican Richard Burr prevailed against Democratic challenger Deborah Ross, Burr employed National Media outright, while the NRA used Red Eagle. As in the other races, Ferrell signed off on purchases for both sides. FCC paperwork filed by WECT, the NBC affiliate in Wilmington, shows Ferrell signing off on purchases for the Burr campaign on October 12, 24, and 27 and November 2 as an “agent for Richard Burr Committee.” At the same time, he authorized Red Eagle purchases on behalf of the NRA on September 19 and October 21.

The campaign coordination alone is a serious issue, and one of the few safeguards left in place after Citizens United. But even more concerning is the likelihood that Russian money was used to get Richard Burr re-elected:

The King of Irony: Trump's attack of John Edwards comes back to haunt

Paying off mistresses with donor money is not what the doctor ordered:

To begin with, it is the John Edwards prosecution which itself strengthens the case against Trump. Everyone knew that Edwards was on trial for having donors make payments to his mistress to help fund his campaign. This put Trump and everyone else on fair notice that federal prosecutors were treating such payments as reportable campaign expenditures in certain circumstances. Trump even tweeted about the case at the time. At the very least, the Edwards precedent should have caused Trump to seek advice of counsel on whether payments made to hush up mistresses timed specifically to help his election campaign were illegal.

Not only is the legal theory against Trump stronger because of the Edwards precedent; the facts of the Trump case appear much stronger than the Edwards case as well. Here there appears to be both testimony of Cohen and people from AMI (the National Enquirer parent company) who have said that they coordinated with Trump to make the payments in order to help Trump’s election chances.

Bolding mine, because while I respect the hell out of Rick Hasen, he apparently hasn't yet grasped this fact about Trump: There is no precedent that applies to him, because he considers himself extraordinary. Things that are important to other people simply don't apply to him. When he said he could "stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" and not lose voter support, he wasn't joking. He really believes that. That's why his Twitter feed from 3-5-7 years ago is littered with criticisms of people for doing things he now proudly does himself, because his ego has raised him above the rest of humanity. I also don't (completely) agree with Rick about this:

$34,310 debt owed by Harris campaign for fraudulent ballots

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Buying a Congressional seat can be costly:

In a filing with the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Harris’s campaign listed an obligation of $34,310 for “reimbursement payment for Bladen absentee, early voting poll workers; reimbursement door to door.” The disclosure form said the campaign owed the money to Red Dome Group, the Charlotte-area consulting firm that Mr. Harris hired for his campaign.

Red Dome, in turn, contracted with L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a Bladen County political operative who has been accused of collecting absentee ballots from voters in a potentially illegal effort to tip the election toward the Republican nominee.

Which exposes an exceptionally nasty side to this story: A lot of those small donors, squeezing fifty bucks out of their family's budget in support of an evangelical pastor, only to have their money used to steal or stifle the votes of their fellow citizens. Of course they can't see that side, because there's a bible waving in their face. But I see it. And so does Nancy Pelosi:

Tillis' NRA ties are coming back to haunt him

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That's why they call it "illegal" coordination:

In a joint letter to FEC Chair Caroline Hunter and Vice Chair Ellen Weintraub, the lawmakers — led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — asked the FEC to “open an investigation into a potential campaign finance violation” alleged by the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, in two complaints that are currently before the commission. The complaints claim that the NRA uses a company called Starboard Strategic Inc. to circumvent laws prohibiting election-related coordination between campaigns and outside groups who support them.

Prior to the creation of Starboard in 2013, the NRA used OnMessage as a vendor to place political ads. Beginning in the 2014 election cycle, the group shifted to Starboard, spending millions of dollars for ads supporting the campaigns of three Republican Senate candidates: Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Cory Gardner in Colorado, and Tom Cotton in Arkansas. All three campaigns paid OnMessage as a consultant, and all three won.

Keep in mind, this was going on at the same time Tillis (and drunken Dallas) were using Russian-backed Cambridge Analytica to conduct a personally-targeted and invasive propaganda scam to trick voters into voting for one of North Carolina's emptiest of suits. Since Tillis is not running in this cycle, it might seem like an issue that could wait. But they're pulling the same shenanigans in a couple of 2018 Senate contests:

"Democratic" judicial mailer produced by GOP firm KAP Strategies

And the Board of Elections needs to investigate this nonsense immediately:

"He got his start in politics while attending junior college and did everything there was to do on a nationally-targeted congressional race. His tenacity and versatility as a “super volunteer” caught the attention of national Republican operatives who brought him to Washington, D.C. as an intern and then as a Capitol Hill staffer. But it was campaigning, not policy making, that Ted Prill loved so he went to work honing his skills on races across the country.

Besides the NRCC, groups like The Free Enterprise Fund, Freedom Watch, and the U.S. Coalition for Global Engagement have sought out Ted’s expertise. He brings his talents as a senior consultant, strategic thinker and hands-on operative to corporations here in the United States and to campaigns overseas."

Make no mistake, this is part of a concerted effort to suborn the judiciary, by doing two things: a) Stacking the November ballot with Democrats to dilute their chances, and b) Alienating voters from the Democratic Party in general with this ham-handed fake outreach. This story is developing, as I'm still trying to connect the moneymen behind it...

Tillis campaign had several foreign advisors, including former Soviet bloc

The Cambridge Analytica scandal is more pervasive than we thought:

"We weren't just working on messaging. We were instructing campaigns on which messages go where and to who." Wylie said that his largely foreign team instructed the Tillis campaign "on the messaging. We crafted his messaging, we targeted his messaging."

He said he couldn't recall any American Cambridge employees working on the Tillis campaign. "There were three or four full-time CA staffers embedded in Tillis's campaign on the ground in Raleigh. All of them were foreign nationals." A second former senior Cambridge staffer also said that most of the messaging team in 2014 was composed of foreign nationals. The staffer confirmed that there were foreign embeds in Raleigh on the Tillis campaign.

This story gets uglier by the minute. A foreign firm unethically (if not illegally) harvests Facebook user information, in order to form "psychographic" profiles, and then deploys foreign nationals to use that data to swing U.S. elections. And they knew it was not only wrong but legally questionable before they even did it:

Democracy NC wants BoE to probe Forest television studio issue

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Somebody needs to look that gift camera in the mouth:

A voting rights organization has asked North Carolina election officials to scrutinize spending by a nonprofit group for equipment for a television studio in the office of Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.

Democracy North Carolina Executive Director Bob Hall wrote a letter Monday to the state elections board seeking review of $60,000 in purchases by what’s called the North Carolina Promotion and Development Fund. WRAL-TV reported the fund owns the equipment, which Forest can use to produce videos about issues important to him. One fund donor is a longtime Forest supporter.

And while they're at it, they might as well look into all the renovations this same supporter did to the Hawkins-Harnett House, which this little blurb leads people to believe Forest paid for it himself:

Shadowy non-profit sets up TV studio for Dan Forest

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood for political propaganda:

A little-known group set up by the Lieutenant Governor's Office and headed by a major campaign donor has provided Lt. Gov. Dan Forest with enough television equipment to build an in-office studio. Forest's arrangement with the North Carolina Promotion and Development Fund appears to be unique in North Carolina state government. Gov. Roy Cooper doesn't have his own television studio, and neither does General Assembly leadership.

NCPDF is a 501(c)(4), also known by its IRS designation as a "social welfare organization." These groups are perhaps best known as political advertising vehicles for anonymous donors, and they're often called "dark money" groups. But attorneys who specialize in this section of the tax code said the category is much broader, and that the way Forest's office uses the NCPDF seems to be allowed under state and federal law, without disclosing donors, provided the group doesn't fund campaign activities. Neither "the studio nor any of the items purchased by the NCPDF have been or ever will be used for campaign purposes," Forest Chief of Staff Hal Weatherman said.

Aside from Dan Forest's inclusion in committees he's not really qualified for (like the Energy Policy Council), the man has no direct influence or responsibilities that would require him to "inform his constituents" about ongoing government matters. So this studio doesn't really serve or promote the office of Lt. Governor, it just promotes Dan Forest. And for at least one wealthy businessman, that promotion is worth a a big pile of money:

Fletcher Hartsell sentenced to 8 months in prison

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Considering it could have been 20 years, he got lucky:

A former North Carolina lawmaker accused of misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds on vacations, speeding tickets, haircuts and other items was sentenced Tuesday to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to three charges in the case.

Former longtime state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, who represented Cabarrus and Union counties in the 36th Senate district, was sentenced at the end of a hearing that lasted more than an hour in a federal courtroom in Winston-Salem. Much of the hearing focused on arguments made on behalf of the 70-year-old Hartsell about how much time he would serve behind bars.

While I understand the desire for sympathy and clemency from the bench, I find it distasteful to contemplate that when taking a broader look at our criminal justice system. The parade of exonerated Death Row inmates, most of whom were forced to serve 2-3 decades (for crimes they didn't commit) before they were released, and the ugliness of mandatory minimums in the failed War on Drugs, which has sent countless young African-American men to prison for 15-20 years because they had a couple of rocks of crack in their pocket, makes this 8 month sentence seem like a gentle slap on the wrist in comparison. That's just my take, your mileage may vary.

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