More Links Found Connecting Trump to the Russians
Trump associates revealed two previously unreported contacts from Russia that occurred during the 2016 campaign, according to the Washington Post.
Trump’s personal attorney and a business associate exchanged emails with Russian officials before the Republican National Convention. They referenced the lawyer possibly traveling to an economic conference in Russia that would include President Vladimir Putin.
The infamous Trump-Russia ‘golden shower’ dossier is being investigated by special counsel Robert Mueller. Newsweek reports that Mueller’s team has met with its author.
And according to Salon, several of the Russian-connected Facebook ads released during the 2016 presidential election targeted two important swing states: Michigan and Wisconsin. CNN reports that the ads used “divisive political messaging, such as exacerbating anti-Muslim prejudices, in order to influence political sentiments among crucial demographic blocs in those states.”
As these new developments surfaced, President Trump went to Puerto Rico, where he hurled paper towels at hurricane victims without power, water and food.
‘Self-Delusional Nonsense’ Blamed for Lake Erie Toxins
Many Toledo area business and political leaders have been content to ignore the toxic algae blooms on the Maumee River in downtown Toledo. Some see them as a temporary problem, rather than a health and economic concern. The Toledo Blade offers a simple test: “Google Lake Erie and go to ‘images,’ then Google Maumee River. If you do not think the many algae images hurt the city, regional tourism, and the Lake Erie fishing industry, we have some swamp land to sell you.”
Latest Mass Shooting Doesn’t Dissuade Backers of Pro-Gun Bills
After the deadliest mass shooting in modern history, the GOP-led Ohio House has no plans to push pause on the 6 pending gun bills in the legislature. You can find a summary of the bills here.
In Washington, Democrats in Congress are pushing to outlaw “bump stocks,” which can turn semi-automatic weapons into something like a machine gun. The Las Vegas gunman used “bump stocks” which made it easier to shoot and kill people at an outdoor festival. The death toll is 58.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown supports this common-sense measure; U.S. Sen. Rob Portman “has to review it.”
Portman has a long record of doing what the NRA asks. In a stunning move, the NRA called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review whether bump stocks comply with federal law. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director Chris Cox said in a joint statement.
Separately, Sen. Portman is the 8th largest recipient of NRA funds in the U.S. Senate, according to an analysis from The New York Times. Portman collected $3,061,941. John McCain topped the list with $7.7 million.
Sen. Hottinger is ‘Unaware of Any Specific Conflicts’ Involving RTL Boss Gonidakis
A Senate committee cast a party-line vote to advance Ohio Right-to-Life Director Mike Gonidakis‘ re-appointment as the consumer representative on the Ohio Medical Board. All Democrats voted ‘no’.
Sen. Vernon Sykes referenced an editorial from the Akron Beacon Journal which highlighted the inherent conflict when Dayton Right to Life filed a complaint with the medical board against two abortion providers.
From the editorial:
Ohio Right to Life issued a concurrent press release. Gonidakis forwarded the release to the executive director of ProgressOhio, adding the note: “Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for ‘women’s health.’ So sad.”
The problem is obvious enough. Gonidakis invited the impression that he already had decided the matter, one pending before the medical board. The advocate lost sight of the impartiality required of a board that establishes the credentials to practice medicine, issues licenses and oversees the performance of the profession.
In addition to his conflicts, ProgressOhio’s Sandy Theis objected to his re-appointment to a seat reserved for a “consumer.” She explains:
“As a lobbyist, Mike Gonidakis represents American Power & Light – a firm that buys electricity and water from utilities, then sells them to unsuspecting customers at a huge increase. The practice is so predatory that is banned in many other states. Mike Gonidakis is no champion of consumers.’’
Despite this media coverage and publicly available information, Sen. Jay Hottinger said he was “unaware of any specific conflicts” regarding Gonidakis, then voted to re-confirm him.
Portman Supports Tax Plan That Would Give the Richest the Biggest Tax Cuts
Corporations would see huge tax cuts in President Trump’s proposed tax overhaul, moving from 35% to 20%. U.S. Sen. Rob Portman supports this tax plan (it appears to be his priority on twitter), and it’s no wonder: he’s been a major benefactor of corporate lobbyists supporting the measure. You can read the full list of corporations who contributed to Portman here.
Portman and other supporters insist the tax cuts would grow the economy. The consensus among A-list economists: That’s baloney.
There are many reasons why the Trump-GOP tax plan is bad for our nation, but here are the three biggest ones, thanks to a recent report from our partner research organization, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.
- The richest 1 percent would receive 67 percent of the tax breaks, while 1 in 6 taxpayers would see their tax bills riseunder this regressive shift.
- This tax overhaul would put at risk essential services like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and education. This plan would reduce the government’s revenue by $233 billionin 2018 alone.
- Some states are big losers with this plan. In nine states and the District of Columbia more than 20 percent of taxpayers would face an immediate tax increase.
ECOT Says It Will Close Unless Court Intervenes, Taxpayers Cheer
The embattled Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow says it will close its doors by January unless the Ohio Supreme Court blocks state efforts to recoup money because ECOT padded its enrollment, reports the Columbus Dispatch.
The Ohio Department of Education is in the process of collecting more than $60 million from the chronically failing online charter.
This is ECOT’s latest effort to avoid accountability.
ECOT won preliminary approval to convert to a dropout recovery school – a designation with even less oversight than regular charters. The head of the Ohio Education Association has asked the state to review whether ECOT meets all requirements before giving its final approval.
The request came after the Ohio Department of Education said – with a straight face – that it lacked the authority to determine if ECOT met the requirements.
Here’s what we do know:
- ECOT leads the state in the number of dropouts
- ECOT has the worst four-year graduation rate in America
- ECOT helped to write Ohio’s weak charter oversight laws
- ECOT owners, employees and lobbyists have given more than $2 million in campaign contributions– mostly to Republican candidates and causes.
If ECOT does close, the applause from taxpayers will be deafening.
Supreme Court Hears Partisan Gerrymandering Case That Could Impact Ohio’s Awful Map
In the Supreme Court case Gil v. Whitford, Wisconsin Democrats contend the 2011 Republican legislative map violated the First Amendment as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause because it intended to dilute Democratic votes but not Republican ones. Read more on the background from Governing.com.
The New York Daily News explains the larger premise for the court to take action, saying that “It is wrong – and unconstitutional – for legislators to use their positions to lock in their own power. That’s called entrenchment, and the Supreme Court must prevent it.”
For example, in 2012, Republicans won 53% of the vote but 72% of the House seats in states where they drew the lines. In Ohio, Democrats hold just 4 out of 16 Congressional seats in what is arguably a 50/50 state.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, seen as the swing vote in this case, gave little indication which way he’ll side during arguments. Analysts say he seemed “sympathetic to the idea that an extreme partisan gerrymander might violate First Amendment rights.”
Paul Smith, the attorney for Democrats challenging the Wisconsin plan, warned that “Gerrymanders now are not your fathers’ gerrymander,” and further explained that data-crunching is so sophisticated that U.S. elections could have virtually no competition after 2020 if no action is taken.
If you’d like to read a transcript of oral arguments from the case, you can find it here.
Looking Ahead to 2018
Pants on Fire King Mandel Endorsed by Team Known For Peddling Lies About Hillary
Mike Cernovich and Jack Posobiec founded #Rev18, for Revolution 2018, a political action committee that launched Monday. You may have heard their names before; both men were involved in the conspiracy theory dubbed “pizzagate,” which suggested Hillary Clinton was running a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria, ultimately leading to a shooting.
These guys have banded together to support Josh Mandel for Senate, saying they like “Mandel’s style and message,” according to the Associated Press.
Separately, Team Renacci may have some explaining to do after there was some confusion regarding an organization that sounds a lot like a super-PAC working in direct coordination with his campaign.
Progressive Action Calendar Alerts
October 10: OH Voter Registration Deadline
October 11: Issue 2 Forum – Columbus
October 11: HB 214 Hearing – Columbus
October 12: Faith & Climate Action Day – Columbus