Salvatore Colleluori

Author ››› Salvatore Colleluori
  • Five great examples of local journalism showing what the GOP bill will do to Americans

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    After the Senate GOP released a massive tax cut bill for the the wealthiest Americans disguised as a health care proposal, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected would kick 22 million Americans off their insurance, drastically cut spending on Medicaid, and raise premiums on seniors, Fox News used the opportunity to lie and spin on behalf of the Republican Party. For example, Fox hosts and guests have mocked legislators who correctly pointed out that the Senate bill would increase mortality rates in the United States. Additionally, hosts and guests claimed that millions not having health insurance is “the American way,” lied that Medicaid wouldn’t be cut by the bill, and attacked former President Barack Obama for speaking out against the proposal, which would reduce all of the gains in insurance coverage his signature law created.

    In stark juxtaposition to Fox News’ misinformation campaign, state and local media outlets have often properly covered the effects of the bill on citizens of their areas and debunked popular right-wing myths. Here are five of the best examples:

    KMGH’s 7 News @ 10 PM (Colorado): Despite administration talking points, “the CBO’s big-picture analysis” on Obamacare “was right.” KMGH anchor Anne Trujillo debunked a claim from President Donald Trump that the CBO produced “inaccurate predictions on Obamacare,” noting that “the CBO’s big-picture analysis, that Obamacare would bring the uninsured rate down to a historic low, that was right.” From the June 26 edition of KMGH’s 7 News @ 10:

    ANNE TRUJILLO (HOST): And the White House, once again, criticizes CBO today for its, what it calls “inaccurate predictions on Obamacare.” So we did some digging. And this is not a new argument from the administration. Back in March, our partners at PolitiFact ranked the criticism as “Half True.” And here’s why. In 2010, the CBO predicted 30 million more Americans would gain coverage by 2016. That number turned out to be 22 million, so off by 8 million. But PolitiFact says the CBO’s big-picture analysis, that Obamacare would bring the uninsured rate down to a historic low, that was right. PolitiFact also pointed out that the CBO could not have foreseen the Supreme Court’s decision on Medicaid expansion, which led 19 states to opt out.

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Georgia): Senate health plan may leave 680,000 more Georgians without insurance. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that, according to health care analyst Bill Custer of Georgia State University, the Senate bill would cause approximately 680,000 Georgians to lose their health insurance coverage. From the June 26 article:

    The Congressional Budget Office released its score of the Senate plan’s impacts late Monday. The nonpartisan office estimated that 22 million more Americans would be without health insurance at the end of 10 years if the plan becomes law. Georgia’s share of that figure is 680,000 or so, according to a health care analyst who has been following the debate, Bill Custer of Georgia State University.

    Georgia advocates for rural hospitals, patients and others likely to feel the cuts howled.

    “This legislation represents a giant leap backward from what Americans have come to expect and demand from their healthcare delivery system,” Earl Rogers, president of the Georgia Hospital Association, said in a statement.

    “Cuts to Medicaid take resources away from the entire healthcare delivery system, so tough decisions will have to be made regarding which services to scale back or eliminate entirely,” he added, cutbacks “that will affect all patients.” [Atlanta Journal Constitution, 6/26/17]

    Penn Live (Pennsylvania): “Senate bill for Obamacare repeal would ‘destabilize’ Pa. health care system: state official.” Penn Live, the online version of Harrisburg’s Patriot-News, noted that the state’s deputy secretary for human services estimated that the cuts to Medicaid would cost the state “about $4.5 billion annually.” In addition, “the cut would be especially damaging given the opioid addiction crisis, which is presently killing 13 Pennsylvania residents per day, according to Jennifer Smith, the acting secretary of drug and programs.” From the June 23 piece:

    The Medicaid expansion that covers 716,000 people in Pennsylvania would be phased out over three years ending in 2024. The state could continue paying for the coverage -- the federal government now pays about 90 percent under Obamacare -- but it would be unaffordable, according to Brendan Harris, the deputy secretary of human services. He said on Thursday afternoon the state hadn't yet figured out the exact financial impact, but estimated the state would lose about $4.5 billion annually.

    Eliminating the Medicaid expansion would impact drug and alcohol treatment. About 124,000 people covered by the expansion have accessed such treatment. The cut would be especially damaging given the opioid addiction crisis, which is presently killing 13 Pennsylvania residents per day, according to Jennifer Smith, the acting secretary of drug and programs.

    Overall Medicaid spending would be capped. States could choose between a block grant or a per capita limit, although children with major medical needs would be exempt from the cap. Moreover, increases to Medicaid spending would eventually be based on increases in the consumer price index. Increases are presently based on medical cost inflation, which is higher than CPI increases. Asked whether that might have the positive impact of bending the cost curve downward, a state official said it would not. Rather, it would shift costs to medical providers and private insurers and create pressure that would harm services.

    [...]

    The income limit for people to receive federal subsidies to help buy coverage on the electronic exchange would drop to 350 percent of the federal poverty level, down from 400 percent. About 426,000 Pennsylvania residents have exchange coverage, with 80 percent receiving a subsidy, Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller said. Also, subsidies would be based on 56 percent of the benchmark plan, down from 70 percent, which would lower their value, Miller said. Miller said the changes would increase the number of people who can't afford coverage.

    [...]

    Secretary of Health Karen Murphy said the cuts to Medicaid would "destabilize" the health care system in Pennsylvania and result in "hundreds of thousands of people losing their jobs." Other impacts would include the loss of $22 million in annual funds that go toward disease prevention. [Penn Live, 6/23/17]

    The News Journal (Delaware): ‘People will die’ under new health care proposal. An article in Delaware’s The News Journal quoted the director of Delaware’s Division of Public Health, who called the GOP’s legislation “simply inhumane” and said, “People will die.” [The News Journal, 6/23/17]

    WLWT’s News 5 at 11:00 (Ohio): Senate bill would “allow insurers to charge older policyholders more.” A segment on WLWT’s News 5 at 11:00 explained that the CBO score found that 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance by 2026 under the bill, which would “end enhanced Medicaid expansion, eliminate coverage mandates, and allow insurers to charge older policyholders more.” In addition, the segment explained that “those in the individual market would be hit with dramatic increases for services.” From the June 26 edition of WLWT News 5 at 11:00:

    MIKE DARDIS (CO-HOST): Well, Republicans can’t seem to agree on the best way to repeal and replace Obamacare, a promise several years in the making.

    SHEREE PAOLELLO (CO-HOST): The Senate is expected to vote on this newest health care bill a little bit later this week, but some new numbers out this evening may not help convince the holdouts.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): CBO’s report today makes clear that this bill is every bit as mean as the House bill.

    [END VIDEO]

    REPORTER: Twenty-two million -- that’s how many more Americans would be without health insurance by 2026 if the proposed Senate GOP health care bill passes, according to the Congressional Budget Office report. Like the House version of the bill that passed in May, this version would end enhanced Medicaid expansion, eliminate coverage mandates, and allow insurers to charge older policyholders more. Premiums would be down about 20 percent over the next 10 years for the average customer. The U.S. deficit could also by cut by $321 billion. But those in the individual market would be hit with dramatic increases for services. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is scrambling now to shore up votes for the bill, but these numbers may not help.

    [BEGIN VIDEO]

    SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): From a political point of view, if you had a problem with the bill, the CBO score didn’t help you at all. It’s going to be tough to get to 50, but time will tell.

    [END VIDEO]

    REPORTER: Senate Republicans unveiled their version of the Obamacare repeal last Thursday to an underwhelming response by many in their own party.

  • Anti-Ossoff attack ad repackages right-wing media myths on Syrian refugees

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI


    Sarah Wasko / Media Matters

    An attack ad against Georgia Democratic House candidate Jon Ossoff repackaged right-wing media myths about Syrian refugees, falsely claiming that the United States does not have a sufficient screening process for refugees and is allowing ISIS to infiltrate the country through the refugee program. In reality, the United States’ screening process for refugees is one of the most robust in the world, and no Syrian refugee has ever been involved in a terror attack in the U.S.

    The May 31 attack ad by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) claimed that members of ISIS are “infiltrating America and using Syrians to do it.” It also cited right-wing website The Daily Caller to claim that the United States doesn’t have proper screening measures in place. This false information is some of the same rhetoric spewed by right-wing media when it comes to Syrian refugees.

    Right-wing media have consistently opposed U.S. entry for refugees fleeing war-torn Syria. Often they claim that the refugees have “no paperwork” and therefore cannot be properly screened to ensure that they would not commit terrorist attacks in the country. 

    Experts agree that the U.S. refugee screening process is “one of the most robust” in the world, requiring multiple security checks, in-person interviews, approval from Department of Homeland Security, and a medical screening. On average, it takes two years for a Syrian refugee to make it through. When, in 2016, then-Gov. Mike Pence attempted to bar refugees from coming into Indiana, a federal judge blocked him. The decision was unanimously upheld by a panel of the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals that said it was “nightmare speculation” without any evidence on Pence’s part that terrorists will pose as refugees to enter the country. Judge Richard Posner, who was part of the panel, reaffirmed that refugees are “required to undergo multiple layers of screening by the federal government.”

    The claim that ISIS will infiltrate the U.S. by posing as Syrian refugees used in the attack ad against Ossoff has also been rated false by PolitiFact Georgia. PolitiFact ruled that “in the few examples since 2001 of an ‘infiltration’ leading to a terror attack, they have not involved ISIS terrorists from Syria.” It also noted that “far more common than ‘infiltration’ cases are examples of self-radicalization by people already in the United States, mostly people who were born and raised here.”

  • Local Media Covered The GOP Health Care Bill Better Than Cable News Did

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI & JULIE ALDERMAN

    Republican members of the House of Representatives on May 4 voted to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA), passing a measure that would make it harder to obtain health insurance and allow states to opt out of requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. While national cable media outlets focused on the “victory” the vote represented for President Donald Trump and the GOP or on the optics of the situation, some local media outlets in states where the impact of the legislation could be immense did a significantly better job at discussing how this bill would affect Americans. Many consulted experts to find out how gutting pre-existing conditions coverage and essential health benefits would make it harder for Americans to afford insurance.

    KVRR, Fargo, ND

    KTWO, Casper, WY

    KTVA, Anchorage, AK

    KNXV, Phoenix, AZ

    KFOR, Oklahoma City, OK

    WPVI, Philadelphia, PA

    KTNV, Las Vegas, NV

    WPLG, Miami, FL

    KNBC, Los Angeles, CA

    KMGH, Denver, CO

  • White Nationalists And Nativists Want Americans To Pay To Keep America White

    Trump Adviser Kris Kobach, Who Has Nativist Ties, Helped Write Executive Orders

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Media should be aware that white nationalist and anti-immigrant groups are rallying around President Donald Trump’s new executive orders on immigration. Republicans like Kansas Secretary of State and radio host Kris Kobach and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions have embraced these nativist groups and pushed their colleagues in the GOP to prioritize costly anti-immigrant enforcement measures over traditional fiscal conservatism. And that means Americans will have to foot the extremely high bill of trying to keep America white and immigrants out.

    On January 25, Trump signed two executive orders which, along with a third that’s expected soon, seek to ban immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and Africa from entering the United States, begin efforts to build a wall on the United States’ southern border with Mexico, re-establish programs that allow local law enforcement officials to act as de facto immigration agents, and threaten federal government funding of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which, according to The New York Times, are “jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal authorities seeking to detain unauthorized immigrants.”

    None of these ideas are new. Tightening border enforcement measures, attacking pro-immigrant cities, and pushing local law enforcement to act as immigration police are all ideas that have been promoted by the anti-immigrant, nativist, and white supremacist right for decades. But now they’ve finally found an ally in the Oval Office.

    This should come as no surprise, as several of the biggest proponents of these harsh immigration policies are advisers to Trump or nominees to his cabinet. According to The Wichita Eagle, Trump adviser and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was involved in the early stages of drafting  the executive orders. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Kobach has served as counsel to the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), known as the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), since 2004. On January 23, officials announced that Julie Kirchner, the former executive director of FAIR, an SPLC-designated hate group “whose leaders have historical ties to white supremacists and eugenicists,” was also joining the Trump administration, as chief of staff at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

    FAIR is also a favored organization of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Trump’s nominee for attorney general. In 2007, Sessions was the keynote speaker at the group’s advisory board meeting and publicly thanked the organization for helping defeat a bipartisan immigration reform plan. Sessions is also a regular at other events hosted by the organization, including its annual lobby day on Capitol Hill, dubbed Hold Their Feet To The Fire

    FAIR, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), and NumbersUSA -- three of the biggest nativist groups in the country -- have made thinly veiled attempts to hide their nativist and white supremacist ties. While media outlets often highlight them as groups that merely favor increased immigration enforcement or want to crack down on undocumented immigrants, that’s far from the whole story. According to SPLC, CIS has distributed anti-immigration articles from Jared Taylor of the white nationalist website American Renaissance and Holocaust denier John Friend and held events with Charles Murray, a white nationalist who wrote a book “that uses racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of black and Latino communities.” FAIR and NumbersUSA have also courted white supremacists and white nationalists, including via FAIR president Dan Stein’s association with the nativist hate journal The Social Contract and NumbersUSA’s courting of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.

    With Trump’s victory, these anti-immigrant nativists are finally getting an opportunity to attempt to fulfill their dream of keeping America white and immigrant-free by pushing government to spend potentially $31.2 billion on a flawed border wall and unnecessarily deputizing local law enforcement to crack down on immigrants, even though no evidence shows that the policy has ever actually deterred crime. And the real kicker is that taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill for these costly, unnecessary, and flawed plans that a majority of them don’t support.

    Now, as Republicans are faced with funding a multibillion-dollar wall that is not supported by a majority of Americans, and most likely won’t be paid for by Mexico, will they fulfill the nativist and white supremacist dream or will they stay true to their supposed roots of fiscal conservatism?

    Research intern Katherine Hess contributed research to this piece.

  • NYT’s Amy Chozick: Give Trump “Credit” For His “Refreshing” Use Of Twitter

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    The New York Times’ Amy Chozick argued that President-elect Donald Trump should be given credit for using Twitter as he continues to avoid the press, normalizing his tweets as “refreshing” and ignoring the fact that Trump’s tweets have dangerously breached international precedent, swung stock prices, and promoted neo-Nazis, among other embarrassments.

    On the December 27 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews, Chozick joined a panel with Azi Paybarah of Politico and Caitlin Huey-Burns of Real Clear Politics to discuss Trump’s recent Twitter use. Chozick conceded that a president-elect should explain his policy positions in “more than 140 characters,” but still argued Trump deserves  “a little bit of credit” for using Twitter to speak to his supporters because, according to her, President Barack Obama struggled to speak to his supporters early in his presidency.

    Chozick went on to compare Trump’s reckless and amateurish approach to presidential communications with Obama’s, who she criticized as being “more thoughtful and careful about everything,” seeming to consider Obama's approach a negative characteristic in a president. As for Trump, she described his Twitter use as “refreshing.”

    But Trump’s temperamental outbursts in 140 characters or less are far from praiseworthy by any reasonable standard and should not be a form of presidential communication or policy-making indulged -- or normalized -- by the press as Chozick suggested.

    As Greg Sargent explained in The Washington Post, arms control experts noted that Trump could exacerbate nuclear tensions in an international crisis if his tweets are interpreted incorrectly, such as when he recently tweeted that he wanted to “greatly strengthen and expand” the United States’ “nuclear capability.” Trump has already caused a serious strain in the U.S. relationship with one major nuclear power -- China -- after he bizarrely tweeted that he took an unprecedented call from the Taiwanese President (followed by several tweets attacking China).

    Trump has also used Twitter to bully American companies and citizens into submitting to his poorly reasoned demands and embracing his falsehoods. Trump sent the stocks of Lockheed Martin and Boeing into a freefall at various times earlier this month when he tweeted that he was going to cancel Boeing’s contract for the new Air Force One over cost and, later, Lockheed Martin’s over the cost of the F-35 fighter jet. In addition, after Trump falsely claimed he was saving 1,100 jobs at a Carrier factory in Indiana, he used his account to attack Chuck Jones, a union boss at the Carrier plant who pointed out that many people were still losing their jobs, prompting many Trump supporters to send death threats to Jones and his family.

    Trump has also outrageously used Twitter to mainstream dangerous hate and bigotry by consistently retweeting white nationalist and “alt-right” Twitter accounts. During his campaign, Trump retweeted several neo-Nazi and white nationalist sympathizing twitter accounts, including one with the handle @WhiteGenocideTM, which according to ThinkProgress, “tweets obsessively about white women allegedly being raped by various minority groups.”

    Chozick’s defense of Trump is another example of how media figures are normalizing Trump’s hostility toward and complete disregard for the press. Time and again since the election, Trump has broken serious norms, with members of the press enabling his behavior by sanitizing his ties to extremists, echoing his lies, and whitewashing his comments.

    Watch the full segment below:

  • The Guy Helping Rehab Stephen Bannon’s Image Just Justified Muslim Registry By Highlighting Internment Camps

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    While publicist Maria Sliwa attempts to mitigate the negative coverage surrounding Stephen Bannon, President-elect Donald Trump’s newly appointed chief adviser and the former head of the “alt-right” Breitbart News, one of the men she suggested could speak on Bannon’s behalf recently claimed that Japanese internment camps are Trump’s “precedent” for a Muslim registry.

    A November 16 article from The Wrap explained that after Trump announced Bannon as a member of his administration, Bannon received “lots of bad press, some of it accusing him of racism, sexism and anti-Semitism,” and that Sliwa is working to make over his image (though she says she isn’t working for Bannon but has “a client who is”). While the funding behind the rehab campaign is unclear, the piece said Sliwa “sent out two emails to reporters offering interviews with two men available to talk about Bannon: U.S. Navy Seal (Ret.) Carl Higbie, and Breitbart Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein.”

    While members of the media were reading Sliwa’s pitch, Higbie was making his own news. On the November 16 edition of Fox News’ The Kelly File, Higbie justified Trump's possible Muslim registry by suggesting that there is some “precedent” for it because the United States interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. Higbie continued, “Look, the president needs to protect America first, and if that means having people that are not protected under our Constitution have some sort of registry so we can understand, until we can identify the true threat and where it's coming from, I support it.”

    Watch:

    Backlash to the comments has already started. This morning, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) released a statement calling on Trump to “denounce the comments” and pointing out the dark history of Japanese-American internment:

    “The imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II, including my parents and grandparents, is widely understood to be one of the darkest chapters in American history. More than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were accused of no crimes and received no trial before being relocated, interned, and stripped of their possessions.”

    In September, Higbie attempted to defend Trump’s attacks on former Miss Universe Alicia Machado -- who the now-president-elect called “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight after she won the crown -- by claiming that Trump was helping her by putting her through a “luxury exercise program.”

  • “Trump TV Is Real”: Journalists React To Trump’s Facebook Live Broadcast

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Thirty minutes prior to the final presidential debate, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump advertised that he was airing a pre-debate program on Facebook Live. Given rumors that Trump’s son-in-law was shopping Trump for a TV show earlier this week, journalists noted this could be a “preview” of what could come.

    On October 17, The New York Times reported that Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, “discussed the possibility of a Trump-branded television network with a friend,” floating the idea of setting up a “Trump television channel.” Although neither Kushner nor Trump has confirmed the report, and apparently talks have not progressed beyond informal talks, conversation around this possibility has increased as Trump's support has decreased in the polls.

    A half-hour before the October 19 debate began, Trump advertised that he would be holding a Facebook Live event featuring his surrogates discussing the debate. According to Politico’s Blake Hounshell, the event was a “pregame show featuring two campaign surrogates trashing the the media coverage -- not the Republican nominee himself.” Vox’s German Lopez called it a “test-run” of Trump TV and said it was “awful.” Several other journalists noted that Trump was using this opportunity to pilot Trump TV, and the reviews were not necessarily positive:

    The Daily Beast's Jackie Kucinich

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    MSNBC's Kyle Griffin

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    The Huffington Post's Christina Wilkie

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    CNN's Andrew Kaczynski 

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    BuzzFeed News' McKay Coppins

    [Twitter, 10/19/16]

    Politico's Kelsey M. Sutton

    [Twiter, 10/19/16]

  • Why Won't CNN Answer These Questions About Corey Lewandowski?

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    CNN and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign are unsuccessfully attempting to defuse the explosive new details surrounding ongoing payments from the campaign to former campaign manager and current CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski.

    As reported by The Washington Post, Trump’s recent campaign filing disclosed that Lewandowski “was paid $20,000 in August by the campaign for what it described as ‘strategy consulting’” through his firm Green Monster Consulting. The Post also reported that “CNN has said previously that Trump’s payments to Lewandowski and his consulting firm were ‘severance’ for his employment by Trump.” However, as explained by the Post, “the description used by Trump’s campaign in the filing -- ‘strategy consulting’ -- also suggested that Lewandowski is playing a more active and current role in the campaign than ‘severance’ would suggest.” Responding to the allegations, campaign spokesperson Hope Hicks maintained that Lewandowski is “no longer involved in the campaign [and] continues to receive monthly severance payments.”

    Hicks’ statements on Lewandowski’s role and CNN’s ongoing employment of someone who is still being paid in some form by the campaign leave several unanswered questions: Where is the money for severance documented, given that the Trump campaign filings call payments to Lewandowski “strategy consulting,” the same term that they used to describe his work while he was employed by the campaign for the last year and a half? Has Lewandowski been double dipping -- i.e. taking money from the Trump campaign for work while also receiving severance? Was CNN aware that Lewandowski was still receiving "strategy consulting" payments from the campaign? Most significantly, why hasn’t CNN suspended Lewandowski already -- or, better yet, fired him?

    As The New York Times noted, the fact that in its most recent FEC filing the Trump campaign listed the August payment “as ‘strategy consulting’” raises “questions about whether [CNN] in effect has a Trump campaign strategist on its payroll.” Politico’s Ken Vogel pointed out a similar issue on Twitter, writing that Trump’s payments to Lewandowski “in AUGUST” appears to be “awfully long after his firing for him to be collecting old fees” and that he couldn’t “remember any [other campaigns] paying severance to fired staff.” The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple also raises the question of why Lewandowski is still receiving severance months after being let go from the campaign. Wemple quotes an employment lawyer suggesting the payments may be spread out as a way to “muzzle or control” Lewandowski:

    A look at the timeline reveals that Lewandowski’s firing from Camp Trump occurred on June 20, or nearly three months ago. That’s a protracted severance-paying period, no?

    It sure is, says employment lawyer Debra Katz of Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP. “The vast majority of severance agreements that we’ve negotiated are lump-sum payments,” says Katz, especially if the firms have the financial wherewithal to pay them. So structuring the severance payments over a number of months could be the approach of a cash-starved organization.

    There’s another motive, however. “It is not uncommon to string them out as a way to muzzle or control the person who’s receiving the funds,” says Katz.

    It's not just the recent filings in which Lewandowski was paid for “strategy consulting." According to Trump's FCC filings, Lewandowski has received the same type of payment for “strategy consulting” since April 1, 2015 -- before and after he was reportedly fired by the campaign and before and after he began his employment with CNN. It appears Lewandowski has never been paid directly by the Trump campaign, but instead those uninterrupted funds went to the firm registered to him.

    As reported by the Post in August, this isn’t the first time the Trump campaign’s FEC filings did not seem to match how CNN explained -- and justified -- Lewandowski’s employment and the continued payments he was receiving from the campaign. On August 21, the Post noted in passing that FEC filings showed “Lewandowski received his regular $20,000 monthly fee on July 6 – two weeks after he was jettisoned and had been hired by CNN as a political commentator.”

    But the Post’s new report based on the new FEC filings highlights something different -- and far more damning.

    The July 6 disbursement to Lewandowski’s firm reported by the Post in August was a payment for the 2016 primary -- and could technically be for campaign work done in June, before he was a CNN employee. The newly discovered August 11 payment to Lewandowski is a “strategy consulting” disbursement for the 2016 general election, while Lewandowski was being paid by CNN to shill for Trump -- almost a full two months after he was supposedly fired by the candidate.

    So is Lewandowski being paid three times? Twice by the campaign, once by CNN, and all for the same job?

    Lewandowski will reportedly be on CNN later today. If neither the network nor the campaign can explain these discrepancies and answer basic questions about this ridiculous conflict of interest, maybe he will.

  • The Wall Street Journal Baselessly Speculates Virginia Governor “Is Acting In Contempt Of Court” For Restoring Voting Rights To Former Felons

    Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    The Wall Street Journals editorial board criticized Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe for continuing his effort to restore voting rights to former felons, echoing an unfounded Virginia GOP claim that McAuliffe, a Democrat, “is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him.”

    On April 22, McAuliffe issued an order restoring voting rights to approximately 206,000 Virginians who lost them due to prior felony convictions. Nearly 13,000 Virginians subsequently registered to vote. But the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, William Howell, filed a lawsuit against McAuliffe seeking to stop the restoration of rights to this group of people, arguing the governor did not use his authority properly. The Virginia Supreme Court agreed, halting McAuliffe’s executive action and bumping those who had registered off the voting rolls.

    After the state Supreme Court ruled, McAuliffe again began restoring voting rights to former felons, but on a case-by-case basis, which the court had specifically suggested as an acceptable alternative. As explained by the governor’s office, “While it is our position that the Governor’s April 22nd action was clearly constitutional by any reasonable standard, he will proceed with individual restorations in accordance with the Virginia Supreme Court’s order and the precedent of governors before him.”

    But the Journal still took issue with the latest round of restorations in a August 12 editorial, baselessly suggesting that McAuliffe “is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him” and claiming that if McAuliffe “gets away with” restoring voting rights, we would be “well down the road to tyranny”:

    President Obama has charted new levels of executive defiance, but even he hasn’t refused to obey a Supreme Court ruling. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has sought to follow Mr. Obama’s executive hubris, and now he’s gone further and is acting in contempt of the court that has rebuked him.

    In July the Virginia Supreme Court struck down his executive order restoring voting rights to 206,000 felons. Under Virginia law the Governor can grant clemency on an individual basis. But the justices wrote that “Governor McAuliffe’s assertion of ‘absolute’ power to issue his executive order” runs “afoul of the separation-of-powers principle” in the Virginia constitution. The individual clemency power, the court admonished, “does not mean he can effectively rewrite the general rule of law.”

    [...]

    The Democratic Governor claims he is restoring these voting rights by the thousands on an “individual” basis. And he says he plans to do so for all of the more than 200,000 remaining felons by the time his term ends.

    This is contempt of both the court and the legislature, or what is known as the “suspension” of a law simply because an executive disagrees with it. This is why the Founders wrote the Constitution to protect against such actions by kings, and Virginia Republicans have now gone to court again to stop him. Their filing last week, submitted by former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Chuck Cooper, argues that Mr. McAuliffe’s mass restoration orders “have precisely the same scope, precisely the same effect, and accomplish precisely the same unconstitutional suspension of Virginia’s felon-disenfranchisement law.”

    The Journal provides no proof that McAuliffe is violating any court order or not evaluating the restorations on a case-to-case basis as his office described, a process which the Journal explicitly admits is legal under Virginia law, noting that the “Governor can grant clemency on an individual basis.” As McAuliffe’s court filing explains, voting rights were individually restored to “most but not all of the [12,521] people who had previously registered” and to “an additional 6,957 persons, all of whom had requested to have their rights restored, and he did so, again, through individualized orders after a case-by-case review process.” This procedure follows the guidance of the court, which found such an individualized review to be unobjectionable, affirming that “the Governor can use his clemency powers to mitigate a general rule of law on a case-by-case basis.”

    The Journal is no friend to expanded voting rights, especially when the denial of rights disproportionately harms minorities, as barring former felons from voting does. Its opinion pages have argued against the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and for restrictive Voter ID laws.

    And that background makes the Journal’s hostility to McAuliffe’s actions unsurprising. The denial of voting rights for felons has long had a disproportionately negative impact on African-Americans in Virginia. As Erika Wood, the former deputy director at the Brennan Center for Justice, explained in a 2010 Richmond Times Dispatch op-ed, “There is ample evidence in the historical record that” the law denying former felons the right to vote “is firmly rooted in Jim Crow, and its intended effects continue today,” when “one in every six African Americans in Virginia, and one in four African-American men, is permanently disenfranchised under this law. African Americans make up only one fifth of Virginia’s population, but over half of those are disenfranchised.”

  • Broadcast News Outlets Ignored Trump Modeling Agency's Employment Of Immigrants With Improper Visas

    ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI

    Broadcast network news programs have ignored allegations that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s modeling agency, Trump Model Management, “profited from using foreign models who came to the United States on tourist visas that did not permit them to work here,” as detailed in an August 30 Mother Jones report. The morning, evening, and Sunday news programs on CBS, NBC, and ABC have not reported on the allegations, even after Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) called for an investigation into the model management company.