Election Law

Issues ››› Election Law
  • Right-Wing Media Bolster Trump’s Unsubstantiated, Dangerous Claims Of “Large Scale Voter Fraud”

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing media bolstered Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s claim that “there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before election day.” Conservatives asserted that dead people “vote for Hillary” and “for Democrats” and that early voting was implemented to give someone “a little hand” in elections.

  • Florida Newspapers Call For Investigation Of Trump-Bondi Connection

    ››› ››› CHRISTOPHER LEWIS

    Florida editorial boards are calling for federal investigators to look into Florida Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi's connections with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The calls come in response to news that Bondi choose not to investigate Trump University after soliciting and receiving a donation from him in 2013. Trump was fined $2,500 by the IRS this year for violating the law prohibiting such donations.  

  • CBS’ John Dickerson Is Only Sunday Host To Cover Trump Foundation’s Proven Lawbreaking

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    A Washington Post report that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 fine after his charitable foundation illegally gave a political contribution went mostly ignored by the cable and network Sunday political talk show hosts, with only CBS’ John Dickerson questioning a Trump surrogate about the story.

    The September 1 Post article reported that the Donald J. Trump Foundation had “violated tax laws” with a $25,000 political contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who at the time was deciding whether or not to take action against Trump University. The report also highlighted an error, “which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.” According to the Post’s article, the Trump Foundation is still out of compliance because “under IRS rules, it appears that the Trump Foundation must seek to get the money back” from the group which should never have received it:

    Donald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year, an official at Trump's company said, after it was revealed that Trump's charitable foundation had violated tax laws by giving a political contribution to a campaign group connected to Florida's attorney general.

    The improper donation, a $25,000 gift from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, was made in 2013. At the time, Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.

    Earlier this year, The Washington Post and a liberal watchdog group raised new questions about the three-year-old gift. The watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, filed a complaint with the IRS — noting that, as a registered nonprofit, the Trump Foundation was not allowed to make political donations.

    The Post reported another error, which had the effect of obscuring the political gift from the IRS.

    In that year's tax filings, The Post reported, the Trump Foundation did not notify the IRS of this political donation. Instead, Trump's foundation listed a donation — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas charity with a name similar to that of Bondi's political group. In fact, Trump's foundation had not given the Kansas group any money.

    The prohibited gift was, in effect, replaced with an innocent-sounding but nonexistent donation.

    With the breathless media hyping of every new detail about the Clinton Foundation, despite the lack of anything illegal occurring, one would think that the proof of lawbreaking by a charitable foundation founded and named for one of the two major party presidential nominees would attract significant attention from the media. But Face the Nation host John Dickerson was the only Sunday political talk show host to bring up the Post’s findings.

    During his interview with Trump campaign surrogate Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), Dickerson cited the Post story to ask if it was an example of Trump knowing “how to use political donations to get the system to work for him” because in this situation Trump “gave the money then the investigation didn’t happen”:

    JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): I want to ask you about a report in The Washington Post this week about Donald Trump's foundation paying a fine to the IRS for a $25,000 donation it had given to a political committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013. She was looking into maybe investigating Trump University, ultimately didn't. Donald Trump has said he knew better than anybody how to use the system, how to use political donations to get the system to work for him. Is that an instance of that in that situation, gave the money then the investigation didn't happen?

    ABC’s This Week guest host Martha Raddatz had a similar opportunity to question the Trump campaign about the story when speaking with campaign manager Kellyanne Conway during a 7 minute interview, but failed to bring it up. Fox News’ MediaBuzz and CNN’s Reliable Sources also both failed to even mention the news that Trump paid a fine for his foundation’s illegal act.

    On the other Sunday shows where this story was mentioned, it was up to the guests to mention it, usually in the context of the media’s double standard in reporting on the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s emails. When Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden said “we just learned this week that Donald Trump was engaged in a pay to play” with Florida’s attorney general, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace repeatedly interrupted her, before casting the story aside.

    On NBC’s Meet the Press, MSNBC contributor Maria Teresa Kumar brought up the report, saying Trump “basically took his foundation money and actually wrote a check to a campaign. That is actually illegal, and he had to pay a fine.”

    And on CNN’s State of the Union, commentator Bakari Sellers was the only one to even allude to the story, saying, “we know that Donald Trump actually had a foundation that was pay to play, and we’re back to [Clinton] emails.”

  • Sean Hannity Under Fire For Using Voter Fraud Myth To Push Trump's Rigged Election Claim

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox host Sean Hannity has come under fire for reviving the debunked myth that the 2012 presidential election was rigged by Democrats suppressing votes in Philadelphia in order to back up Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s allegation that the 2016 election is rigged.

    On August 2, Hannity, a Trump sycophant, defended Trump’s false and widely criticized claim that the 2016 presidential election is “rigged” by reviving the debunked myth that the 2012 election was rigged against Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Hannity suggested Democrats suppressed votes in Philadelphia, saying “The Philly Inquirer, one week after the 2012 election, pointed out that in 59 separate precincts in inner-city Philadelphia, that Mitt Romney did not get a single vote, not one.”

    On August 7, CNN host Brian Stelter called out Hannity’s failure to probe Trump’s “dangerous” claim, saying Hannity “failed [his] audience[] this week.” Stelter also debunked Hannity’s claim that Democrats suppressed votes in Philadelphia, saying a “Google search would show that there are also precincts in other states, like in Utah, where Obama did not get a single vote.”

    Hannity lashed out at Stelter in response, writing, “Hey Brian check Philly enquirer after 2012. How many districts not a single Romney vote. Check Cleveland. Do u prep?" Stelter told Politico that Hannity was “conveniently ignoring the point of my commentary, which is that it's dangerous for a talk show host to promote conspiracy theories about election-rigging.”

    A Philadelphia elections inspector also criticized Hannity’s conspiracy, calling it “absurd & personally insulting.” Ryan Godfrey wrote that there is “absolutely no way to erase votes from the machines” and explained that Romney, of course, did not get much support “in those 59 [precincts] almost entirely poor and almost entirely black communities [with] [less than] 1% registered [Republicans]” while “running against the first black president.”