Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Has the Top Two Primary Elected More Moderates?

An Article posted in Cambridge University Press, by Eric McGhee and Bors Shor, in the Perspectives on Politics, asked the questions Has the Top Two Primary Elected More Moderates?.

Party Polarization is perhaps the most Significant Political Trend of the past several Decades of American Politics. Many Observers have pinned hopes on Institutional Reforms to Reinvigorate the Political Center.

The Top-Two Primary is one of the most interesting and closely watched of these Reforms: a radically Open Primary system that Removes much of the Formal Role for Parties in the Primary Election and even allows for Two Candidates of the Same Party to Face each other in the Fall.

Here they Leverage the Adoption of the Top-Two in California and Washington to Explore the Reform’s Effects on Legislator Behavior.

They find an Inconsistent Effect since the Reform was Adopted in these Two States. The Evidence for Post-Reform moderation is stronger in California than in Washington, but some of this stronger Effect appears to stem from a contemporaneous Policy Change, District Lines drawn by an Independent Redistricting Commission, while still more might have emerged from a Change in Term Limits that was also adopted at the same time.

The Results Validate some Claims made by Reformers, but Question others, and their Magnitude casts some Doubt on the Potential for Institutions to Reverse the Polarization Trend. These Results are Preliminary, and do not necessarily Speak to the Merits of these Reforms more generally, since Moderation was not the only Benefit Supporters claimed for them.

But the Effects are Conditional enough to broaden the Conversation to these other Benefits as possible reasons for supporting Reform as well. At any rate, the Top-Two is an especially strong Example of the sort of Institutional Reforms that might draw American Parties back toward the Center of the Ideological Spectrum.

The Evidence for some Effect bolsters the Idea that Institutions are at least Partly to Blame, but given the magnitude of the Policy Change the Effect is Fairly Weak. Thus, while Institutions and Primaries in particular may be part of the Story, the Lion’s Share of Polarization likely comes from some Other Source.

CLICK HERE to read the Report.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Trump Using RNC Campaign Funds to Pay Legal Bills from Russia Probe

U.S. President Trump is using Money Donated to his Re-Election Campaign and the Republican National Committee (RNC) to Pay for his Lawyers in the Probe of alleged Russian Interference in the U.S. Elections. The RNC paid in August more than $230,000 to cover some of Trump’s Legal Fees related to the Probe.

Trump’s Lead Lawyer, John Dowd, received $100,000 from the RNC and that the RNC also paid $131,250 to the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, the Law Firm where Jay Sekulow, another of Trump’s Lawyers, is a Partner. The RNC is Scheduled to Disclose its August Spending today and the Trump Campaign is due for a Disclosure on Oct. 15th.

The U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) allows the use of Private Campaign Funds to pay Legal Bills arising from being a Candidate or Elected Official. While previous Presidential Campaigns have used these Funds to Pay for Routine Legal Matters such as Ballot Access Disputes and Compliance requirements, Trump would be the First U.S. President in the Modern Campaign Finance era to use such Funds to Cover the Costs of responding to a Criminal Probe, said Election Law Experts.

It was not clear how Trump’s Legal Costs related to the Russia Probe would be Allocated between the Campaign and the RNC. Reuters could not determine how Large a Legal Bill Trump has incurred to date from his Lawyers on the Mueller Investigation. Trump hired his longtime New York Lawyer Marc Kasowitz to Head his Defense Team in May, but Kasowitz stepped down in July, with Dowd taking over the Lead Role. Special White House Counsel Ty Cobb, who is a Salaried Staff Member, is also working on the matter.

The Trump Campaign has paid Law Firm Jones Day almost $4 Million, according to Campaign Filings, mostly for Routine Campaign Legal Expenses like Ballot Access Disputes, Vendor Contracts, Human Resources, and Compliance with State and Federal Laws. It has also responded to Russia-Related Inquiries on behalf of the Campaign by, for example, Providing Documents to Congress.

The reason Trump is able to tap into his Campaign Funds for Legal Expenses is because for the past decade, Presidential Candidates have abandoned Public Financing for their Campaigns. Instead, they have built Networks that collect Millions of Dollars from Private Donors, a move that comes with less Restrictions on how the Money is spent. President Obama in 2008 was the First to eschew Public Financing for his Campaign, and all the Major-Party Candidates followed Suit in 2012 and 2016.

Trump also Filed for Re-Election the day he took Office in January, two years earlier than any previous President, ensuring a Fund of Millions in Campaign Cash would remain at his Disposal. According to its most Rrecent Filing to the FEC, Donald J. Trump for President Inc had almost $12 Million on hand by the End of June, an increase of over $4 Million since January.

Adav Noti, a Senior Director at the Campaign Legal Center, a Watchdog Group that describes itself as Nonpartisan, said Public Campaign Funds, as opposed to the Private Funds Trump has raised, cannot generally be used for Expenses arising from Criminal Investigations, or for any Expenses that arise after the Campaign is over.

President Bill Clinton, who ran Two Publicly Funded Campaigns, had Supporters start Legal Defense Funds and used his Own Insurance to help Pay Legal Bills during the Whitewater Investigation. He still wound up with Millions of Dollars in Personal Debt which he Paid Off through Speaking Fees he Earned once he left Office.

Hillary Clinton, who ran a Privately Funded Campaign, paid Millions to Campaign Lawyers at Perkins Coie to handle routine Legal Matters, according to Campaign Filings. Her Campaign made No Payments to the Washington Law Firm Williams & Connolly, which Represented her in the Probes of her use of a Private Email Server when she was U.S. Secretary of State.

Campaigns also have Discretion to Pay Legal Fees for others besides the President. According to a July filing, the Trump Campaign paid $50,000 to the Law Firm of Alan Futerfas, who is Representing Donald Trump Jr.

A number of other Current and Former Trump Staffers have also recently Hired Lawyers.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Dodd-Frank Rollbacks May Lead to Bank Failures

The Systemic Risk Council (SRC or Council) is a Private Sector, Non-Partisan body of former Government Officials, Financial, and Legal Experts committed to addressing Regulatory and Structural issues relating to Global Systemic Risk, with a particular focus on the United States and Europe. It has been formed to provide a strong, independent voice for Reforms that are necessary to Protect the Public from Financial Instability. The Goal is to help ensure a Financial system in which we can all have confidence.

On September 19, 2017, the Systemic Risk Council submitted a Comment Letter to the United States Department of Treasury (UST) on its Report of June 2017 on possible Reforms to Banking-System Regulation.

The Council believes that “the UST Report includes a number of worthwhile technical reforms and addresses important issues that are largely incidental to stability, but [is] concerned that some of the Report’s main recommendations would jeopardize the resilience of the financial system, the public finances and the welfare of citizens.”

The Panel of former Top Financial Regulators, Policymakers, and Academics warned the Trump Administration that some of the Recommendations it's made for Rolling Back Bank Rules under Dodd-Frank and other Laws could make it harder to Prevent the Collapse of Global Financial Firms and mitigate the Damage.

The Systemic Risk Council, a Group including former Bank of England Deputy Governor Sir Paul Tucker, ex-Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chair Sheila Bair, and former Federal Reserve Chair Paul Volcker, said in their Letter that several Recommendations.

CLICK HERE to read the 13 page (pdf) Systemic Risk Council Letter to Treasury Department.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GOP Senator Wants to Block States From Setting Up Single-Payer Systems

Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) said Tuesday that he’s so Opposed to the idea of a Single-Payer Health Care System that he’s trying to Block California, New York, any other Democratic State from setting up such a State System.

“I think single payer is a mistake and I think it would be bad for a blue state. That’s part of my job in the United States Senate, to make value judgments like that.” Kennedy said.

Kennedy is attempting to Insert the issue into Republicans’ latest Bill to Repeal the Affordable Care Act. Under the so-called Cassidy-Graham Legislation, States would be given Block Grants to set up their Own Health Care Systems. While the fate of the Bill is unclear, the Louisiana Senator seeks to add an Amendment that would prevent States from using Federal Money for a Single-Payer System.

He said he sees no Contradiction between his Party’s strong Advocacy of States’ Rights, and his Effort to Strip States of the Ability to set up the types of Programs they want. “I love, I believe in states’ rights, but I also believe in the supremacy clause, and I believe the United States Congress has a legal and a moral obligation to, on occasion, set down national rules.” Kennedy said.

But isn’t this just a Case of his not liking a certain Policy that Millions of others in, say, California might want for themselves? “Well, if ― yes,” he conceded. “I feel strongly about it. And I’m in the United States Senate and I’m supposed to do what I think is right. And that’s what I think is right.”

A Single-Payer System, one version also known as “Medicare for all,” is one in which a Public Agency Organizes Health Care Financing but leaves Delivery of Services to the Private Sector. Public Support for the Concept has grown in recent years, although it’s nowhere near becoming a Reality at the National Level.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently introduced Single-Payer Legislation that would give Government-Run Health Insurance to Everybody in the Country. The Bill picked up a Number of Democratic Co-Sponsors in the Senate and it’s excited the Progressive Base, but it isn’t going anywhere. 

Kennedy said he doesn’t think Americans would be Happy with a Single-Payer System if they actually had it. “A single-payer system won’t work and it will break us, OK? We won’t be able to afford it,” he said. “That’s how I vote. It doesn’t mean if you disagree, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means you’re wrong.”

But in a State System, what would stop the State from keeping the Money the State collects for Federal Health Care, and not submit it to the Federal Government, if the State is supplying the Medical Insurance for All State Citizens?

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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Law Against Encouraging Illegal Immigration Could Violate First Amendment

A Federal Law that makes it a Crime to Encourage or Induce Foreigners to Enter or Stay in the U.S. Illegally may run afoul of the First Amendment, a Federal Appeals Court suggested in an unusual Order Monday. A 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Panel asked Federal Public Defenders and Immigrant Rights Groups to Submit Amicus Briefs arguing that a San Jose, California, Woman was Improperly Convicted because the Law is Vague or Overbroad.

Immigration consultant Evelyn Sineneng-Smith was Convicted at a Jury Trial in 2013 of Inducing Foreigners from the Philippines to Stay in the U.S. Unlawfully by Charging them to file Labor and Immigration Petitions that had no chance of Winning the Immigrants Legal Status.

At Oral Arguments in April on Sineneng-Smith's Appeal, all Three 9th Circuit Judges expressed concerns about the Government's Position that someone could be Convicted under the Statute, which makes it Illegal to Encourage or Induce "an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law."

"What is the limit of this statute?" Judge Marsha Berzon asked. "If I have a neighbor and he's illegal, and he comes to me and says, 'Should I stay or should I leave? What should I do?' and I say, 'Stay, because they're probably not going to find you,' is that a crime? ... Encourage is a pretty loose word; what does it mean?"

A 9th Circuit Ruling in the Defendant's Favor could Complicate the Trump Administration's Effort to step up Prosecutions for those who Aid Illegal Immigrants, although it's possible other Statutes could be used to file such Cases. However, at the Oral Argument Session, Judge Stephen Reinhardt said a Literal Reading of the Criminal Law in Sineneng-Smith's Case could put Lawyers in Jeopardy for giving Legal Advice.

"What if a lawyer says to a client. ... This is before the era of Trump, as our attorney general puts it. ... If before that era a client goes to a lawyer and says, 'I've overstayed. I've been here 20 years. What should I do?' And the lawyer says, 'Well, no sane country is going to try to deport 11 million people so ... if I were you, I would do nothing. I would go back and continue to lead my life.' Is that lawyer guilty of a crime?" Reinhardt asked.

Judge Wallace Tashima also chimed in, raising Concerns about the Lack of a Clear Intent Requirement. Prosecutor Susan Gray said how the Intent Requirement was parsed was of little Significance because of overwhelming Evidence that Sineneng-Smith was ripping People off. A Judge sentenced Sineneng-Smith to 18 Months in Prison and Six Months of Home Confinement, but she has remained Free on Bond while the Appeal went Forward.

"The fraud here wasn't a fraud on the government; it was a fraud on the clients," Gray said. "She did it for one reason only. She did it for greed." Defense Attorney Daniel Cook said Sineneng-Smith knew the Clients could not get all the way through the Process of Legalization due to the Changes in the Law. However, he insisted that the Labor Applications were Legitimate Steps that could help the Clients if the Law Changed. He said the Information in the Applications was Accurate and Disclosed that the Applicants had been in the Country Illegally for Years.
"Ms. Sineneng-Smith surfaced these people who were hidden," Cook said.

Berzon said she was Troubled by the use of the Encouraging-or-Inducing-Illegal-Immigration Law if the Government's real Complaint was Fraud. She compared the situation to Prosecutors' broad Claims several years ago of "honest services fraud" — a Theory reined in by the Supreme Court.

White House says it will lay out Immigration Priorities in 7 to 10 Days.

"It sounds like what this person did was exploitative and so on. ... There are statutes to deal with it," Berzon said. The Judges seemed Frustrated with the Arguments but took No Action on the Case until they Issued the Order Monday seeking Amicus Briefs within 30 days. The Appeals Court did not indicate whether it Plans to Hold New Arguments in the Case.

Reinhardt is a Jimmy Carter Appointee. Berzon and Tashima are Appointees of Bill Clinton.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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DACA Recipients File Suit Over Trump's Move to End Program

A Half Dozen DACA Recipients are Suing President Trump over his decision to End the Program giving Quasi-Legal Status and Work Permits to Undocumented Immigrants, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), who were brought to the U.S. as Children.

Several Legal Luminaries are backing the Lawsuit filed Monday morning in Federal Court in San Francisco, including Harvard Law professor Larry Tribe and University of California at Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. One of the Attorneys for the Plaintiffs, Luis Cortes Romero from Kent, Washington, is less well known but intimately familiar with the issue: He is a so-called Dreamer. And one of the Plaintiffs, DACA Recipient Dulce Garcia, is also an Attorney practicing in Chula Vista, California.

The Trump Administration is facing at least Five Suits Challenging the Decision to End the DACA Program set up by President Obama in 2012.

A total of Fifteen States filed Suit earlier this Month in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, arguing that the move to end the Program is Unconstitutional and Violates Federal Law. Last Week, Four other States filed a similar Case in San Francisco. The University of California also filed its Own Suit over Trump's attempt to Phase Out the Program.

Lawyers handling an existing Suit in New York on behalf of a DACA Recipient have also signaled Plans to Update that Suit to address Trump's New Action, but the Case filed Monday in San Francisco appears to be the First one actually filed on behalf of so-called Dreamers.

“The decision to end DACA is not only inexplicable and immoral, it is unconstitutional,” said Ted Boutrous, a Gibson Dunn Attorney known for Work on a Key Court Challenge to California's Ban on Gay Marriage. “These young people were able to attend college, open businesses, and give back to their communities because they trusted the government to honor its promises and live up to its word. In suddenly and arbitrarily breaking those promises, the government is in direct violation of the Due Process Clause and federal law.”

Asked about the New Lawsuit, Justice Department Spokesman Devin O'Malley said the Administration acted to bring Legal clarity to a Program that lacked Authority from Congress. “It was the previous administration’s arbitrary circumvention of Congress that got us to this point. The Department of Justice looks forward to defending this administration’s position and restoring respect for the rule of law," O'Malley said.

While Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Program is Ending due to its Legal Flaws, Trump has expressed sympathy for their plight and has been negotiating a possible Legislative deal to allow so-called Dreamers to get Permanent Legal Status in the U.S. The Legal Team representing the Six DACA Recipients in the New Case also includes University of California Law Professor Leah Litman and Lawyers from the Public Interest Law firm Public Counsel.

Later in the day Monday, Trump's attempt to Shut Down DACA was hit with another Suit. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, better known as the NAACP, filed its own Legal Action in Washington, D.C. "Nearly all of the DACA registrants—more than 95%—are people of color," the Complaint notes.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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NYC 2017 General Election Ballot Candidates

With the New York City Party Primaries over in the 2017 City Election Cycle, we head toward the General Election, which will take place Tuesday, November 7th.

The headliner is Mayor Bill de Blasio’s attempt at Re-Election. The other Citywide Positions of Public Advocate and Comptroller are also being determined this year, as well as all Five Borough Presidents, all 51 City Council Seats, and Two District Attorney Positions in Brooklyn and Manhattan. However, there are several Races where the Democratic Candidate does not have any General Election Competition, so those Races will not appear on the Ballot come November. Some races will be highly Competitive, some will have Competition in Name Only.

List of Candidates for City Races of 2017

Bill de Blasio, Democrat, incumbent
Nicole Malliotakis, Republican
Sal Albanese, Reform
Akeem Browder, Green
Aaron Commey, Libertarian

Mike Tolkin, Smart Cities
Abbey Laurel-Smith, Pilgrims Alliance
Ahsan Syed, Theocratic

Eric W. Armstead, independent
Garrett Bowser, independent
Richard “Bo” Dietl, independent
Robbie Gosine, independent

Asim Deen (Party TBD)
Scott Joyner (Party TBD)
Eric Roman (Party TBD)
Rosemary Hameed (Party TBD)
James Berry (Party TBD)
Salvador Morales, (Party TBD)
Louis Puliafito, (Party TBD)
Eliseo Santos, (Party TBD)
Karmen Smith, (Party TBD)

Public Advocate
Letitia James, Democrat, incumbent
J.C. Polanco, Republican
Devin Balkind, Libertarian
James Lane, Green
Michael O'Reilly, Conservative

Scott Stringer, Democrat, incumbent
Michel J. Faulkner, Republican
Alex Merced, Libertarian
Julia Willebrand, Green

Bronx Borough President
Ruben Diaz, Jr., Democrat, incumbent

Brooklyn Borough President
Eric Adams, Democrat, incumbent
Vito Bruno, Republican
Ben Kissel, Reform & Libertarian

Queens Borough President
Melinda Katz, Democrat, incumbent
William Kregler, Republican

Manhattan Borough President
Gale Brewer, Democrat, incumbent
Daniel Vila, Green
Brian Waddell, Libertarian

Linda Liu (Party TBD)

Staten Island Borough President
James Oddo, Republican, incumbent
Tom Shcherbenko, Democrat
Henry Bardel, Green

Brooklyn District Attorney
Eric Gonzalez, Democrat, incumbent (named acting District Attorney in 2016)

Manhattan District Attorney
Cy Vance, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 1
Margaret Chin, Democrat, incumbent
Christopher Marte, Democrat
*****Primary Election not yet called

City Council District 2 - open seat (held by Rosie Mendez)
Carlina Rivera, Democrat
Jimmy McMillan, Republican & Rent is Too Damn High
Manny Cavaco, Green
Donald Garrity, Libertarian

City Council District 3
Corey Johnson, Democrat, incumbent
Marni Halasa, Green

City Council District 4 - open seat (held by Dan Garodnick), and my District
Keith Powers, Democrat
Rebecca Harary, Republican

City Council District 5
Ben Kallos, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 6
Helen Rosenthal, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 7
Mark Levine, Democrat, incumbent
Florindo Troncelliti, Green

City Council District 8 - open seat (held by Melissa Mark-Viverito)
Diana Ayala, Democrat
Robert Rodriguez, Democrat
****Primary Election not yet called

City Council District 9
Bill Perkins, Democrat, incumbent (elected in February special election)
Jack Royster, Republican
Pierre Gooding, Libertarian

City Council District 10
Ydanis Rodriguez, Democrat, incumbent
Gregory Purdy, Republican

City Council District 11
Andrew Cohen, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 12
Andy King, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 13 - open seat (held by James Vacca)
Mark Gjonaj, Democrat
John Cerini, Republican

City Council District 14
Fernando Cabrera, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 15
Ritchie Torres, Democrat, incumbent
Jayson Cancel, Jr., Martial Arts Party

City Council District 16
Vanessa Gibson, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 17
Rafael Salamanca, Democrat, incumbent
Patrick Delices, Republican

City Council District 18 - open seat (held by Annabel Palma)
Ruben Diaz, Sr., Democrat
Eisley Constantine, Republican
Carl Lundgren, Green

City Council District 19
Paul Vallone, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 20
Peter Koo, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 21 - open seat (held by Julissa Ferreras-Copeland)
Francisco Moya, Democrat

City Council District 22
Costa Constantinides, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 23
Barry Grodenchik, Democrat, incumbent
Joseph Concannon, Republican

City Council District 24
Rory Lancman, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 25
Daniel Dromm, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 26
Jimmy Van Bramer, Democrat, incumbent
Marvin Jeffcoat, Republican

City Council District 27
I. Daneek Miller, Democrat, incumbent
Rupert Green, Republican
Frank Francois, Green

City Council District 28 - open seat (Ruben Wills was convicted on public corruption charges)
Adrienne Adams, Democrat
Ivan Mossop, Republican

City Council District 29
Karen Koslowitz, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 30
Elizabeth Crowley, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 31
Donovan Richards, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 32
Eric Ulrich, Republican, incumbent
Mike Scala, Democrat

City Council District 33
Stephen Levin, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 34
Antonio Reynoso, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 35
Laurie Cumbo, Democrat, incumbent
Christine Parker, Republican
Jabari Brisport, Green

City Council District 36
Robert Cornegy, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 37
Rafael Espinal, Democrat, incumbent
Persephone Sarah Jane Smith, Green

City Council District 38
Carlos Menchaca, Democrat, incumbent
Carmen Hulbert, Green

City Council District 39
Brad Lander, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 40
Mathieu Eugene, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 41 - open seat (held by Darlene Mealy)
Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Democrat

City Council District 42
Inez Barron, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 43 - open seat (held by Vincent Gentile)
John Quaglione, Republican
Justin Brannan, Democrat

City Council District 44 - open seat (held by David Greenfield, who is not seeking reelection)
Kalman Yeger, Democrat
Yoni Hikind, Our Neighborhood

City Council District 45
Jumaane Williams, Democrat, incumbent
Anthony Beckford, Green

Stanley Dumas (party TBD)

City Council District 46
Alan Maisel, Democrat, incumbent

City Council District 47
Mark Treyger, Democrat, incumbent
Raimondo Denaro, Republican

City Council District 48
Chaim M. Deutsch, Democrat, incumbent
Steven Saperstein, Republican

City Council District 49
Debi Rose, Democrat, incumbent
Michael Penrose, Republican

City Council District 50
Steven Matteo, Republican, incumbent
Richard Florentino, Democrat

City Council District 51
Joe Borelli, Republican, incumbent
Dylan Schwartz, Democrat

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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