Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sound Transit Board errs by putting attention seeker Tim Eyman on ST3 con committee

On Thursday, as the Democratic National Convention was entering its final hours in Philadelphia, the Sound Transit Board of Directors met at Seattle’s Union Station to take public testimony and work on a number of items of business. Among these was Motion No. M2016-79, concerning the creation of committees to write voter’s pamphlet statements for and against 2016 Sound Transit Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3), which will appear on this November’s ballot.

RCW 29A.32.280 requires that any legislative authority submitting a ballot measure for the people for their consideration also appoint two committees of not more than three individuals to write arguments for and against the measure. These arguments then appear in the voter’s pamphlet statement mailed to qualified voters through the United States Postal Service and published online.

Initiative profiteer Tim Eyman, who doesn’t have an initiative of his own on the ballot to sell to the voters this year and is the target of multiple ongoing investigations by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office, announced earlier this month he was lobbying the Sound Transit Board for one of the spots on the Snohomish County con committee. (There are also pro and con committees for King and Pierce, ST’s other constituent counties.)

Two hours into Thursday’s meeting, Sound Transit’s Board inexplicably and indefensibly voted to grant Eyman’s request, not only putting him on the con committee for the statement that will appear in the Snohomish County voter’s pamphlet, but the King and Pierce ones as well.

The motion to appoint Eyman to all three con committees was presented by Fred Butler on behalf of King County Executive and Sound Transit Board Chair Dow Constantine, who, like me, was in Philadelphia at the DNC.

The only boardmember opposed was King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove, who prudently pointed out Eyman is under investigation for serious violations of Washington’s public disclosure law, and arguing that such a person should not be given the responsibility of writing a voter’s pamphlet statement.

After Upthegrove registered his objection, acting Chair Pat McCarthy asked if there was further discussion or debate — but there was none, save for a brief statement by Councilmember Claudia Balducci noting that state law requires Sound Transit’s board to make the appointments. The vote was taken and the motion approved, with Upthegrove the only boardmember thoughtfully voting no.

This appalling decision reeks of bad politics, and deserves to be loudly condemned. The Sound Transit Board knowingly gave the job of presenting arguments against its worthy proposal for light rail, bus, and commuter rail expansion to a disgraced, dishonest con man who habitually lies and may soon be held in contempt of court for impeding an official investigation into campaign finance violations he committed.

The backroom calculus here seems to be that it will be a good thing for Sound Transit if Eyman’s name appears below the arguments against ST3 in the voter’s pamphlet because he is widely disliked, particularly in urban Washington.

That would certainly explain how Eyman ended up on all three of the county con committees for Regional Proposition 1 (Sound Transit 3) — even though he was only asking to be on the one for Snohomish County.

The campaign organization that has formed to oppose Sound Transit 3 is understandably furious. “This is so cynical. This is an attempt to poison the issue,” Chuck Collins told the Seattle Times’ Mike Lindblom. “Tim is radioactive in central Puget Sound, King County. And they know this.”

In a weak attempt to justify Eyman’s inclusion, Sound Transit boardmember Fred Butler noted the Board had received eighteen messages from Eyman followers lobbying for his appointment. What Butler failed to mention was that the Board also received messages from me and several other people asking them not to appoint Eyman. This was my message on behalf of the NPI team:

Date: Wednesday, July 13th, 2016
From: NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve
To: Sound Transit Board of Directors
RE: Please don’t give Tim Eyman any role in drafting con arguments for ST3

Sound Transit Boardmembers:

My team and I respectfully request that you NOT give Tim Eyman any role in presenting arguments for or against Regional Proposition #1 (ST3). Tim Eyman is a serial public disclosure law violator who has a long documented history of lying with impunity to the public and the press. We at the Northwest Progressive Institute have fought his destructive initiatives and toxic politics for over fourteen years. We regularly debunk the misinformation he presents.

With no initiative of his own to sell this year, it appears Eyman has nothing better to do with his time than attack Sound Transit and promote candidates he thinks will take their cues from him in the Legislature.

We need a thoughtful, civil conversation around the merits of ST3 — or lack thereof, in the opposition’s view. I have no doubt we can find far more sincere and knowledgeable people in Snohomish County opposed to ST3 not named Tim Eyman to put together con arguments for the voter’s pamphlet. Thank you all for your service to our region and your unanimous vote to put ST3 on the ballot. Now is our time!

A few days after I sent this message, the opposition campaign presented a slate of individuals to ST’s board to write the con arguments. In a letter dated July 18th, the campaign suggested Chuck Collins, Gary Nelson, and my friend Senator Maralyn Chase be appointed to author the arguments against in King and Snohomish counties. Collins and Nelson were chosen, but Chase was left off in favor of Eyman.

Councilmember Claudia Balducci, meanwhile, tried to justify this decision by claiming the board would have left itself open to criticism if it hadn’t picked Eyman:

Transit-board member Claudia Balducci of Bellevue, also a Metropolitan King County Council member, said that snubbing Eyman would trigger “parallel criticism” of the board, from his supporters.

“Of all the applicants, he is by far the longest-tenured and highest-profile transit opponent,” Balducci said, noting two slots per county still went to what she calls the self-identified Smarter Transit group.

“If you don’t put him on, it’s just going to prove you’re afraid of a real opponent,” she said.

Wrong. Passing over Tim Eyman would not have been a snub, because Tim Eyman is a dishonest snake oil salesman. He is completely, totally undeserving of any position of public responsibility. No one should trust him and no one should be put into a position where they have to work with him (as Collins and Nelson have been).

The last thing Sound Transit’s Board should be worried about is coming under fire from Eyman’s backers. Eyman and his cohorts absolutely loathe Sound Transit, and nothing Balducci or her colleagues do is going to change that.

I cannot recall a time when Tim Eyman had anything good to say about Sound Transit. Its staff and its board have worked incredibly hard for years to make ST a well-run agency that is admired around the country. Sound Transit now has a track record of delivering projects on time or ahead of schedule, and under budget.

None of this matters to Eyman. In fact, Eyman resents Sound Transit’s successes. He despises the agency just as much as he ever did. His followers feel the same way.

Eyman regularly uses his email list as a weapon and a means of harassment, urging his followers to send nastygrams to people who stand in the way of his agenda. Past targets have included Democratic state legislators, Supreme Court justices, Republicans officeholders who disregarded Eyman’s wishes, and yours truly.

Eyman’s list isn’t all that big, but he’s usually able to get at least a couple dozen people to generate nastygrams, simply by sitting down at his computer a couple of times a week and sending out mid-morning missives. Sound Transit’s Board just validated this email harassment tactic by giving Eyman what he wanted and citing the eighteen messages Eyman got his followers to send as a justification.

Thursday’s action by Sound Transit’s Board, which we strongly disagree with, should reinforce how important the work of NPI’s Permanent Defense project is.

Since February of 2002, Permanent Defense has provided a year-round first response to Eyman’s incredibly destructive initiatives. Through PD, we reframe the debate and debunk Eyman’s lies and misinformation. And we confront Eyman’s enablers, whoever they might be. Eyman owes much of his relevance to his wealthy benefactors and the media, but Democratic elected leaders have been complicit in elevating Eyman, too, notably former Governors Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire.

In many ways, Tim Eyman is like Donald Trump. They’re both attention-seekers — it’s been said the most dangerous place in Washington is between Tim Eyman and a television camera. They are both gifted snake oil salesmen. They both have a knack for exploiting people. They even share a name — Tim’s middle name is Donald. And both have been able to manipulate the media in order to expand their influence.

In a matter of weeks, perhaps days, attorneys representing the people of Washington State will be in court asking judges to hold Tim Eyman in contempt. It is our hope that judges will sign off on Attorney General Ferguson’s request for fines of $2,000 a day and authorize his investigators to obtain the documents they need to uncover the truth from the IRS and the banks Eyman does business with.

Given that Tim Eyman is off the ballot and about to face the music, it’s no wonder he is desperately seeking attention and relevance. By giving it to him, the Sound Transit Board simultaneously harmed its own credibility, alienated its own supporters, and gave the ST3 opposition campaign a fresh bone to pick at.

The only winner of this outcome is Tim Eyman — and that is a real shame.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson requests that Tim Eyman be held in contempt of court

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced today he is asking courts in Snohomish and Thurston counties to hold initiative profiteer Tim Eyman and his associates in contempt of court for failing to fully comply with lawfully-issued civil orders seeking documents that would shed light on potential violations of Washington’s public disclosure law.

“Despite a subpoena and a court order, Tim Eyman continues to impede this investigation,” Ferguson said in a statement. “That’s unacceptable.”

To put an end to Eyman’s stonewalling, Ferguson says he’ll ask courts to authorize his office to obtain the tax returns, bank statements, and other documents he has requested directly from the federal government and the banks Eyman does business with. Ferguson is also asking for a penalty of $2,000 a day to be assessed against Eyman for failure to produce the documents sought in his investigation.

More specifically, Ferguson is asking for the following:

  • A penalty from each respondent of $2,000 for each day they remain in contempt of court;
  • An order authorizing the state to issue civil orders to the respondents’ third-party banks to directly obtain the records sought from respondents;
  • An order directing respondents to execute releases authorizing the state to obtain federal tax return information; and
  • An order awarding the state further costs and reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in connection with bringing this contempt motion.

Ferguson’s motion will be heard in the near future, his office says.

This development is the latest proof that Tim Eyman considers himself to be above the law. He was uncooperative when the Public Disclosure Commission was spending three years looking into the allegations that led to this investigation, uncooperative still when the Attorney General took over the case last autumn, and still uncooperative even after multiple courts issued orders compelling Eyman to turn over the materials sought by Ferguson.

Why is Eyman exposing himself to serious liability by continuing to stonewall? We can only surmise that it is because Eyman is deeply afraid of what the evidence will show once Ferguson’s investigators have the opportunity to examine it.

Eyman’s behavior is the behavior of a man who is desperately trying to keep information a secret — presumably because it lead to his ultimate downfall.

We will have more on this story as it develops.

Donald Trump praises Russia’s DNC hacking and urges Putin’s regime to keep it up

Clown. Charlatan. Bigot. Phony. Fraud. Donald Trump has been called all these things and more (and fittingly), but now we can add more descriptor to the list: Traitor. Only a man who puts himself and his own thirst for political power above his country would make such unpatriotic, reckless, and irresponsible comments:

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially sanctioning a foreign power’s cyberspying of a secretary of state’s correspondence.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

It’s been said many times during the campaign that Donald Trump is only for Donald Trump. And it’s true. Trump’s sloganeering aside, he is not interested in making America a more prosperous, free, or safe nation.

What Trump wants is power. He will resort to any means necessary to get it, including selling out his own countrymen and countrywomen.

John McCain once run on the slogan of Country First. Trump’s slogan might as well be Trump Above America. Because that is what he’s really about.

Again and again, Trump has demonstrated through his words as well as his actions that his whole purpose in life is to enrich himself at the expense of others.

Trump is a neofascist warmonger who, like fascist despots of years past, has exploited the fears and anger of millions to seize the nomination of one of America’s two major political parties.

Frighteningly, he has come closer to the White House than any figure like him in American history. Joe McCarthy and Father Coughlin were once powerful figures in American politics too, but they were never chosen the presidential nominee of a major political party. That’s a feat only Trump has accomplished.

Is it any wonder that white supremacist organizations are rejoicing? They feel like this is their moment, just as Hitler and Mussolini’s acolytes felt in the 1920s and 1930s when the Nazis and Fascists were seizing power in Germany and Italy.

“This has to be the first time that a major presidential candidate has actively encouraged a foreign power to conduct espionage against his political opponent,” said Hillary for America Senior Policy Advisor Jake Sullivan in a statement. “That’s not hyperbole, those are just the facts. This has gone from being a matter of curiosity, and a matter of politics, to being a national security issue.”

This feels like another moment where, once again, we’re left to wonder how this can possibly be happening. How can this be real? How did one of America’s major political parties end up with an unpatriotic neofascist as its nominee?

Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigns as Chair of the Democratic National Committee

Embattled Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has announced that she will resign from her post once the Democratic National Convention has concluded, the party said in a statement today.

Wasserman Schultz, who also serves in the U.S. House of Representatives, has been under fire for some time from party leaders and activists unhappy with her management of the party.

Bernie Sanders has been calling for her resignation for weeks, and many of his supporters have been calling for her ouster for even longer than that.

It is worth noting that Wasserman Schultz was not chosen as DNC Chair in a competitive election by the members of the Democratic National Committee.

Rather, she was picked by President Obama’s advisors, who mistakenly thought she’d make a good successor to Tim Kaine when he stepped down to run for United States Senate in Virginia. Kaine is now Clinton’s running mate.

(The Democratic Party has a nonsensical tradition of allowing the White House to select the party chair when the presidency is held by a Democrat — a practice that I, in my capacity as a Democratic activist, am determined to abolish.)

From the beginning, Wasserman Schultz was an ineffective chair who could not get things done well, or at all. Her tenure has been marked by a series of electoral losses, fiascos, and setbacks for the party.

Under Wasserman Schultz, Democrats suffered massive losses in the 2014 midterms, missed out on earned media due to a poorly thought-out presidential debate schedule, had data stolen in a breach of the DNC’s computer systems, and needlessly engaged in multiple public feuds with the Sanders campaign (including over VoteBuilder access last December).

The party’s media outreach under Wasserman Schultz was also incredibly weak.

Many Democratic Party leaders believe Wasserman Schultz should have resigned or been forced out months ago, particularly when it became apparent she had lost the confidence and trust of her own vice chairs.

But inexplicably, she has remained in charge. Until now.

This weekend, Wasserman Schultz called President Obama, reportedly to offer her resignation. But it is not his to accept.

Wasserman Schultz is supposed to be the leader of a party that lives up to his name. The party grassroots has already been demanding Wasserman Schultz’s resignation for a long time. I don’t know a single Democratic activist who approves of her job performance. It is appropriate that she is finally listening.

POSTSCRIPT: Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden have all predictably issued statements thanking Wasserman Schultz for her service.

Clinton’s:

I want to thank my longtime friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz for her leadership of the Democratic National Committee over the past five years. I am grateful to Debbie for getting the Democratic Party to this year’s historic convention in Philadelphia, and I know that this week’s events will be a success thanks to her hard work and leadership.

There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie — which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states. I look forward to campaigning with Debbie in Florida and helping her in her re-election bid–because as President, I will need fighters like Debbie in Congress who are ready on day one to get to work for the American people.

Obama’s:

For the last eight years, Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had my back. This afternoon, I called her to let her know that I am grateful. Her leadership of the DNC has meant that we had someone who brought Democrats together not just for my re-election campaign, but for accomplishing the shared goals we have had for our country.  Her critical role in supporting our economic recovery, our fights for social and civil justice and providing health care for all Americans will be a hallmark of her tenure as Party Chair.

Her fundraising and organizing skills were matched only by her passion, her commitment and her warmth.

And no one works harder for her constituents in Congress than Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Michelle and I are grateful for her efforts, we know she will continue to serve our country as a member of Congress from Florida and she will always be our dear friend.

Biden’s:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has had the President’s and my back over the last eight years—and we’re incredibly grateful.

She’s been part of our efforts to build an economy from the middle-out, to deliver quality, affordable health care to millions of Americans, and to protect equal rights for everyone.

Governing is serious business. The country deserves — and needs — serious leaders like Debbie.

A fighter for women’s health and rights. A fierce advocate for seniors and working families. A Congresswoman who knows her first job is serving her constituents—and her first obligation is always to her beautiful family—Steve, Jake, Rebecca, and Shelby. Debbie is an incredible public servant, and she will always be my friend.

Bernie Sanders had a very different take:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party. While she deserves thanks for her years of service, the party now needs new leadership that will open the doors of the party and welcome in working people and young people. The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.

Tim Canova, Wasserman Schultz’s Democratic primary challenger in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, who is seeking to replace Schultz in Congress, said:

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned from the DNC and now it’s time for her to step up and debate me or drop out of our House race. Her interests lie not with her constituents, but rather in the interests of corrupt special interests groups and herself.

It’s time for a change in South Florida.

Wasserman Schultz will perform her final duties as Chair this week at the Convention, and then Donna Brazile will become the interim Chair.

It’s official: Hillary Clinton has chosen Virginia Senator Tim Kaine as her running mate

The ticket is complete:

Hillary Clinton named Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia to be her running mate Friday, selecting a battleground state politician with working-class roots and a fluency in Spanish, traits that she believes can bolster her chances to defeat Donald J. Trump in November.

Mrs. Clinton’s choice, which she announced via text message to supporters, came after her advisers spent months poring over potential vice-presidential candidates who could lift the Democratic ticket in an unpredictable race against Mr. Trump.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, Tim Kaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” Clinton tweeted.

Kaine is a former governor who was elected to the United States Senate in 2012, succeeding Jim Webb, who left the Senate after serving only one term. (Webb was briefly a candidate for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination last year.) Prior to his Senate campaign, he also chaired the Democratic National Committee.

Ideologically speaking, Kaine isn’t the most progressive choice Clinton could have made, but he’s solid, at least. As of last year, Primary Colors had rated him a “Good Democrat” (their highest ranking), with an expected score of 89.6 and an actual score of 87.6. He has an overall lifetime score of 90.84% from ProgressivePunch and a crucial lifetime score of 70.37%.

Kaine’s stance on trade in particular is not likely to go over well with Bernie Sanders’ most committed supporters, but as Clinton is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that will now have to become his position as well.

If he and Clinton win, Kaine will have to resign his U.S. Senate seat. Virginia, however, has a Democratic governor — Terry McAuliffe — so his immediate replacement would be a Democrat.

Kaine is expected to join Clinton on the campaign trail tomorrow.

More chaos at RNC as Ted Cruz refuses to endorse Donald Trump, gets booed off stage

So much for party unity:

Republican leaders attempted Wednesday to steer their national convention in a more substantive and unified direction behind GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, but their efforts came up against an eruption of lingering bitterness from the brutal primary campaign season.

The capstone of the evening was supposed to be a speech by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the newly named vice-presidential nominee. But the more riveting moment came earlier, when Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) pointedly refused to endorse Trump, who had bested him in the race for the nomination, and urged Republicans to “vote your conscience.”

Cruz’s decision not to get behind Trump angered Trump’s loyal delegates, who began loudly booing and shouting at him as he attempted to wrap up his speech.

You can see the spectacle for yourself courtesy of C-SPAN (at around the twenty minute mark, Trump’s backers begin to make their displeasure known):

Trump himself made his displeasure known by deliberately walking out into the hall just as Cruz was delivering the final lines of his speech, waving to his backers and giving them the thumbs up sign. The networks immediately pivoted away from Cruz to Trump’s planned retributive interruption, and while Cruz could still be heard speaking, viewers were seeing Trump onscreen instead.

Trump also belittled Cruz on Twitter.

“Wow, Ted Cruz got booed off the stage, didn’t honor the pledge! I saw his speech two hours early but let him speak anyway. No big deal!” Trump tweeted.

Uh huh.

The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, sent out an email neatly summarizing all of Cruz’s denunciations of Trump from earlier this year, saying it’s understandable that Cruz wouldn’t want to make an endorsement.

[T]o be fair, would you want to endorse a guy who threatened to “spill the beans” on your wife and accused your dad of maybe killing JFK? No, you’d probably say things like this:

  • Cruz: “Donald, you’re a sniveling coward.”
  • Cruz: “Donald does seem to have an issue with women. Donald doesn’t like strong women.”
  • Cruz: “Donald doesn’t do very well in foreign policy [because] he doesn’t have even a basic modicum of knowledge.”
  • Cruz: “Donald has had a long career of using great wealth and power trying to bully others.”
  • Cruz said Trump was “engaging in demagoguery.”
  • Cruz: “Of course it’s inappropriate to be attacking a federal judge’s race or ethnicity”
  • Cruz: “Donald’s campaign, his entire campaign is built on a lie.”

Ouch!

The Seattle Times’ Jim Brunner reports that after Cruz’s speech, he had an encounter with Washington State Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison, who has ingloriously turned into one of Trump’s biggest local boosters:

Hutchison ran into Cruz, the former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination, near an elevator at the Quicken Loans Arena.

She said she told him his speech was “inexcusable” and called him a “traitor to the party.”

The encounter was awkward given that Washington’s delegation is stacked with Cruz supporters.

It wasn’t all that long ago that Susan Hutchison wanted to lead King County, the state’s largest jurisdiction. Nowadays, though, Hutchison feels contempt for King County — and Seattle in particular — because it’s a Democratic bastion:

When state GOP chairman Susan Hutchison announced Washington’s votes for Trump in the traditional roll call of the states Tuesday, she talked about wheat fields, volcanoes and Boeing planes.

She didn’t mention the Space Needle, the Seahawks or any other reference to the state’s biggest city.

That was no accident, Hutchison told delegates at Wednesday’s breakfast meeting.

“I specifically left out Seattle this year,” she said, citing the state’s “massive Democratic votes” year after year. “It’s just time for the people of the rest of the state to recognize how important they are.”

Huh?

It’s ironic that Hutchison has been engaging in so much Seattle-bashing lately, considering it’s the place she calls home. She and her family live in Laurelhurst, which is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in the city. They evidently like our state’s largest city enough to live there in spite of its progressive politics.

Hutchison’s petty, silly diatribes against Seattle are misplaced. Seattle and King County aren’t the reason why Democrats consistently win statewide contests, for they can be outvoted. It’s counties like Snohomish, cities like Bellingham, and coastal communities like Port Townsend or Aberdeen that have delivered Washington for Democratic candidates time and again.

King County’s turnout as a whole has actually been known to lag behind the statewide average, especially in midterm and odd numbered years.

However, it picks up in presidential years (as does turnout in many swing counties west of the Cascades), driven in part by Democratic get out the vote efforts.

Seattle trash talk may feel therapeutic for the militant right wing Republicans who view the city as an obstacle in the way of their schemes to turn Washington into the next Wisconsin, but it’s not going to broaden their party’s appeal.

The things Seattelites want are the same things that Washingtonians from every corner of the state want: great public schools, equality for all, safe neighborhoods, broad prosperity, fair taxes, clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the protection of our wild and majestic places for future generations.

Republicans’ past attempts to pit suburban and rural voters against Seattle voters have ended in failure, but they haven’t seem to have learned much of anything from those experiences. Their bitterness is showing.

Did Melania Trump plagiarize from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 DNC?

It sure looks that way:

In her first major address before the nation on Monday night, Melania Trump appears to have plagiarized a number of lines from first lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. The plagiarized passages, in bold below, concerned the importance of hard work and honesty.

“From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise; that you treat people with respect,” Trump told the thousands of Republican delegates and assembled media on Monday night in Cleveland.

In 2008, Mrs. Obama said, “You work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them.”

Trump’s spouse also lifted a line about children from Michelle Obama, saying, “We want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.” 

In 2008, Michelle Obama said, “We want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”

Emphasis is HuffPost’s.

The Trump campaign has been in damage control mode over this scandal all morning long, beginning with a 2 AM statement by a communications aide who admitted that “fragments” of other speeches were incorporated into Melania’s.

Top Trump operative Paul Manafort later insisted that Melania Trump had written the speech herself (a claim so silly that even other Trump surrogates are refusing to repeat it), lamely arguing that it was an original composition.

“What she did was use words that are common words,” Manafort told CNN. “To think that she would do something like that, knowing how scrutinized her speech was going to be last night, is just really absurd.”

Absurd — and yet it happened. As Jarrett Hill said on Twitter, a “whole graph” of Michelle Obama’s speech appears to have been plagiarized.

And there’s more. Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau pointed out: “Sarah Hurwitz, Michelle’s head speechwriter, used to be Hillary’s. So the Trump campaign plagiarized from a Hillary speechwriter.”

Ironic, isn’t it?

Speeches can certainly have similarities to other speeches, including the use of the same words and phrases. But in this instance, multiple lines in close proximity were lifted, with only a few changes being made to each of the copied passages, and no attribution to the original source. That’s plagiarism.

How did this happen? Well, one plausible scenario is that somebody involved in putting the speech together decided to go read or watch remarks given in the past by candidates’ spouses at national conventions, found Michelle Obama’s much-lauded speech from 2008 in Denver, and used a transcript of it to jumpstart or enhance a draft of Melania Trump’s speech.

The copied lines should have been detected and scrubbed when the draft was proofed or checked, but evidently such controls weren’t in place.

RNC Chair Reince Priebus said this morning that he would “probably” fire the person responsible for preparing the speech, were it his decision.

Perhaps Trump’s right hand man Paul Manafort doesn’t want to do so because the person responsible — Rick Gates — is a buddy of his.

Hillary Clinton commits to introducing amendment to overturn Citizens United

In a video address to Netroots Nation 2016, played during tonight’s closing plenary session in St. Louis, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton committed to introducing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Roberts Court’s horrible Citizens United ruling within her first one hundred days in office.

“Today I’m announcing that in my first thirty days as President, I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people — all of us — the chance to reclaim our democracy,” Clinton said, drawing loud applause and cheers from the convention hall.

The video message, prepared by Clinton’s campaign and narrated entirely by Clinton, lavished praise on Bernie Sanders, the favored Democratic presidential candidate of most Netroots Nation attendees. It depicted scenes of Sanders campaigning by himself as well as with Clinton, as Clinton paid tribute to the dedication and tireless efforts of Sanders supporters.

Clinton also used her address to briefly talk about the need to eradicate systemic racism from the criminal justice system, in a nod to the predominant theme of this year’s gathering of Netroots Nation. Her campaign has already announced that many mothers of innocent black people killed by police will be featured speakers at the Democratic National Convention later this month.

Here is a transcript of Clinton’s remarks:

Hello Netroots Nation! Thanks for putting progressive issues front and center in this election and every election for more than a decade, and thanks to for shining a spotlight on the urgent pressing challenge of criminal justice reform.

It’s been nearly two years since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson. With the help of activists including those in the Black Lives Matter movement our country is truly engaged in a difficult but critical conversation about systemic racism and injustice but now we need to turn talked into action.

Last week’s tragedies only underscore the urgency of end-to-end criminal justice reform and stopping the tragedy of black men and women and black children being killed by police or dying in custody. I’ve laid out a comprehensive reform agenda; now I’m proposing two additional steps.

First, as President, I’ll bring law enforcement and communities together to develop national guidelines on the use of force.

Second, I will target one billion dollars in my first budget to take on implicit bias which remains a problem across our society and even in the best of our police departments.

I’m proud that for the first time the Democratic platform addresses these issues in a comprehensive way, and that we have developed the most progressive platform in our Party’s history.

Now, I know many of the people in this room supported Senator Sanders in the primary. I’m looking forward to hearing from you, learning from you and working with you.

You’ve helped put political and campaign finance reform at the top of the national agenda, and I intend to keep it there.

Today I’m announcing that in my first thirty days as President I will propose a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and give the American people — all of us — the chance to reclaim our democracy.

I will also appoint Supreme Court justices who understand that this decision was a disaster for our democracy, and I will fight for other progressive reforms including small dollar matching and disclosure requirements.

I hope some of the brilliant minds in this room will seek out cases to challenge citizens united in the courts because I know I can’t do this alone. We need you to keep speaking out keep organizing and keep holding elected officials — including me — accountable.

We know what happens when progressive voices get drowned out by the other side, and we cannot let that happen, so I’m looking forward to fighting alongside you and with Senator Sanders in the weeks months and years to come because you know what we are stronger together. Thank you all very much.

This is great news. Our thanks to Hillary Clinton for committing to explicitly offer a constitutional amendment to stop the flood of big money in elections unleashed by the most disastrous decision of the Roberts Court.

However, we do need more than an amendment that merely reverses that decision. We need an amendment that states that corporations are not people and money is not speech. There are other Supreme Court decisions that also need to be overturned, so that our democracy can endure.

Ruth Woo: 1926-2016

Editor’s Note: Respected and widely beloved Seattle community activist Ruth Woo died this week at the age of eighty-nine.

News of her passing has sparked an outpouring of tributes.

Over many, many years, Ruth Woo was a wonderful friend and mentor to countless Washingtonians. She was a trusted leader with a remarkable talent for bringing people together. Ruth was generous with her time, her ideas and advice,” said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee.

“She was motivated not by fame or access to power, but by a contagious belief that we could always do more to make this a better place to live. She had a remarkable ability to create and connect communities, a talent that helped advance the cause of civil rights,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

NPI’s Gael Tarleton was among those who knew Ruth Woo. What follows are her reflections on the wise and wonderful person Ruth was. 

So many people called her Auntie — I just called her Ruth.

We lost a great woman this week.

Ruth Woo never worked in the spotlight. She’d hold court at Bush Gardens in the International District, in her favorite booth. I never would have known her if I hadn’t run for office. When I decided to run for the Seattle Port Commission in 2007, several people told me to call Ruth Woo. I left her voice mails to introduce myself. But I didn’t speak to her until October, just a month before the election.

She asked me a few questions about the years I worked in Russia. Then she said “I’m going to endorse you. Don’t let me down.”

In the years that followed, I’d call her to talk about the politics of the Port. She always had a fascination with the Port of Seattle. She understood the role of trade. But more than anything, she couldn’t believe so few women ever ran for Port Commissioner. That’s when I realized Ruth Woo fought many fights in her life, but one of those fights was getting more women elected to local and state offices.

She wanted more women of color to choose to enter politics too. And for her, that meant becoming a confidante. She was a safe and trusted advisor with a keenly tuned ear to the political fault lines every elected official steps into.

So few women take the time to mentor women who choose to enter the political arena. Here was Ruth Woo, who lived eighty-nine years, and who devoted more than half her life to helping women and people of color win and then guided them as they navigated into the world of elected office. She was intimidating, encouraging, candid, and wise. Ruth Woo did it her way. We’re so lucky she chose our community to make her home and make a difference. She is now at peace.

2016 DNC primetime speaking lineup unveiled; Bernie Sanders gets Monday slot

In the wake of Donald Trump’s vice presidential selection announcement, the Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC) has unveiled the speaking lineup for the 2016 DNC, which will take place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, following the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next week.

“While Republican leadership continues to run away from Donald Trump, and refuse to participate in the upcoming Republican convention, the Democratic convention will showcase enormously popular national leaders, rising stars from across the country and a diverse range of everyday Americans who will inspire the nation,” read an announcement from the DNCC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Here’s a preview of each night’s speaking lineup and theme:

Monday: United Together
Featuring First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Bernie Sanders and DREAMer Astrid Silva
Gavel time expected at 3:00 PM

Monday will focus on putting the future of American families front and center and how we’re stronger together when we build an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top and when everyone has a chance to live up to their God-given potential. DREAMer Astrid Silva will share her story and her fight to keep families together.

Tuesday: A Lifetime of Fighting for Children and Families
Featuring President Bill Clinton and Mothers of the Movement
Gavel time expected at 4:00 PM

Tuesday will feature the roll call vote and how Hillary has spent her entire career working to make a difference for children, families, and our country. The Mothers of the Movement participating include Gwen Carr, Mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, Mother of Dontré Hamilton; Lucia McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, Mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, Mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, Mother of Sandra Bland.

Wednesday: Working Together
Featuring President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden
Gavel time expected at 4:30 PM

On Wednesday speakers will take an in-depth look at just how high the stakes are in this election and how Hillary has the experience and steadiness to bring people together to tackle the big challenges and get real results.

Thursday: Stronger Together
Hillary Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
Gavel time expected at 4:30 PM

On the final day of the convention, Hillary will speak about her vision for our country – her belief that we are stronger together and that America is at its best when we work together to solve our problems.

No speaking role has yet been announced for Elizabeth Warren.

But Warren fans shouldn’t panic — additional speakers are going to be announced in the coming days and she is almost certain to have a speaking role, although what that role is will depend on whether or not she is chosen as Clinton’s running mate. (Were she not being considered, she’d probably already be on the list.)

In 2012, Warren was billed as the warmup speaker for Bill Clinton, although in our view, her remarks were just as compelling as his.

Netroots Nation 2017 to be held in Atlanta

Next year’s Netroots Nation Convention will be held in Atlanta, Georgia thirteen months from now, organizers have announced.

“For the first time ever, we’re headed to the South for Netroots Nation,” they wrote in a post revealing their site selection. “Our twelfth annual conference will be held in Atlanta [from] August 10-13, 2017.”

“Some progressives like to write off the South, but justice and equality will never be fully achieved in the United States without progressive movements winning there,” the announcement added. “There are some amazing groups and activists on the ground fighting every day, and we’ll be there to amplify the work happening not just in Atlanta and Georgia, but throughout the South.”

If you are interested in registering early, you may do so here through Eventbrite.

This will be just the third Netroots Nation held in August, and, as mentioned, the first in the South and the twelfth overall. Here’s a history of the conference:

 

  • June 8th-11th, 2006 (as YearlyKos): Las Vegas, Nevada
  • August 2nd-5th, 2007 (as YearlyKos): Chicago, Illinois
  • July 17th-20th, 2008: Austin, Texas
  • August 13th-19th, 2009: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • July 22nd-25th, 2010: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • June 16th-19th, 2011: Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • June 7th-10th, 2012: Providence, Rhode Island
  • June 20th-23rd, 2013: San Jose, California
  • July 17th-21st, 2014: Detroit, Michigan
  • July 14th-17th, 2015: St. Louis, Missouri

Las Vegas holds the notable distinction as the only city to have hosted the convention more than once. The westernmost city to have hosted NN to date is San Jose, the easternmost is Providence, and the city closest to the geographic center of the Lower 48 to have hosted is this year’s choice — St. Louis.

 

Bernie Sanders endorses Hillary Clinton

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made his first joint appearance with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire today, declaring that he intends to do everything he can to help Clinton win in November, and ensure that Donald Trump is defeated.

Sanders used his endorsement speech to draw as many contrasts between Clinton and Trump as he could, pointing out that Trump, who is unprepared and unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief, would drag the country backward if he were elected. Trump “would be a disaster for our country and our planet,” Sanders said.

He touted the areas where he and Clinton are in agreement, from education to healthcare to fighting the climate crisis to reducing big money in politics.

“It is no secret that Hlillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues… that is what democracy about,” Sanders said, going on to praise his delegates and Clinton’s delegates for working hard together recently to produce “the most progressive platform” the Democratic Party has ever seen.

“Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratically-controlled Senate, a Democratically-controlled House, and a Hillary Clinton presidency…. I intend to be in every corner of this country to make certain this happens.”

Clinton nodded and occasionally clapped as Sanders spoke.

“Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding President, and I am proud to stand with her today,” Sanders said, concluding his speech.

UPDATE: Hillary Clinton has now spoken as well. She delivered a powerful speech praising Sanders’ campaign, thanking his supporters for their efforts to go all out for Bernie, and embracing many of the causes that Sanders’ campaign was about.

This speech showed just how effective and important Sanders’ campaign has been. Bernie Sanders and the millions of people who supported him have made Hillary Clinton’s campaign bolder, more progressive, and more attuned to the needs of the people. Today’s unity event was proof that Sanders’ influence is being felt in a big way. Clinton did an effective job of linking arms with Sanders and calling for unity in her speech, again and again promoting and reinforcing ideas rooted in the core progressive values of empathy and responsibility.

Read More »

It’s official: Attorney General Ferguson has a second case against Tim Eyman to prosecute

A complaint alleging that Tim Eyman failed to follow Washington’s public disclosure law back in April when he launched an ad campaign excoriating Democratic lawmakers for not doing his bidding has been returned to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office for further action by a unanimous Public Disclosure Commission.

In an early afternoon teleconference, Commissioners Anne Levinson, John Bridges, Katrina Asay, and Jack Johnson heard a presentation from PDC compliance officer Tony Perkins summarizing the staff’s findings. Staff determined that there were “multiple apparent violations” of RCW 42.17A and recommended that the Public Disclosure Commission refer the matter to Ferguson’s office. The Commission accepted the recommendation with a unanimous vote.

This is the second time in the past twelve months that the PDC has finished investigating a complaint against Tim Eyman and concluded he broke the law.

The first time was last September, when the Commission heard a staff report documenting a number of egregious violations (including concealment) and voted unanimously to refer the matter to Ferguson with a request that his office initiate a broader, more expansive follow-up investigation.

Ferguson promptly proceeded to do just that, but Eyman and his associates Roy Ruffino and Eddie Agazarm refused to cooperate, leaving the AG’s office with no choice but to go to court to get their subpoenas enforced. Judges in Snohomish and Thurston County Superior Courts last month signed orders compelling Eyman and his cohorts’ cooperation. They have until next Wednesday to turn over bank statements, tax returns, and other statements sought by Ferguson’s office.

The complaint acted on by the PDC today began as a forty-five day citizen action notice filed by Washingtonians For Ethical Government (WFEG), of which I am a boardmember. RCW Chapter 42.17A provides that a citizen or group of citizens may bring an enforcement action on behalf of the state if they believe that public disclosure law has been violated. Upon receiving the notice, Attorney General Ferguson asked the PDC to investigate the matter and determine if the law was violated. Having now done so, the PDC is sending the matter back to Ferguson.

Prior to the PDC’s vote, Commission Chair Anne Levinson engaged in a dialogue with staff about the case, noting that the Attorney General already has one open case against Eyman, and expressing a concern that Eyman is dodging disclosure requirements in order to exploit Washington’s initiative process for personal profit.

“This case seems to also raise whether there’s a concern about people using the initiative process potentially for self-advantage,” she said, “that, by filing a number of different initiatives — whether they actually have an intention to run [one of them], to collect signatures, or to successfully get it on the ballot — seems to allow for raising of quite a bit of money, potentially transferring, or co-mingling, or using money for different purposes than for which it was ostensibly raised.”

“It’s not clear to me that the rules and statutes which we normally rely on sufficiently address this,” she added.

“One might also ask whether this is the sort of activity that should require these officers to not continually file different committees, but to be a continuing political committee that has regular reporting obligations, given the patterns here, of expenditures and soliciting of dollars, and sort of affiliated committee structures… It’s concerning to me, so I wonder if that’s the case for my colleagues or staff, and if we might need to use this to do some further thinking about how to address this so that there is more transparency for the public.”

As it so happens, the PDC may be asked within days by Ferguson’s office to launch yet another probe to ascertain whether Tim Eyman and three of the committees he controls are breaking the law by failing to report on the status of loans received by the committees, and also failing to report interest from what are apparently a set of loans made on extremely generous terms as in-kind contributions.

Keep Washington Rolling, which NPI worked with to defeat Initiatives 912 and 1125, notified Ferguson’s office last month with its own set of forty-five day notices that it intends to bring a lawsuit against Eyman in superior court over these additional violations unless Ferguson’s office strikes first.

Should the PDC find even more “apparent violations”, it could result in Ferguson’s office landing a third case against Tim Eyman — all in the span of a year.

And that would be fitting. Eyman’s misdeeds are finally catching up to him.

As has been noted many times here, Eyman is a serial public disclosure law violator with a long history of sloppy reporting, delinquent filing, and concealment. Many PDC complaints have been filed against him over the years, with some resulting in penalties, but Eyman’s behavior hasn’t changed. It’s only gotten worse.

Perhaps Eyman’s legal problems, coupled with the smackdown of Initiative 1366 in the courts, have given his wealthy benefactors pause.

So far this year, they have chosen not to supply him with the megabucks required for a successful signature drive. As a result, the two initiatives Eyman said he was going to qualify for the 2016 ballot earlier this year never got off the ground, putting Eyman in an incredibly awkward and embarrassing position.

Nor is there any sign that they have turned on the money spigot to jumpstart I-869, the initiative Eyman now claims to be doing to the 2017 Legislature. The clock is ticking — there’s now less than six months to go before 2016 ends. If Eyman doesn’t have more than 300,000 signatures by around Christmastime, then his latest scheme — perhaps scam would be a better word — won’t make it.

Not having to fight another malicious government-wrecking scheme from Eyman this year is a huge blessing, but that’s how it should be every year.

We urge Attorney General Bob Ferguson to hold Eyman accountable for his unabashed lawbreaking. We will continue to do all we can to bring about a future for Washington that is free from Eyman’s destructive initiatives and toxic politics.

VICTORY!!! I-1515 backers throw in the towel, anti-transgender initiative FAILS!

Backers of Initiative 1515, a right wing scheme to legalize discrimination against transgender individuals in Washington State, have canceled their appointment to turn in signatures after concluding they didn’t have enough to make the ballot, the Secretary of State’s office announced only minutes ago.

“The I-1515 (‘bathroom initiative’) campaign has canceled their Friday appointment and will not be bringing in signatures,” said David Ammons, communications director for Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman. “Campaign chief Joseph Backholm contacted our Elections Division and indicated the campaign did not gather enough signatures to meet the threshold (246k bare minimum and 325k suggested level to cover duplicate and invalid signatures.)”

“This evening we made the difficult decision to cancel tomorrow morning’s meeting with the Secretary of State,” said I-1515 sponsor Joseph Backholm in an email to backers. “Despite a tremendous and humbling effort from our faithful core of volunteers, as of 4:30 PM, we did not have enough signatures to reasonably believe we will meet the required 246,000 quota to get I-1515 on the ballot.”

This is a huge, huge victory. With Tim Eyman having already failed to qualify anything, the demise of I-1515 means that for the first time in decades, there will be no right wing initiatives on Washington’s statewide ballot.

Washington’s progressive movement, meanwhile, will have not just one, not just two, but several initiatives on the statewide ballot.

For example, I-1433, which would raise the minimum wage to $13.50 and require most employers to provide paid leave to their workers.

Or I-1491, which would save lives and empower families by allowing courts to issue extreme risk protection orders barring individuals who the evidence shows are a danger to themselves or others from accessing firearms.

Or I-735, which puts Washington on record as calling for a federal constitutional amendment holding that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

The right wing may try to qualify a measure similar to I-1515 for the 2017 ballot, so we must remain vigilant and ready to protect hard-won LGBT civil rights. But for now, the Washington Won’t Discriminate campaign has won a huge victory. Together, we stood up to bigotry and educated voters about the grave harm I-1515 would cause. That helped frustrate the campaign’s signature gathering effort. They’ve now thrown in the towel. This is truly a great day for Washington State.

UPDATE, 6:45 PM: Seth Kirby, Chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate, has responded to the failure of I-1515. Here’s Seth’s message to supporters:

After months of deceptive campaigning, in which we’ve undoubtedly witnessed numerous reports of inflated I-1515 signature counts—the campaign to repeal transgender protections is officially retreating.

That means that Washington’s non-discrimination laws, which have been protecting transgender Washingtonians and their families for more than a decade, will stay on the books—and continue to protect our neighbors and friends for years to come.

Today’s remarkable victory is testament to the fact that, in Washington, discrimination will NOT stand. I am proud to live and work in a state where people know that everyone—including transgender Washingtonians—deserves to be treated fairly and equally under the law. And we stand by those convictions to the very end.

The evidence is overwhelming. In a matter of mere months we mobilized thousands of grassroots supporters and united an unprecedented coalition of transgender Washingtonians and their families, more than 150 businesses, hundreds of faith leaders, education advocates and more behind the simple notion that discrimination has no place in our state.

When we asked you to stand up to proponents of transgender discrimination and say No On I-1515, you delivered 110%—and today it paid off, BIG time. In short: This campaign would not have been possible without fair-minded and committed supporters like you.

And as a transgender Washingtonian—who would have been very directly impacted by a potential repeal of our non-discrimination laws—I can’t thank you enough for standing with us in defense of fairness and equality for all.

We will keep you posted as we decide where this campaign goes next. For now, celebrations are in order!

And here’s the campaign’s press release.

This post will be updated with additional information in the hours to come.

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