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Wash Exam: Now is the time to pass term limits

Some of our elected leaders on Capitol Hill have made a habit of making simple things complicated. It's an old but effective tactic designed to frustrate those who are advocating for reform. It's the same list of excuses we've all heard a thousand times. It usually starts with "it's not the right time" or "be careful what you wish for" or the dreaded "we don't have the votes."

A perfect example of this is the question of whether or not there should be a new constitutional amendment for congressional term limits. In the era of complex and unreadable 1,000-page pieces of legislation, the questions surrounding this debate are simple. Should Congress be term limited like the presidency, and if so where should the limits be set? Only in Washington can a joint resolution that spans two paragraphs be made into a complicated matter. There's absolutely no doubt that amending the U.S. Constitution should be taken very seriously and debated thoroughly, but the American people clearly want the debate and an up-or-down vote.

A recent poll indicates that 74 percent of likely U.S. voters support such a proposal, with only 13 percent in opposition. In today's America it's hard to find any initiative that enjoys such strong support from our citizenry, and with good reason. I'm not sure I know anyone — Democrat or Republican — who really believes Congress has been functioning effectively for a long time. So congressional term limits is hardly a new phenomenon. The American people's distrust in Washington politicians and out of control federal spending has been growing for decades. The last time there was a real push was in mid-1990s, when Newt Gingrich was speaker of the House. The measure failed back then but that did not deter those reform-minded Republicans from putting it up for a vote.

Read more at: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/now-is-the-time-to-pass-term-limits/article/2611291

Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation filed their opening brief with the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals

Summary Description: Citizens United v. Schneiderman

2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal Opening Brief

On Friday, January 6, 2017, Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation filed their opening brief with the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York in Citizens United v. Schneiderman. The case involves a constitutional challenge to the New York Attorney General’s recently decreed policy requiring non-profit organizations soliciting contributions in New York to provide his Charity’s Bureau with a list of their top donors on an annual basis.

In their Brief, Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation challenge the dismissal of their case by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for failure to state a claim for which relief can be granted. The brief contends the District Court committed multiple errors in dismissing the case, including:

  • Imposing a heighten pleading standard in contravention of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and binding Supreme Court precedent for litigation challenging unconstitutional governmental action;
  • Shifting the burden of proving the disclosure policy unconstitutional to the challengers of the policy despite decades of Supreme Court precedent emphasizing that the government bears the burden of proof in First Amendment cases involving prior restraints on freedom of speech;
  • Ruling sua sponte (i.e. out of the blue with no briefing or argument on the issue) that the organizations’ due process claims are not ripe for adjudication despite the Attorney General’s written threat to fine the organizations’ if they do not comply with the donor disclosure policy;
  • Refusing to recognize that New York’s donor disclosure policy is preempted by federal law protecting the names and addresses of donors from public disclosure; and
  • Failing to strike down New York’s charitable solicitation licensing scheme as it relates to Citizens United despite the fact that New York law narrowly defines a charitable organization in a way that excludes advocacy organizations such as Citizens United.

Citizens United v. Schneiderman - 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal Opening Brief by Citizens United on Scribd


Wash Exam: Dems should think twice before delaying Trump's Supreme Court nomination

Democrats should think twice before using parliamentary tactics to delay or block President-elect Donald Trump's forthcoming nominee for the Supreme Court. The American people know the difference between holding up a nomination that would change the ideological balance of the court in the midst of a presidential election and denying the new president the opportunity to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia with a qualified conservative.

When Scalia passed away last February, high stakes Supreme Court politics were injected into an already contentious presidential election season. With the high court down to eight justices and the specter of many 4-4 deadlocked decisions on the horizon, President Obama wasted no time nominating liberal federal Judge Merrick Garland as his choice to succeed Scalia. Liberals sensed an enormous opportunity to score some controversial 5-4 court victories, which before Scalia's death would not have been possible.

To his credit, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stood tall and shut down any hope that Garland would get a hearing before the presidential election when he unequivocally stated: "the next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country, so of course the American people should have a say in the court's direction ..."

Democratic leaders smelled blood in the water and attempted to make McConnell's principled position an election issue. Attack ads were launched trying to convince Republican senators in close races to embrace a hearing for Garland. Democrats dreamed of Hillary Clinton scoring political points nationally with a "stop blocking Garland" line of attack against GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. As it turned out, the American people would have none of it. Donald Trump was elected president with 306 electoral votes and swing state senators on the ballot like Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rob Portman of Ohio, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida all prevailed — as did Trump on top of the ticket in each of these critically important electoral states.

The American people said loud and clear that they wanted a Republican president and a Republican-led Senate to pick Scalia's replacement. Hillary Clinton's stated judicial priorities, such as overturning free speech rights granted in the Citizens United case and severely limiting the Second Amendment, were of great concern to voters. The election confirmed what conservatives had hoped was the case: Putting a liberal on the bench to replace Scalia would tip the balance of the court too far to the left.

The election notwithstanding, bitter Democrats are now threatening to block President-elect Trump's Supreme Court choice — apparently whoever it turns out to be — as revenge for the Republican strategy with regard to Merrick Garland's nomination. "Past is present, and what goes around comes around," is how Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently put it.

This strategy — if employed — is a big risk for Democrats. In 2018, 23 Senate seats currently occupied by Democrats are up for election. Two more are occupied by independents who caucus with the Democrats. Ten of those Senate seats are in states carried by Donald Trump. If Senate Democrats try to block President-elect Trump's nominee to replace Scalia, they will face the wrath of voters in those states, voters who clearly understand what is at stake. The outcome could leave Democrats with 40 or fewer Senate seats following the 2018 elections, a result that would give Republicans a filibuster-proof majority in the upper house.

The truth is that even with Scalia on the bench, the court was hardly a surefire 5-4 conservative majority, when you consider the recent Obamacare and gay marriage rulings. At most, the anticipated Trump selection will maintain the balance as it was prior to Scalia's passing, while Merrick Garland would have moved the court to the left. The Democrats should question the wisdom of moving to block our new president's Supreme Court pick for some sort of misguided political revenge.

J.T. Mastranadi is vice president for governmental affairs at Citizens United.


EMAIL RELEASE: Citizens United Releases 275 Pages Of State Department Emails With Clinton Foundation

Today Citizens United is releasing 275 pages of State Department emails relating to the Clinton Foundation and other issues that were produced yesterday evening.

The emails included cover the following:

  • "Potential Commitment with Government of Russia..."
  • "...regarding the contract scandal."
  • "I'm abt to ask ariadne getty for her plane..."
  • "Doug, The following was sent to Secretary Clinton earlier today per your instructions to Andrew."
  • "Big cash problem @ USA Shanghai Expo Pavilion"
  • Several newly classified emails relating to Haiti

Part I (State Dept./Clinton Foundation Emails - 11/4/2016 Production): https://www.scribd.com/document/330098435/11-5-2016-Email-Release-State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails-Part-1

Part II (State Dept./Clinton Foundation Emails - 11/4/2016 Production): https://www.scribd.com/document/330098615/11-5-2016-Email-Release-State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails-Part-2

Citizens United will continue to release material such as this in the weeks and months to come.


Statement of Citizens United Executive Vice President And General Counsel Michael Boos On Today's FBI Announcement

Statement of Citizens United Executive Vice President And General Counsel Michael Boos On Today's FBI Announcement:

“We’re pleased to learn that the FBI has re-opened the criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email mess.  While we don’t know what’s been newly uncovered, the facts already in the public domain demonstrate widespread impropriety.

What the FBI just discovered must be far more serious than what’s already public. The Clintons have lived above the law for far too long. It’s time to empanel a grand jury to get to the bottom of this.”

EMAIL RELEASE: Citizens United Releases 612 Pages Of State Department Emails With Clinton Foundation

Today Citizens United is releasing 612 pages of State Department emails relating to the Clinton Foundation, Dennis Cheng, Doug Band, Haiti, and more.

These emails were produced to Citizens United by the State Department on October 21st, 22nd, and 25th as a result of FOIA requests and litigation and cover the following:

  • "Do you know if there’s ever been or if there’s been talk of organizing official business delegations for S trips abroad?"

  • "We need to start inviting members soon..."

  • "Who among our strong Hispanic supporters could we nominate for Amb to the Vatican?"

  • "I am told I am not allowed to leave Doha until our deal is done – and its [sic] not."

  • "Who at the library can tell me which files of hrcs are down there?"


Read the emails here:

Part I (State Dept. - Clinton Foundation Emails 1): https://www.scribd.com/document/329111409/State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails-1

Part II (State Dept. - Clinton Foundation Emails 2): https://www.scribd.com/document/329111004/State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails-2

Part III (Haiti Emails 1): https://www.scribd.com/document/328999165/State-Department-Haiti-Emails-Part-1

Part IV (Haiti Emails 2): https://www.scribd.com/document/328999454/State-Department-Haiti-Emails-Part-2

Part V (Haiti Emails 3): https://www.scribd.com/document/329002731/State-Department-Haiti-Emails-Part-3

Citizens United will continue to release material such as this in the weeks and months to come.


RELEASE: State Department Acknowledges Error In Clinton Schedule, Citizens United Releases Schedule In Question

This week the State Department produced the last batch of Hillary Clinton's State Department schedules.

They cover mostly September 2012 – February 2013, with some random schedules mixed in as well.

Today Citizens United is releasing Secretary Clinton's schedule from September 2012.

As you will see, the schedules for September 1st through 9th are dated 2010.

When asked about this discrepancy, a government lawyer for the State Department said that while the year is wrong, the schedules do reflect what occurred from September 1st through 9th 2012.

Citizens United asked if a correct version of the schedule exists and the government's response was that the records speak for themselves and that in FOIA litigation the State Department produces what exists, not correct errors in the requested records.

Citizens United asked what the reason was for the error and the government's response was that someone made a mistake entering the year in the schedule four years ago.

Citizens United then asked if the State Department was planning on correcting the record and the government again said that in the context of FOIA, the State Department produces records that exist and doesn't clean up errors in the records.

Citizens United is concerned about this revelation.

We believe at very least the State Department should provide a detailed explanation for this error in Secretary Clinton's schedule during the week leading up to the terrorist attack in Benghazi and correct the record for future requesters.

For instance, if a future FOIA request asked for Secretary Clinton's schedule from September 1 – 9, 2012, is it possible the requester would be told no responsive records exist?

See Sec. Clinton's schedule for September 2012 here: https://www.scribd.com/document/328312485/Sec-Clinton-s-September-2012-State-Dept-Schedule-September-1-9-Are-Erroneously-Labeled-2010


EMAIL RELEASE: Citizens United Releases 371 Pages Of State Department Emails

Today Citizens United is releasing 371 pages of State Department emails relating to the Clinton Foundation, IG investigations, Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, and Patrick Kennedy.   

These emails were produced to Citizens United by the State Department as a result of FOIA requests and litigation and cover the following:

  • "CEO of Pepsi is seeing Putin in next couple days and is looking for a USG briefing..."
  • "Kate flagged for me an OIG investigation related to [redacted]"
  • "Attached are pages from the DOJ OIG’s investigation – ostensibly on Operation Fast & Furious..."
  • "The Department of State has designated…Patrick F. Kennedy to lead the department’s planning for the upcoming transition."
  • "Has HRC or State done or said anything for Yunus?"
  • "...Nursultan Nazarbayev would like to attend CGI"
  • "Is Thaci still embroiled in organ harvesting issues and is that of consequence?"


Read the emails here:

Part I (State Dept. – Clinton Foundation Emails): https://www.scribd.com/document/328020424/10-18-2016-Release-Part-I-State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails

Part II (State Dept. – Clinton Foundation Emails): https://www.scribd.com/document/328021046/10-18-2016-Release-Part-II-State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails

Part III (Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, Patrick Kennedy State Dept. Emails): https://www.scribd.com/document/328021481/10-18-2016-Release-Part-III-Cheryl-Mills-Heather-Samuelson-Patrick-Kennedy-State-Dept-Emails

Citizens United will continue to release material such as this in the weeks and months to come.


EMAIL RELEASE: Citizens United Releases 240 Pages Of Haiti-Related Emails Between State Department And Clinton Foundation

Today Citizens United is releasing 240 pages of Haiti-related emails between the State Department and Clinton Foundation.

The emails – some of which were produced yesterday – cover Haiti and the following:

  • Denis O'Brien
  • Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster
  • James Lee Witt and Bob Nash
  • "We have accomplished a great deal"
  • "They treated me extra special"

68 of the total pages are related to the polling USAID commissioned in Haiti about "Bill Clinton’s image" and other issues that ABC News first reported on yesterday.

This polling data was forwarded by Cheryl Mills to Clinton Foundation officials "for WJC."

Haiti Related Emails From 10-11-2016 Production: https://www.scribd.com/document/327326755/State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Haiti-Emails-10-11-2016-Production

Other Haiti Related Emails: https://www.scribd.com/document/327327302/State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Haiti-Related-Emails

USAID Haiti Poll & Email: https://www.scribd.com/document/327327697/USAID-Haiti-Polling-Data-Email

These documents were produced by the State Department as a result of FOIA requests and litigation.

Citizens United will continue to release material such as this in the weeks and months to come.


EMAIL RELEASE: Citizens United Releases 198 Pages Of Emails Between State Department And Clinton Foundation

Today Citizens United is releasing 198 pages of emails between the State Department and Clinton Foundation on a host of issues.  

43 of the pages have to do with the creation of the "Friends of the Clinton Centre" 501c3, its connection to an official State Department trip to Ireland, and a dinner that Secretary Clinton attended that doesn’t appear on her schedule.

Other topics include China, Haiti, Iran, Cuba, Mexico, and more.

The specter of foreign influence and the appearance of conflicts of interest are critically important issues. We will continue to release emails such as these in the weeks and months to come.

In these emails, you'll find the following:

• "Is this accurate?"

• "Following Secretary Clinton's lecture at Dublin City University…Patrick McDermott will provide a room for us for a brief discussion on the Friends of the Clinton Centre 501…"

• "And what does Megan Rodham have to do with this"

• "…asked wjc to help avoid currency legislation b/c it'll mean lots of Chinese businesses collapsing…"

• "When HRC visited Sarajevo, she proposed a program to train Bosnian entrepreneurs through the Clinton Foundation(?)"

• "Oh come on…you can make this happen…"

• "Jake - unfortunately, like a bad penny, I'll keep turning up one way or another."

• "Kicking DS off"

• "Greetings from Jet Li"

• "[REDACTED] wants barbados"

• "I think it should be okay. We have interacted with this guy."

Emails Part I: https://www.scribd.com/document/326510237/State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails-Part-I

Emails Part II: https://www.scribd.com/document/326510449/State-Department-Clinton-Foundation-Emails-Part-II

These documents were produced by the State Department as a result of FOIA requests and litigation.

Our next email production from the State Department is due on October 10.


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