Elections under siege, "Trump & Friends," and the never-ending Russian winter.
Wertheimer's Political Money Report
FEBRUARY 15, 2018

The heads of the nation’s intelligence agencies agreed in Senate testimony this week that “Russia is continuing efforts to disrupt the U.S. political system and is targeting the 2018 midterm elections, following its successful operation to sow discord in the most recent presidential campaign.”

The intelligence chiefs made clear to the country that, if steps aren’t taken to stop interference by Russia or other foreign powers, we face losing control of our own elections.  
This unanimous position of the intelligence agencies came in sharp contrast to President Trump’s indefensible and irresponsible position that the claims of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election are a hoax.

In line with Trump’s denial of reality, the White House has failed to take any action, and there is no coordinated government effort to prevent Russian intervention in the midterm elections, or in future U.S. elections.
Our elections are at the heart of our democracy. It is a national disgrace that Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress have taken no action to prevent Russia from sabotaging U.S. elections.
One of the most important steps Congress can take is to provide federal funds to help upgrade the inadequate security protections that exist in many state election systems.

The Secure Elections Act (S. 2261), bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would provide necessary federal funds for states to strengthen their security systems.
The FY18 Omnibus Appropriations bill is scheduled for Senate consideration next month. It will provide perhaps the best opportunity for Congress to enact the funding contained in the Lankford-Klobuchar bill. It will also present a critical leadership test for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). 

Senator McConnell has this in his hands. He can either provide the leadership necessary to strengthen the ability of the states to protect against Russian sabotage of our elections, or he can stand by and do nothing and let this dangerous threat grow far worse.


Memo To House Intel Chair Devin Nunes: “Answer The Question”
“There already are more than enough reasons to remove Chairman Nunes from the Intelligence Committee for deceiving the public and misusing his office. If, however, the White House was involved with the Nunes staff regarding the memo, or if Nunes continues to refuse to answer this question, Speaker Ryan has an obligation to the American people to immediately remove Nunes from the Intelligence Committee,” Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer writes in The Hill. Read more
Trump’s $175M Conflict-Of-Interest Mess: Trump Tower
Trump may have placed the management of Trump Tower with his sons, but “make no mistake who’s cashing those millions: the president of the United States,” according to a new Forbes investigation of Trump Tower tenants, including at least 36 with “meaningful” government interests. Read more
Trump’s Inaugural Committee Paid $26M To Firm Of First Lady’s Adviser, via The New York Times. Read more

A Whirlwind Envelops The White House And The Revolving Door Spins At A Record Pace, via The New York Times. Read more
Scores Of Top White House Officials Lack Permanent Security Clearances
“More than 130 political appointees working in the Executive Office of the President did not have permanent security clearances as of November 2017, including the president’s daughter, son-in-law and his top legal counsel, according to internal White House documents obtained by NBC News.Read more
How The White House Gamed The Security-Clearance System, via The Atlantic. Read more
Head Of US Intelligence Suggests Jared Kushner Shouldn’t Have Full Access To Classified Info, via The Washington Post. Read more
This Is Why Kushner’s Gargantuan Debt Matters, opinion via The Washington Post. Read more
Trump’s Military Parade Could Bear $30M Price Tag, According To WH Budget Director, via Politico. Read more
The “Secretive, Costly, & Frequent” First-Class Travel & Luxury Hotel Stays of EPA’s Scott Pruitt, via The Washington Post. Read more. And, an update here.

Veterans Affairs Chief & Staff Misled Ethics Officials About European Trip
Secretary Shulkin’s chief of staff “doctored an email and made false statements to create a pretext for taxpayers to cover expenses for the secretary’s wife on a 10-day trip to Europe last summer,” via The Washington Post. Read more
The Nation’s Top Intelligence Chiefs Say That Russia Is Continuing Efforts To Disrupt US Political System And Is Targeting The 2018 Midterms, via The Washington Post. Read more
Why Does Trump Ignore Top Officials’ Warnings on Russia?
“[A]bsent Mr. Trump’s commitment, there can be no robust mobilization to take all measures needed to confront an insidious problem that strikes at the heart of the democratic system,” via The New York Times editorial board. Read more
Top Justice Department Official Quit Partly Over Fear She Might Be Asked To Oversee Russia Probe, via NBC News. Read more
Mueller Investigation Has Exposed The “Shadowy, Freewheeling” World Of Foreign Lobbying & The Weak Laws That Oversee It, via Mother Jones. Read more

Former Senior FBI Official Is Leading Buzzfeed’s Effort To Verify Trump Dossier
“[T]he BuzzFeed court case could represent the first public airing of an investigation into the veracity of some of the dossier’s claims,” via Foreign Policy. Read more

How To Start Fixing Democracy With The $1.50-A-Week Tax Cut Paul Ryan Gave You
-- Opinion, via USA Today. Read more
Pennsylvania Governor Rejects GOP’s New Congressional Map, Saying It Remains A Partisan Gerrymander
One expert called the new map “extremely, and unnecessarily, partisan,” via The Philadelphia Inquirer. Read more
Federal Vote-Protection Efforts Lag Ahead Of First Primaries
“With the first primaries of the 2018 elections less than a month away, you might expect federal officials to be wrapping up efforts to safeguard the vote against expected Russian interference. You’d be wrong,” via Associated Press. Read more
Trump’s Controversial Pick To Run The 2020 Census Withdraws, via Mother Jones. Read more
CAP Election Security Report Finds Most States Remain Vulnerable To Hacking Or Systemic Failure, via Center for American Progress. Read more
By: Fred Wertheimer (@FredWertheimer), Diane Alexander, and Jackie Howell. Follow The Political Money Report on Twitter (@Political_Money).
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