Tag: campaign

Twitter to pay $100,000 for violating Washington campaign disclosure law

Twitter will pay $100,000 for failing to retain required records about political ads from Washington candidates that ran over a seven-year period before the social media platform banned all political advertising.

Twitter agreed to pay the fine, which is about half the amount the company received from Washington candidates’ political advertising from 2012 to 2019, to Washington’s Public Disclosure Transparency Account, Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Tuesday. The fine comes after Ferguson announced his intention over the summer to sue the company over campaign finance violations

Under Washington’s campaign finance law, commercial advertisers must keep certain information, such as candidates’ names, the cost of the ad and who paid for it and on what date, and the name and address of the ad sponsor. According to the attorney general’s office, at least 38 Washington candidates and committees paid $194,550 for advertising on Twitter, and the company didn’t maintain the required information.

In an emailed statement, Twitter said the resolution is “reflective of our commitment to transparency and accountability. The company ended all political advertising on its platform in November 2019, which was a decision “in line with our belief that the reach of political speech should be earned and not bought.”

In the judgment, Twitter agreed to pay the fine but didn’t waive its ability to contend in the future that its exempt from public transparency laws.

The actions from the Attorney General’s office were prompted by research from Tallman Trask, a University of Washington law student and political activist who requested information from Twitter about a dozen local campaigns. After Twitter failed to provide the requested information, he filed a complaint to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission on Oct. 30, 2019 — the same day Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the platform would stop political advertising.

Trask called the announcement great news for Washington voters.

“It’s particularly good news for fairness in election advertising in our state,” Trask said in an interview. “It’s a question of whether or not companies are following the laws that the people want in place, and that other companies have followed for decades. It’s more about ensuring fairness than ensuring fines.”

The judgment is part of a series of lawsuits filed by the Attorney General’s office against tech companies related to political advertising. Facebook and Google paid more than $450,000 to settle twin lawsuits in 2018, when Ferguson’s office asserted that the tech giants violated campaign transparency laws.

Facebook and Google announced after the 2018 settlement that each company would stop selling political ads, but continued to do so. Ferguson filed another lawsuit in April against Facebook, saying the company has “repeatedly and openly” violated state laws.

In contrast with Facebook,

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Biden Son-In-Law Advises Campaign on Pandemic Response while Investing in COVID Startups

Joe Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein is an informal adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate on the response to the coronavirus pandemic, while simultaneously investing in health-care startups to address the pandemic, Politico reported on Tuesday.

Krein’s venture capital business, StartUp Health, announced in April that it would invest in ten medical startup companies that craft solutions to issues posed by the pandemic. At the same time, Krein was among several individuals speaking with the Biden campaign regarding its health policy.

The initiative by StartUp Health was dubbed the “Pandemic Response Health Moonshot,” language that echoes Biden’s own “Cancer Moonshot” project from his last year in the Obama administration.

Krein’s position raises questions about a possible conflict of interest for the Biden campaign. A campaign official confirmed to Politico that Krein was an informal adviser who has participated in calls with the candidate on pandemic response.

“I have little doubt that the relationship to Joe Biden, particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors,” Avik Roy, founder of investment firm Roy Healthcare Research, told Politico. Roy is a former adviser to Senators Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R., Utah).

The news follows a series of disclosures detailing that Biden’s son Hunter pursued while his father was serving as vice president. According to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released in September, “Hunter Biden received millions of dollars from foreign sources as a result of business relationships that he built during the period when his father was vice president of the United States and after.”

In particular, Hunter Biden and his business partner Devon Archer engaged in monetary transactions with Ye Jianming, a Chinese businessman with connections in the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army. Archer was convicted of defrauding a Native American tribe in 2018, and has a sentencing hearing scheduled for this coming January.

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Biden’s son-in-law advises campaign on pandemic while investing in Covid-19 startups

“StartUp Health is putting the full support of its platform and network behind building a post-Covid world that uses technology and entrepreneurial ingenuity to improve health outcomes,” the firm said at the time.

Krein simultaneously advising the campaign and venturing into Covid investing could pose conflict-of-interest concerns for a Biden administration, or simply create the awkward appearance of Krein profiting off his father-in-law’s policies. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the federal government has directed tens of billions of dollars in coronavirus medical spending in areas like testing and vaccine research to private firms. It is poised to spend billions more next year and possibly beyond.

The potential conflicts are not limited to the coronavirus for Krein, 53, a Philadelphia-based head-and-neck surgeon who got into venture investing not long after he began dating Biden’s daughter, Ashley, in 2010.

Since StartUp Health’s 2011 launch, when Krein came on as its chief medical officer, it has invested in more than 300 health care businesses, according to its website, which prominently features the term “moonshot” to describe its investment goals — language that echoes that of Joe Biden’s own signature Cancer Moonshot initiative. In its early years, the firm enjoyed close ties to the Obama administration and described Krein as a White House adviser.

“I have little doubt that the relationship to Joe Biden, particularly if he becomes president, would attract the interest of some investors,” said Avik Roy, founder of Roy Healthcare Research, an investment research firm, and a former adviser to the presidential campaigns of Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).

StartUpHealth did not respond to interview requests, and the Biden campaign declined to make Krein or others tied to the company available for interviews. In response to questions, a campaign official said that Krein does not have a formal role with the campaign, but acknowledged that he had participated in calls briefing Biden on coronavirus based on his experience treating patients and coordinating his hospital’s response to the outbreak.

Even informal input or the perception of access can be valuable in health care, a heavily regulated sector that is influenced by federal policy and spending priorities.

“Sometimes the perception is all you need,” said Laura Huang, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies the early-stage investment process. “Signaling is very important for startups and investors alike, and one signal is high-profile individuals who can help provide access.”

Roy said the firm’s Biden ties could also help it land stakes in hot startups that can be choosy about the investors they take money from. “Those companies will take your calls,” he said. “People who are plugged in have an advantage, and that is a common feature of a lot of heavily regulated industries.”

The influence concerns posed by the firm are compounded by its foreign ties. One StartUp Health fund raised $31 million from investors, including the Swiss drugmaker Novartis and the Chinese insurer Ping An, in 2018. The firm’s website also lists the Chinese technology conglomerate

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Inside Trump’s push to use government funds to save his campaign

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

President Donald Trump speaks to supporters at a campaign rally at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport on September 3, 2020 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Trump won Pennsylvania in the 2016 election by a narrow margin. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

If President Donald Trump loses to former Vice President Joe Biden in this year’s presidential election, two of the main reasons are likely to be his response to his COVID-19 pandemic and his health care policy — specifically, Trump’s push to eliminate the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with preexisting conditions. One desperate move that Trump is making in the hope of saving his campaign is promising senior citizens drug discount cards, and Politico’s Dan Diamond is reporting that Trump wants them to be available before November 3.

Diamond reports:

Caught by surprise by President Donald Trump’s promise to deliver drug-discount cards to seniors, health officials are scrambling to get the nearly $8 billion plan done by Election Day, according to five officials and draft documents obtained by Politico. The taxpayer-funded plan, which was only announced two weeks ago and is being justified inside the White House and the Health Department as a test of the Medicare program, is being driven by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, the officials said.

The $200 cards, Diamond notes, “would resemble credit cards” and “would need to be used at pharmacies” — and they “would be paid for by tapping Medicare’s trust fund.”

Politico has obtained a copy of a draft proposal for the plan that has been circulated in the White House, and according to the proposal, “The goal is to begin the test by distributing cards starting in October 2020.”

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Trump’s idea for drug discount cards for seniors comes at a time when many polls are showing his support among seniors falling. And Rep. Frank Pallone, the Democrat who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, isn’t the least bit impressed by the proposal. Pallone told Politico, “It’s a shameless stunt that steals billions from Medicare in order to fund a legally dubious scheme that’s clearly intended to benefit President Trump’s campaign right before Election Day.”

An official for the Department of Health and Human Services, quoted anonymously, told Politico, “It’s turning into this last-minute, thrown-together thing.” And another HHS official interviewed by Politico said, “This is a solution in search of a problem and a bald play for votes in the form of money in pockets.”

Stacie Dusetzina, a professor at Vanderbilt University who has studied Medicare’s drug program, went over the draft proposal — and Dusetzina told Politico, “There are a lot of things that seem problematic. It’s an incredibly large amount of money to be spending, (and) it’s not really solving any systemic problem.”

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Twitter has had plenty of reactions to Diamond’s article and Trump’s drug card proposal. Juliette Cubanski, deputy director of the Program on Medicare Policy, tweeted,

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As Donald Trump’s Law-and-Order Message Fails In Minnesota, Campaign Moves Money to Must-Win Florida

The release on bail of Derek Chauvin, the officer charged in George Floyd’s death, prompted yet another surge of unrest in Minnesota. But even as demonstrations filled the streets for a second night, Donald Trump’s campaign was pulling ad money out of the state. The president’s law-and-order message, which campaign officials had expected to resonate in the protest-torn state, wasn’t working.



a group of people posing for the camera: Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.


© KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
Law and order? Protesters lock arms during a demonstration after the release on bail of former police officer, Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 7, 2020.

Trump taking down the fabled “blue wall” of Rust Belt states—Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan—was the most shocking component of his historic upset in 2016. Just as unexpected, to Democrats, pollsters and political pundits, was this: he nearly won Minnesota, falling just 1.5 points behind Hillary Clinton in what was supposed to be the bluest of blue states. Democrats have won in Minnesota every presidential cycle since 1976, the longest streak in the nation.

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The Trump campaign went all in this time around, convinced it could flip the state and give him some electoral breathing room should, say, Wisconsin (which, like Minnesota, has ten electoral votes) flip back to the Democrats. It has 79 paid staffers in the state, Trump staged rallies there three times in the last three months, and campaign surrogates have been in the state repeatedly.

With Trump currently trailing in all the Blue Wall states he won in 2016, the need to carry Minnesota looks more urgent than ever. The problem for Trump: the state appears to be slipping away. According to Real Clear Politics, an aggregation of recent polling done through the month of September shows the president trailing in the state by nine points. And the demographic break downs of those polls—the so-called “internals”— are even more dispiriting for the Trump Team. They show the president underperforming relative to 2016 in his key constituency: white males without college degrees.

The fact that Trump hasn’t drawn closer in Minnesota suggests that a key strategic shift in the Trump campaign in the late summer—its emphasis on ‘law and order” in the wake of urban unrest across the country—has not worked. Late this spring, Minnesota became ground zero for two issues that have since roiled the country: the death of George Floyd at the hands of three police officers fueled outrage nationwide, prompting large demonstrations demanding racial justice and significant change in law enforcement. In many cases, however, the protests turned violent, something the Trump campaign seized on.

Election Day 2020: Where Trump, Biden Stand In The Polls 30 Days Before Nov. 3

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“Law and order” became a campaign catchword—a nightly staple on Fox News—and the campaign cut TV ads emphasizing the looting and violence, trying to tie it to Biden and the Democrats. Trump strategists were convinced the chaos in Minneapolis and elsewhere would redound to the president’s benefit, particularly in largely white, middle-class suburbs.

Video:

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UK government set to defy campaign on imported food standards

The UK government is set to reject legal measures to uphold food standards in future trade deals, defying a campaign backed by farming unions, TV chef Jamie Oliver and more than a million members of the public.

The House of Lords voted to add amendments to the agriculture bill passing through parliament to require that any imported food products meet UK domestic standards on food safety, animal welfare and the environment.

But ministers have signalled they will not back the change, or another amendment giving the new Trade and Agriculture Commission a statutory role in scrutinising trade agreements, when the bill returns to the House of Commons next week.

They believe measures effectively requiring identical food standards to those of the UK would prevent them from negotiating new trade deals.

George Eustice, environment secretary, this week told a Conservative conference fringe event that “we are unlikely to be accepting amendments to the bill”.

Trade secretary Liz Truss, who opposes the amendments, told the Commons on Thursday that they would bar imports from developing countries.

Responding to a question from shadow trade secretary Emily Thornberry, Ms Truss said: “If the honourable lady is suggesting a blanket ban on any food imports that do not comply exactly with British farm regulations, what she is talking about is preventing developing countries sending their foodstuffs to the UK.

“Is she saying she wants to ban Kenyans from exporting their foodstuffs to us if they don’t follow exactly the same farm standards as here in Britain?”

The issue of food standards has become a totemic one as the UK seeks to carve out its post-Brexit trading identity. The amendments are backed by Labour and a group of Conservative rebel MPs.

The National Farmers’ Union in June attracted more than 1m signatures on a petition urging government “to put into law rules that prevent food being imported to the UK which is produced in ways that would be illegal here”.

Last month, in a video on social media, Mr Oliver and other chefs and broadcasters urged the public to write to their MPs on the issue. 

“You’ve heard about chlorinated chicken, right — it’s when chicken meat is washed in chlorine to get rid of bacteria from dirty farms and abattoirs. It’s currently illegal in the UK. That’s what could be coming if the government opens up the floodgates to low quality food imports,” they said.

Farmers are also concerned about meat produced using additives and hormones prohibited in the UK, and pork raised using “sow stalls”, which tightly confine the animals.

Any deal with the US, which has placed access for its agricultural products to the UK market on its list of negotiating priorities, is a particular concern.

The idea that American food standards are broadly inferior has been called into question, however: the Global Food Security Index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, for example, rates the US above the UK for “quality and safety” of food.

While rejecting the legal provisions, Ms

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Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre Launches the SEE IT SAFELY Campaign

In order to display the See it Safely mark, venues have to sign up to a code of conduct to demonstrate that safety forms the foundation for their reopening plans.

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) & UK Theatre have launched a new scheme called See It Safely, to support venues as they navigate the challenges of re-opening, and to give audiences the confidence that venues are consistent in their approach and implementation of the latest guidelines.

In order to display the See it Safely mark, venues have to sign up to a code of conduct to demonstrate that safety forms the foundation for their reopening plans. Once past an initial approval process that confirms a venue is operating in line with the latest Government guidelines and Public Health guidance, as set out in a COVID-19 Risk Assessment, all participating theatres will receive the toolkit. This includes a ‘See It Safely’ mark that can be displayed in venues and on promotional materials; an animated safety video; signage and recommended website copy. Training, on-going support and advice is also offered.

In addition to adopting the toolkit, theatres can sign up to a set of ticketing principles which have been designed to reassure audiences that in the event of cancellation they will be able to get an exchange, credit voucher or refund and if an audience member is feeling unwell they can exchange their ticket at least 24 hours prior to the performance for a later date.

To date, just a small number of theatres across the country have opened or announced plans to open with social distance measures in place, whilst the majority sadly remain closed. For those able to open, the response from returning audiences has been overwhelmingly positive with runs selling out or being extended.

SOLT President Kenny Wax has recently announced that his production of SIX will be reopening in London at the Lyric Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue allowing for social distancing. SIX will also be returning to the Lowry in Manchester for a six week Christmas run, also with social distancing. Commenting on the recent on sale of both productions Kenny said,

“I am delighted that theatre fans have responded so positively and performances are selling extremely well. I expect both productions of SIX to sell out their entire runs and such positive sales give me confidence to open my other shows including THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG at the Duchess Theatre. There is clearly huge pent up demand for live theatre and it is wonderful to give audiences something to look forward to as we head into the Christmas season.”

DCMS have welcomed the creation of the toolkit and over 140 theatres have already accessed it. It has been shared with other organisations in the live events sector including Association of British Orchestras, British Association of Concert Halls, Concert Promoters Association, Music Venue Trust, National Arenas Association, and One Dance UK. The Federation of Scottish Theatre will be administering and promoting the campaign for its members

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Guelph Black Heritage Society receives $5,000 for #ChangeStartsNow campaign

The Guelph Black Heritage Society says it has received $5,000 for its #ChangeStartsNow educational campaign.



a sign in front of a brick building: Guelph Black Heritage Society's Heritage Hall on Essex Street.


© Matt Carty / Global Guelph
Guelph Black Heritage Society’s Heritage Hall on Essex Street.

The funding is from the Guelph Community Foundation and Guelph Historical Society.

Read more: Guelph Black Heritage Society raising money for #ChangeStartsNow campaign

The grant will support a key pillar in the heritage society’s campaign, which is the development of a booklet on Black history in Guelph and Wellington County.

Another aspect of the campaign is a list of 100 educational resources, such as books and movies, that are curated by volunteers for those seeking factual information on Black history and issues.

It also includes online educational and cultural events and a directory of Black-owned and operated businesses in Guelph, Wellington County and Waterloo Region.

There are also plans for Heritage Hall, the former British Methodist Episcopal Church on Essex Street that was bought by the organization in 2011.

Those include educational and cultural programming at the building and the establishment of a library of Black literature.

Read more: Work to tackle systemic racism in Guelph continues following protest, activist says

The goal of the campaign is to raise $135,000 — a figure that represents $1 from each of Guelph’s residents — by Dec. 1.

More information about the campaign and ways to donate can be found on the Guelph Black Heritage Society’s website.

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Opinion | Trump has turned the entire government into a subsidiary of his campaign

But compared to what President Trump and Republicans are doing now, it’s the difference between using the “Take a penny, leave a penny” container at the convenience store and pulling a gun on the cashier, emptying the register, then backing a truck up to the door to steal half the merchandise.

We’ve simply never seen anything like this: a sweeping, comprehensive effort across multiple agencies of government, plus Congress, to find any and every way possible to boost the Trump campaign. The government you and I pay for has become an engine of pro-Trump propaganda — and in the last, desperate days of his campaign, it’s only accelerating.

Here’s some of what they’re doing:

  • Politico reports: “The Trump administration is pressuring Senate Republicans to ratchet up scrutiny of social media companies it sees as biased against conservatives in the run-up to the November election.” Senate Republicans have responded with the introduction of new legislation and hearings in two committees.
  • NBC News reports: “Federal law enforcement officials were directed to make public comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.” The idea that leftist mobs are threatening Americans and must be met with deadly force has been a centerpiece of the Trump campaign.
  • The Department of Agriculture has a program distributing surplus food to needy families, largely through local food banks. Last week the department began requiring that the boxes of food include a letter from Trump in which he takes credit for the program. “In my 30 years of doing this work, I’ve never seen something this egregious,” said one food bank official.
  • Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified a Russian intelligence “analysis” so ridiculous that even Republicans are struggling to give it credence. It claims that in 2016 Hillary Clinton personally approved a strategy to falsely accuse the Kremlin of aiding the Trump campaign. This helps obscure the fact that Russia is interfering on Trump’s behalf now, as Trump wants.
  • Democrats claim this move by Ratcliffe shows a pattern in which he’s “abusing his position to aid Trump politically by selectively declassifying documents intended to denigrate Trump’s political opponents,” as Politico reports. “Much of that information has been revealed through Republican senators who are conducting investigations targeting those opponents.”
  • The Post reports that the administration is “preparing an immigration enforcement blitz next month that would target arrests in U.S. cities and jurisdictions that have adopted ‘sanctuary’ policies,” a plan that amplifies Trump’s law-and-order campaign rhetoric.
  • The New York Times reports that “The White House has blocked a new order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February, a step that would have displeased the politically powerful tourism industry in the crucial swing state of Florida.”
  • The Department of Health and Human Services is about to begin a $300 million advertising campaign praising the administration’s response to the coronavirus in order to “defeat despair.” This was the brainchild of HHS official and longtime GOP
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A law-and-order California GOP congressional campaign is violating federal law

  • Buzz Patterson’s California congressional campaign hasn’t filed mandatory federal campaign finance disclosures since late 2019. His campaign tells Insider that ‘technological difficulties’ are the culprit.
  • It’s rare for a competitive congressional campaign to repeatedly miss these legally mandated filings. Patterson’s campaign could face a Federal Election Commission audit and significant fines.
  • How fast will Patterson file his campaign disclosures? As ‘soon as we can,’ he said.
  • Patterson, a Republican and decorated Air Force veteran, is challenging Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in California’s 7th congressional district.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Retired Air Force Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson has a fighting chance of becoming one of California’s newest congressional lawmakers.

But as the Sacramento-area Republican battles four-term Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, Patterson’s campaign committee is breaking federal law.

Patterson’s committee has failed to file four mandatory disclosures detailing how much money it’s raised and spent, as well as the identities of those funding and earning money from it, an Insider review of Federal Election Commission records indicates.

The missed filings, which span nearly a year, could trigger a costly FEC audit and hefty civil fine. The Department of Justice — responsible for prosecuting “knowing and willful” criminal violations of federal campaign laws — could also investigate, although it rarely pursues cases that strictly involve disclosure.

Patterson, who last week declared there “cannot be a Democratic Republic without law and order,” told Insider that he’s aware of his campaign’s screw-ups. He vowed to fix the situation.

“The onus is on my campaign and our inability to file on time,” Patterson said. “It was never our intention to be here, but we are and we know we must fix it. As soon as we can.”

Patterson campaign treasurer Lou Baglietto said a “series of technological difficulties” prevented the campaign from properly submitting its financial disclosures through the FEC’s internet-based document filing system. 

Baglietto said he didn’t realize that the FEC wasn’t receiving the campaign’s disclosures and recently discovered FEC error emails in his spam folder. He now plans to this week send the FEC a compact disc containing the campaign finances from late 2019 to the present.

“It’s my fault,” Baglietto said. “I thought everything was OK.”

Asked to estimate the Patterson campaign’s current finances, Baglietto told Insider that the campaign has raised about $220,000 and spent about $190,000 during the campaign. It currently has $30,000 in available cash, he said.

Earlier this year, one of Patterson’s campaign consultants sued the campaign for breach of contract, accusing it of not paying bills. Patterson previously called the lawsuit “frivolous,” the Orange County Register reported in May. The Patterson campaign’s yet-to-be-filed FEC documents would ostensibly reveal more details about this situation.

The Bera campaign entered July with nearly $1.9 million in reserve and about $273,000 in debt, according to its latest financial statement.

Potential ‘enforcement action’

FEC spokesperson Judith Ingram declined to discuss specifics of Patterson’s situation, but noted that “political committees are required to submit filings on time and in full in

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