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Election 2020

Kanye West, Presidential Hopeful, Receiving Help from GOP Members

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Kanye West

The Republican party’s interest in Kanye West has been confirmed as more than idle intrigue.

What We Know:

  • Typically political candidates have partisan legal operatives that are made available to them in their campaign endeavors; that is not exactly the case for Kanye’s “Birthday Party” under which he is “walking” for president. GOP affiliated lawyers & strategists have been helping Kanye file paperwork in key states such as Wisconsin, a critical swing state.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, Kanye’s qualifying paperwork for Wisconsin was dropped off by Lane Ruhland, an attorney representing the Trump campaign in a lawsuit. Ruhland has also done legal work for the Republican National Committee, former Republican Governor Scott Walker, and the state Republican Party on election matters.
  • In Ohio, another key swing state, the paperwork was dropped off by an attorney from Isaac Wiles, a Columbus law firm that has reportedly received tens of thousands of dollars in fees from state Republican campaign committees since 2015.
  • Mark Jacoby, an executive at Let the Voters Decide, has been collecting signatures for Kanye’s campaign in three states, according to a New York Times report. Having been arrested for voter fraud in 2008 while working for the California Republican Party and pleading guilty, he insisted that his group is nonpartisan and supports the rights of “anyone who is qualified to stand for election”.
  • Gregg Keller, who is listed as a contact for Kanye’s campaign in Arkansas, is the former executive director of the American Conservative Union, and, according to the New York Times, was under consideration to be Trump’s campaign manager in 2015.
  • Chuck Wilton, who is listed as a Vermont convention delegate for Trump, is an elector with Kanye’s campaign who could potentially cast an Electoral College vote for him.
  • According to Vice News, in Colorado, GOP state operative, Rachel George, emailed another state operative asking, “Would you help me get Kanye West on the ballot in Colorado? No, I am not joking, and I realize this is hilarious.” Neither operative has commented on the incident.
  • This apparent aid from the GOP is coming in the midst of, according to Kim Kardashian West, a bipolar episode Kanye is facing. This has increased the claims of alleged manipulation of Kanye by the Republican Party. In an interview with Forbes, Kanye did not deny the claims that he is only running to bleed votes from Biden. “I’m not denying it, I just told you. To say that the Black vote is Democratic is a form of racism and white supremacy.”
  • In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist unaffiliated with the Biden campaign, stated, “One of the oldest tricks in the political playbook is to run a third-party candidate to try and bleed support from your opponent. What’s different here is the third-party candidate is a hip-hop artist who has said nice things about the current president before.” He went on to say, “I don’t believe African Americans are going to vote for Kanye simply because he’s on the ballot. There’s simply too much at stake.”
  • A poll performed by Redfield and Wilton Strategies in July found that, out of 2,000 registered voters, there was only 2% support for Kanye’s candidacy; most respondents said they did not think Kanye’s campaign was serious.
  • According to University of Tulsa’s associate professor of political science, Matt Hindman, who is known for his research on third-party candidates and ballot-access laws, the notably small percentage of people who might vote for Kanye are not truly guaranteed to otherwise vote for Biden.
  • Nathan Gonzales, the editor and publisher of Inside Elections, a nonpartisan guide to elections, believes that, because it is a tight race, Kanye could tip the scale from one candidate to another. He went on to clarify, “We’re still a long way from knowing whether Kanye will have any impact,” noting that the answer lies in which state ballots Kanye will actually qualify for.
  • Kanye has already missed too many state filing deadlines to actually be a mathematically plausible contender. It has not yet been confirmed that his Wisconsin petition was submitted in time. He missed the mark on signatures needed to qualify for Illinois and California and missed the deadlines for Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Nevada – states in which a third-party candidate is more likely to tilt the scale.
  • Gonzales went on to state, “For people to say, ‘Oh, Kanye is Black so he’ll take Black voters from Biden’ is a gross oversimplification of a more complex situation.”
  • This understanding did not seem to stop President Trump making this tweet in July:

  • Trump has denied all implications of involvement in Kanye’s campaign or candidacy, stating in a White House press conference, “Other than I get along with him very well…I have nothing to do with him getting on the ballot. We’ll have to see what happens. We’ll see if he gets on the ballot but I’m not involved.”
  • Kanye has shown apparent support for Trump since the beginning of his term, often sporting a Make America Great Again hat and meeting the president in the Oval Office and at Trump’s hotels. It is believed that Kanye’s attempt to draw the Black vote away from Biden is based in alleged efforts to get Trump reelected.

Neither Kanye or any of his representatives have made a comment regarding the GOP’s involvement in his campaign or his hopes for the November election.

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Coronavirus

Formal Transition Between Trump and Biden Administrations Begin

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The Trump administration is ready to begin the formal transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden.

What We Know:

  • Emily Murphy sent a letter to the Biden team informing them that he has been ascertained as the winner of the 2020 presidential election by the General Services Administration. This will give the Biden transition team access to the necessary federal agencies and funding.
  • Although President Trump has not formally conceded the election to President-elect Biden, the GSA ascertainment is the first step in the peaceful transition of power. Trump tweeted some mixed messages over the past couple of days, recommending that the GSA and his team move forward with “initial protocols,” but also not conceding and even saying that the GSA ascertainment does not decide the presidency.

  • Murphy said that she came to her decision independently and was not directed by the president. “I was never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or GSA — with regard to the substance or timing of my decision. To be clear, I did not receive any direction to delay my determination,” said Murphy.
  • The Biden team had already begun the preparations for his presidency, well before the GSA ascertainment. Biden had already assembled a team for the pandemic response and announced several Cabinet picks.

  • The delay in ascertainment was detrimental for the Biden transition because it meant that they could not contact federal agencies, use government funding, or get access to Covid-19 data and vaccine distribution plans. They could not even get federal background checks on the White House staff and Cabinet appointments.

The transition process’s formal beginning is a crucial and necessary step for the incoming administration, especially for their coronavirus response. The US is already well past 12 million confirmed cases and nearing 260,000 deaths.

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Election 2020

Georgia’s Secretary of State Goes on Facebook Fact-Checking Spree Over Trump’s Misinformation

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger took to Facebook in a series of posts to fact-check Trump’s misinformation about the election.

What We Know:

  • Over the weekend, Trump falsely tweeted, “The Consent Decree signed by the Georgia Secretary of State, with the approval of Governor @BrianKempGA, at the urging of @staceyabrams, makes it impossible to check & match signatures on ballots and envelopes, etc. They knew they were going to cheat. Must expose real signatures!”
  • Raffensberg promptly shared a link on his Facebook page from the Associated Press fact-checking Trump’s tweet. AP News informed readers that there is nothing within the legal settlement that keeps Georgia election officials from checking signatures. Their website explains the signed consent decree focuses on the lack of standards statewide for assessing signatures on absentee ballot envelopes.
  • Absentee ballots requested on a paper application must be signed. The signature is compared by election officials to the signature in the voter’s registration system before the ballot is sent to the voter. Once the ballot returns, the obligatory signature on the outside of the envelope is compared to the signature in the voter registration file. The entire process is detailed in the consent decree, which was signed in March.
  • Accompanying the link, the GOP Secretary of State added to the opposition of Trump’s tweet stating, “The State of Georgia strengthened signature match this year.” He also advised that election officials were provided with signature match training from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. They were also required to confirm the signature match twice before casting the ballot. Finally, they generated an online portal for absentee ballots that checked and confirmed the voter’s driver’s licenses. He proceeded to say Georgia voters cast their ballots in secret to avoid intimidation from political parties and candidates to change their votes. The post ended with him “upholding their duty to protect the integrity of the vote.”
  • In another post, Raffensperger wrote, “The state of Georgia has had no excuse absentee ballots since 2005—”. No excuse absentee voting means any voter is permitted to request a mail ballot without supplying an excuse. “Only those who request a ballot can vote absentee”, he continued. He attached a screenshot below of a tweet from Trump in July saying that absentee ballots are fine because there is a precise process one must go through to get voting privilege, but mail-in ballots were not. He insinuated 20% fraudulent ballots due to mail-ins and a rigged election.
  • Collectively, Georgia’s Secretary of State made about seven posts on his Facebook page in rebuttal to Trump’s misinforming tweet. He disclosed that his office received multiple requests to match ballots to voters and expose how Georgians voted. “Georgia voters deserve to vote without intimidation,” he wrote, emphasizing his stance in valuing truth and integrity. He also noted that the first thing he did as Secretary of State was push legislation that banned absentee ballot harvesting. Raffensperger included that for the first time since 2005, he and his team secured and strengthened absentee voting. He shared more screenshots of Trump advocating for absentee ballots while shutting down mail-in votes as well.

In the final post of his debunking series, Raffernsperger called out U.S. Representative Doug Collins as a “failed candidate” and liar. This comes days after Collins said the Secretary of State’s team was responsible for the necessary recount in Georgia.

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Education

Virginia Professor Resigns After Facebook Post Calls Biden Supporters Anti-Christian

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Courtesy Progressive Party

Virginia college educator quit, officials said Monday, after he wrote on social media that President-elect Joe Biden supporters are “ignorant, anti-American and anti-Christian.”

What We Know:

  • Virginia Wesleyan University Campus, a private liberal arts school in Virginia Beach, stated that Paul Ewell, management, business, and economics professor, had quit. He had earlier stepped down as dean of Virginia Wesleyan’s Global Campus.
  • In the now-deleted FB post, Ewell wrote, “If you were ignorant anti-American and anti-Christian enough to vote for Biden, I really don’t want to be your social friend on social media. I wouldn’t hang out with you in real life, I don’t want to hang out with you virtually either. You have corrupted the election. You have corrupted our youth. You have corrupted our country. I have standards, and you don’t meet them. Please remove yourself.”
  • President Donald Trump increased Ewell’s remarks when he retweeted a story about the professor where the “ignorant, anti-American, and anti-Christian” comments were in the original post. The president called the description “Progress!”

  • Ewell stated earlier to Wavy, “I have many Democrat friends, and I want to apologize for saying that I didn’t want to be friends with them and for calling them names,” he told the station. “I am genuinely sorry for letting my anger get the best of me.”
  • Regarding the post, the University issued a statement just days afterward, saying, “These views and opinions are expressly the individual’s own. Civic engagement and religious freedom are at the core of the University’s values, and we remain an inclusive and caring community that empowers meaningful relationships through listening, understanding, and communication.”

Ewell stated to Wavy, he wrote the post in anger and that he regrets that he had set a poor example in that post of what a Christian should be.

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