Tag Archives: Clinton

Scott Walker finally retires campaign debt, but other candidates still owe

Scott Walker has finally paid off the debt he accrued during his short-lived presidential run, putting him in a good position for his third gubernatorial bid.

Walker owed $1.2 million when he dropped out of the race in 2015 after just 71 days. In June 2016, he still owed more than $800,000 for a campaign that spent lavishly — up to $90,000 per day at its peak.

Walker had promised to pay off all the campaign  debt by the end of 2016 and apparently he did. The governor employed some unusual fundraising strategies, including selling pro-Walker T-shirts for $45.

The campaign said it could not guarantee color and size of the T-shirts, but suggested they were suitable for framing or for use as material in crafts work.

In May, Walker offered to rent out his email and donor lists to other political candidates in order to raise money to retire his campaign  debt.

Walker campaign adviser Joe Fadness said in a memo to Walker on Jan. 13 that his campaign debt had been erased thanks to robust fundraising in December. Fadness hinted that the strong fundraising in December shows Walker is in a good position for a third gubernatorial run.

Fadness told Walker he’s showing strength at a crucial time and noted the governor has about 30 fundraising events scheduled for the first half of 2017.

Other candidates’ campaign debt

Meanwhile, other 2016 presidential candidates have left a swath of debt for security services across the nation, including here in Wisconsin.

The Center for Public Integrity reported this week that Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have ignored hundreds of thousands of dollars in outstanding bills stemming from police security for campaign events — from Vallejo, California, to the University of Pittsburgh.

Green Bay officials said the three White House aspirants stiffed the city on police protection costs totaling $24,000.

“We appreciate, and we feel honored, when the candidates come to Green Bay,” Celestine Jeffreys, chief of staff to Mayor Jim Schmitt, told the CFPI. “We are also very appreciative when they honor their debts.”

CFPI investigators found that costs associated with Trump’s campaign were the highest, because the president-elect’s rallies were unruly and often violent. Trump sometimes incited brawls, and his campaign staffers were physically involved in some of them.

Trump’s refusal to pay for security contrasts sharply with his campaign rhetoric. One of his central messages was calling for increased respect and resources for law enforcement.

But Trump — despite receiving demand letters and collection notices — doesn’t acknowledge in federal campaign financial disclosures that it owes cities a cent. Ditto the Clinton campaign, which hasn’t paid at least $25,000 in bills.

The Sanders campaign, on the other hand, acknowledges in federal campaign filings that it owes $449,409 to nearly two dozen municipalities and law enforcement agencies.

 

Despite controversy, Wisconsin electors will stick with Trump

Brian Westrate is one of 10 Republican Party insiders selected to serve as electors, the people who will cast ballots across the country Monday for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton. Electors have been under pressure from Trump opponents to not cast their ballots for him, even if he won the state.

Westrate laughed when asked if anyone had tried to convince him not to cast his Electoral College vote for president-elect Donald Trump.

“Let me give you the total as of right now,” Westrate said early last week. “48,324 emails about my role as elector, some have been for Mr. Trump and some have been asking me to maintain my role and honor.”
The small-business owner and GOP district chairman in Fall Creek, Wisconsin, said he also got about 100 letters or postcards, from all 50 states, and 30 phone calls.

“I have a Twitter debate with a former porn star from California asking me to change my vote,” said Westrate, a Republican activist from Eau Claire. “It’s been fascinating.”

Westrate said he isn’t budging, and neither are any of the other Republican electors in Wisconsin who spoke to The Associated Press. Six of the 10 electors spoke with AP about their intentions while the other five did not respond to phone or email messages.
But elector Brad Courtney, chairman of the Republican Party, insisted that all of them would be sticking with Trump.

“Wisconsin voters spoke loud and clear and I intend to honor their decision,” Courtney said. “All of us will be doing the same.”

Trump defeated Clinton in the state by less than a percentage point.

Democratic members of the Electoral College trying to stop Trump from becoming president have dubbed themselves “Hamilton Electors” and are trying to convince electors from both parties to unite behind another Republican.
It takes 270 electoral votes to win the White House, and Trump won enough states to garner 306 electoral votes.

Three dozen electors would have to fall away for him to lose, and only one Republican elector nationwide told AP he wouldn’t vote for Trump.

Still, a cloud of illegitimacy will hang over Trump’s presidency. He won three states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — by razor-thin margins, which led to calls for recounts. Despite Trump’s tiny victories in those states, however, election laws award him all of their electoral votes. Without them, he would have lost.

Clinton won the popular vote, racking up a significant majority of 2.8 million more votes than Trump. The president-elect, however, contends that Clinton’s winning votes were cast fraudulently by illegal immigrants, although he’s offered no evidence.
While Trump and his campaign describe his victory as an “electoral landslide,” his win actually ranks in the lowest one-third of electoral victories since World War II.

Trump’s win is also overshadowed by Russian hacking attacks aimed at helping him and hurting Clinton. There was also a Russian-coordinated campaign of misinformation on social media that vilified Clinton, persuading a majority of Republicans that Clinton operated a child-sex ring out of a Washington, D.C., pizza parlor.

Trump is a self-proclaimed fan of Russia’s virtual dictator Vladimir Putin, who has amassed $85 billion in assets as that nation’s entrenched, military-backed leader. He could only have amassed such a fortune through the graft and corruption that are as rampant in post-Soviet Russia, just as they were under communism. Trump’s choice for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has strong financial ties to the Russian state’s oil industry.

All of the many unprecedented circumstances surrounding the 2016 election have led to calls for electoral reform by voters from both parties.

Pennsylvania recount halted, Trump aggressively seeks to stop others too

Voters backed by the Green Party have dropped their court case seeking to force a statewide recount of votes cast in Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election.

The state, which has voted Democratic in the last six elections, gave Republican Donald Trump a one percent margin of victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. About 49,000 more voters chose Trump out of the more than six million ballots cast in the state.

That’s a victory margin of .8 percent. A margin of less than .5 percent would have automatically triggered a recount under Pennsylvania law.

The decision to drop the lawsuit in Pennsylvania came today, just two days before a court hearing was scheduled in the case. The Associated Press reported that the Green Party-backed voters who filed the case said they “are regular citizens of ordinary means” and cannot afford the $1 million bond ordered to be paid to the court by 5 p.m. Monday.

Despite dropping the court case, Green Party-backed efforts to force recounts and analyze election software in scattered precincts were continuing.

In addition to Pennsylvania, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein also has spearheaded efforts to force recounts in Michigan and Wisconsin, where one is already underway. All three states share a history of backing Democrats for president, but they were narrowly and unexpectedly won by Trump.

At the heart of concerns by Stein and others is whether Russian hacktivists flipped votes in electronic voting machines in the three states. Trump’s tiny margin of victory in those states proved decisive in handing him the White House.

Pennsylvania’s top elections official Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, a Democrat, has said there’s no evidence of cyberattacks or irregularities in the election. He predicted that a recount would change few votes.

Stein want so ensure ‘our votes are safe and secure

But Stein had said the purpose of the recount effort is to ensure “our votes are safe and secure,” considering hackers’ probing of election targets in other states and hackers’ accessing of the emails of the Democratic National Committee and several Clinton staffers. U.S. security officials have said they believe Russian hackers orchestrated the email hacks, something Russia has denied.

In the weeks leading up to the election, hackers and social media trolls backed by the Russian government worked hard to discredit Clinton. Embarrassing messages hacked from the email account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta were disseminated by Wikileaks and turned into headlines by virtually all of the nation’s mainstream media.

Fake stories spread damaging falsehoods about Clinton all over Facebook and other social media. One widely distributed post claimed that Pope Francis was supporting Trump. Teenagers in the Balkans produced the majority of the lies, some of which were picked up by news media as facts. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to address the problem, but critics complain that the steps he’s considering are vague and ineffective.

Hackers ignored Trump, who has repeatedly praised Russia’s Vladimir Putin — a virtual dictator of the nation who controls the media and jails or kills dissenters.

Republicans eager to halt recounts

Republicans are leaving no stone unturned in their effort to halt the recount underway in Wisconsin and the one pending in Michigan.

Pro-Trump Republicans in Wisconsin on Dec. 2 filed filed a lawsuit to halt the recount underway in the state. But a federal court rejected the request their request for a temporary restraining order to stop the count, saying there’s no harm in allowing it to continue.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson scheduled a hearing for Dec. 9 on the underlying laws in the case.

Trump and his backers also filed suit to halt plans in Michigan to begin a recount there next week. Trump’s victory in Michigan was only 10,700 votes.

Michigan’s elections board is deadlocked on the request to prevent a recount, which means it will start next week unless the courts intervene.

Two Republicans voted Dec. 2 to prevent the recount, while two Democrats said it should proceed. Republican Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette asked the state Supreme Court on to intervene and stop the recount.

That motion is pending.

 

Clinton campaign joins recount efforts, starting in Wisconsin

Hillary Cinton’s campaign on Saturday announced that it would participate in a Wisconsin recount initiated by Green Party nominee Jill Stein in Wisconsin.

The campaign also said it would participate in recounts initiated by Green in Michigan and Pennsylvania.

But Clinton campaign counsel Marc Elias said the campaign’s own investigation has not uncovered any evidence of hacking of voting systems.

For days, activists had been pressuring Clinton to join the effort, in part because she won the popular vote by a significant margin of at least 2 million votes more than Republican vote. Also at issue is whether Russian government hackers had tampered with electronic voting equipment.

The Clinton campaign’s announcement came just a day after the Wisconsin Elections Commission accepted a request from Stein for a recount in the state.

Stein’s campaign has raised more than $4.5 million online to cover the costs of recounts in all three swing states that Clinton lost by razor-thin margins.

“The commission is preparing to move forward with a statewide recount of votes for president of the United States, as requested by these candidates,” WEC Administrator Michael Haas announced.

He continued, “We have assembled an internal team to direct the recount, we have been in close consultation with our county clerk partners, and have arranged for legal representation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

“We plan to hold a teleconference meeting for county clerks next week and anticipate the recount will begin late in the week after the Stein campaign has paid the recount fee, which we are still calculating.”

The last statewide recount was of the Supreme Court election in 2011.

The state is working under a federal deadline of Dec. 13 to complete the recount.

As a result, county boards of canvassers may need to work evenings and weekends to meet the deadlines, according to a news release from the department.

Haas said, “The recount process is very detail-oriented, and this deadline will certainly challenge some counties to finish on time.”

A recount is different than an audit and is more rigorous.

More than 100 reporting units across the state were randomly selected for a separate audit of their voting equipment as required by state law, and that process has already begun.

Electronic voting equipment audits determine whether all properly-marked ballots are accurately tabulated by the equipment.

In a recount, all ballots — including those that were originally hand counted — are examined to determine voter intent before being retabulated.

In addition, the county boards of canvassers will examine other documents, including poll lists, written absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots, and provisional ballots before counting the votes.

Haas said the commission’s role is to order the recount, to provide legal guidance to the counties during the recount and to certify the results.

If the candidates disagree with the results of the recount, the law gives them the right to appeal in circuit court within five business days after the recount is completed.

The circuit court is where issues are resolved that may be discovered during the recount but are not resolved to the satisfaction of the candidates.

“Wisconsin has the most decentralized election system in the United States,” Haas said in his statement.

The Clinton campaign has yet to issue a statement on the recounts. Klein’s website said the recount is “not intended to help Hillary Clinton.”

“These recounts are part of an election integrity movement to attempt to shine a light on just how untrustworthy the U.S. election system is,” according to the website.

Pollster Nate Silver and other experts don’t expect the recounts to change the results of the election.

Throughout the last weeks of the election, hackers — believed by experts to have been Russians — hacked the email of John Podesta and broadcast damning messages from inside the Clinton campaign on a daily basis. Mainstream media picked up the stories, which were never verified.

A complicated Russian-backed system exploiting social media also spread damaging lies about Clinton. The false stories were sometimes published by major news outlets.

Russia tried to influence the outcome of an election in Ukraine, and activists fear that the country might have infiltrated computerized U.S. voting machines and thrown the results. In addition to Wisconsin, Stein is asking for recounts in Michigan and Pennsylvania, where results were extremely close and at odds with the vast majority of polls just prior to Election Day.

Under current law, election officials in most states don’t have systems for checking whether results were changed using malware.

Wisconsin law calls for the state to perform a recount at a candidate’s request as long as he or she can pay for it. The state has never performed a presidential recount. Election officials estimate the effort will cost up to $1 million.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.

Hate crimes spike, common decency disappears in wake of Trump victory

Hate crimes have spiked and the practice of common decency has all but disappeared in the immediate aftermath of Donald J. Trump’s Electoral College victory.

Racist vandals spray-painted the dugout of a baseball field in upstate New York with a swastika and the words, “Make America white again.”

White power chants and racist events are popping up on university campuses.

At Southern Illinois University, white students posed in blackface in front of a confederate flag and posted the pictures on social media. In the wake of the recent murder of a Saudi Arabian UW-Stout student, another student — who is black and Muslim — wrote to the chancellor, “I am terrified of what this country has become.”

A woman in South Philly found her car spray-painted with the words “Trump Rules” and “Black Bitch.”

In Queens, New York, immigrants found official-looking papers peppered with racist epithets under their apartment doors telling them to leave because they have no place in Donald Trump’s America.

The Ku Klux Klan is planning a victory parade in North Carolina on Dec. 3. Trump’s spokeswoman disavowed the group, but march they will.

President Trump

The pundits who gave Trump the stature to win by ignoring his policies, mitigating his bizarre behavior and treating him like a legitimate presidential candidate are now on camera speculating what a Donald Trump presidency will look like. We already know.

And it’s not as if Trump played coy about his beliefs. Read his tweets or review videos of his rallies and you’ll see, in high definition, everything you need to know about life in America under President Trump.

The river of bile spewed by Trump and his followers on the campaign trail opened a Pandora’s box of racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and nearly every other form of hatred imaginable, from sea to polluted sea. Respect and decency have been washed away. For those of us who never imagined such toxicity was bottled up behind the friendly smiles of people we deal with in everyday life, the revelation has been soul-crushing.

If his campaign meant anything, Trump’s presidency will cost us a lot:

  • The chance to address climate change.
  • Accelerating income inequality.
  • Ramped-up terrorism and the increased probability of war.
  • Renewal of the same reckless financial practices that caused the Great Recession.
  • Unheard-of levels of poisonous air and water.
  • The mass sell-off of natural resources.
  • Millions of uninsured citizens and giant leaps in the cost of pharmaceuticals and health care.
  • The loss of hard-won rights for women, LGBT people and the press.
  • The highest levels of intimidation and violence experienced in decades by African Americans, Muslims, Hispanics, Jews and members of other minority groups.

But the greatest cost to society is already clear: the erosion of the common decency that allows our pluralistic society to function. The social pressures that discouraged bigots, misogynists and liars from acting out in public began to evaporate when the highest political office in the free world was won by a crude, arrogant, insulting, blatantly dishonest and emotionally broken throwback who brags about sexually abusing women, ripping off workers and scamming the system over which he will preside.

Trump campaigned against “political correctness” and prevailed.

This may well mean that treating women like inferior sexual objects will return to acceptability in many quarters. Slurs and epithets that carry centuries of hurt will become part of everyday parlance, sparking divisiveness and violence that will make the riots of recent years seem like picnics by comparison. Rogue police officers, bigoted landlords and employers, and other closeted segregationists in positions of authority will inch the nation backward to Jim Crow or worse.

Social chaos will reign.

What to do

We celebrate the peaceful protests against Trump’s election that swell across the nation, and we hope that they will continue with the same sense of urgency and purpose that propelled the civil rights marches of the ’60s and the street activism against AIDS in the ’80s and ’90s. In New York, one protester held aloft a sign that puts this election in perspective. It said: “Your vote was a hate crime.”

In the wake of that crime, all decent citizens must stand up for American values by volunteering for and contributing to organizations fighting the onslaught of legislative transgressions that Trump’s presidency will bring. There is no time to sit on the sidelines and ponder. If you’re angry, throw that anger immediately into high gear and use it.

Maybe you sat silent during the election out of fear of offending friends, co-workers and relatives who backed Trump. Let that fear go. Now you can share your values without having to defend Hillary Clinton from the absurd propaganda that was spread about her during the campaign. Get right to the issues.

Try to enlist Trump voters in your efforts on an issue-by-issue basis. Polls (if they are to be believed) showed the majority of people agreed with Clinton’s policies. Do everything you can to fight for them.

Speak out  when you hear offensive language and ideas expressed in your presence. Counter misinformation with truth. Question irrational beliefs until it becomes obvious how absurd they are — without having to actually state how absurd they are. But remain a model of decency in all that you do, because it’s on your shoulders to keep decency alive.

And don’t allow hateful language and jokes to go unchallenged. Let people know how offended you are, and pray that haters are still civilized enough to keep their views quiet when they know those views diminish them in the eyes of many others.

Enough others, in fact, to have defeated Trump at the polls, despite the unparalleled, unrelenting attacks against her by the FBI, the Russians, right-wing hackers and a media more interested in ratings than reality.

Wisconsin Democrats ‘destroyed’

Wisconsin Democrats were destroyed in the Nov. 8 elections. Here’s a closer look at some of the obvious, and not so obvious, winners and losers following the election:

WINNERS:

  • REPUBLICANS: There’s no doubt about it, Republicans did even better than they expected. Donald Trump and Sen. Ron Johnson both won, despite never leading in public polling. Mike Gallagher kept the 8th Congressional District in the GOP’s control and Republicans even picked up at least two seats in the state Legislature when it was Democrats who were expected to gain. GOP strategist Brandon Scholz called it a “seismic” victory, while University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden simply said Democrats were “destroyed.”
  • BETSY ANKNEY: The campaign manager for Johnson’s re-election effort, she steered him to victory in a race that even Republicans had written off as unwinnable. Ankney kept an upbeat, positive attitude even as Republicans pulled money from the race and Johnson struggled with questions about his support for Trump. Johnson said Nov. 9  it was when the National Republican Senatorial Committee pulled money from his race that he “felt free.” His campaign had quirky ads, including one where Johnson dodges urine while changing a diaper. Ultimately, Johnson outperformed Trump to become the first Wisconsin Republican to win election to the Senate in a presidential year since 1980.
  • U.S. REP. SEAN DUFFY and PETE MEACHUM: Duffy, the former Real World reality TV star-turned congressman in northern Wisconsin, went all-in for Trump early. His chief of staff, Pete Meachum, took a leave of absence in June to run Trump’s campaign in Wisconsin. Trump shocked Republican and Democratic expectations with his narrow victory over Hillary Clinton, fueled by depressed turnout in Democratic areas and stronger response in more rural parts of the state like Duffy’s congressional district. Duffy is frequently mentioned as a possible challenger to Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in 2018.
  • SEN. SCOTT FITZGERALD: The Republican leader of the state Senate not only held two Republican seats that Democrats were hoping to win, he picked up at least one seat to increase the GOP majority to at least 20 seats. Republicans privately questioned some of Fitzgerald’s moves on what races he was targeting, but no one was second-guessing him on Wednesday with the largest GOP Senate majority since 1971.
  • GOP INFRASTRUCTURE: Republicans have long pointed with pride to their ground game and infrastructure that propelled Gov. Scott Walker to victory three times in four years between 2010 and 2014. That effort, which worked closely with Johnson and helped Trump as well, is widely seen as besting Wisconsin Democrats operation. There’s no arguing with the results.

LOSERS:

  • DEMOCRATS: Russ Feingold lost for the second time in six years to Johnson, despite being the heavy favorite this year. He passed up two chances to run against Walker for governor, both in the 2012 recall and the 2014 general election, so he could get his rematch with Johnson in a presidential year. The loss could mean the end of his long political career in the state. Hillary Clinton has never won in Wisconsin. She lost the 2008 presidential primary and she lost the primary again this year to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. She decided against campaigning in the state during the general election, a decision that the campaign is likely regretting given her narrow loss to Trump. And Wisconsin  Democrats,  faced with losses up and down the ballot in a year when victories were expected, has more soul searching to do.
  • REP. PETER BARCA and SEN. JENNIFER SHILLING: Wisconsin Democrats in the state Legislature didn’t plan to flip either the Senate or Assembly in their favor, but they were expected to at least pick up some seats. Instead, Democrats lost a seat in the Assembly giving Republicans their largest majority since 1957 and Shilling was in danger of losing her race. She’s currently 52 votes ahead and likely headed toward a recount. Even if she wins, her leadership position may be in jeopardy after Republicans picked up a seat in the Senate, giving them at least a 20-13 majority.
  • POLLSTERS and PUNDITS: No public polling ever showed Trump or Johnson winning in Wisconsin. Even Johnson’s campaign said their internal numbers had the race tightening, but he was never ahead. Republicans cautioned, repeatedly, that Trump’s path to victory in Wisconsin was extremely narrow. The outcome left even the most seasoned political observers wondering how it happened. “I am not sure why or how Donald Trump won,” said Scholz, the former state party director. “I’ve been scratching my head the whole time going, ‘What did we miss? What didn’t we see? Where did it come from?’”

Milwaukee elections chief: Voter ID law hurt city’s turnout

Milwaukee’s elections chief said Wisconsin’s voter ID law caused enough poll problems in the city to  lower voter turnout.

Milwaukee saw a decline of about 41,000 voters in the Nov. 8 election compared with 2012, when President Barack Obama won broad support in the city and coasted to re-election, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

“We saw some of the greatest declines were in the districts we projected would have the most trouble with voter ID requirements,” said Neil Albrecht, executive director of the city’s Election Commission.

According to Albrecht, the four districts with the most “transient, high poverty” residents had trouble meeting the photo identification requirement. Before those voters had the option of taking along a “corroborating witnesses” who could vouch for them at the polls.

“We had a lot of calls,” Albrecht said. “There were college students with roommate situations or spouses where everything was in one spouse’s name.”

But Tom Evenson, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, claims the voter ID law didn’t hurt voter turnout.

“Voter turnout in this year’s presidential primary was the highest since 1972 with voter ID in place, so to now suggest turnout was down in the general election because of it is wrong,” Evenson said. “We have made voting easy while ensuring it is hard to cheat. Lower turnout in the general election was true nationwide. It was not unique to Wisconsin or voter ID.”

Albrecht did not have statistics detailing how many voters were turned away for not having the proper ID. He acknowledged that some of the drop-off in turnout resulted from less enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

But the lower turnout was among Clinton supporters. Trump won razor-thin 27,000-vote victory in the state by picking up about 1,500 more votes than Romney in the state; Clinton lost by receiving nearly 239,000 fewer votes than Obama.

Meanwhile, third-party candidates received more than 150,000 votes.

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin had 250 volunteers observing polls, mostly in places that have historically had a high number of election day registrations, such as college campuses and urban communities.

Executive director Andrea Kaminski said observers didn’t see a big problem at the polls but fears some voters never went to the polls due to the ID requirements.

“How many people are like that?” she said. “Those are the people we can’t count.”

 

Eric Trump says Ron Johnson to play role of dad’s Washington insider

Stumping for his father in Wisconsin, Eric Trump crowed that Sen. Ron Johnson can help execute his father’s vision as president by working from “within Washington” while Donald Trump brings an outsider’s perspective to the White House.

Eric Trump spoke to The Associated Press before a series of campaign stops for his father in western Wisconsin, including a couple with Johnson, who’s locked in a tight re-election race against Democrat Russ Feingold.

One flashpoint in the race has been Johnson’s attempts to cast himself as a Washington outsider and Feingold as a career politician. The Feingold campaign immediately seized on Trump’s remarks as evidence that Johnson isn’t the outsider he claims to be.

“Eric Trump couldn’t have said it better: Sen. Johnson is the Trump family’s personal Washington insider to show them around D.C.,” Feingold spokesman Michael Tyler said.

Asked why he’s campaigning with Johnson, who is already in Washington, Eric Trump said, “It’s a great question. You also need people from within Washington. You need people who know how the government works and can go in there and shred apart the parts that aren’t working.”

Johnson spent his career in the business world before defeating Feingold in 2010 during a mid-term tea party wave election that saw GOP candidates upset Democrats across the country at all levels of government. Their rematch this year is one of a handful of races that could swing the Senate to Democratic control.

Yesterday, the National Republican Senatorial Committee said it was making a last-minute $1 million investment in the race. It released a television ad blasting Feingold as a hypocrite on campaign finance, a theme Johnson has hammered during the campaign.

PACs supported by the Koch brothers have also invested very heavily in the race on Johnson’s behalf.

GOP’s closing argument: ‘If Clinton wins, we’ll do nothing but hound her’

Republican lawmakers are trying to delegitimize a Hillary Clinton presidency before it’s clear there will be one. They’re threatening to block her Supreme Court nominees, investigate her endlessly, and even impeach her.

The effect that all this would have on the nation seems to be of no concern to Republican Party officials. Their focus is strictly on partisanship and revenge, not the greater good. Their rhetoric is all-the-more striking because newly elected presidents traditionally enjoy a honeymoon period with Congress and the public. For Clinton, the honeymoon is over even before it’s clear she’ll be elected.

It’s come to this: The best argument Republicans can make for Donald Trump is that if Clinton is elected, they’ll do nothing but persecute her — public business be damned!

Charging Clinton with “high crime or misdemeanor” is how Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin described the GOP’s agenda in a Clinton presidency to the Beloit Daily News. Forget creating jobs, addressing gun violence, the growing threat of global terrorism. The Republicans’ goal is is to take out Clinton — quite literally according to Trump, who’s virtually called for her assassination in a couple of stump speeches.

GOP Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, in Fox News interview, gleefully predicted that Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State would lead to her impeachment. He was all but salivating on camera at the prospect.

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Richard Burr of North Carolina and John McCain of Arizona have suggested that they’ll oppose any and all Supreme Court nominations Clinton might make. It apparently hasn’t occurred to them that they’re threatening to shirk their constitutional duties. Shouldn’t that behavior be an impeachable offense? It’s certainly more destructive to our democracy than charges of mishandling email — charges that have been dismissed once already by the FBI.

“You’ve got some Republicans in Congress already suggesting they will impeach Hillary. She hasn’t even been elected yet!” an astonished President Obama told a crowd in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “How does our democracy function like that?”

Well, it goes like this. In the House, Republicans have already spent more than two years and $7 million investigating Clinton’s role while secretary of state in the attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012. Never mind that Clinton’s prosecutors are the same budget hawks who believe government overreach and wasteful spending are the deadliest of sins — and never mind that they belong to the party that, based on phony evidence, created the most perilous global crisis since the Civil War.

None of Clinton’s obsessed GOP opponents seem concerned about the inevitable and potentially far more serious investigations certain to be leveled at Donald Trump following the election. Trump’s potential “high crimes and misdemeanors” are also getting a publicity pass from the FBI, even though, unlike allegations against Clinton,  “many of Trump’s are fully documented in court cases and legal proceedings,” as The Atlantic pointed out.

Trump faces a civil trial for fraud and racketeering under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act over his disgraced “Trump University.” He faces child rape charges in this month. A dozen women have charged him with sexual assault.

Trump’s ascendancy to the White House could potentially open — or reopen — thousands of cases deriving from his shady business dealings: stiffing of contractors and investors, avoiding taxes, hiring illegal immigrants, skirting trade laws, misusing his so-called shell of a “charity,” and so on.

Clinton’s transgressions, if true, as pretty par for the course for someone who’s spent decades in public life and political office. Trump’s, on the other hand, are off the charts for anyone considering a run for even a minor political office.

Yet GOP lawmakers, who are likely to retain their majority in the House, show no sign that they see the glaring imbalance. Some pundits have suggested that their end goal is to get veep candidate Mike Pence in the White House, where he can culminate their efforts to take abortion rights away from American women, reignite pogroms against LGBT Americans and, most especially, ensure that the corporate lords of GOP campaign coffers can continue to advance their grip over society.

Sadly, the threats against Clinton by right-wing congressional leaders are nothing new. For eight years they’ve struggled to delegitimize President Barack Obama’s presidency and to block nearly every effort he’s introduced to help working Americans. If Clinton is elected, the nature of their work in Washington will not change one iota; it will merely be redirected from a black man to a woman. When they say that a Clinton presidency will be a continuation of the Obama administration, they know what they’re talking about, because they’re the very people who will ensure that it is.

Perhaps all this is why the GOP’s top congressional leaders, Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, have passed up opportunities to dispute some of the outlandish anti-Clinton comments from their rank-and-file.  Instead, they’ve co-opted those crazy charges to help make their closing argument on why to vote for Trump, which is essentially this: “If Clinton wins, we’re going to waste the next four to eight years trying to find her guilty of something.”

Not only is that the most cynical, negative and irresponsible idea underpinning a campaign in American history, but, given Trump’s cartloads of legal baggage, it’s also among the most disingenuous.

 

Trump, Kaine campaign in Wisconsin during election’s waning days

 

Millions of dollars are pouring into Wisconsin for the final week of the election, as jittery Democrats try to push Russ Feingold over the finish line in the U.S. Senate race against Sen. Ron Johnson, one of the key races nationwide that could determine whether Republicans retain majority control.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton’s running mate Tim Kaine were also both headed to Wisconsin on Tuesday, as numerous surrogates including House Speaker Paul Ryan, Chelsea Clinton and former Democratic Sen. Herb Kohl make closing arguments and urge backers to vote now or on Election Day.

Johnson has long been seen as one of the most vulnerable GOP Senate incumbents this election cycle. Democrats are trying to retake control of the Senate, and must pick up four or five seats to do so, depending on whether they retain control of the White House.

Television spending in Wisconsin’s Senate race ratcheted up on Monday, with a super PAC backing Johnson releasing a six-figure statewide ad that appeared to concede a Clinton victory. The ad by the Let America Work PAC, featuring a steaming pile of cow manure, argued that Johnson needed to win to provide a check on Feingold and Clinton.

That ad comes after the Senate Majority PAC on Friday announced a surprise late $2 million ad buy in Wisconsin to help put Feingold over the top against Johnson. The Republican incumbent’s campaign has long argued the race is tightening, and nervous Democrats were refocusing on the race where Feingold had long been ahead to insure there isn’t a late surprise.

Clinton’s campaign also launched its first Wisconsin television ads of the campaign on Monday in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. Clinton’s Wisconsin campaign director Jake Hajdu said the ads, costing at least $100,000, were designed to help Feingold and other Democrats.

Feingold was expected to campaign with Kaine on Tuesday for at least one of his stops in Appleton and Madison.

Trump and his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, were scheduled to hold an evening rally this evening in Eau Claire. Polls have consistently shown them trailing Clinton in Wisconsin, allowing her to focus her time elsewhere. She has not campaigned in the state since the primary in April.

While Johnson has stood by his backing of Trump, he’s also kept his distance and not campaigned with him in the state.

Johnson will be getting some help from other Wisconsin Republicans — including Ryan and Gov. Scott Walker — when a GOP bus tour launches on Thursday.

Clinton’s absence from the state is noteworthy. If she does not make an appearance here before the election, it will be the first time since 1972 that one of the two major party candidates for president did not campaign in the state during the general election season, based on research by University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Barry Burden.

Wisconsin hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since 1984 and polls this year have consistently shown her ahead. Also, since early voting started in late September, Democratic counties have come in stronger than GOP ones. Voters do not register by political party in Wisconsin, so it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions from the numbers.