Votelaw -- Law and Politics

At the intersection of law and politics: Campaign finance, redistricting, election law and administration, and politicians in legal trouble.


Keeping up with the Joneses

just a small post to keep things alive.

Considering ...

... what has happened to other sites, I have decided to post here every so often.


This blog has moved Please go to my new blog site.
Maintenance work There will be little blogging for a day or two while I do some behind the scenes maintenance.


Hawaii criminal complaint in campaign finance case Honolulu attorney Edward Y.C. Chun has been charged with assising a corporation in reimbursing contributions made by three employees to the campaign of Mayor Jeremy Harris, according to the Honolulu Advertiser.
Kentucky GOP primary for governor Cong. Ernie Fletcher won the Republican primary for governor with 57% of the vote. State Rep. Steve Nunn, who tried to have Fletcher removed from the ballot, received 13%. Nunn claimed that Fletcher was disqualified by the removal of his running mate Hunter Bates on the grounds that Bates had not met the 7-year residency requirement. See the story in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Louisiana redistricting The Justice Department has precleared the Louisiana House redistricting plan, according to the Associated Press.
New York City council term limits extension Here is a more complete story from Newsday on the state appellate decision Monday to allow some city council members to serve 10 years instead of the "two terms" provided in a voter-approved referendum. The City Council had amended the law to allow members forced to serve a two-year term after redistricting to serve that term plus two 4-year terms.
Canada begins consideration of electoral system reform Rick Hasen has a post on his Election Law blog about the publication of the discussion paper, "Renewing Democracy: Debating Electoral Reform in Canada." I thought that I had mentioned that report months ago, but can't find it. Those interested in true reform of the electoral system would do well to review this report. I'm currently having a good time blogging about the efforts of the GOP to redo the congressional districts in Texas and Colorado to give themselves an advantage. If some sort of proportional system were used, the incentive or opportunity to gerrymander would vanish. For instance, if Alabama used the system called Additonal Member System in Scotland and Mixed-Member Proportional Voting in New Zealand, we could scrap our 7 congressional districts and replace them with 4 districts. Each would elect one member of Congress using the same system we do now. In addition, each voter would have a second vote to cast for a party. If the Republicans got about 5/7 of the statewide "party-choosing" vote, they would get 5 members of the total delegation; if they had won 3 of the 4 districts seats, they would get two elected from their statewide list. If they had won only 2 district seats, they would get all three of the statewide seats. What's the point in gerrymandering to screw the other party, if the other party is going to get a fair share of the seats no matter how gerrymandered the system? Note: This Additional Member System is used in Germany, but I don't remember the German term for it.
More fallout from the Texas redistricting saga Josh Marshall, whose Talking Points Memo has done a lot on the Texas story, has a column in The Hill today concerning the efforts of Tom DeLay to get federal involvement in the efforts to track down the runaway Democrats. The Democrats, in the meanwhile, are asking for "who knew what when" in the request from the Texas DPS to the Homeland Security Department to track the plane of one Democrat. The Houston Chronicle reports that the Texas Public Safety Commission refused to discuss the matter with a Democratic legislator. The Dallas Morning News also has a story. AP is now reporting that Texas DPS has destroyed the records requesting the search. Finally, KRIS-TV reports a conservative group has threatened to file a bar complaint against the legislator-attorneys in the Killer D's for "resisting arrest" when they refused to return to Texas when confronted by the Texas DPS in Armore, OK.
Colorado congressional district maps Daniel Smith, of the U of Denver pol sci depaprtment, has clued me into the link to find the 2003 congressional plan passed by the legislature and now under attack. Go here and click on "View Interactive Legislative District Maps" -- yes, that's what it says and the link confused me too.
Mississippi judicial campaign investigation The Biloxi Sun Herald reports today that Richard Scruggs paid off an $80,000 campaign loan for Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz. Scruggs has 4 cases pending before the Supreme Court. The paper does not say whether Diaz has recused himself from those cases.
Colorado redistricting The Legislature has hired Richard Westfall to represent it in the suit brought by Sen. Mary Ann "Moe" Keller against the new redistricting plan. See the AP story in the Rocky Mountain News. For some reason, Democrats have objected to spending taxpayer money on this suit, according to the Denver Post. Sen. John Andrews, the sponsor of the redistricting, defends his conduct in a letter to the Denver Post (it's the 4th down.)


South Carolina doing a mid-term redistricting The S.C. House is considering a bill to make minor changes to the court-ordered redistricting plan to reduce the number of split precincts. See the AP story here.
New York City law extending term limits is OK An appellate court has ruled that the City Council's amendment of the city term limits law is not invalid. The Council passed the law because the term limits law would have unfairly affected the members of the council whose terms are shortened to 2 years because of redistricting. Read the AP report here.
BCRA stay Thanks to Marty Ledermar Of SCOTUSblog for providing a link to the stay order and partial dissent by the 3-judge court. Two judges granted the stay and Judge Leon dissented in part.


Contributions by Iraq-rebuilding contractors Thomas Hargrove of Scripts Howard News Service reports
Construction and engineering firms seeking federal contracts to rebuild war-torn Iraq made millions of dollars in political contributions last year, including extensive use of big-money donations to the major political parties.
DSCC complains to FEC about Club for Growth ads The Rapid City Journal reported earlier this week,
Television ads that take Sen. Tom Daschle, D-S.D., to task for opposing President Bush's tax-cut package break the new federal campaign-finance laws, Democratic leaders believe. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a formal complaint against ad sponsor Club for Growth with the Federal Election Commission this week. The DSCC contends that Club for Growth uses unrestricted soft money to campaign against an individual candidate, something a new federal law says can be done only with limited hard money.
Mississippi campaign finance/bribery probe While the Washington Post has an article on this probe, the Clarion-Ledger has more details here, and here. The Biloxi Sun Herald has several articles here, here, here, and here. The basic allegation seems to be that Paul Minor is underwriting judicial election campaigns in return for rulings. Since this is before a grand jury and almost nobody is talking to the press, there are lots of rumors and inuendos in the stories.
PR in Scotland I reported earlier this week that the new coalition government in Scotland agreed to adopt Single Transferable Vote in local councils in Scotland. The Glasgow Sunday Mail reports that Labour could lose control of 7 local councils because of the new system. The Glasgow Herald has a column asking whether the proliferation of voting systems in Scotland means its voters are sophisticated or confused. The Evening Telegraph reports that Dundee's council elections using First Past The Post resulted in a proportional distribution of the seats among the parties.
Montana redistricting suit The Helena (MT) Independent Record has an editorial today commenting on the GOP effort to undo the redistricting plan of the independent commission. Yesterday, the AP reported on the initial hearing of the suit challenging the GOP's new law. The judge "challenged the assertion that legislators were acting within their constitutional power in changing the criteria for the plan after it was adopted by the Districting and Apportionment Commission in February."
Colorado redistricting Rep. McInnis and Beauprez claim that they knew nothing in advance about the filing of the redistricting plan (favorable to both) in the Colorado legislature -- despite the involvement of Tom DeLay and Karl Rove. The "Spin Cycled" column in the Denver Post offers this contrary evidence.
Texas redistricting and the flight of the Killer Ds How will history view the Killer Ds "hiding out" in Oklahoma for 4 days? The El Paso Times offers this assortment of views.


Federal probe of Ga. Speaker Paul McCord reports on Political State Report that there is a federal probe of the Georgia speaker of the house for using campaign funds for personal expenses, including making mortgage payments on his condo.
Other redistricting stories Green Party members are challenging the new redistricting plan for the Maine House because it divides the only Green-held district in the state. See the story on News 8 WMTW. Suffolk County, NY, has adopted a new redistricting plan on a party line vote. Two Ds will be paired in one district. Newsday has stories here, and here.
The Killer D's are back in Texas Here are some stories on the week-long flight of the Killer D's. Houston Chronicle, "Democrats kept an eye on each other," here    and "Glad to be back home," here Austin American Statesman -- "Wayward lawmakers back at Capitol, ready to get back to work now that redistricting is dead," here    and "Both parties emerge with greater unity," by Dave McNeely, here New York Times, "U.S. Agency to Review Its Role in Hunt for Texas Lawmaker," here


More advice sought for defense fund Another pol in trouble, James W. Treffinger, is seeking to use his leftover campaign funds for the defense of his criminal case. See his request here.
An Analysis of Election Fraud Demos has published a study of fraud in elections, "Securing the Vote: An Analysis of Election Fraud." It finds that fraud is a small problem in American elections. Notice of this report came to me in "Democracy Dispatches," a email newsletter Demos sends out periodically. To see the latest issue, click here and to sign up, click here.
The Texas strays return in triumph or obliquy The Democrats have returned to the Capitol according to the Austin American-Statesman. The paper also has PDFs of the current and proposed maps. The Austin Chronicle publishes the statement of the absconding Democrats. Bob Ray Sanders has a pro-Democratic commentary in the Fort Worth Star Telegram.
Colorado redistricting The Colorado Supreme Court has agreed to hear the suit by Attorney General Ken Salazar against the Secretary of State, according to the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News. Salazar has argued that the legislature cannot adopt a new redistricting plan after a state court has done so (following the earlier failure of the legislature to adopt a plan). The Denver Post also has op-eds by Democratic and Republican legislators. In the meanwhile, Democrats in New Mexico and Oklahoma may seek to redraw their own plans, but national leaders are discouraging them, according to the Houston Chronicle.