When it comes to campaign donations, corporations that suddenly find themselves crosswise with Congress know the playbook. First, immediately cut off political action committee contributions. Second, refuse to talk about your campaign contributions. Then, after perhaps taking some lumps at congressional hearings and spending a few months in the political wilderness, quietly begin cutting checks again as if nothing happened. Such appears to be the case for JPMorgan Chase, which is under fire for losing $2 billion on trades tied to credit derivatives — financial tools that helped damage the U.S. financial system late last decade. Its PAC typically contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to federal candidates and committees each election cycle but it hasn’t donated a reportable dime to candidates since May 7, according to federal campaign filing.
House Democratic leaders on Thursday introduced legislation to streamline Americans’ trips to the polls. The bill is a response to a slew of recent state legislation – some proposed, some already law – setting stricter standards for voters to register or cast a ballot. Supporters of those state efforts — including new picture ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements – say they’re necessary to weed out ineligible voters and maintain the integrity of elections. But critics contend they’re designed to suppress eligible voters, particularly minorities and low-income Americans who tend to vote Democratic.
The House on Thursday approved a bill ending the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that was set up to ensure states meet certain standards at the voting booth, and ending the public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill passed in a mostly partisan 235-190 vote.
The vote followed a sometimes contentious debate in which some Democrats charged that the GOP effort to end the EAC is in line with other Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout in next year’s election. The EAC was established in 2002 after the very close and controversial presidential election of 2000 election, and was meant to ensure states meet certain voting standards. The EAC has disbursed more than $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration.
Two Democratic congressmen asked the U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday to investigate whether Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler violated federal law when he asked a judge to stop the Denver clerk and recorder from mailing ballots to inactive voters. The letter from Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania and Charles Gonzalez of Texas says Gessler’s actions may violate the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discriminatory voting procedures.
“Given the diversity of the state of Colorado, and particularly that of Denver County, there is a high likelihood that the barrier to voting Secretary Gessler seeks to impose . . . will have such a discriminatory result,” the letter states.
It says that not mailing ballots to eligible voters listed as “inactive” because they didn’t vote last year “might make participation particularly hard” for disabled voters who may not have been able to get to the polls and Americans who may have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan in 2010 but who want to vote Nov. 1.
National: Rep. Charlie Gonzalez triumphs as House saves Election Assistance Commission | Texas on the Potomac
A decade after Florida’s hanging chads became a national joke and George W. Bush‘s disputed victory became a part of American history, the House voted to save the commission created to ensure that such an electoral debacle would never happen again.
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, was a leader of forces trying to save the Election Assistance Commission from the scrap heap of history. Those pushing the bill to kill the commission didn’t have the supermajority needed to succeed, and, on a largely party-line vote, Gonzalez and other House Democrats saved the remnant of the Bush v. Gore era.
Although originally planned as a five-year, temporary commission, Congress continued to fund the agency amid praise for its mission from election reformers.
Tuesday night debate on a bill to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) resolved nothing, and if anything made it more clear that the bill runs the risk of failing on Wednesday, as all Democratic speakers spoke out against it.
The bill, H.R. 672, is up Wednesday on the suspension calendar, which means two-thirds of all voting members to support it for passage. Republicans would likely need more than 40 Democrats to support the bill for passage, but Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas), one of the three Democratic members of the House Committee on Administration, predicted that Democrats would defeat the bill Wednesday.
House Republicans have set up a Tuesday suspension vote to repeal the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), which they say is an agency in search of a mission that should be terminated to reduce federal spending. But Democrats are rejecting these arguments, making it unclear whether the bill can pass by the necessary two-thirds vote.
Republicans say the EAC can be safely terminated because it has fulfilled its primary mission, which is to offer grants to states to replace outdated voting equipment, such as punchcard and lever-based machines. The EAC was established in 2002, soon after the controversial 2000 presidential election that involved several weeks of recounting votes in Florida and related legal challenges.