Chain Bridge Bank’s single location is next to a wine store and a café on the ground floor of a luxury condo building in suburban McLean, Va., about a half-hour outside downtown Washington. It looks like any small-town bank. Tellers keep bowls of candy at their windows, and staff members talk to customers about no-fee checking accounts. But right now, Chain Bridge, which has about 40 employees, is responsible for more of the hundreds of millions of dollars flooding into the 2016 presidential race than any other bank in the country. According to the most recent Federal Election Commission filings, Chain Bridge is the sole bank serving Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, which reported raising $11.4 million as of June 30, and his allied super-PAC, Right to Rise, which says it’s raised $103 million so far. Donald Trump’s campaign banks at Chain Bridge, and it’s listed as the primary financial institution for the campaigns of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and former Texas Governor Rick Perry. It’s also the only bank used by super-PACs supporting neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, former technology executive Carly Fiorina, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, all Republicans.
Not long ago I had separate chats with two political insiders who offered to fill me in on Jeb Bush’s strategy, if he prevails in the primaries, for winning the general election. In each instance I braced for a lengthy exegesis but got only one sentence: He picks John Kasich as his running mate. That was the playbook. It presumed that Bush would collect Florida’s electoral votes, having once governed the state. It presumed that Ohio could be delivered by Kasich, its current governor, who announced his own presidential bid on Tuesday. And it presumed that tandem victories in Florida and Ohio would seal the deal, because so much of the rest of America was dependably Republican — or Democratic. Just a handful of states decide the country’s fate. Shortly after my chats with those two insiders, a third described Hillary Clinton’s supposed plan for victory. “Cuyahoga County,” this operative said.
If Utah Republicans want to vote to select the party’s presidential nominee next year, they won’t be able to do it at the traditional ballot box. By a overwhelming majority, members of the Utah Republican Party Central Committee on Saturday approved a resolution to conduct next year’s GOP presidential primary during neighborhood caucus meetings. After about 30 minutes of spirited debate and discussion, members were finally able to come to a consensus that allows the party to consider its presidential nomination at the same time it chooses its delegates to county and state political conventions.
If Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters succeed in booting C.Y. Leung from power, the city’s unelected chief executive should consider coming to the United States. He might fit in well in the Republican Party. In an interview Monday with The New York Times and other foreign newspapers, Leung explained that Beijing cannot permit the direct election of Hong Kong’s leaders because doing so would empower “the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.” Leung instead defended the current plan to have a committee of roughly 1,200 eminent citizens vet potential contenders because doing so, in the Times’ words, “would insulate candidates from popular pressure to create a welfare state, and would allow the city government to follow more business-friendly policies.” If that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Leung’s views about the proper relationship between democracy and economic policy represent a more extreme version of the views supported by many in today’s GOP.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s chances to be the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee were hampered by a U.S. regulation that could have an even bigger impact on the next race for the White House. The three-year-old rule from the Securities and Exchange Commission effectively bars governors and other state officials from raising money from Wall Street for state or federal elections. Having Christie on the ticket would have complicated Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, which took in more money from securities and investment firms than any other industry. Now, with governors including Christie, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana contemplating a White House run in 2016, two state Republican committees have filed a lawsuit to overturn the regulation.
Republicans will hold their 2016 national convention more than a month earlier than their 2012 event for one simple reason: money. Two years ago, Mitt Romney raised $1 billion but found himself out of cash that August due to campaign finance laws that essentially force candidates to divide their spending between pre-and-post convention accounts. Moving the convention up, the GOP reasons, will help make those rules a non-issue. The Republican National Committee announced Tuesday that Cleveland would host its 2016 convention — and that the party was aiming for a late June or early July event. The early summer timing is a sharp break with recent history — when both parties have traditionally held their conventions in late August or early September. The GOP hasn’t held a July convention since 1980 and it hasn’t held a June convention since 1948.
For more than 40 years, Iowa voters have played a vital role in picking the nation’s president, culling the field of hopefuls and helping launch a fortunate handful all the way to the White House. For about 35 of those years, Iowa has been the target of jealousy and scorn, mainly from outsiders who say the state, the first to vote in the presidential contest, is too white and too rural; that its caucuses, precinct-level meetings of party faithful, are too quirky and too exclusionary to play such a key role in the nominating process. Now, a swelling chorus of critics is mounting a fresh challenge to Iowa’s privileged role, targeting especially the August straw poll held the year before the election, which traditionally established the Republican Party front-runner. Increasingly, critics say, the informal balloting has proved a meaningless and costly diversion of time and money. Some GOP strategists are urging candidates to think hard before coming to Iowa at all.
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is lending his support to an initiative that would change the way Utah political parties choose their candidates. In an e-mail to former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt (R), Romney said he supports Count My Vote, an initiative that would require party nominees to be chosen in primaries rather than through a convention system. “I want to tell you that Ann and I are supporters. Since the election, I’ve been pushing hard for states to move to direct primaries,” Romney wrote in an e-mail first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune. “Caucus/convention systems exclude so many people: they rarely produce a result that reflects how rank-and-file Republicans feel. I think that’s true for Democrats, too.” Romney said the Count My Vote initiative could “count on us to help financially.”
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spent more than $1 billion each on their presidential campaigns. The map tells you what kind of change a couple of billion dollars will buy you in today’s America. If the map looks largely blank to you, then you’re getting the picture. The map shows all the counties that switched allegiance between 2008 and 2012 — the counties that voted for one party four years ago and a different party in November. There are exactly 208 of these counties — flippers, we call them. Only 208 counties changed allegiance in 2012 out of the more than 3,100 counties that cast votes. President Obama’s campaign hired the brightest batch of social psychologists and social media experts the tech and academic worlds had to offer. They constructed complicated models predicting the behavior of individual voters and intricate social media strategies.
National: Obama’s re-election official: 332 electoral votes, 51.1 percent of popular vote | Pentagraph
President Barack Obama was declared the winner of the 2012 presidential election Friday in a special joint session of Congress, finally closing the book on the tumultuous and expensive campaign. Vice President Joe Biden, serving as president of the Senate, presided over the counting of Electoral College votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the sparsely attended session. The vote count lacked the history of 2009, when Obama became the first black president, or the controversies of 2001 and 2005, when some lawmakers protested contested votes in Florida and Ohio, respectively. As expected, the Obama-Biden ticket received 332 votes for president and vice president, well in excess of the 270 needed to win. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., received 206 votes. There were no “faithless electors,” or members of the Electoral College who cast votes for a different candidate than the one who had won in his or her state.
Mitt Romney’s campaign has been training poll watchers in Wisconsin with highly misleading — and sometimes downright false — information about voters’ rights. Documents from a recent Romney poll watcher training obtained by ThinkProgress contain several misleading or untrue claims about the rights of Wisconsin voters. A source passed along the following packet of documents, which was distributed to volunteers at a Romney campaign training in Racine on October 25th. In total, sixsuch trainings were held across the state in the past two weeks.
Editorials: Could Romney-Linked Electronic Voting Machines Jeopardize Ohio’s Vote Accuracy? | Keith Thomson/Huffington Post
In 2006, a group of computer hackers reprogrammed a Dutch electronic voting machine to play chess. The Dutch government subsequently imposed a moratorium on the use of electronic voting machines. In 2009, German Federal Constitutional Court ruled the country’s electronic voting systems unreliable to the point that their use was deemed unconstitutional. In June, Ireland paid a metal recycling company €70,267 to dismantle and recycle the country’s €55 million worth of electronic voting machines. In the United States, 35% of this year’s general election votes will be cast on electronic voting machines that, “in terms of effort required to compromise the systems, are in the same ballpark as the Irish voting machines,” according to Dan Wallach, a professor in Rice University’s Department of Computer Science and a computer systems security specialist. “The current voting machines were designed with insufficient attention to computer security.”
Voting machine provider Hart Intercivic will be counting the votes in various counties in the crucial swing states of Ohio and Colorado and elsewhere throughout the country come Nov. 6 — even though it has extensive corporate ties to the Mitt Romney camp, and even though a study commissioned by the state of Ohio has labeled its voting system a “failure” when it comes to protecting the integrity of elections. Reports of Hart Intercivic’s ties to Romney first surfaced in late September, in a blog post by Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis in the Free Press, an Ohio website that reported that a key investor in Hart was HIG Capital, seven of whose directors were former employees of Bain & Co., a consulting company of which Mitt Romney was once CEO. (Romney left the company in 1984 to co-found a spinoff company, Bain Capital.) HIG Capital announced its investment in Hart on July 6, 2011, just one month after Romney formally announced the launch of his presidential campaign.
When I heard the sound of loud drumming on a sleepy Toledo street on a Tuesday afternoon, I knew I had come to the right place. I followed the beat to a garage, where I found a guy in his forties hammering away on a large drum kit. He no longer had the shaggy hair or the leather jacket, but I knew it was Jon Stainbrook, the frenetic former drummer of ‘80s punk band The Stain. In its heyday, The Stain released an album and a couple EPs, and played venues in New York and Hollywood. It had a small group of hard-core fans, although its peak notoriety came from taking more famous bands to court for trademark violations, such as in the case of The Stain v. Staind. To be clear, I am not actually a fan of The Stain, which I had never heard of until a month ago. I had tracked down Stainbrook because he is the most important Republican official in one of the most important counties in Ohio and I needed to ask him some questions about the election.
Boring and evil. That’s the November election in a nutshell. The latest edition of Vanity Fair is surely revealing on this end. They come down on the boring side of things. In his signature front-of-the mag editor’s letter, VF’s editor Graydon Carter says President Barack Obama “has fallen short on selling himself and his achievements.” It seems safe to say that Democrats “aren’t all that excited by Obama,” Carter writes. In the liberal Hollywood world Vanity Fair inhabits, the red carpet left is — oh, let’s just say — ehh, about Obama. According to a round-up of major polls on Real Clear Politics, Obama is running neck and neck with ex-Massachusetts governor Mitt “RomneyCare” Romney, in an election that is going to be decided by three states. Maybe two. It’s back to red state versus blue state. And while this should be a redo of Clinton versus Dole, Obama is struggling in the polls.
What if President Obama wins re-election and Republicans don’t believe it? The question isn’t far-fetched. For several weeks, we have seen Republicans challenge the veracity of a number of election-related facts, and the outcome of the presidential election may be no different. First, some Republicans claimed that public opinion polls were all skewed to show an Obama lead. As Slate reported, 71 percent of self-identified Republicans and 84 percent of Tea Partiers believe in the skew. Republicans confidently claim that the polls are oversampling Democrats, not realizing that these are self-reported party identifications, which rise and fall with candidates’ support. Distrust of the polls is not a new phenomenon, and it is not confined to Republicans. As Nate Silver pointed out, when Democrats were behind in 2004 they believed the polls were skewed toward Republicans. Fortunately, the Romney debate performance last week apparently was enough to “unskew” the latest numbers.
Volunteers, interest groups and any individuals who want to print out the proper forms are rushing to register voters as Maryland’s deadline looms less than two weeks away. But while recent voter-registration scandals have been cause for concern in some states, the state Board of Elections said the focus in Maryland is on voter roll maintenance, not registration fraud prevention. “There’s a process in place, a very specific process that we work through,” said Ross Goldstein, spokesman for the board. “We meet the letter of the law with respect to voter registration list maintenance.” Prominent businessman and voter-registration drive leader Nathan Sproul, who runs Strategic Allied Consulting, is at the center of a voter-fraud registration scandal in Florida. Sproul, who has consulted prominent Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney, was linked to hundreds of forms containing irregularities, including suspicious signatures and missing information in nine Florida counties. Voter-registration fraud such as this, or when firms don’t send in forms for voters from the opposite party, is insidious, said Paul Herrnson, director for the Center for American Politics and Citizenship at the University of Maryland.
In 2012, it is not enough for candidates to shake some hands, kiss a baby or two and run some TV ads. They also need to be posting funny little animations on the blogging site Tumblr. If the presidential campaigns of 2008 were dipping a toe into social medialike Facebook and Twitter, their 2012 versions are well into the deep end. They are taking to fields of online battle that might seem obscure to the non-Internet-obsessed — sharing song playlists on Spotify, adding frosted pumpkin bread recipes to Pinterest and posting the candidates’ moments at home with the children on Instagram. At stake, the campaigns say they believe, are votes from citizens, particularly younger ones, who may not watch television or read the paper but spend plenty of time on the social Web. The campaigns want to inject themselves into the conversation on services like Tumblr, where political dialogue often takes the form of remixed photos and quirky videos. To remind Tumblr users about the first presidential debate on Wednesday, Mr. Obama’s team used an obscure clip of Lindsay Lohan saying “It’s October 3” in the comedy “Mean Girls.” And on Twitter, Mitt Romney’s bodyguard posted a picture of the candidate’s family playing Jenga before the debate.
The Sunshine State news last week was dark enough for Republicans even before the voter registration scandal hit the headlines. A Quinnipiac poll gave President Obama 53% to just 44% for GOP candidate Mitt Romney in the critical swing state of Florida, which seemed a neck-and-neck race just a few weeks ago. That body blow has since been followed by revelations that a consulting firm contracted by the Republican Party of Florida to register GOP voters is under investigation by state and local officials for election fraud. The irony is stunning: like Republican establishments in numerous other states, the Florida GOP has declared itself the voter fraud watchdog of the 2012 election. Almost since taking office 21 months ago, conservative Republican Governor Rick Scott has pushed through tight restrictions on voter-registration groups, ramped up efforts to purge rolls of ineligible voters, made it harder for felons to regain voter rights and scaled back early voting. As a result, growing disclosures that the Arizona-based Strategic Allied Consulting—which the Republican National Committee required state parties like Florida’s to hire—may be guilty of turning in hundreds of fraudulent registrations in more than 10 counties, and is also being probed in other states, is a major embarrassment. (Strategic insists the problems are isolated and under control, but the Republicans have fired the firm.)
Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign has sent letters to election officials in Wisconsin, Mississippi and Vermont demanding that the deadline for receiving ballots from military and overseas voters be extended. In question are absentee military and overseas ballots that missed the deadline in Hinds County. The issue, absentee election ballots missed the state-imposed Sept. 22 deadline. The delay is of concern to military families who did not receive absentee ballots 45 days prior to the upcoming federal election.
Working to broaden his popularity among military veterans, Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign has sent letters to election officials in Wisconsin, Mississippi and Vermont demanding that the deadline for receiving ballots from military and overseas voters be extended. The letters sent in recent days on Romney’s behalf by former U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi charge that election officials in the states missed the Sept. 22 deadline for mailing some ballots to overseas and military voters. A fourth letter was to be sent Tuesday to Michigan officials, according to Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams. The campaign is actively monitoring state and local election officials across the country, he said. “We want to ensure that our fighting men and women overseas have the right to vote in the time that is given under federal law,” Williams said. “We’re doing it across the country in both red states and blue state and battleground states.”
We’ve learned the girl filmed in a viral YouTube video while registering voters at a local grocery store was employed by a company just dumped by the Republican National Committee over allegations of voter fraud. The video got a half-million views in just a few days, becoming an overnight Internet sensation with national attention. The girl gathering voter registrations claimed she was working for the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s Office, and said at one point she preferred to register only Mitt Romney supporters. After speaking with local party heads and campaign officials, it was determined the girl was not working for the county clerk, but for a consulting firm hired by the state GOP. Eli Bremer, chairman of the El Paso County Republicans, explained to News 5 that it was the girl’s first day on the job, and said she misspoke when asked who was “paying her”. Wayne Williams, the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder, also confirmed that what she was doing– prescreening voters with preference questions before offering a voter registration form– was not illegal.
New voting laws in key states could force a lot more voters to cast provisional ballots this election, delaying results in close races for days while election officials scrutinize ballots and campaigns wage legal battles over which ones should get counted. New laws in competitive states like Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin could leave the outcome of the presidential election in doubt – if the vote is close – while new laws in Kansas, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee could delay results in state or local elections. Some new laws requiring voters to show identification at the polls are still being challenged in court, adding to the uncertainty as the Nov. 6 election nears. “It’s a possibility of a complete meltdown for the election,” said Daniel Smith, a political scientist at the University of Florida. Voters cast provisional ballots for a variety of reasons: They don’t bring proper ID to the polls; they fail to update their voter registration after moving; they try to vote at the wrong precinct; or their right to vote is challenged by someone.
Pennsylvania: Sponsor Of Voter ID Law Defends Romney, Says ‘Lazy’ People Also Shouldn’t Vote | ThinkProgress
As Pennsylvania’s strict voter ID law returns to the lower court for reconsideration, its original sponsor, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-PA), told KDKA Radio Wednesday morning that his law will only disenfranchise “lazy” people, like the ones Mitt Romney was talking about in the leaked video of a private fundraiser. When asked about the voter ID law’s disenfranchisement of the 750,000 Pennsylvanians who cannot get IDs, Metcalfe cited Romney’s offhand dismissal of the 47% of the country who will never “take personal responsibility and care for their lives” as proof that those people don’t deserve the right to vote.
At least three Republican electors say they may not support their party’s presidential ticket when the Electoral College meets in December to formally elect the next president, escalating tensions within the GOP and adding a fresh layer of intrigue to the final weeks of the White House race. The electors — all supporters of former GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul — told The Associated Press they are exploring options should Mitt Romney win their states. They expressed frustration at how Republican leaders have worked to suppress Paul’s conservative movement and his legion of loyal supporters. “They’ve never given Ron Paul a fair shot, and I’m disgusted with that. I’d like to show them how disgusted I am,” said Melinda Wadsley, an Iowa mother of three who was selected as a Republican elector earlier this year. She said Paul is the better choice and noted that the Electoral College was founded with the idea that electors wouldn’t just mimic the popular vote. The defection of multiple electors would be unprecedented in the last 116 years of U.S. politics. It also would raise the remote possibility that the country could even end up with a president and vice president from different parties.
The campaigns of President Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, are preparing for what could be a series of legal battles over new U.S. voting laws after the Nov. 6 election – especially if the result of the presidential race is close. The campaigns and political parties are lining up lawyers for what would amount to a new wave of litigation surrounding election laws that have been approved by Republican-led legislatures in more than a dozen states since 2010. Some of the laws involve requiring voters to produce photo identification. Others curtail early-voting periods that are designed to help working-class people cast ballots if they can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. Still others have imposed strict requirements on groups that conduct voter-registration drives.
On August 14, several hundred coal miners joined Mitt Romney at the Century Mine near Bealsville, Ohio, to cheer the Republican nominee as he denounced a “war on coal” by the Obama administration. Two weeks later, an official of the company that owns the mine, Murray Energy Corp. (which has given more than $900,000 to Republican candidates in the last two years, far more than any other coal company) admitted that the miners were not all there by choice. “Attendance at the Romney event was mandatory,” Rob Moore, the chief financial officer of Murray Energy told radio host David Blomquist. Mandatory, but unpaid. Because the mine was closed for the Romney event, miners lost a day of pay. Is this legal? Is this right? Interestingly, just a few days after the rally, the F.E.C. decided a case involving an employer in Hawaii that required its employees to campaign, on their own time, for Democratic congressional candidate Colleen Hanabusa. (The employer happened to be a union, but the case had to do with its staff, not its members.) In what might seem like a reversal of partisanship, the Commission’s three Democrats supported the general counsel’s judgment that such coercion violated the Federal Election Campaign Act, which forbids employers from coercing workers to contribute to a campaign. But its three Republicans argued that because the work was part of an independent effort by the union, and didn’t involve contributions to the campaign itself, the law didn’t apply: A union or corporation’s “independent use of its paid workforce to campaign for a federal candidate post-Citizen’s United was not contemplated by Congress and, consequently, is not prohibited by either the Act or Commission regulation.” Without a majority on the Commission, it was unable to act.
Pennsylvania, a presidential battleground, is joining at least 15 other states that have agreed to make it easier for welfare recipients to register to vote in agency offices. The Keystone State agreed yesterday to settle a lawsuit over the so-called Motor Voter law, a 19-year-old statute that says public-assistance agencies must offer clients the chance to sign up to vote. Ohio, Michigan, Colorado and Virginia also have changed their ways after either being sued or told by advocacy groups how they could improve compliance. The changes stem from pressure by activists whose drive may aid Democrats in November. About 1.5 million people have registered since 2004 because of the drive, according to New York-based Demos, a nonprofit group involved in the Pennsylvania case. The state was sued as the presidential campaigns scrounge for every vote, making ballot access a key front as Democrats challenge restrictive steps taken by Republican-led states.
Friday’s exchange of letters between the election campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, in which Romney rejected Obama’s offer to drop the tax return issue if Romney will produce just three more years’ records, has moved the long-simmering brouhaha over Romney’s tax returns back to the front media burner. That’s many fewer than any presidential candidate has disclosed in decades, setting up the hearsay accusation disseminated joyfully by Harry Reid (who may or may not actually believe it) that Romney is afraid to tell voters that he sometimes pays no taxes at all. (Romney has answered that, saying he has never paid less than 13% in taxes on his income.) Meanwhile, Romney appears to have escaped relatively unsinged from the apparently unrelated revelation that he may have committed voter fraud in January 2010, when – despite not owning a house inMassachusetts and having given every appearance of having moved to California – he registered and voted in the Massachusetts special election to replace the deceased Senator Ted Kennedy. Given the GOP’s ongoing use of the “voter fraud” fable to justify modern Jim Crow laws and its highly-publicized persecution of the voter registration groupAcorn, an actual case of felony voter fraud committed by the Republican nominee could have been a big story – but Romney was able to tamp down the flames by claiming, not very credibly but also not disprovably, that he and Ann actually were living in their son Tagg’s Belmont, Massachusetts basement in 2010. Without proof that Romney lied about where he lived, there’s no felony – and no big national story.
If Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) doesn’t become vice president of the United States, he has a backup option: his old House seat. Under Wisconsin law, Ryan can run simultaneously for both offices. The lawmaker hasn’t said anything about his House election, which he is strongly favored to win, but he may not have much of a choice. The law specifically states that once a candidate is nominated, his or her name has to remain on the ballot except in the case of death. But if Ryan does make it to the vice presidential mansion, that election would “void the candidate’s election to any other office,” and a special election would be called, according to the law. And names are already being floated in case that comes to pass.