Kamala Harris endorses historic candidate & voter suppression in GA and FL.
Kamala Harris endorses historic candidate & voter suppression in GA and FL.
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August 20, 2018
Ben Carson Charges Facebook with Discrimination, Grace Meng Wants Teens to Vote, and Voter Suppression in Georgia and Florida
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COUNSEL CONUNDRUMS… White House Counsel Donald McGahn has repeatedly made clear to the president that his role is to protect the presidency, not Donald Trump personally. So, news that he has cooperated extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller had some scrambling over the weekend. CATCHING CASESFederal prosecutors are preparing criminal charges against Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, that could be announced this month. They’re investigating Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, campaign finance violations, and more than $20 million in loans obtained for his family's taxi companies. Now to 45’s current personal lawyer. TRUTH ISN’T TRUTH... On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Rudy Giuliani said that "truth isn't truth" when explaining that he won't let Mueller rush Trump into testifying because he doesn't want investigators to trap the president into a lie. WHITE HOUSE NATIONALISTSDarren Beattie, a policy aide and speechwriter who attended a conference frequented by white nationalists, has left the White House. MARCHING ORDERS… Trump raged against DC city leaders on Friday after the Department of Defense announced that his military parade --  estimated to cost $92 million ($80 million more than the Pentagon’s initial estimate) and originally scheduled for Veterans Day in November -- had been indefinitely postponed. THESE TWITTER FINGERS CLAP BACK… DC Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted in response: “Yup, I’m Muriel Bowser, mayor of Washington DC, the local politician who finally got thru to the reality star in the White House with the realities ($21.6M) of parades/events/demonstrations in Trump America (sad).” USER ERROR IN MCCARTHY ERA… Over the weekend, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) posted a misleading tweet complaining that Twitter was censoring conservative voices. Turns out, he just needed to adjust his settings. But first, the internets pounced. CALL DEF JAM … SHE’S DROPPING MIXTAPES. Provocateur Omarosa could have as many as 200 tapes that may contain information about the president and people close to him. CODE READFormer President Barack Obama posted a list of books he’s been reading on ­Facebook. Sigh. Remember when presidents read? CRAZY RICH BOX OFFICE… Powered by rave reviews, Crazy Rich Asians took in a strong $25.2 million at North American theaters over the weekend, easily claiming the top spot at the box office. Yet another example that ethnic diversity not only adds richness to society, but to financial bottom lines as well. We’re kicking off the week with this…
  • Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) intros bill meant to protect seniors from opioid abusers.
  • Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) pushes DOJ to probe facial recognition technology.
  • The Atlantic names a global editor.
  • Voters fight suppression in Georgia and Florida.
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) endorses historic candidate.
  • Former Trump campaign Hispanic outreach employee readies for public dispute in $25 million lawsuit.
  • Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) pens WH Chief of Staff over security clearance revoking.
ABC News’ John Quiñones previewing Friday’s episode of What Would You Do? in NYC.
Congresswoman Mia Love (R-UT) on Saturday sending her daughter Alessa off to college.
Grace Meng Wants to Amend Constitution to Lower Voting Age to 16
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY)
thinks 16- and 17-year-olds ought to be able to vote. She introduced legislation last week to replace the 26th Amendment to the Constitution with a new amendment that would allow teenage voters to exercise civic engagement. The last time the voting age was changed was when it was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1971. Meng noted that cities in 13 states and DC have the legal ability to lower the voting age for local elections through charter amendments, and several have already done so. In Takoma Park, MD -- the first city in America to lower the voting age for local elections to 16 -- and in Hyattsville, MD, 16- and 17-year-olds are voting at rates that nearly quadruple those of older voters. If an amendment is enacted, the voting age would be lowered for federal, state, and local elections. “Voting is a serious responsibly. But I believe that our youth are mature enough at these ages to responsibly cast a ballot. Over the past year, we have seen a huge wave of inspirational and passionate activism by students from all across the country,” Meng said. “Students are demanding change on issues such as gun safety, climate change, and health care. They deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box, and to have a say in the change for which they’re vigorously advocating. It’s clear to me that they should be allowed to vote.” More here.

Emanuel Cleaver Calls on DOJ to Investigate Law Enforcement’s Use of Facial Recognition
Some state, federal, and municipal law enforcement agencies currently use facial recognition to identify suspects and expedite investigations. Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) has concerns about the technology and has called on the Justice Department to investigate the current use of the software. In a letter to DOJ Civil Rights Division Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore sent on Wednesday, Cleaver emphasizes the growing body of evidence which suggests that facial recognition technology has the potential to disproportionately impact people of color and women. “Technology innovations may enhance existing police practices, but they should also not disrupt basic civil rights protections. For this reason, I implore the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to investigate whether the uses of facial recognition technology – as currently utilized- by law enforcement agencies are in violation of the civil rights protections,” Cleaver wrote. The Congressman has previously raised concerns over facial recognition software in use by law enforcement agencies, including Amazon's Rekognition software; he and Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) in May requested that Amazon answer questions about its technology. Read the full letter to the DOJ here.

Catherine Cortez Masto Intros Bill to Protect Seniors from Opioid Abusers
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
introduced bipartisan legislation meant to protect seniors from criminals who misuse the Medicare system to illicitly acquire opioids. The Stop Excessive Narcotics in our Retirement Communities Protection Act, introduced with Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), would give Medicare Part D, or the Medicare prescription drug benefit, the ability to suspend payments to a pharmacy that is under investigation for fraud. Seniors have had their Medicare numbers stolen and then used to fraudulently bill Medicare for opioids. “Pill dumping” has resulted in millions of painkillers flooding small towns through just a few pharmacies -- much of it paid for by Medicare. Last year the Department of Justice announced one of the biggest healthcare fraud busts in its history, charging 412 defendants for billing the government for $1.3 billion in fraudulent charges, including for prescription opioids which were then distributed. “The surplus of unneeded opioids in our communities is caused in part by criminals who abuse the system and fraudulently use Medicare accounts from seniors to acquire and distribute high amounts of opioids,” said Cortez Masto. “This legislation will help prevent abuse of the Medicare system, protect Medicare dollars for seniors who rely on them, and curb the excessive number of illicit opioids that are flooding our communities.” More here.

The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj and Ronny Chieng on-set in NYC, taping Minhaj’s final segment on the show last week.
NBC News’ Simone Boyce showing off her weekend style in NYC.
Florida Sued By Voters for Access to Spanish-Language Materials
Approximately 30,000 Puerto Ricans living in Florida -- many of them recent arrivals to the state after Hurricane Maria -- may face a tough time at the polls during the upcoming midterms due to the language barrier. Civil rights advocacy groups filed a lawsuit Thursday calling on FL Republican Governor Rick Scott's administration to order all ballots and election materials to be printed in English and Spanish in 32 counties for the November general election. The lawsuit argues that providing voting materials only in English is a violation of voting rights. Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act says anyone educated in a public school in the U.S. or territory where the language is not English cannot be blocked from voting based on their English proficiency. "The counties' first-generation Puerto Rican population has increased significantly in the wake of Hurricane Maria," the lawsuit states. "Most of those newly-arrived residents were educated in Spanish-language schools in Puerto Rico and many are not proficient in English ... (They) will not be able to vote effectively unless they have access to Spanish-language ballots, election materials and assistance." The lead plaintiff in the suit is Marta Rivera, a woman in her 70s who lived all of her life in Puerto Rico until she moved to Florida after Hurricane Maria. More here.

Georgia Country Proposes Closing Polling Stations in Majority-Black Areas
Democrat Stacey Abrams stands to make history in Georgia in November as the country’s first Black woman Governor. Her victory depends, in large part, to African American voter turnout. So a proposal to close about 75% of polling locations in the predominantly Black Randolph County in south Georgia is particularly troubling. According to the latest Census figures, Randolph County's population is more than 61% Black, double the statewide percentage. Nearly one-third of the county's residents live below the poverty line, compared to about 16% statewide. The Randolph County election officials met Thursday to discuss eliminating seven of nine polling locations in the county, reportedly, because the polling places do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act
. Included in the proposed closures is Cuthbert Middle School, where nearly 97% of voters are Black. The closures will affect those who lack reliable transportation as public transit doesn't exist in much of the rural county, and 22% of the county's residents have no car. People who currently vote at the polling places that would close under the proposal would have to travel an additional 10 miles to vote. Because of its history of racist voting laws, Randolph County was once required to seek federal permission before altering its election procedures. However, after the Supreme Court gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the county was freed to pull stunts like this one. The Georgia chapter of the ACLU sent a letter to the election board last week warning of a lawsuit because the proposed closures discriminated against Black voters. Abrams will faceoff with Republican Brian Kemp, the current Georgia Secretary of State. Kemp, who has devoted his time in office to a ruthless campaign of voter suppression, called upon Randolph County to abandon the plan when it spurred widespread outrage. However, the key figure in the Randolph County controversy is a Kemp ally who was handpicked by the Secretary of State to close polls throughout Georgia. More here.
Kamala Harris Endorses Iowa’s First Black Statewide Nominee
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
made her first endorsement in an Iowa campaign on Friday announcing her support for Deidre DeJear who is running for Iowa Secretary of State. We first told you about DeJear -- Iowa’s first Black nominee for statewide office from a major political party -- back in June after she won her primary election. If she goes on to defeat incumbent Republican Paul Pate, she would become Iowa’s first Black statewide elected official. The 32-year-old Mississippi native is a former field organizer for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. In 2005, DeJear co-founded Back 2 School Iowa, a nonprofit dedicated to collaborating with communities and corporations in order to provide resources to inspire youth in continuing in their education and build their future careers. The 2008 Drake University graduate is endorsed by Emily’s List, Our Revolution, and Let America Vote. The endorsement is Harris’ first inroad into the first-in-the-nation caucus state. More here.

Former Trump Campaign Hispanic Outreach Employee Readies for Public Dispute in $25 Million Lawsuit
Move over, Omarosa. Another former Trump employee is about to go public. Jessica Denson, a former Trump campaign member who was charged with handling Hispanic outreach, claims she was subjected to horrible work conditions and even tracked by her supervisors. A judge has ruled that she will be allowed to make her complaints in public, as opposed to the private arbitration the campaign sought. Denson, who is also an actress and representing herself, said she joined the campaign in August 2016 and was overworked by supervisor Camilo Jaime Sandoval. She said she worked 10 hours a day, seven days a week. Denson claimed that Sandoval and other supervisors went so far as to track her location, cyberbully and harass her, and attempt to “find dirt on her.” She is suing the Trump campaign in state court for $25 million. Lawyers for the Trump campaign tried to force the case into private arbitration based on an agreement signed by staffers that included nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions. In her decision, Judge Arlene Bluth of New York State Supreme Court disclosed flaws in the wording of the agreement that she said limited its scope exposing potential weaknesses in the NDA agreements that staff at Trump’s White House, his campaign, and the Trump Organization have been made to sign. More here.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) before catching waves with local surfers in Hawaii over the weekend.
FL gubernatorial candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum last Wednesday enjoying southern fare in Hollywood, FL.
Open Society Foundations Brings On New Head of Women’s Rights Programs
Kavita N. Ramdas has been named as the Director of the Open Society Foundations’ Women’s Rights Program, which invests in women’s movements and organizations to promote the voices of girls, women, and gender nonconforming people. Born in India, Ramdas is a globally recognized advocate for gender equity and justice. She was most recently a Strategy Advisor at MADRE, a nonprofit that partners with grassroots women’s organizations facing war, disaster, and injustice to develop their advocacy and leadership. The 56-year-old also founded and leads KNR Sisters, a consulting venture for social justice movements and philanthropy. Previously, Ramdas was the Ford Foundation’s representative in New Delhi, a member of the Global Development Program Advisory Panel to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and she served as a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy & Civil Society and the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. Ramdas is a former President and CEO of Global Fund for Women and previously worked in senior leadership at the MacArthur Foundation. She serves as a Trustee at both of her alma maters: Princeton University, where she earned her MPA, as well as Mount Holyoke College, where she attended undergrad. Ramdas is also a Trustee at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and sits on the boards of Planned Parenthood and the African Women’s Development Fund USA. She also chairs the Women in Public Service Initiative -- a joint effort by the State Department and an alliance of women’s colleges, and serves on the Advisory Council to the Asian University for Women and the African Women Millennium Initiative on Poverty and Human Rights. “I am excited to join with the new leadership at the Open Society Foundations and the board and staff of the Women’s Rights Program to take this work to the next level,” said Ramdas. “Open and democratic societies are simply unachievable when half the population is structurally excluded from full and equal participation in most nations across the world. I see the current global crisis of increased intolerance, illiberalism, and authoritarianism as deeply linked to patriarchy and misogyny; and I believe that fighting for a more democratic future will inherently require us to fight for a more feminist future.” Ramdas will begin her new role on September 25th. More here.

Foundations Launch Racial Equity in Philanthropy Fund
Nonprofits rarely resemble the communities they serve, and studies show that fewer than 20% of their leaders are people of color. In response, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Ford Foundation have teamed up to launch of the Racial Equity in Philanthropy (REP) Fund -- a collaborative funding effort which is based at Borealis Philanthropy and will work to build the enduring capacity of the field of philanthropy to advance racial equity. Earlier this month, REP gave out its first round of grants totaling $14 million over three years to support 19 philanthropy-serving organizations committed to advancing racial equity within the sector and beyond. The 19 organizations -- which include the Association of Black Foundation Executives, Hispanics in Philanthropy, and Native Americans in Philanthropy -- will provide in-depth training on racial equity, engage in research and data collection, develop communication strategies around policy issues that disproportionately impact communities of color, and participate in convenings where they can learn from each other and explore approaches to amplify their collective impact. “Right now, the philanthropic sector is demonstrating a historic level of interest in racial equity, but to distribute funds more equitably in practice, institutions must change policies and priorities internally,” said Marcus Walton, Director of Racial Equity Initiatives at Borealis Philanthropy. “Philanthropic organizations are recognizing the close connection between changing our sector and the changes we seek in society,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, President and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. “Achieving these changes requires determination and a long-term commitment to infuse racial equity and inclusion into all of our internal and external policies and practices.” Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, added: “By centering equity and inclusion in all that we do—from grant making and investments to hiring and contracting—we are better able to fulfill our mission and tackle the root causes of injustice.” More here.

Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX) on Saturday celebrating National Fajita Day at Bienvenidos Mexican Restaurant in Fort Stockton, TX.
WaPo’s Michelle Ye Hee Lee at her surprise celebration in Houston after being elected President of the Asian American Journalists Association last week.
The Atlantic Names Global Editor
Prashant Rao
will become The Atlantic's Global Editor. In his new role, Rao will lead the site’s coverage across a wide range of beats related to U.S. foreign policy, democracy, and global conflict, and oversee its team of reporters based in DC, London, and Paris. He is currently the Deputy Europe Business Editor for The New York Times, where for the past three years, he has written and edited stories about business, economics, and finance in Europe. Prior to joining the NYT in 2016, Rao spent more than a decade on the wires at the Paris-based international news agency Agence France-Presse. He was previously a Reporter based in the UK and from 2009 to 2014, Rao was based in Baghdad as a Correspondent, Deputy Bureau Chief, and Bureau Chief. During that time he covered several elections, a tumultuous security situation, and, in his final weeks, the fall of Mosul to the Islamic State. He then moved to Hong Kong to become the Editor for the Asia-Pacific News Desk. The London School of Economics graduate has also served a Financial Reporter for Bloomberg News and a Reporter for Euromoney in the UK. He starts his new role in October and will be based in London. More here.

Vox Promotes Mona Lalwani to EP
Mona Lalwani 
has been named Executive Producer for Vox Video's short-form stories. She was previously a Story Editor for Video at Vox. Prior to that, Lalwani was a Senior Editor at Engadget, a multilingual tech blog, where she wrote covered virtual reality, smart-technology, and innovative services. The bilingual storyteller -- who is fluent in English and Hindi -- also served as a Producer and Reporter at The Verge and contributed to the Guardian. The Jesus & Mary College graduate, who also has a Master’s from Columbia University, began her journalism career as an Associate Editor at Platform Magazine in Delhi, India. More about her here.

Investigation Discovery’s María Elena Salinas and her daughter Gabriela María touring the Maison Ruinart in France over the weekend.
HuffPost Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen getting her summer tan at Race Point Beach in Massachusetts over the weekend.
Elijah Cummings Demands Info on Trump’s Decision to Revoke Former CIA Director’s Clearance
Ranking Member of the House Oversight Committee Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Thursday penned a letter to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, demanding an explanation of Donald Trump's decision to revoke the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. Trump blamed Brennan’s "erratic conduct," but many argue it was political payback. In the letter, Cummings called for documentation explaining Trump’s process to revoke Brennan’s security clearance, but not to suspend or revoke the clearance of his own top aides, General Michael Flynn and Staff Secretary Robert Porter (who were under investigation for criminal activity), and others. “As an initial matter, if making ‘outrageous’ statements or engaging in ‘wild outbursts on the Internet and television’ were grounds for denying access to classified information, many of the president’s top aides — indeed, perhaps even the president himself — would be swept into this unprecedented new category,” Cummings wrote. He also suggested that by revoking Brennan's security status due to his public criticism of the president, Trump may have failed to follow proper executive order procedures set by former Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “The Executive Order does not provide for revoking a security clearance because an individual is a political adversary of the President or for using revocation as a tool for political retribution,” the Congressman continued. “The American people expect the security clearance process to be adjudicated by neutral professionals, following the established standards set forth in the Executive Order.” More here.

Ben Carson Accuses Facebook of Housing Discrimination
HUD Secretary Ben Carson filed a complaint on Friday accusing Facebook of enabling illegal housing discrimination by giving landlords and developers advertising tools that made it easy to exclude people based on race, gender, zip code, or religion -- or whether a potential renter has young children at home or a personal disability. In a separate action from the HUD complaint, the Justice Department filed a statement of interest Friday, joining housing advocates in alleging that Facebook's advertising platform of violating fair housing laws. The move allows the lawsuit, filed in March by the National Fair Housing Alliance and three other housing advocacy groups, to continue. After a ProPublica investigation two years ago, Facebook said it would no longer allow advertisers to target ads for housing, credit offers, and employment by “ethnic affinities,” a category the social network had created to enable businesses to reach minority groups. But the housing groups have argued that Facebook has not gone far enough. "The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination including those who might limit or deny housing options with a click of a mouse," Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. The social media giant said in a statement Friday afternoon, “There is no place for discrimination on Facebook; it’s strictly prohibited in our policies. Over the past year we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse. We’re aware of the statement of interest filed and will respond in court; we’ll continue working directly with HUD to address their concerns.” 
The move comes as Carson himself dodged a lawsuit. A federal judge on Friday threw out a lawsuit against Carson and HUD, dealing a blow to advocates challenging how the department enforces fair housing laws. Three housing advocacy nonprofit groups alleged that they were harmed by HUD’s move to effectively suspend an Obama-era rule requiring communities to address housing discrimination. More here.
BLAH BLAH BLOGS
FOMO
Wednesday, September 5th - Saturday, September 8th: The Hispanic National Bar Association’s 43rd Annual Convention, “The Breakthrough Convention!” CNN’s Jim Acosta will keynote the Gala. 1201 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA. Click here for more information
Friday, September 7th, 11A: Dialogue on Diversity's 2018 Entrepreneurship/IT Conference, "STEAM -- Power for the XXI Century." 2043 Rayburn House Office Building. 45 Independence Ave., S.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, September 11th - Wednesday, September 12th: CHCI's Annual Leadership Conference. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 12th - Thursday, September 13th: National Congress of American Indians’ Tribal Unity Impact Days. 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building, DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 12th - Saturday, September 16th: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 48th Annual Legislative Conference. Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Click here for more information
Thursday, September 13th: CHCI's 41st Annual Anniversary Awards Gala. Honoring Univisión’s Jorge Ramos, education activist Anna Michele Bobadilla, Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion for Comcast Corporation Juan Otero, and Chief of Staff to Congressman Jimmy Gómez (D-CA) Bertha Alisia Guerrero. Marriott Marquis Washington, DC. 901 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 19th: "The Political LEAP: The Role of Women in 2018" a women empowerment luncheon focused on the role of women in politics, featuring Symone Sanders and Alencia Johnson. The Hamilton, 600 14th Street, N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Thursday, September 25th - Saturday, September 29th: NBMBAA 40th Annual Conference & Exposition. Detroit, MI. Click here for more information.
Sunday, October 21st - Friday, October 26th: National Congress of American Indians’ 75th Annual Convention & Marketplace, “Honoring the Past, Shaping the Future.” Hyatt Regency Denver, 650 15th St., Denver, CO. Click here for more information.
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