Wednesday News: Ahead of the game


2.1 MILLION VOTES CAST SO FAR IN NORTH CAROLINA: With two weeks to go until Election Day, more than a quarter of all voters in North Carolina have already cast their ballots. More than 1.4 million people have cast early, in-person votes since last Thursday, and elections officials statewide have accepted another 658,000 absentee ballots that have been mailed in, according to the State Board of Elections. The combined total of nearly 2.1 million is 28.4 percent of the state's 7.3 million registered voters. With so many votes coming in before Election Day, North Carolina will be far ahead of other states on what could be a long election night. State law allows absentee ballots cast both by mail and in person to be approved over the course of five weeks at each county’s elections board meetings. Those ballots are scanned into a tabulator and recorded, but the vote totals aren't counted up.

FEDERAL COURT OF APPEALS ALLOWS FOR NC'S MAILED-IN BALLOTS TO BE COUNTED BY NOV. 12: “All ballots must still be mailed on or before Election Day,” according to the ruling. “The change is simply an extension from three to nine days after Election Day for a timely ballot to be received and counted. That is all." “North Carolina voters deserve clarity on whether they must rely on an overburdened Post Office to deliver their ballots within three days after Election Day,” the ruling continued. “The need for clarity has become even more urgent in the last week, as in-person early voting started in North Carolina on October 15 and will end on October 31.” The N.C. Attorney General’s Office and the N.C. Board of Elections have been battling Republican lawmakers to extend the election’s collection date due to delays with the U.S. Postal Service and the increased volume of people voting by mail because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Josh Stein announced the ruling on Twitter Tuesday night, calling it a “huge win.”

IT WILL TAKE SEVERAL DAYS TO FIX BACKLOG OF BALLOTS THAT NEED "CURE" PROCESS: Court battles had halted processing of ballots mailed back with deficiencies from Oct. 4 until the state issued new guidance Monday. State and federal judges temporarily froze key parts of the process amid lawsuits over what to do with ballots that lacked a witness signature and other information. State and county officials, many working late into the night, said it would take several days to inform at least 10,000 voters who cast problem ballots. An uneven landscape emerged in the day after the new rules were announced: Some counties said they had all but cleared the backlog, but some voters elsewhere said they hadn’t yet been contacted. The North Carolina State Board of Elections said that as of Monday approximately 10,000 ballots statewide had various deficiencies. But that number could be higher because counties were instructed not to enter ballots with errors into a statewide database during the freeze on handling deficient ballots. During the two-week freeze, voters weren't contacted about ballot errors. (Thank Phil Berger for that)

MCCONNELL VOWS NO PANDEMIC RELIEF PACKAGE BEFORE NOV. 3 ELECTION: Prospects for an economic relief package in the next two weeks dimmed markedly on Tuesday after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) revealed that he has warned the White House not to strike an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the Nov. 3 election. In remarks at a closed-door Senate GOP lunch, McConnell told his colleagues that Pelosi (D-Calif.) is not negotiating in good faith with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and that any deal they reach could disrupt the Senate’s plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court next week. Republicans have voiced concerns that a stimulus deal could splinter the party and exacerbate divisions at a time when they are trying to rally behind the Supreme Court nominee. The comments were confirmed by three people who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them. Republicans could lose control of the Senate based on the outcome of November’s election, and senators have made clear to the White House that voting on a huge stimulus deal could mean the end of their majority if it scares away fiscally conservative voters. The deal under discussion would provide another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, more unemployment benefits, aid for small businesses, money for coronavirus testing, and support for airlines and hospitals, among other things.

TRUMP'S BUSINESS ACTIVITY IN CHINA COMES UNDER SCRUTINY: In 2008, Mr. Trump pursued an office tower project in Guangzhou that never got off the ground. But his efforts accelerated in 2012 with the opening of a Shanghai office, and tax records show that one of Mr. Trump’s China-related companies, THC China Development L.L.C., claimed $84,000 in deductions that year for travel costs, legal fees and office expenses. After effectively planting his flag there, Mr. Trump found a partner in the State Grid Corporation, one of the nation’s largest government-controlled enterprises. Agence France-Presse reported in 2016 that the partnership would have involved licensing and managing a development in Beijing. Mr. Trump was reportedly still pursuing the deal months into his first presidential campaign, but it was abandoned after State Grid became ensnared in a corruption investigation by Chinese authorities. In 2017, the company reported an unusually large spike in revenue — some $17.5 million, more than the previous five years’ combined. It was accompanied by a $15.1 million withdrawal by Mr. Trump from the company’s capital account. Outside of China, Mr. Trump has had more success attracting wealthy Chinese buyers for his properties in other countries. His hotels and towers in Las Vegas and Vancouver, British Columbia — locales known for attracting Chinese real estate investors — have found numerous Chinese purchasers, and in at least one instance drew the attention of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. During the 2016 campaign, a shell company controlled by a Chinese couple from Vancouver bought 11 units, for $3.1 million, in the Las Vegas tower Mr. Trump co-owns with the casino magnate Phil Ruffin. The owner of a Las Vegas-based financial services firm told The Times he was later visited by two F.B.I. agents asking about the company behind the purchases, which he said had used his office address in incorporation papers without his knowledge. It is not known what became of the inquiry. (BBB-Buried By Barr)



NC's unemployment rate is inching up again

While Burr and Tillis kow-tow to Mitch McConnell on blocking much-needed relief. But instead of trying to get Tillis on the record about making people suffer needlessly, media outlets are breathlessly pursuing Cal Cunningham about (consensual) extramarital affairs.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Mark Meadows - Illegal campaign spending?

If you're wondering why Mark Meadows abandoned a safe seat in Congress to work for the swirling cesspool that is the Trump White House, Salon has an expose on Meadows, outlining what appears to be years of misuse of House campaign funds for personal expenses and illegal campaign coordination.

It is illegal to spend campaign and PAC funds on personal expenses, such as groceries and meals.

"After Meadows announced he would not seek re-election, then took a job in the White House, his campaign account continued to spend large sums of money on food and beverage and lodging, including at the Trump Hotel, even though it was no longer fundraising," Jordan Libowitz, of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington (CREW), told Salon. This pattern, he continued, "raises serious questions" about the purpose of that spending.

Former Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, "is going to prison for using his campaign account for personal expenses, including at restaurants and hotels," Libowitz added. "Meadows needs to explain what these expenses were for."

Lock him up...

It still wouldn't balance the books for him giving taxpayer dollars to a serial sexual harasser (Kenny West), but it's a good second step. I don't give AF about the $40,000 fine he had to pay, you can't put a dollar figure on abuse like that.