D.C. Memo: Omar breaks with ‘Squad’ on police funding; Craig/Kistner race draws outside spending

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WASHINGTON — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-5th District), broke with other members this week to vote in favor of a bill that would increase funding for police departments, but with some restrictions.

After U.S. House progressives, and members of the Congressional Black Caucus withheld support for the legislation due to its lack of accountability, Omar was able to negotiate a compromise.

Those negotiations resulted in enough Democratic support to allow a package of policing legislation to pass on Thursday. This included a bill called the Invest to Protect Act which would provide federal grants to small police departments.

Omar stated that she was able to secure “critical improvements” through “our constructive and productive discussions with the bill’s writer,” which is Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J).

Omar stated in a statement that they included funding for small police departments.

Omar stated that the compromise bill allows “the Department of Justice to prefer applicants that use funds for officer training to increase community safety and accountability; and permit the funding not only to pay officers and train them but also to collect data regarding community safety.”

Like Omar, Squad members voted “no” on the bill during its final vote. Rep. Cori Bush’s spokeswoman, a Democratic-Mo. said that the legislation would “add nearly a quarter of a billion dollars to police funding over five years without addressing police brutality — despite strong and ongoing urgings from civil rights advocates and racial justice advocates to chart a more humane course.”

The “Invest to Protect” bill made a major change. Police departments with 125 or fewer officers would receive the grants. Original bill allowed for grants to be applied to departments with 200 or more officers. The bill does not allow for new hires, but can be used to sign bonuses and support mental health efforts.

All members of the Minnesota congressional delegation voted in favor of “Invest to Protect”, except for Rep. Pete Stauber (R-8th District), who criticized it as a political ploy.

Stauber stated on the House floor that “Democrats are bringing these bills out today because we’re 46 day from a midterm elections.” “They want Americans to believe suddenly and miraculously that they care about the nation’s crime crisis.”

Although the policing bills will not reach President Biden’s desk in time for the midterm elections they are believed to send a powerful message that Republicans have been attacking as soft on crime.

Representatives Angie Craig (D-2nd District) and Dean Phillips (D-3rd District), had fought for the policing legislation and were shocked when they were pulled from consideration right before August’s House recess.

“Public safety is the first responsibility of any government. It’s my belief that law enforcement officers should have the resources and tools they need to perform their duties safely and effectively. Craig stated that these bills are an important step towards achieving just that.

The package includes legislation in addition to the “Invest To Protect Act” that provides new grants for mental health responders to be trained and creates new violence intervention grants. Another bill would clear the backlog in unsolved murders and provide support for victims of gun violence.

Democratic leaders did not include Phillips’ proposal to give $50 million to the Justice Department for marketing campaigns that would help recruit officers across the country.

A sweeping lawsuit against Trump

Washington was captivated by the New York Attorney General Letitia Jam’s announcement this week that a broad lawsuit would be filed against Donald Trump Jr. Eric Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, and the Trump Organization.

The lawsuit claims that Trump’s family members were involved in a massive fraud scheme that the former president used as a way to gain wealth. James seeks a ban on Trump purchasing commercial real estate in New York for five years and a permanent ban against Trump and his three oldest children from leading any New York-based business.

Trump’s children and business will also be subject to the $250 million forfeiture.

Trump called James, a Black man, a “racist” while the case was a “witch hunting.”

Democrats were delighted by the legal setback of the former president, but others claim it has helped Trump’s popularity among his base.

Politico stated that “To Republicans after Trump’s presidency, and its aftermath, it was simply more of what the same.” They rallied behind Trump at Mar-a-Lago when the FBI searched his home. But they didn’t see any reason to believe that the New York lawsuit would help Trump politically.

A three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Trump’s favor this week. Circuit Court of Appeals – which included two Trump nominees – gave the Justice Department permission to continue reviewing documents classified seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.


AIPAC- linked PAC helped Samuels effort against Omar

Democrat Don Samuels, who lost his primary challenge against Rep. Ilhan Ommar, D-5 th by just about 2,500 votes was helped by a super PAC affiliated to AIPAC or the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. This politically powerful organization lobbies for improved U.S.-Israel relations.

According to the Federal Elections Commission, the AIPAC-linked superPAC, the United Democracy Project, donated $350,000 for a new group that was formed by Minnesotans who voted in support of Samuels. This money was donated six days prior to the Aug. 9 primary.

The Make a Difference MN05 group, which was formed to support Samuels, spent $650,000 on TV ads that ran just before the primary. These ads highlighted the candidates’ differing views on policing. Samuels was the one who defeated a voter initiative that would have replaced Minnesota’s police department with a new public safety department. Omar supported it.

The United Democracy Project did not have to report the United Democracy Project’s efforts to Samuels because it donated money to a different group than spending directly on the race.

AIPAC was furious when Omar suggested in 2019 that Republican support of Israel was fueled by campaign contributions.


Craig/Kistner rematch draws millions in outside spending

Independent expenditures are a hot topic. The often large and uncoordinated campaign spending of third parties in Minnesota’s super-heated race between Democratic Rep. Angie Craig (MN) and GOP challenger Tyler Kistner (Minnesota’s 2 District is about to explode.

According to Christopher Terry, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication, television advertising purchases for this race between Sept. 1 and November’s general elections by third-party parties already exceed $14 million.

Some campaign commercials that were purchased as part of the ad buys have already started to run. Most of them will start their rollout this weekend.

Terry’s students keep an eye on the Federal Communications Commission’s “political files”, which detail the political ads bought by candidates and other groups, every election year.

Here’s what they found: The conservative Congressional Leadership Fund (a group affiliated with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy) has reserved $3.3 million worth of air time. This will be used to run negative ads against Craig.

The $2.2 million was also spent by the National Republican Campaign Committee headed by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-6 ) to aid Kistner. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has also spent $1.7 million.

The House Majority PAC, which supports Democrats and aligns with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already booked $2.5 Million in ads that are running to attack Kistner.

There’s also the Alliance for Better Minnesota. This group claims it is “focused on engaging progressive activists and holding conservatives responsible”, and has spent approximately $720,000 to support Craig’s campaign.

The Future Forward PAC, which supports Democrats, has spent approximately $3.6 million for Craig.

Terry stated that this third-party onslaught in political advertising, mainly attack ads, is designed to suppress votes for the opponent candidate.

Terry stated that it is not about getting people to vote for Tyler Kistner. He spoke of many ads that will continue uninterruptedly until Election Day. It’s about convincing people not to vote for Angie Craig.


House GOP will roll out campaign plan

On Thursday, House Republicans got a glimpse at the “Commitment to America” agenda that the GOP will present if it wins the U.S. House during November’s midterms.

GOP leaders believe their plan will give Republican congressional candidate a boost in the run-up to November’s midterm elections. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy gave a preview of the agenda on Friday in Monongahela (Pa.). It was sparse on details. It clearly addresses the concerns of party members who are most conservative.

In the Commitment to America preview, education calls for a “Parents Bill of Rights” to be promoted and to “defend fairness through ensuring that only female athletes can compete in sports.” It also proposes to hire 200,000 more police officers and to move supply chains from China to combat inflation.

The GOP plan promises to end proxy voting, which was established by Democrats during the pandemic. It also promises to “hold Washington responsible” through oversight hearings that will “require the White House for its incompetency abroad and at home.”

The “Commitment to America”, unlike Newt Gingrich’s 1994″Contract With America, does not contain a list of legislation that would have to be voted on by a GOP-controlled U.S. House within the first 100 days.

Emmer, who will be attending the official rollout of Pennsylvania’s, stated to reporters that it doesn’t matter.

“I don’t think Americans want legislative content, they want to know your plans and then to see it through to completion. Emmer stated that it was a matter of fact. “This is a guideline, a map of what we’ll do with the majority and I believe our future speaker is handling this exactly the right way.”

He said that the agenda would benefit GOP candidates, because “you have to be for something, and not against something.”


Klobuchar journalism bill advances

This week, Sen. Amy Klobuchar won a victory when the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Thursday’s Journalism Competition Preservation Act on a bipartisan vote.

The legislation was co-sponsored in part by Senator John Kennedy, R.La. It would allow digital journalism providers (news outlets with less than 1,500 employees and non-network broadcasters who engage in standard newsgathering techniques) to create joint negotiation entities that can collectively negotiate with a covered platform. MinnPost could be benefited by this full disclosure.

This means that the bill would require Google Meta, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft to raise compensation for journalists’ content.

Klobuchar’s bill will provide a “limited safe harbour” from state and federal antitrust laws that would allow small news organizations to come together and negotiate better treatment from Google. However, previous attempts to exempt journalism from antitrust laws have failed.

Klobuchar introduced this bill to address concerns about the loss of independent media outlets and local media.

Klobuchar stated that she was the daughter of a newspaperman and knows first-hand the importance of free press in strengthening democracy. “But local news faces an existential crisis with ad revenues plummeting and newspapers closing. Many rural communities are becoming ‘news deserts’ without access to local reporting.

Klobuchar stated that “to maintain strong, independent journalism we must ensure news organizations can negotiate on a level playing ground with the online platforms which have become dominant in news distribution and digital advertisement.”

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