Election Integrity Battle Update
Court Rejects Dem Party Role in Suit Against Illinois Election Day Extension
Air Marshals Sent to Border to Protect Federal Personnel and “Non-Citizens”
Judicial Watch Sues for Kerry’s Climate Envoy Calendars and Travel Costs
Judicial Watch Sues HHS Over Approval of Abortion Drug Mifeprex
Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Unaccompanied Alien Children Transportation Records
John Podesta: The Scandal Master Returns
Following Hip-Hop Diplomacy, Your State Department Funds Drag Shows Abroad
A federal court rejected a motion by the Democratic Party of Illinois to intervene as a defendant in our lawsuit challenging an Illinois election law permitting mail-in ballots to be received as long as two weeks after Election Day.
The ruling and opinion comes in the federal lawsuit we filed on behalf of Congressman Mike Bost and two other registered Illinois voters to prevent state election officials from extending election day for 14 days beyond the date established by federal law (Rep.Michael J. Bost, Laura Pollastrini, and Susan Sweeney v. The Illinois State Board of Elections and Bernadette Matthews (No. 1:22-cv-02754)).
In the court’s ruling and opinion on the Democratic Party of Illinois motion to intervene, U.S. District Judge John F. Kness held that its participation would “delay this time-sensitive case:”
[Democratic Party of Illinois] cannot meet its burden to show that its interests will not be adequately represented by the parties to the case. As a result, [Democratic Party of Illinois] is not entitled to intervene as of right. Separately, because allowing [Democratic Party of Illinois] to intervene would threaten to delay this time-sensitive case further, the Court, in its discretion, denies [Democratic Party of Illinois] motion seeking permission to intervene as a party under Rule 24(b). Accordingly, the Court denies DPI’s motion in its entirety.
The Democratic Party of Illinois is represented by the Elias Law Group, whose founding partner is Marc Elias, the controversial lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
Federal law defines election day as “the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of every even-numbered year.” The initial complaint states:
Despite Congress’ clear statement regarding a single national Election Day, Illinois has expanded Election Day by extending by 14 days the date for receipt and counting of vote-by-mail ballots
We point out that the current Illinois election law allows vote-by-mail ballots received up to 14 days “after the polls close on Election Day” to be counted as if they were cast and received on or before Election Day. Illinois law also provides that “[e]ven vote-by-mail ballots without postmarks shall be counted if received up to 14 calendar days after Election Day if the ballots are dated on or before Election Day.”
Our lawsuit notes:
The Board … advised that the number of ballots received after Election Day through November 17, 2020, could materially affect the unofficial election results.
[Illinois’ own data indicates that] Illinois received 266,417 vote-by-mail ballots statewide during the period from November 3rd through November 17th.
[M]ost of the 266,417 vote-by-mail ballots were received after Election Day, which would mean that as many as 4.4% of votes cast in 2020 were received after Election Day. [Emphasis in original]
We argue that holding voting open for 14 days past Election Day violates the constitutional rights of voters and candidates:
By counting untimely and illegal ballots received after Election Day and diluting Plaintiffs’ timely cast and received ballots, Defendants, acting under color of Illinois law, have deprived and are depriving Plaintiffs of rights protected under the First Amendment and 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The Democratic Party failed to gum up this important lawsuit for election integrity. We are supposed to have an Election Day, not election weeks – or months. Illinois’ 14-day extension of Election Day beyond the date set by Congress is illegal, violates the civil rights of voters, and encourages fraud.
The Delaware Supreme Court recently struck down that state’s vote-by-mail and same-day voter registration statutes for violating the Delaware Constitution. In making its ruling, the court effectively concurs with the amicus curiae brief we submitted in the case, which argues the Delaware statute impermissibly expands those practices far beyond the limits set in the Delaware Constitution.
In a separate Judicial Watch election lawsuit against Illinois, a federal court ruled in June 2021 that the lawsuit could proceed against Illinois officials for denying public access to Illinois’ voter registration database.
In February 2022, we settled a voter rolls clean-up lawsuit against North Carolina and two of its counties after the North Carolina removed over 430,000 ineligible names from the voter rolls.
In March 2022, a Maryland court ruled in favor of our challenge to Maryland’s Democratic legislature “extreme” congressional redistricting gerrymander.
For more than 25 years, we have been known for our aggressive, leading-edge use of public records laws and lawsuits, as well as taxpayer, civil rights and whistleblower protection litigation, to fight government corruption. We are a national leader in voting integrity and voting rights. As part of this effort, we assembled a team of highly experienced voting rights attorneys who stopped discriminatory elections in Hawaii, and cleaned up voter rolls in California, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, among other achievements.
Air Marshals Sent to Border to Protect Federal Personnel and ‘Non-Citizens’
The specially trained Air Marshals who are paid to protect our air travel are now being used to help clean up the Biden administration’s mess at the border. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports:
To help deal with “a surge in irregular migration,” the Biden administration is deploying Federal Air Marshals (FAM) to the Mexican border to “protect the life and safety of federal personnel,” according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memorandum sent to the highly skilled law enforcement officers this week via electronic mail. Judicial Watch obtained a copy of the urgent directive from various recipients at the agency, which operates under the beleaguered Transportation Security Administration (TSA), created after 9/11 to prevent another terrorist attack. FAM is charged with protecting commercial passenger flights by deterring and countering the risk of terrorist activity, and officers, specially trained aviation security specialists, are outraged that they are being sent to the southern border.
“The nation is experiencing a surge in irregular migration along the Southwest Border (SWB),” the notice to FAM officers states. “The unprecedented volume of Noncitizen Migrants (NCMs) currently apprehended mandates immediate further action to protect the life and safety of federal personnel and noncitizens in CBP [Customs and Border Protection] custody.” This appears to be the first acknowledgment, albeit leaked involuntarily, by the Biden administration that there is indeed a crisis along the nation’s famously porous southern border. “To support its mission, CBP is seeking federal employees from DHS Components and other federal agencies to be placed on reimbursable TDY assignments to assist in critical support functions,” the widely circulated mandate states, adding that “LE/FAMS has been directed by DHS to support this request.”
The first wave of FAMs will be dispatched to El Paso, Texas and Yuma, Arizona on October 30 for an October 31 start. Thirty officers and a supervisor will go to El Paso, 15 officers and a supervisor will go to Yuma. “There will be further deployments on TBD dates,” the memo to the nation’s FAM staff reads. It also says that overtime pay for the assignment is “highly likely.” The temporary assignments will consist of 21-day rotations and may be extended for up to 120 days. Here is the important work that the specially trained law enforcement officers will be doing in the southern border rather than their critical duty of protecting commercial planes flagged for terrorist threats. “Hospital Watch, Transportation, Law Enforcement Searches, Entry Control, Security at CBP Facilities and Welfare Checks.”
This is hardly the first time FAM resources are misused, potentially endangering the flying public. Last summer Judicial Watch exposed a scandal-plagued “VIP” program that provided members of Congress with FAMs often yanked from high-risk flights that went unprotected. Judicial Watch learned about the secret program when several enraged FAMs provided information, including logs and records, surrounding Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ trip to Minnesota. Two officers were pulled from a high-risk flight so the veteran California lawmaker could have extra security though she was already covered by a four-man detail consisting of two Capitol Police officers and two Secret Service agents and her flight was not flagged for any threats. The high-risk flight completed its trip without the two air marshals originally assigned to it, said Sonya Hightower-LaBosco, a retired FAM who serves as executive director of the Air Marshal National Council. The union represents thousands of air marshals nationwide. “Two air marshals were pulled off a high-risk flight so Maxine Waters’ aircraft could have six armed agents,” Hightower-LaBosco confirmed, adding that two additional armed agents met the congresswoman on the ground.
Less than two weeks after Judicial Watch published its report, the congressional VIP program was canceled. As a result, hundreds of FAMs sat idly at airports around the U.S. because the special missions stopped and so many officers had been assigned to them on a regular basis. One veteran air marshal said, “the Washington Field Office in Washington D.C. was almost exclusively dedicated to VIP services for Congress.” Another longtime FAM told Judicial Watch he was deployed on several VIP missions with low-profile members of Congress. He said so many air marshals were on standby for the VIP congressional program that when it ended, he and many of his colleagues sat “around the airport waiting for a mission.” Now they are being dispersed to the Mexican border to babysit illegal immigrants.
Judicial Watch Sues for Kerry’s Climate Envoy Calendars and Travel Costs
John Kerry has been gallivanting around the globe at President Biden’s direction as the nation’s first special presidential envoy for climate. Trouble is, nobody is really sure what he’s doing or how much it’s costing taxpayers.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the State Department for details of his office, including his calendars, the identities of its staff members and its cost of his travel (Judicial Watch Inc. V. U.S. Department of State((No. 1:22-cv-02844).
We sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the State Department failed to respond adequately to a July 31, 2022, FOIA request for:
1. Copies of all records concerning individual authorizations for and the costs of John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, for any official travel from January 21, 2021, to present. This request includes any reimbursement amounts the government paid to Mr. Kerry.
2. All calendar or calendar entries for John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, whether made by him personally or on his behalf from January 21, 2021, to present. Request calendars, if possible, be produced in a format that includes invitees, notes, and attachments. This request includes not only Microsoft Outlook calendars, but any calendar, electronic or paper, used in the execution of government business.
3. Copies of all organizational charts for the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, including any sub organizations, reflecting names and/or position titles of each individual in those positions. Judicial Watch does not object to the redaction of contact information (telephone numbers/emails) for any employee listed in the organizational chai1(s).
The American people have a right to know what John Kerry is up to, what we’re paying to fly him around the world, and who we pay to actually work for him.
Judicial Watch Sues HHS over Approval of Abortion Drug Mifeprex
The abortion lobby is as strong as ever. Its latest enthusiasm is a long-controversial abortion pill.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for records regarding drug stability test results, new drug applications and related materials of the abortion drug Mifeprex (Mifepristone, formerly known as RU-486).
We also requested reviews and assessments of the manufacturing facilities DANCO and GenBio where the abortion pills are produced (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:22-cv-03152)).
We sued after the Food and Drug Administration (a component of HHS) failed to respond to three February 2022, FOIA requests.
The first request asks for correspondence with the manufacturers of Mifeprex regarding the drug’s stability and for all FDA reports from assessments of DANCO and GenBio manufacturing facilities.
The second request asks for investigational and new drug applications related to Mifeprex (Mifepristone).
The third request asks for stability test results for the drug Mifeprex (Mifepristone), including records reflecting long-term stability, as well as accelerated and forced degradation results.
In September 2000, in response to pressure from pro-abortion activists, the Clinton Food and Drug Administration accelerated approval of the pill.
Now the Biden administration is pushing to prevent states from restricting access to it.
Our experience is that this chemical abortion pill did not and will not receive appropriate review from the politicized FDA. It is outrageous that we had to sue in federal court for basic safety information about the pill, which is being pushed on women by a desperate pro-abortion movement.
In May 2006, we released a Special Report containing records that shed light on the Clinton administration’s aggressive drive to push RU-486 to market in the United States. We obtained the documents from the National Archives at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, in February 2006, shortly after the archives allowed public access to Bill Clinton’s presidential papers.
In October 2007, through a FOIA lawsuit, we forced the FDA to release records about the drug. Included in the records is a letter written in October 2000 from then-Oklahoma Congressman Tom A. Coburn, M.D., to then-executive vice president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Ralph W. Hale, M.D:
It was a sad day when the FDA approved RU-486 – the first drug ever approved for the specific purpose of ending a human life. But that was made even worse by the fact that the FDA succumbed to the political pressure brought by ACOG and other elements of the abortion lobby by dropping most of the proposed patient protections, and thereby recklessly exposing women to avoidable risk.
Judicial Watch Sues HHS for Unaccompanied Alien Children Transportation Records
The Biden Administration’s free-for-all at the border includes what amounts to the trafficking of little children.
We filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for records related to the transportation of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (No. 1:22-cv-03044)).
We sued after HHS failed to respond to a May 20, 2021, FOIA request to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF is a component of HHS) for:
- All documents related to the preparation and logistics involved in the transportation of Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) to and from Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center on May 14, 2021.
- All ACF officials’ internal email communications related to the transportation of UACs to and from Chattanooga’s Wilson Air Center on May 14, 2021.
In a May 26, 2021, letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Tennessee Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, along with Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann wrote:
We write to seek information on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) management of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) in federal custody and the facilities used to house them. We are particularly concerned about recent reports regarding the use of Chattanooga, Tennessee, as a central location for resettling UACs in the United States.
There are media reports that, within the last week, at least four planes carrying UACs landed at Wilson Air Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, before swiftly boarding the children onto buses and transporting them to multiple cities across the southeastern United States for apparent resettlement, with zero transparency regarding what was happening. For months, reports have detailed how thousands of children are being housed in neglectful conditions at mass shelters operated by HHS under a veil of secrecy. We are deeply troubled by the lack of transparency and accountability regarding the conditions that HHS is subjecting these children to.
Several governors, including Governor Bill Lee of Tennessee, have written to President Biden expressing alarm over how the federal government has circumvented state authorities by placing UACs in their states’ facilities with little transparency, consent, or coordination.
The Biden administration is hiding information on how it aids and abets the trafficking of unaccompanied alien children. We aim to expose and hold accountable the Biden administration for its trafficking of countless children.
We have delved extensively into the tragedy of unaccompanied alien children.
In August 2022, we revealed that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) busted hundreds of adult illegal aliens posing as minors to dodge deportation. El Paso Border Patrol Sector reported it had seen an unusual amount of activity involving adults posing as minors to dodge deportation. In El Paso alone, CBP confirmed that more than 655 adult migrants posing as minors have been arrested in fiscal year 2022.
In September 2021, we received records from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement that list 33 separate incidences of alleged sexual abuse against UACs in a one-month time period.
In July 2018, after a three-year delay, we obtained records containing nearly 1,000 summaries of Significant Incident Reports (SIRs) from HHS revealing that UACs processed during the Obama Administration included admitted murderers, rapists, drug smugglers, prostitutes, and human traffickers.
John Podesta: The Scandal Master Returns
The Clintons had a coterie of corrupt cronies who are still all over Washington – and in the White House. One of these is an old hand at political street fighting who Biden appointed to manage, wants amounts to be a huge slush fund of tax dollars. Our Chief Investigative Correspondent Micah Morrison reports in our Investigative Bulletin.
Students of scandal took note last month when President Biden announced the appointment of one of the dirtiest figures in presidential politics as his clean energy czar. John Podesta, the White House said, would step in as “Senior Adviser to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation,” overseeing the new Inflation Reduction Act’s “expansive” energy and climate provisions. Expansive it is. Podesta is now in charge of a $370 billion pot of federal cash and incentives approved under the new law. History suggests he will not be shy in deploying the federal funds to reward Democratic Party allies, punish opponents, and protect Joe Biden.
Protecting his president has always been John Podesta’s real job. As far back as the Bill Clinton presidency, Podesta ran the cover-up of the “Travel Office affair”—a failed attempt by Hillary Clinton to fire the staff of the White House Travel Office and replace them with Clinton cronies. This was serious business. The Travel Office staff were mid-level federal employees, not presidential appointees, and livelihoods were immediately cut off. Thanks to Mrs. Clinton, the director the Travel Office was indicted on embezzlement charges and left to twist in the wind for more than two years, until a jury swiftly acquitted him of all charges. A Podesta-led White House review of the affair “proved to be nothing more than a whitewash,” a later investigation concluded. Mrs. Clinton denied having anything to do with the firings but an independent counsel report on the Travel Office affairconcluded she had provided “factually false” testimony in the case.
Podesta had demonstrated loyalty and was rewarded. He was promoted to deputy White House chief of staff, where he played important roles in the Whitewater scandal. A White House “task list” noted the “Podesta damage control effort” in Whitewater. In 1998, he was named chief of staff and helped manage the Clinton defense in the Monica Lewinsky debacle, impeachment, and a scandal over presidential pardons.
Pre-Clinton, Podesta served as a Capitol Hill aide in a variety of positions in the 1980s. In 1988, he and his brother, Tony Podesta, founded the lobbying group Podesta Associates, an unremarkable presence on the Washington scene until John Podesta joined the Clinton White House. By the end of the 1990s, Tony Podesta was a major Washington power broker. By 2011, he was reporting earnings of more than $24 million.
By 2017, he was, seemingly, finished. Entangled in a sector of the sprawling Robert Mueller probe that was investigating Ukrainian money linked to U.S. lobbyists, Tony Podesta dissolved his lucrative lobbying empire and retired.
John Podesta prospered too. In 2003, with the Democrats out of the White House, he cemented his position as a leading party figure by founding the influential Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank that quickly became an incubator for progressive politics and personnel. He returned to the White House in 2014 as a counselor to Barack Obama for energy and environmental issues.
In 2016, he signed on as chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. When Wikileaks released over 20,000 Podesta emails obtained from hackers who had penetrated the Democratic National Committee mail system, Podesta was revealed as the central figure in a seamy web of media allies, political operatives, big money donors, Wall Street figures, and Clinton Foundation interests. With the Wikileaks email scandal, the Washington Post noted, “the Clintons’ longtime cleanup guy” was now “the source of the mess.”
Mrs. Clinton of course lost that election. But Podesta was soon back, this time playing a key role in “the Transition Integrity Project”—an effort to aid Joe Biden and disrupt the 2020 presidential election. “The figure at the heart of the Transition Integrity Project is John Podesta,” Judicial Watch reported in October 2020, a month before the election. TIP “is a collection of professional Democratic operatives and Republican ‘Never Trumpers,’” JW noted. “Organizers and leaders include Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks, Nils Gilman of the ‘independent’ Berggruen Institute in California,” and anti-Trump Republicans Michael Steele, David Frum, and Bill Kristol.”
TIP issued a dire report, widely covered in the mainstream media, warning of Trumpian election violence. In a special report on TIP, Judicial Watch concluded that publication of the TIP report was “an information warfare strategy employed for revolutionary political purposes” that included planning for “a street fight, not a legal battle.”
That’s a clue to Podesta’s true role in the Biden White House. Watch for the old scandal master to play a central role in street fights to come over what is increasingly looking like a 2023 GOP-dominated House of Representatives and a 2024 Trump-Biden rematch.
Following Hip-Hop Diplomacy, Your State Department Funds Drag Shows Abroad
In what can only be another sign of our national decline, the Biden State Department is using your tax dollars to promote drag shows in Ecuador. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the details.
In yet another questionable venture by the State Department to achieve foreign policy goals through art, the agency is giving a Latin American country nearly $21,000 to produce drag shows. The goal, according to the government’s grant announcement, is to promote diversity and inclusion by funding three workshops, 12 drag theater performances and a two-minute documentary. The project is part of the State Department’s foreign diplomacy programs, which aim to advance national interests and enhance national security by informing and influencing foreign publics, according to the grant document. The initiative also strives to expand and strengthen the relationship between the people and government of the U.S. and citizens of the rest of the world.
How a dozen drag shows may help accomplish this, in Latin America of all places, remains unclear. The performances typically feature adult men dancing in women’s clothes and heels, exaggerated wigs, and heavy makeup often accentuated with glitter. The American taxpayer dollars to fund the drag shows in the name of diversity and inclusion will go to a nonprofit in Ecuador, a country with a population of around 18 million that elected a conservative president last year. The group is called Centro Ecuatoriano Norteamericano de Cuenca and it is located in the city of Cuenca in southern Ecuador’s Andes mountains. The nonprofit was founded in the late 50s to strengthen ties and friendship with the U.S. with intellectual and cultural exchanges. This includes conferences, concerts, sporting events and English classes for Ecuadoreans. The group’s Spanish-language website also says that its vision includes facilitating “social responsibility” programs sponsored by the U.S. government in Cuenca.
Perhaps the U.S.-funded drag shows meet the Ecuadorean charity’s social responsibility need, though the Biden administration is not offering specifics on how the performances will further the State Department’s diplomatic mission of promoting American foreign policy. A spokesperson for the agency told a national news outlet that the grant is part of “a wide range of strategic programs in Ecuador that incorporate concepts from diversity, inclusion, and representation to equity and accessibility.” The spokesperson added that the grant to the Ecuadorian nonprofit uses the arts to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion. “The program’s goal is to promote tolerance, and the arts provide new opportunities for LGBTQI+ Ecuadorians to express themselves freely and safely,” the State Department spokesperson said in the article.
This is hardly the first time a controversial artistic endeavor abroad receives funding from the State Department. The agency also spent $70,000 on Hip-hop diplomacy even though the music famously promotes violence, misogyny, drugs, and lawlessness. That initiative aimed to promote American culture in India by exploring the commonalities and differences between the south Asian nation and the U.S. through what the State Department calls an “influential music genre.” It was a peculiar choice since Hip-hop, a predominantly African American brand, has a very dark side and is well known for graphic lyrics involving urban violence and the abuse of women. Instead, the State Department celebrates Hip-hop musicians for using “their art to highlight socio-political problems, particularly pertaining to youth in underserved and other minority communities.” The agency claims that Hip-hop will serve as a valuable tool to show the vibrancy and innovative creativity of U.S. society because it exemplifies free expression that promotes values such as pluralism, tolerance, and inclusion.
Keeping with the theme of waste, just a few months ago the State Department allocated $800,000 to study if its $2 million youth violence prevention initiative in El Salvador is effective. It is safe to say the answer is no considering criminal youth gangs are endemic in the impoverished central American nation, but the agency is doling out the extra cash to confirm it. The new probe will focus on the Police Athletic League (PAL) youth outreach program, which Uncle Sam has funded in El Salvador to the tune of $2 million. The money flows through the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), a State Department offshoot created in the late 70s to reduce drug trafficking into the U.S. from Latin America. The INL claims to keep Americans safe by countering crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. It is handsomely funded by Congress and the State Department requested $456.8 million for its drug-related programs in fiscal year 2022. The funds help strengthen the rule of law, human rights protections, law enforcement capacity, anti-corruption activities, and other critical efforts around the globe, according to the budget request.
Until next week …