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Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch
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The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.

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Atomic Bomb
They are stealing our jobs, our manufacturing, and now our nuke secrets too?

A government-owned nuclear laboratory with a lengthy history of security breaches is under fire again for mistakenly shipping radioactive material on a commercial cargo plane. It marks the latest of many shameful scandals at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, among the world’s largest science institutions and the nation’s key nuclear weapons research facility. The massive lab is charged with developing technology to reduce global threats and ensure the safety, security and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Judicial Watch has long monitored the Los Alamos National Laboratory and was heavily involved in exposing a Chinese communist scientist (Wen Ho Lee), who stole nuclear secrets from the facility back in 1999. The Bill Clinton Justice Department refused to prosecute Lee because then Attorney General Janet Reno claimed the accusations against him were racist. Judicial Watch represented the whistleblower, Notra Trulock, responsible for launching an investigation into Lee’s actions. Trulok was the Department of Energy’s (DOE) intelligence operations chief and Clinton administration officials defamed him by accusing him of being a racist to cover up Lee’s repeated and embarrassing security violations.

A multitude of scandals have rocked the facility since then and Judicial Watch has closely followed the government’s perpetual failure to adequately guard the lab’s highly classified material. A few years ago, a Los Alamos scientist and his wife, both contractors at the facility, stole “classified restricted data” involving nuclear weapons and passed it along to a foreign government that’s hostile to the U.S. The scientist, Pedro Leonardo Mancheron, is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina and his wife, Marjorie, also an American citizen, did technical writing and editing at Los Alamos.

Both individuals had security clearances and passed the classified material to a person they believed to be a Venezuelan government official. The scientist admitted selling the information relating to the “United States’ national defense” and lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). His wife admitted communicating restricted data belonging to the United States to another person with reason to believe that the information would be used to secure an advantage to Venezuela. She also admitted lying to the FBI.

A few years earlier, Los Alamos officials sent top secret data relating to nuclear weapons via an open electronic mail network and police accidentally stumbled upon it in a drug dealer’s mobile home during a drug bust. The highly classified information included details of the actual characteristics of nuclear material used in weapons. The 1,500 highly classified nuclear weapons designs were stashed in a trailer park near the lab along with paraphernalia to manufacture methamphetamine. This was hardly an isolated incident. In the late 90s and early 2000 the facility became an embarrassment to the Energy Department. Revelations of theft, fraud, security lapses and lax oversight kept Los Alamos in the news and led to the release of an Energy Department document labeling it “a systematic management failure.”

The problem is not limited to Los Alamos. The nation’s other government-owned nuclear labs have also experienced decades of faulty management, weak security and lousy oversight. A few years ago, a federal audit blasted the government agency, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), responsible for securing the nation’s nuclear weapons—and the facilities where they are housed. Among the probe’s findings was that Los Alamos grants entire organizations or functional groups unauthorized access to nuclear weapons drawings, in violation of DOE rules.

At another New Mexico facility, Sandia National Laboratory, investigators found repeated instances of “ineffective management of classified nuclear weapons drawings, a situation that could lead to unauthorized changes to the drawings.” At the Pantex nuclear weapons assembly plant in Texas, officials couldn’t even find a chunk of the nuclear weapons that federal investigators picked from the stockpile for testing. Keep in mind that these are government facilities that supposedly operate with maximum security.

The latest incident at Los Alamos was reported this month in a local newspaper article that says procedures were not followed when shipping “special nuclear material” to facilities in California and South Carolina. The radioactive material had been packaged for ground transport, the article states, but was mistakenly shipped aboard a commercial cargo plane, a violation of U.S. regulations. “Employees have been fired and other personnel actions have been taken,” according to the story. Not surprisingly, officials at the facility declined to provide details about the actions against the negligent employees and downplayed it as a “mix-up.”

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Green Kickback
I'm beginning to realize why all these political environmental schemes are really called "Green."

An electric car company that folded after taking millions of taxpayer dollars was founded by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair, but the mainstream media is ignoring this pertinent fact. The Mississippi-based company, GreenTech, shut down in January but is back in the spotlight because this week the state’s auditor demanded the firm repay $6.4 million in public funds. Only a small Richmond, Virginia newspaper prominently reported McAuliffe’s ties to the scandal, stating in the headline that “Mississippi auditor demands $6.4M repayment from McAuliffe’s former electric car company.”

Most mainstream news outlets ignored the story altogether and a few kept McAuliffe’s name out the minimal coverage. Washington D.C.’s mainstream newspaper went with a lengthy wire service story that matter-of-factly mentions McAuliffe in the very last sentence. “Among former insiders is Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe,” the end of the article states. “He resigned as the firm’s chairman in December 2012 and said he divested his interest.” How convenient! The article omits that, as GreenTech founder, McAuliffe brokered the deal in which the company got millions in public funds by promising to invest $60 million locally and creating hundreds of new full-time jobs. That never happened and instead taxpayers got fleeced. Now Mississippi State Auditor Stacey Pickering is ordering that the money be repaid with interest and investigative costs. The exact figure is $6,360,019.60.

McAuliffe is a renowned Democratic fundraiser who made a fortune with shady investments in a telecommunications giant that went bankrupt. He started his fundraising career in Jimmy Carter’s 1979 reelection campaign and has raised big bucks for Democrats over the years, but not without controversy. McAuliffe was investigated for campaign-finance abuses during the 1996 presidential election and was deposed by the Senate committee investigating the matter. In 2002 the Virginia governor was investigated for his role in an unprecedented case of political profiteering for turning a $100,000 investment in telecommunications giant Global Crossings into an $18 million profit. The company later made the fourth-largest bankruptcy filing in history and McAuliffe insisted he only did “political work” for the company’s founder who, incidentally, donated $1 million to Bill Clinton’s Presidential Library.

In 2013, McAuliffe appeared on Judicial Watch’s most corrupt politicians list and last year Judicial Watch sued the governor on behalf of Virginia voters for signing an executive order to restore voting rights to about 206,000 convicted felons. In court proceedings, Judicial Watch argued that the blanket restoration of rights to felons violates “provisions of the Virginia Constitution mandating that voting rights may only be restored on an individual basis, following a particular, individualized review and a finding of sufficient grounds for restoring such rights.” Plaintiffs alleged that their votes and the lawful votes of other Virginians will be cancelled out or diminished by felons who are not eligible to vote under Virginia’s laws and constitution.

Though his pals in the mainstream media are keeping his name out of the GreenTech scandal, McAuliffe could still be in serious trouble. The Virginia paper that reported his key role in the bankrupt electric car company points this out: “McAuliffe’s office has said the governor has had no involvement with the company since stepping down as its chairman and divesting his financial stake. But the escalating standoff in Mississippi raises the likelihood that the business deal McAuliffe brokered could be headed toward a bitter end in court. Ending his four-year term as governor with a higher national profile and record as an exuberant pitchman for Virginia, GreenTech’s unraveling could dog McAuliffe amid speculation about a 2020 presidential bid.”

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Homeless Man
Hey there buddy, you look down on your luck, can I interest you in some free college and democratic socialism?

Amid a deepening federal investigation of Jane Sanders, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ wife, Judicial Watch has obtained records that paint a rather disturbing personal portrait of a heartless spouse—and longtime political advisor—of the Democratic Socialist candidate for president of the United States. During the Obama administration, the FBI began investigating Jane for falsifying documents to obtain a $10 million loan to expand a now-defunct liberal arts college in a town where her husband once served as mayor while she was the school’s president.

The school, Burlington College, was in a small city with the same name in northwestern Vermont. It’s a quaint town of about 42,000 that sits on the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain and prides itself on having “diverse, forward-thinking citizens” that are “steeped in arts and culture.” Jane was president of the troubled college from 2004 to 2011 and in 2010, she had an ambitious plan to expand the campus by 33 acres, despite low enrollment and financial difficulties. The then-president of Burlington College drastically overstated donation amounts in loan applications, according to the Vermont news website that broke the story, to obtain a $10 million loan. Jane indicated there was $2.6 million in pledged donations but the school only got $676,000 in four years.

The loan went through, some allege after her husband’s senatorial office pressured the bank to approve it, and Jane masterminded a deal to purchase an undeveloped, 32-acre parcel of land and a 77,000-square-foot facility from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. The purchase included a facility that served as a group home for disabled people and, under the terms of the deal, Jane was supposed to negotiate the transfer of the disabled residents before the school took over the property. Instead Jane tried to kick the disabled people out of their group home, records obtained by Judicial Watch show. The records, part of an ongoing Judicial Watch investigation into the Jane Sanders fraud case, include electronic mail exchanges between Jane when she was president of Burlington College and two former mayors of the city of Burlington.

In a lengthy letter to the attorney (Todd Centybear) representing the group home for the disabled Jane indicates that she’s having trouble evicting the 16 residents from their building on the newly purchased property after the college had acquired the land. She writes: “It is simply not fair to expect the College to continue to carry the burden of the expenses associated with housing both your population and ours until February 2012.” The home for the disabled was being leased from the diocese and Jane was supposed to help relocate the residents, not evict them. The exchange shows, not only Jane’s heartlessness, but also her incompetence as the college president for not ensuring the negotiated transfer of those disabled people before the school took over the property.

In a separate email to then Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, Jane forwards a laughable press release issued by the college announcing her resignation. “I wanted you to hear it from me,” she writes to the mayor. “It’s a good decision.” The press release announced that “In honor of her significant accomplishments, the College has given Sanders the title of President Emerita…” It adds that “The Board credits Sanders with negotiating the acquisition of its beautiful new 32-acre lakefront campus, a transformative achievement for the College.” In reality, the acquisition of that property bankrupted the College, and Sanders is now being investigated for bank fraud by the FBI for misrepresentations she made on loan documents to purchase the land for the campus.

Senator Sanders, who is up for reelection this year, hit the media circuit this week to defend his wife, assuring that she’s the most honest person he knows and that the investigation is politically motivated. “When you go after people’s wives that is really pathetic,” he said in a recent interview, adding that “it’s fairly pathetic that when people are involved in public life, it’s not only that they get attacked, but it’s their wives and their families that get attacked. That’s what this is about.” The couple lawyered up this week, hiring two prominent attorneys, one in Burlington and the other in Washington D.C. Also, this month, Jane launched a nonprofit organization, the Sanders Institute, to “revitalize democracy” with progressive policies aimed at racial and social justice as well as environmental and economic issues.

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Border Crossing
"Here, I filled this bag with gatorade and chips for your crossing, enjoy your tax-free stay in the USA!"

Despite President Trump’s pledge to tighten border security Border Patrol agents in one of the nation’s busiest sectors for illegal immigrants and drugs were ordered this week to stand back after a surveillance camera recorded a group entering the U.S. from Mexico, federal law enforcement sources told Judicial Watch. The incident occurred in the vast desert terrain between Arizona and Mexico, Border Patrol officials said.

An agency Buckeye camera operated out of a mobile truck recorded the illegal crossers entering through Nogales, a town of around 20,000 adjacent to the Mexican state of Sonora. The video camera is used by the Border Patrol to monitor areas for illegal crossings and can be panned to follow crossers’ movements, sources told Judicial Watch.

Upon crossing the border, the group of illegal immigrants entered what the feds refer to as a “Samaritan camp,” according to a Border Patrol official who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s management team. The special camps are operated by an Arizona-based open borders advocacy group called No Más Muertes (No More Deaths) and consist of several trailers on private property. The nonprofit’s mission is to end death and suffering in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands and enact immigration reform in America.

Besides the “Samaritan camps” along the Mexican border, the organization leaves water, food, blankets and other supplies along trails used by illegal immigrants to travel north. No Más Muertes also has staff in Mexico to provide phones for deportees and assistance, including first aid, for northbound migrants.

Although the organization’s sanctuary trailers are situated on the U.S. side of the border, federal agents are legally allowed to enter the property and remove the illegal crossers, law enforcement sources confirm. “If agents observe illegal conduct, apprehension does not require a warrant,” a federal law enforcement official with direct knowledge of the matter told Judicial Watch. In this case, probable cause had been established by the unlawful conduct observed by Border Patrol agents via the high-tech Buckeye camera. Instead of entering the property as legally allowed and removing the illegal aliens, agents were ordered to “negotiate” with the occupants,” Border Patrol officials said.

Photos produced by the surveillance camera were also produced to Judicial Watch by outraged Border Patrol officials who say Obama-era, open borders policies are still being implemented by Kelly’s management team. “Instead of proactively patrolling a porous and volatile border, Border Patrol resources are being utilized on the perimeter of the property to thwart any further incursions into or retreats from the sanctuary camp,” according to a law enforcement source involved in the Nogales incident.

Veteran agents say, that although Trump promised to toughen up security along the porous and increasingly violent Mexican border, for unknown reasons his DHS secretary continues to implement Obama sanctuary policies. There is a great concern among rank-and-file agents that these passive, limited enforcement policies increase the risk to agents and decrease the deterrence of the Trump border strategy.

Just a few weeks ago, Kelly stripped Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents of their independent enforcement authority by implementing a new policy that requires a supervisor’s permission to issue a detainer for illegal aliens suspected of crimes. Judicial Watch obtained the document outlining the new policy, which federal agents say is a constraint that creates a bottleneck and hampers their ability to take efficient on-site action against criminals in the country illegally.

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Border Sentry
Vigilance and an honest day's labor - No wonder Democrats hate our Border Patrol agents!

National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for reporting corruption and misconduct in agency management, including a disturbing order issued to officers directing them not to patrol a vulnerable stretch of the northern border with Canada. Judicial Watch has obtained government documents and interviewed numerous sources with direct knowledge of the situation, which appears retaliatory.

The ordeal began in mid-April when Judd, who heads the union that represents some 16,000 Border Patrol agents nationwide, denounced a directive to agents to purposely leave a 40-mile section of the Havre Sector in Montana unsecured. The Havre station covers approximately 108 miles of international border with Canada and much of it is sparsely populated.

A conservative news outlet obtained a document from a Havre Sector Border Patrol manager ordering agents to leave 40 miles of Montana border open and unpatrolled. In an article, various Border Patrol agents blamed Obama-era policies and widespread corruption in the Havre Sector’s upper management. One agent said criminal cartels exploit border weaknesses daily so they’re certain to exploit such a large area of open and unpatrolled border.

The federal officers spoke on the condition that their identity be kept anonymous, clearly because they feared retaliation. However, Judd, a veteran Border Patrol agent, went on the record and now DHS is going after him. In the news story Judd revealed that in recent years the Havre sector has seen more complaints than any other sector.

The union chief also criticized DHS Secretary John Kelly for endorsing Obama-era open border policies and condoning his predecessors’ (Janet Napolitano and Jeh Johnson) failures. Judd also said this in the article: “President Trump is the president of the common citizen and the choice of the rank-and-file Border Patrol Agents; unfortunately there are those highly paid career managers who want to believe they’re above everyone else — up to and including the President of the United States.”

Secretary Kelly’s DHS management team responded by launching an investigation into Judd, accusing him of “unauthorized disclosure of law enforcement information” in the news story referenced above. In a letter to the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Border Patrol Council’s legal division writes that nothing in the article qualified as law enforcement sensitive information, though such disclosures are protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) as well as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA).

The article did not specify the exact location of the 40 miles, whether the 40 miles was contiguous or even the Border Patrol station within the Havre Sector where the order was given, the letter states. “Based upon the law, DHS/OIG cannot legally sustain any allegation that Mr. Judd improperly disclosed law enforcement information,” the letter says. “Also, we understand that DHS/OIG is only the investigatory body responsible for gathering the facts and that any threatened or actual personnel action would be taken by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. As a result, we are forwarding this memorandum to CBP as well as the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to ensure that no threatened or actual personnel action be taken against Mr. Judd.”

Originally, the agency watchdog launched a probe into allegations of corruption divulged by Judd in an electronic mail to Border Patrol Chief Ronald Vitiello and Associate Chief Rodolfo Karisch. In the email, titled “Allegation of Corruption,” Judd cited evidence he believed showed that an operations change at the Havre Sector was “due to either corruption, retaliation, or for political purposes.” Judd expressed concern for the safety of agents as well as the public and the DHS OIG launched a criminal investigation into Havre Sector management officials.

At some point in the corruption probe of Havre Sector management, the watchdog initiated an administrative investigation into Judd for reasons that aren’t clear. Judicial Watch reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the 60,000-employee agency that encompasses the Border Patrol, but calls went unanswered. The administration’s official reason for going after Judd is the “unauthorized disclosure of law enforcement information.” In a document obtained by Judicial Watch, the DHS OIG warns Judd that he may be subject to disciplinary action that includes termination.

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Prosecutors

In the last few weeks prosecutors in two major U.S. cities have ordered staff not to charge illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes because it could get the offenders deported. You can’t make this stuff up. Officials elected by law-abiding citizens to protect, defend, uphold and enforce criminal laws are bending the rules to protect those in the country illegally. This is a huge step beyond offering illegal aliens sanctuary and constitutes a violation of the oath these public officials have taken.

Brooklyn, New York District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was the first to issue the order creating two sets of rules involving local crimes. The goal, according to a statement issued by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, is “minimizing collateral immigration consequences of criminal convictions.” Taxpayers in the busy New York City borough are also paying for two immigration attorneys to train all staff on immigration issues and advise prosecutors when making plea offers and sentencing recommendations. The idea is to avoid “disproportionate collateral consequences, such as deportation, while maintaining public safety.” Gonzalez, the Brooklyn District Attorney, says he’s committed to equal and fair justice for all Brooklyn residents—citizens, lawful residents and undocumented immigrants alike.

Brooklyn’s chief prosecutor insists that this outrageous new policy doesn’t compromise but rather compliments his agency’s goal of enhancing public safety and fairness in the criminal justice system. Under the old system in which all violators of state crimes were treated equally undocumented immigrants faced harsh immigration penalties as a result of criminal convictions, Gonzalez said, even for minor offenses. “Now more than ever, we must ensure that a conviction, especially for a minor offense, does not lead to unintended and severe consequences like deportation, which can be unfair, tear families apart and destabilize our communities and businesses,” Gonzalez said.

“In Brooklyn, we have been proactive in protecting immigrants from fraud and hate crimes and now, with the unprecedented hiring of immigration attorneys and the implementation of this policy, we continue to lead on this important issue.” The head of a local open borders group celebrated the new rules, asserting that “misdemeanors and low-level offenses often trap immigrants who are unfamiliar with the legal process and potentially expose them to harsh double punishment of being deported and ripped from their families.”

Under Brooklyn’s new policy lawyers in the prosecutor’s office may consider “alternative offenses the defendant can plead to as well as reasonable modifications to the sentence recommendation.” As an example, the District Attorney’s directive says that a plea to a misdemeanor trespass may be offered instead of a misdemeanor drug offense. Illegal aliens may also be offered a plea for a lesser offense “in light of the disproportionate immigration consequences a higher level offense may result in,” according to the new rules.

The District Attorney’s office recognizes however, that there “may be times when crafting an immigration-neutral disposition would be very difficult and there may be stumbling blocks that cannot be overcome in certain cases.” At the end of the new policy document, the office charged with investigating and prosecuting crimes to improve public safety recognizes that many violent felonies come attached with “inevitable” collateral immigration consequences.

A few weeks after Brooklyn proudly disclosed its policy, prosecutors in Maryland’s largest city joined the bandwagon, albeit more quietly. There was no public announcement or celebratory press conference but a local newspaper got ahold of an internal memo sent by Baltimore’s Chief Deputy State’s Attorney instructing prosecutors to think twice before charging illegal immigrants with minor, non-violent crimes. The chief deputy, Michael Schatzow, used similar language in the memo, writing that the Trump administration’s deportation efforts “have increased the potential collateral consequences to certain immigrants of minor, non-violent criminal conduct.” Schatzow is second-in-command to Baltimore’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, and oversees major crimes at the state agency. “In considering the appropriate disposition of a minor, non-violent criminal case, please be certain to consider those potential consequences to the victim, witnesses, and the defendant,” Schatzow wrote to his staff.

Besides Baltimore, two Maryland counties—Montgomery and Prince George’s—offer illegal immigrants sanctuary. Earlier this year, in response to the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement policies, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh reiterated that police and other public agencies in her city never ask about immigration status. “We are a welcoming city,” the mayor said in a local news report “We want everyone here. We want to be able to provide opportunities and jobs and careers for folks. That’s where we are in Baltimore.” This year Maryland legislators tried to pass a measure to make the state an official illegal alien sanctuary but the bill, known as the Trust Act, hit a roadblock in a Senate committee after passing in the House of Delegates and the governor has vowed to veto it even if it survives.

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Democrats getting out the vote.

Less than a year after a federal appellate court sided with the Obama administration to strike down North Carolina’s election integrity reforms, a state audit reveals that hundreds of votes were illegally cast by felons and non-citizens in just one election. Voter impersonation, double voting and irregularities in absentee ballots sent via mail also tainted the election, according to the investigation conducted by the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE). The probe analyzed records from the 2016 general election.

State auditors found that about 500 ineligible people voted in 2016, more than 440 of them felons. Dozens of non-citizens from 28 different countries also cast ballots, the probe found. “A number of non-citizens said they were not aware that they were prohibited from voting,” the report states. “Interviews and evidence show that some non-citizens were misinformed about the law by individuals conducting voter registration drives or, in at least one document case, by a local precinct official.” North Carolina authorities are also investigating 24 substantiated cases of double voting in 2016. “Some violators appear to be ‘testers’ trying to find holes in the system,” according to the report. “Others claim property ownership in multiple jurisdictions should allow them to vote in each, and others brush past the law to support their candidate by any means necessary. Additionally, a case that initially appears to be a double voter—an individual who votes twice—may actually be a case of voter impersonation—an individual who casts a ballot using the identity of another person.”

The NCSBE concedes that there are probably many more cases of double voting but identifying them is difficult and there’s no reliable method to consistently find them and other types of election fraud. “While no audit exists to catch all possible cases of voter impersonation, double voter or deceased voter audits may detect such cases,” the report says. This brings up another alarming point; if duplicate registrations are voted, there’s no way to tell if that’s fraudulent voting by a single individual—which everyone assumes—or impersonation fraud. Even in the North Carolina probe, we’ll never know if that’s the whole number. “These kinds of stories are a feature of every election and that’s despite the fact that most states often don’t even track these crimes in a systematic way,” said Robert Popper, a former Deputy Chief of Justice Department Voting Section who heads Judicial Watch’s Election Integrity Project. “Some states admit they don’t track them at all,” Popper added.

Judicial Watch has been heavily involved in the North Carolina case and in 2015 filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in opposition to a lower court ruling preventing the state from implementing its election integrity reform law. Passed by the legislature in 2013 the measure requires voters to present a photo identification, eliminates same-day registration, shortens the early voting period from 17 to 10 days and requires voters to cast ballots in their own precinct. The Obama administration joined a group of leftist organizations to challenge the law in federal court, alleging that it disparately and adversely affects minority voting rights. A federal judge, Thomas D. Schroeder, rejected the claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled against North Carolina just prior to the November 2014 elections. State officials asked the Supreme Court for a temporary stay of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling and the high court granted it, allowing North Carolina’s election integrity rules to be used in 2014.

In its unanimous decision, the three-judge panel from the Fourth Circuit wrote that North Carolina’s voter integrity law harmed blacks, who overwhelmingly cast ballots for Democrats. “The new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist,” the appellate ruling states. “Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation.” Under the racial “disparate impact” theory, which is at the heart of the controversial Fourth Circuit opinion, a defendant can be held liable for discrimination for a policy hat statistically disadvantages a minority group, even if that negative impact was neither foreseen nor intended. The more broadly accepted view by courts under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) says that a violation occurs only when voting practices are motivated by a discriminatory intent and that any incidental racially disparate impact of a voting law is not sufficient on its own to prove a violation of Section 2.

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They're trying to ban these again.

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), a component of the Department of Justice, seeking records of communications related to a proposed reclassification that would effectively ban certain types of AR-15 ammunition as armor-piercing. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-00600)).

The ATF is reportedly reconsidering its February 2015 proposal to revise the 2014 Regulation Guide regarding the reclassification of certain ammunition. In March 2015, more than 200 members of Congress wrote to former ATF director Todd Jones expressing their “serious concern” that the proposal might violate the Second Amendment by restricting ammunition that had been primarily used for “sporting purposes.” The letter asserts the ATF’s move “does not comport with the letter or spirit of the law and will interfere with Second Amendment rights by disrupting the market for ammunition that law abiding Americans use for sporting and other legitimate purposes.”

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit after the agency failed to respond to a March 9, 2015, FOIA request seeking information on the ammo ban effort:

All records of communications, including emails, to or from employees or officials of the ATF related to the decision to revise the ATF 2014 Regulation Guide to no longer exempt 5.56 mm. SS109 and M855 (i.e., “green tip” AR-15) ammunition from the definition of “armor-piercing” ammunition.
The precise statutory definition of “armor-piercing ammunition” can be found in 18 U.S.C §921(a)(17).

“This is yet another example of how Obama’s wanton use of the ‘pen and the phone’ attempted to undermine the constitutional rights of all Americans, as opposed to upholding the rule of law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The Obama ATF simply ignored our request on their ammo ban. Let’s hope the Trump administration finally brings transparency to this out-of-control agency.”

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Yeah, that's just not gonna happen.

The Islamic terrorist front group that transformed the way U.S. law enforcement agencies conduct anti-terrorism training is ordering the Air Force to sever ties with an instructor it considers to be anti-Muslim. The question is will the Trump administration cave into its demands? Under Barack Obama, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group that reportedly raises money for Hamas, wielded tremendous power and managed to bully law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal level to alter counterterrorism training materials deemed by the group to discriminate against Muslims.

This includes getting the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to purge anti-terrorism training curricula of material determined to be “offensive” to Muslims. Judicial Watch uncovered that scandal and obtained the FBI records. Based on troves of government documents, Judicial Watch subsequently published a special, in-depth report on the scandal. CAIR is not specifically named but the records show that an undisclosed group of “Subject Matter Experts” (SME) determined the federal training material was offensive to Muslims. CAIR also got police departments in Illinois to eliminate anti-terrorism training materials and instructors deemed anti-Muslim. As an example, CAIR asserted that an instructor for the Lombard, Illinois police force wrote an article years earlier that included disparaging comments about the Prophet Muhammad. The course was called “Islamic Awareness as a Counter-Terrorist Strategy” and departments in Lombard, Elmhurst and Highland Park caved into CAIR’s demands.

Keep in mind that CAIR is a terrorist front group with extensive links to foreign and domestic Islamists. It was founded in 1994 by three Middle Eastern extremists (Omar Ahmad, Nihad Awad and Rafeeq Jaber) who ran the American propaganda wing of Hamas, known then as the Islamic Association for Palestine. In 2008 CAIR was a co-conspirator in a federal terror-finance case involving the Hamas front group Holy Land Foundation. Read more in a Judicial Watch special report that focuses on Muslim charities. Judicial Watch also tried to find out if CAIR got the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overhaul its anti-terrorism training but the spy agency said it could “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records” involving meetings or communications with the Muslim rights group. The CIA asserted that the information is classified intelligence protected from disclosure. The response goes on to cite the statutes—such as the CIA Act of 1949 and National Security Act of 1947—that allow the agency to hide even the most benign information from the American public. It’s likely that the CIA met with CAIR during the Obama years—or at least had communication with the extremist group—and doesn’t want the public to know about it.

Time will tell if CAIR’s cozy relationship with the Obama administration will carry over into the new one. Regardless, the group was emboldened in the last eight years and continues making demands in the name of Muslim rights. This week it called on the military to get rid of a top counterterrorism instructor at the United States Air Force Special Operations School (USSAFSOS) in Florida. The instructor, Patrick Dunleavy, teaches a course called “The Dynamics of International Terrorism” designed to provide awareness and appreciation of the organization, motivation, operational capabilities and threat posed by terrorists on an international, national, and regional basis. It was designed for individuals with no previous antiterrorism training and focuses on protective measures that government personnel and their families can employ to minimize threats.

Dunleavy, the course instructor, is a former deputy inspector general for the New York State Department of Corrections and has testified before Congress as an expert witness on the threat of Islamic radicalization in the nation’s prison system. Dunleavy is also a senior fellow at a decades-old nonprofit dedicated to investigating the operations, funding, activities and front groups of Islamic extremists worldwide. The think-tank, Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), is recognized as a comprehensive data center on radical Islamic terrorist cells and its founder is a terrorism and national security expert who has advised Congress, the president, FBI and National Security Council. After 9/11 he published a best-selling book documenting how one of the world’s most notorious terrorist groups plotted the worst terrorist attack on American soil without detection or scrutiny by American authorities.

CAIR uses Dunleavy’s association with IPT to call for his ouster as a military antiterrorism instructor, asserting that the research center is an “anti-Muslim propaganda mouthpiece, and has made a number of false statements betraying a personal prejudice against Islam and Muslims.” IPT’s founder, Steven Emerson, has a history of making “Islamophobic” statements, CAIR says, involving terrorist attacks that date back to the 1990s. The Islamic group reminds the commander of the U.S. Airforce Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field in Florida (Lieutenant General Marshall B. Webb), that under Obama the military caved into its demands. “As you may recall in 2012, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey ordered the U.S. military to ‘scour its training material to ensure it doesn’t contain anti-Islamic content,” CAIR writes in a letter to Lieutenant General Webb. Judicial Watch will monitor this situation to see how the Trump Department of Defense (DOD) handles these preposterous requests.

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A Florida congressman with a long history of deceit and corruption is in hot water again for giving his girlfriend the maximum taxpayer salary for five consecutive years to work in a field office. Judicial Watch has a lengthy history of exposing the veteran lawmaker’s transgressions and years ago sued him on behalf of a female employee that he repeatedly harassed. His name is Alcee Hastings and he’s one of only six federal judges to be impeached by Congress and removed from the bench. As a federal judge, Hastings got busted in a scandal involving the solicitation of a $150,000 bribe in return for “favorable treatment for defendants in a racketeering case before him.” The disgraced judge was an unindicted co-conspirator, but there was enough evidence against him for Congress to boot him from the bench.

As a federal legislator, Hastings has continued his corrupt ways, committing a multitude of misdeeds that include mixing work with romance. Judicial Watch represented a female employee named Winsome Packer who was repeatedly subjected to “unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome touching” and retaliation by Hastings when he chaired the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. For over two years, from January 2008 through February 19, 2010, Packer was forced to endure unwelcome sexual advances, crude sexual comments, and unwelcome touching by Hastings while serving as the Representative of the Commission to the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Although Packer repeatedly rejected Hastings’ sexual attention and complained about the harassment to the Commission Staff Director, Fred Turner, Hastings refused to stop sexually harassing her. Instead, the congressman and Turner retaliated against Packer—including making threats of termination—because she continued to object to Hastings’ conduct. The 2011 suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, led to a House Ethics Committee probe.

Nepotism has also been pervasive in Hastings’ congressional office as Judicial Watch has been reporting for years. Back in 2012 a government watchdog released the findings of a probe that revealed Hastings had paid his girlfriend/deputy district director more than half a million dollars in salary and other expenses. The girlfriend, Patricia Williams, is an attorney that defended Hastings during his shameful impeachment trial. For the last five years, Hastings has paid Williams $168,411 a year, the highest congressional salary permitted, to work in his south Florida field office. That’s more than the congressman’s chief of staff in Washington, D.C., which is typically the highest paid position in a congressional office. Under House rules, members aren’t supposed to hire family but Hastings says that doesn’t apply to him because he’s not legally married to Williams and he’s not related to her.

This month a government watchdog filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics requesting an investigation into the girlfriend’s lucrative government salary, the highest in his staff. Since 2000, Hastings has paid his gal pal $2.4 million from taxpayer coffers, the complaint points out. “A member’s personal ties to an employee obviously raises concerns of favoritism or unjust payment from United States Treasury funds,” the complaint states. “In this case, even though the personal relationship is not prohibited, there is a close personal relationship between Hastings and Williams.” The lawmaker’s girlfriend earning the maximum salary allowed by law though she isn’t a congressional chief of staff that generally has the most responsibilities indicates serious ethical concerns, the complaint says.

Attached to the document as an exhibit is a news article published earlier this month by a conservative Washington D.C. newspaper (the mainstream media has been noticeably quiet regarding this scandal.) Titled “Rep. Alcee Hastings Maxes Out Girlfriend’s Salary for Fifth Straight Year,” the story also reveals that the congressman employs his girlfriend’s daughter and a woman convicted of money laundering. The woman, Dona Nichols-Jones, is the wife of a former Hastings staffer named Mikel Jones, the article says. In 2011 the husband-and-wife team got convicted of money laundering, conspiracy and fraud for using $600,000 from a business loan for personal use. They created shell companies and fake invoices then used the cash to pay off credit cards, buy groceries and tickets to sporting events.

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