Big Tech Censorship OUT OF CONTROL

Big Tech Censorship OUT OF CONTRL As Left Abuses Donald Trump With Sham Impeachment!
BLM “Racial Justice” Riots Result in Record Domestic Terrorism Cases
Judicial Watch Obtains Footage of Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp
Most Illegal Aliens Arrested in 2020 Had Average of Four Criminal Convictions
Violent Crime Surged in 2020: More to Come?
Defense Department to Release Al Qaeda Terrorist with Ties to 9/11

Big Tech Censorship OUT OF CONTRL As Left Abuses Donald Trump With Sham Impeachment!

I’ve joined many others, including the President of the United States, in being locked out of Twitter for posing a tweet about hydroxychloroquine that I posted time and time again and that Twitter had already found to be in compliance with its rules. Without warning, Twitter told me that not only did I have to take it down but that even if I did I’d be locked out for seven days. 

Judicial Watch’s Twitter account was purged of nearly 200,000 followers, and I’ve lost over 10 percent of my followers. Fair-minded Americans are concerned that our civil liberties, especially the God-given right of free speech, is being censored by these private actors that have this unique role in our nation’s public life and that control our ability to communicate.

No one would say Big Tech can keep people off because of their race, so why can they keep people off because of their political beliefs?

(I discussed this issues in interview with Fox & Friends First and Newsmax this week.)

I “appealed” the Twitter lockout but Twitter has ignored my appeal which is no surprise because we all know that this is not about HCQ, it is about finding a pretext to silence another leading conservative voice. Facebook/Instagram is also targeting conservatives and Judicial Watch will be at risk for more suppression from the leftists controlling Big Tech. 

I suggest you pop over to our website (https://www.judicialwatch.org/petitions/sign-up/) and share your postal and email addresses so Judicial Watch can keep in direct contact with you about our essential work to uncover and stop government corruption. Our heavy lifting will intensify for the rule of law despite the censorship — with your support!

You can see our work is needed more than ever as the Pelosi House abused President Trump with a baseless and malicious second impeachment of President Trump! 

The latest Trump impeachment is a violation (again) of due process and undermines the rule of law. There is no evidence President Trump incited violence or insurrection. A summary, snap impeachment imposed without any hearing, any evidence or providing President Trump the ability to defend himself is fundamentally unjust. 

The Left once again has rolled over the civil rights of President Trump to score political points.

But this abuse of power is “bipartisan,” as ten Republicans signed onto to an impeachment that would have the effect of criminalizing core political speech that has nothing to do with violence or insurrection.

This impeachment is meant to criminalize opposition to their agenda. Never letting a crisis go to waste, Democrats, allied media, and Big Tech have attacked the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans. Again, we have had mass censorship and purges on Twitter, the destruction of Parler, and outright bans on conservative speech related to the election debates. This impeachment seeks to effectively outlaw support for election integrity reform. 

The Senate should summarily dispose this sham impeachment as soon as possible.

BLM “Racial Justice” Riots Result in Record Domestic Terrorism Cases

The violence at the U.S. Capitol in Washington is being used by the Left and its media allies to distract from the increasing leftist political violence and insurrection that has plagued cities across the nation, particularly Washington DC. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the details.

A record number of domestic terrorism cases were filed by federal prosecutors last year with the largest concentration in Oregon thanks to the ongoing riots there inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its leftist supporters. For the past seven months Portland has been like a war zone with anarchists breaking into buildings, rioters setting fires in the streets and smashing the windows of local businesses. One area news report recently quoted Portland’s mayor comparing the perpetrators to a “flash mob.” There seems to be no end in sight to the mayhem. Just a few days ago about 100 protestors vandalized businesses and police headquarters in the Portland suburb of Tigard.

The ongoing violence has earned Oregon the distinction of having the largest arsenal of criminally charged domestic terrorists during a record-breaking year for homegrown terrorism in the U.S. In fact, in 2020 the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated more domestic terrorism cases than any other year in the last decade and a half, according to figures provided by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research center at Syracuse University. The records published by TRAC show that U.S. attorneys around the country filed 183 domestic terrorism cases in 2020, most of them related to nightly protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death during an arrest by Minneapolis Police. Seventy-eight of the cases were brought in Oregon, ground zero of leftist rioting. It marks the highest total of such cases since government tracking began a quarter of a century ago, TRAC confirms. “This compares with 69 such prosecutions in fiscal 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, 63 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2018, and 90 such prosecutions during FY 2019,” the research group writes in its report.

The government categorizes domestic terrorism to include assault, resisting or impeding officers or law enforcement employees, threats against the president, entering or remaining in restricted buildings or grounds, importing, or storing explosives, civil disorders and making threatening communications. Back in September Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, announced that his office was committed to charging those who impede or assault law enforcement officers, damage federal property, and set buildings on fire. “Those who commit violence in the name of protest, will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” Williams writes in the announcement. Days later dozens got charged in Oregon with assault on a federal officer, destruction of government property, arson of federal property and violating national defense airspace. The cases all stem from nightly protests outside Portland’s federal courthouse after Floyd’s death 1,700 miles away.

The District of Columbia ranks second with 16 domestic terrorism cases, according to TRAC figures obtained from the government. Ohio is third with six followed by Utah with five. The nonpartisan university research conglomerate points out that many U.S. Attorneys offices failed to charge perpetrators with domestic terrorism, even in states where violent BLM protests made international headlines. Among them is the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington, which has jurisdiction over Seattle, a city with BLM protests just as violent as those in nearby Portland. In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Seattle became a war zone with daily vandalism and violence as well as the occupation of a neighborhood—in the name of racial justice—that was finally dismantled by the city after two fatal shootings. Protestors managed to convince lawmakers to drastically cut police funding even as Seattle experiences the highest murder rate in 26 years.

Federal prosecutors in Washington may have chosen to look the other way as domestic terrorists trashed their largest city, but the numbers nationally are still unsettling. Data provided by TRAC reveals that the homegrown extremists—mostly violent leftists claiming to be fighting for racial justice—greatly outnumber the 21 international terrorism cases filed by feds last year. “Federal prosecutors also labeled as terrorism prosecutions some cases brought to safeguard critical infrastructure to protect national security, terrorism-related financing offenses, and terrorism-related export enforcement,” TRAC writes in its report. “They also categorized others as internal security offenses. But despite the diversity of categories, the 183 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2020 accounted for the majority. Prosecutions under the broad terrorism/internal security label altogether totaled 301.”

 

Judicial Watch Obtains Footage of Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp

In the early morning hours of March 12, 2020, 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp, a student and software developer, was shot and killed by police in his Potomac, Maryland, home during the execution of a “no-knock” search warrant.

The family and police have different versions of the event. SWAT team members there are not required to wear bodycams, which might have cleared up the discrepancies. After the shooting, other officer who did have bodycams came onto the scene.

We just obtained three videos of body cam footage from the Montgomery County, MD, Police Department (MCPD). The videos show the covered body of Mr. Lemp, detained individuals in the house, and various weapons found at the scene. We blurred images of occupants of the house who appear in the video to protect their privacy.

According to the Montgomery County attorney who emailed the footage to us, “These videos comprise the totality of any body worn camera footage in existence from this event.”

We obtained the footage in response to a Public Information Act lawsuit against MCPD for all body-worn camera videos relating to the raid on, and resulting death of Duncan Lemp (Judicial Watch v. Montgomery County Police Department (No. V482964)).

The videos shows a gun propped up at the head on the bed of the room in which Mr. Lemp’s body is lying covered. An officer states off camera “that was the weapon that he (Lemp) had that was underneath him at the door leading into the rest of the main house. It got moved as medical treatment was being done on him.” The officer also states: “He (Lemp) was blocking the door with the gun directly underneath him as we were trying to come through that (same) door.” (Lemp had fallen against the door after being shot through his bedroom window by another officer after Lemp allegedly raised and pointed the weapon at the officer.)

In the video, the same officer also points out a shotgun shell rigged with a tripwire to fire in the face of anyone who opened the door. The video also details several other guns, including a handgun and other weapons hanging on a wall, under a couch and in a closet.The Maryland SWAT officer who killed Lemp was cleared of any wrongdoing in December 2020. A prosecutors’ report concluded:

[T]he actions of the shooting officer on March 12, 2020 were reasonable under the circumstances. The threat caused by Duncan Lemp retrieving a rifle and pointing it at the officer, coupled with Lemp’s apparent refusal to obey lawful commands, justified the shooting officer’s use of deadly force.

The report also states:

Once the house was secured, it appears that a police officer, using body worn camera equipment, entered the house and went from room to room in order to document the scene. Investigators determined that very little evidentiary value could be obtained from this recording as it was conducted after the raid was over.

It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit and nine months to get these limited videos of the aftermath of the shooting death of Duncan Lemp. The videos may raise additional questions for the public while settling others.

Here are the issues in contention.

Lemp’s family reportedly said that Lemp and his family were asleep “when police besieged the residence from the front of the house” and the family was “awakened by shots fired through Duncan’s bedroom window followed by the sound of flash bangs.” 

According to the family’s attorney, an eyewitness said Lemp was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside the house.

Police disputed that account. The MCPD said in a March 2020 statement that SWAT team officers were acting on an anonymous tip that Lemp was in possession of firearms that he was prohibited from having “due to his criminal history as a juvenile.”

The MCPD maintains that, upon making contact with Lemp, officers identified themselves as the police and gave Lemp multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer’s commands to get on the ground. It also reportedly maintains that Lemp refused to comply with the officer’s commands and proceeded towards an interior bedroom door where other officers were located.

The MCPD statement said Lemp was out of bed and standing “directly in front of the interior bedroom door” holding a rifle “he slept with” each night as officers “made entry into the bedroom.”

According to the Lemp family attorneys, SWAT officers shot Lemp multiple times. They also reported that an eyewitness “told investigators that police never made verbal commands upon either her or Duncan until after Duncan was shot and lay bleeding on the floor. Multiple eyewitnesses told investigators that the police only forced entry into the home after Duncan was shot. According to those eyewitnesses, the police had no contact with any family members until after Duncan was shot.”

The prosecutor’s report concluded that Lemp ignored orders to “don’t move” or “don’t do it” in pointing a weapon at the officer outside his bedroom window and that the officer, in fear for his life, shot Lemp after other SWAT officers had entered the home.

Most Illegal Aliens Arrested in 2020 Had Average of Four Criminal Convictions

With the assumption that the Biden Administration will significantly loosen the rules on immigration, it might be instructive to see what we’ll be getting. The best and brightest aren’t coming over the border for us to take care of. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.

The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants arrested by federal authorities in 2020 had an average of four criminal convictions or charges, according to a year-end report published by the government. In the document Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveals it arrested 103,603 illegal aliens last fiscal year with a total of more than 374,000 convictions and charges. Driving under the influence was the most popular conviction or charge at 74,000, followed by drug crimes (67,000), assaults (37,000), sex offenses (10,000), robberies (3,800), homicides (1,900) and kidnappings (1,600).

It doesn’t end there. An additional 185,884 illegal immigrants were deported by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in 2020 and most of them—64%—had criminal convictions or pending charges. In fact, they had a total of 399,235 criminal convictions and pending charges, according to statistics provided by the Homeland Security agency. Those removed from the country include 4,276 gang members, 675 of them from the famously violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and 31 terrorists. ICE reports that 350 were considered “high-profile removals.” Among them is a Bosnian named Saudin Agani who provided material support to a terrorist organization and has ties to the suspect who attacked two New York City police officers in 2020. “ERO Removal Division’s ICE Air Charter Operations coordinated a record-breaking 76 Special High-Risk Charters to 61 countries, six of which were new countries it had not previously visited,” the report says. Those countries include Jordan, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, and Mongolia, effectuating 3,278 removals. “This is a 160% increase in total removals via Special High-Risk Charter flights compared to FY 2019,” according to ICE.

The agency also issued 122,233 detainers last year with local law enforcement agencies nationwide for illegal immigrants with criminal histories. More than 1,900 committed homicide-related offenses, 3,600 robberies, 42,800 assaults and 11,900 sex crimes. The detainers are issued as part of a federal-local partnership known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally so they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. A growing number of leftist officials running local governments around the country refuse to participate in the program, but 150 still do and federal immigration authorities credit them with significantly improving public safety. ICE says when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability protect public safety and carry out its mission. Judicial Watch has reported extensively on some of the culprits, providing outrageous examples that include elected law enforcement officials freeing child sex offenders, major counties releasing numerous violent convicts and a state—North Carolina—that discharged nearly 500 illegal immigrant criminals from custody in a year.

The problem continues as more local police departments refuse to comply with 287(g). In the recently issued report ICE discloses that a two-month program known as Operation Cross Check XI helped arrest more than 2,700 at-large individuals living illegally in the U.S. with pending charges or convictions for crimes involving victims. That means the offenders were likely protected by sanctuary policies. “Of the arrests conducted during Operation Cross Check XI, there were more than 5,800 criminal convictions and more than 3,200 pending charges associated with those arrests,” the ICE report states. “The aliens who were the subjects of these arrests had criminal histories including, but not limited to, the following charges and convictions: more than 1,500 assaults, more than 340 sex crimes, nearly 200 weapon offenses, more than 50 robberies and 31 homicide offenses.”

As if all this information was not enraging enough, the document also reveals that the government spent a ghastly $315 million on healthcare for illegal immigrants in custody last year. That includes comprehensive medical, dental, and public health services. In 2020 the feds delivered health care to nearly 100,000 detainees at 20 facilities nationwide that have inhouse ICE Health Services Corps (IHSC) and oversaw health care for more than 169,000 additional detainees housed in facilities without IHSC. This includes 99,219 intake screenings, 3,048 emergency room visits,15,571 dental visits,19,367 urgent care visits, 123,936 sick calls, 68,985 mental health interventions, 270,222 filled prescriptions and 52,278 physical exams. Adding to the expenses, when COVID-19 hit, ICE created a working group of medical professionals, disease control specialists and other experts to minimize the spread of the virus.

I’m sure the Democrats will want them to vote.

Violent Crime Surged in 2020: More to Come?

The rule of law protects us and keeps us safe in our person and property. And when politicians reject the rule of law to pursue radical policies to undermine enforcement of criminal laws, the public safety suffers. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has more from a hotbed of leftist anarchy, New York City, in Judicial Watch’s Investigative Bulletin.

2021 started with a bang in New York City—literally. Two hours into the new year, the city had already recorded eight people shot in six separate incidents, including a triple shooting steps away from Borough Hall in Queens.

Of course the past is prologue. 2020, wrote the New York Daily News, saw a “crime surge straight out of hell: a 97 percent jump in shootings and a nearly 45 percent surge in murders.” And as New York went, so went much of urban America. The Christian Science Monitor reported that “51 cities of various sizes across the U.S. saw an average thirty-five percent jump in murder from 2019 to 2020.” Gun assaults are up 10 percent nationally over 2019, according to a study cited by the Monitor.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blames the pandemic for rising crime, but the facts speak otherwise. Mayhem was trending upward in urban America long before Covid-19 hit our shores. Judicial Watch warned in 2019 that New York and other urban centers were slipping toward a crisis of crime and disorder. In early 2020, pre-pandemic, we reported that the Left’s experiments with criminal justice reform in New York were emptying jails and driving up crime rates.

In 2020, the coronavirus influenced at least three areas of crime in New York: transit crime—subways and buses; small business crime, particularly crimes against the city’s ubiquitous 24-hour bodegas; and hate crime, particularly crimes against Asian-Americans.

Transit crimes—assaults, theft, quality of life infractions like public drinking, public urination, and turnstile jumping—are down. But that’s largely because pandemic-era ridership is down.

Crimes against bodegas are sharply up. The convenience stories are lifelines in many communities. But they’re easy targets, particularly when the entire population is wearing masks. The New York Times reports that police data for the first eight months of the pandemic show a 63 percent increase in bodega shootings, a 222 percent jump in bodega burglaries, and a ten percent rise in robberies. “Six people have been killed in or just outside the stores,” the Times noted.

Hate crimes in general are down, but crimes against Asian-Americans are up. The NYPD is tracking more than two dozen hate crimes against Asian-Americans with a coronavirus-connection—usually physical or verbal assaults blaming them for bringing the virus into the country. Anecdotal reports from around the city indicate the number is higher, but that many incidents go unreported. Crimes against Asians are “definitely higher than normal” in every borough of the city, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said in August.

What will 2021 bring? Covid-19 seems certain to be vanquished—a triumph history may look on very differently from the widespread carping these days about delays and defeats. But America’s cities have lurched left in recent years, entrenching a new generation of radical activists in municipal and criminal justice posts. The Manhattan Institute’s Steven Malanga warned in 2019 that nationwide, the Left is “pulling back on enforcement of quality-of-life infractions, ceding public space again to the homeless and drug users, undermining public school discipline, and releasing violent criminals back into communities or refusing to prosecute them in the first place.”

Our plague year didn’t change those trends. In fact, the Left grew more powerful in urban America while the virus raged. How powerful? 2021 will tell us a lot about that.

 

Defense Department to Release Al Qaeda Terrorist with Ties to 9/1

For decades a detained Al Qeaeda terrorist was labeled a “forever prisoner” by the Pentagon because he was simply too dangerous to release. Now the military’s parole board has changed its mind for seemingly feeble reasons. Our Corruption Chronicles blog reports:

While the nation was preoccupied with holiday celebrations, an Al Qaeda operative incarcerated at the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a “forever prisoner” was cleared to be released. His name is Said Salih Said Nashir and a Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash and trained at the infamous al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan and inside the U.S. The document labels Nashir a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. and of high intelligence value. He has been locked up at the compound on the U.S. Naval station in southeast Cuba for nearly two decades. A few years ago the Office of Military Commission’s parole board denied the Yemen national release, determining that “continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

The ruling was issued because his terrorist connections run deep. Nashir, who is in his 40s, served in the 55th Arab Brigade under the leadership of Al Qaeda commander Nashwan Abd al-Razzaq Abd al-Baqi, his DOD file reveals. He was deployed with other Al Qaeda personnel to attack U.S. and coalition forces and has admitted training and living at Al Qaeda facilities. An Al Qaeda facilitator named Marwan Mughil recruited Nashir to train in Afghanistan for two months then return to Yemen. “Detainee gave Mughil his passport and sometime later, Mughil sent detainee to Sanaa, YM to meet Mughil’s associate, Abu Muad,” the military file states. In June 2001 Nashir traveled to an Al Qaeda safe house in Kandahar known as the al-Nibras Guesthouse via the United Arab Emirates and Karachi with three other men from Yemen. Al Qaeda leadership at al-Nibras “issued detainee an AK-47 assault rifle and deployed him to guard an airport located 30 minutes south of Kandahar,” the U.S. military document says. After completing his terrorist training at al-Faruq, Nashir returned to the al-Nibras Guesthouse where he remained until September 2001.

Once considered too dangerous to ever be released, the Gitmo “forever prisoner” also hid in caves along with fellow jihadists in an Afghan valley for 10 days and received $1,000 from an Al Qaeda official before trying to head back to Yemen via Iran. However, Nashir returned to Karachi because he was afraid Iranian police would capture him. He was arrested in 2002 when police and intelligence agencies in Pakistan raided three Al Qaeda residences in Karachi. After a lengthy “firefight” with Pakistani security forces five Arabs—including Nashir—were captured. All were members of a special terrorist team deployed to attack targets in Karachi, including hotels frequented by American soldiers. The terrorists were turned over to U.S. forces at the Karachi Airport before being transferred to Bagram Airfield, the largest American base in Afghanistan. The reasons listed for Nashir’s transfer to Guantanamo are to provide information on the al-Faruq camp where he trained for several months, various safe houses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and Al Qaeda recruiter Marwan Mughil. The file also reveals that a laptop hard drive recovered from the safe house that Nashir shared with other terrorists “contained information that could have been used in targeting aircraft, to support hijacking and other terrorist operations.”

Nashir’s extensive record explains why the Military Commission’s parole board, known as the Periodic Review Secretariat (PRS), refused his release appeal a few years ago. In a document posted on the commission’s website, the PRS writes this: “In making this determination, the Board considered the detainee’s past ties with al-Qaida’s external operations planners and senior leadership, including 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash.” The PRS also lists the detainee’s lack of credibility, candor, and inconsistency in responses. “His recent expressions of continued support for jihad against legitimate military or government targets and his statements celebrating the idea of Muslims killing invaders, including continued interest in seeing footage of past al Qaida attacks, were also considered by the Board, as well as his lack of detail regarding a plan for the future and his susceptibility to recruitment.”

It is not clear what changed in the last few years while the Al Qaeda fighter sat in a maximum-security cell at Gitmo, but the PRS did an about face. In the latest assessment granting Nashir release, the military parole board writes that continued detention is no longer necessary to protect against the significant threat he once posed to the security of the United States. Here is why: “Detainee’s low level of training and lack of leadership in Al Qaeda or the Taliban” as well as “his efforts to improve himself while in detention, to include taking numerous courses at Guantanamo.” The panel also found that Nashir has family support and a “credible plan for supporting himself in the event of transfer.” The board recommends “robust security assurances to include monitoring, travel restrictions and integration support.” That is unlikely. Judicial Watch has for years reported on the long list of prisoners released from Gitmo who return to terrorist causes. Among them is an Al Qaeda leader that the U.S. government put on a global terrorist list with a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts after releasing him.

Until next week,

 

The post Big Tech Censorship OUT OF CONTROL appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Big Tech Censorship OUT OF CONTROL

Violent Crime Surged in 2020: More to Come?

2021 started with a bang in New York City—literally. Two hours into the new year, the city had already recorded eight people shot in six separate incidents, including a triple shooting steps away from Borough Hall in Queens.

Of course the past is prologue. 2020, wrote the New York Daily News, saw a “crime surge straight out of hell: a 97 percent jump in shootings and a nearly 45 percent surge in murders.” And as New York went, so went much of urban America. The Christian Science Monitor reported that “51 cities of various sizes across the U.S. saw an average thirty-five percent jump in murder from 2019 to 2020.” Gun assaults are up 10 percent nationally over 2019, according to a study cited by the Monitor.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio blames the pandemic for rising crime, but the facts speak otherwise. Mayhem was trending upward in urban America long before Covid-19 hit our shores. Judicial Watch warned in 2019 that New York and other urban centers were slipping toward a crisis of crime and disorder. In early 2020, pre-pandemic, we reported that the Left’s experiments with criminal justice reform in New York were emptying jails and driving up crime rates.

In 2020, the coronavirus influenced at least three areas of crime in New York: transit crime—subways and buses; small business crime, particularly crimes against the city’s ubiquitous 24-hour bodegas; and hate crime, particularly crimes against Asian-Americans.

Transit crimes—assaults, theft, quality of life infractions like public drinking, public urination, and turnstile jumping—are down. But that’s largely because pandemic-era ridership is down.

Crimes against bodegas are sharply up. The convenience stories are lifelines in many communities. But they’re easy targets, particularly when the entire population is wearing masks. The New York Times reports that police data for the first eight months of the pandemic show a 63 percent increase in bodega shootings, a 222 percent jump in bodega burglaries, and a ten percent rise in robberies. “Six people have been killed in or just outside the stores,” the Times noted.

Hate crimes in general are down, but crimes against Asian-Americans are up. The NYPD is tracking more than two dozen hate crimes against Asian-Americans with a coronavirus-connection—usually physical or verbal assaults blaming them for bringing the virus into the country. Anecdotal reports from around the city indicate the number is higher, but that many incidents go unreported. Crimes against Asians are “definitely higher than normal” in every borough of the city, NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said in August.

What will 2021 bring? Covid-19 seems certain to be vanquished—a triumph history may look on very differently from the widespread carping these days about delays and defeats. But America’s cities have lurched left in recent years, entrenching a new generation of radical activists in municipal and criminal justice posts. The Manhattan Institute’s Steven Malanga warned in 2019 that nationwide, the Left is “pulling back on enforcement of quality-of-life infractions, ceding public space again to the homeless and drug users, undermining public school discipline, and releasing violent criminals back into communities or refusing to prosecute them in the first place.”

Our plague year didn’t change those trends. In fact, the Left grew more powerful in urban America while the virus raged. How powerful? 2021 will tell us a lot about that.

***

Micah Morrison is chief investigative reporter for Judicial Watch. Follow him on Twitter @micah_morrison. Tips: mmorrison@judicialwatch.org

Investigative Bulletin is published by Judicial Watch. Reprints and media inquiries: jfarrell@judicialwatch.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The post Violent Crime Surged in 2020: More to Come? appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Violent Crime Surged in 2020: More to Come?

BLM “Racial Justice” Riots Result in Record Number of Domestic Terrorism Cases

A record number of domestic terrorism cases were filed by federal prosecutors last year with the largest concentration in Oregon thanks to the ongoing riots there inspired by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its leftist supporters. For the past seven months Portland has been like a war zone with anarchists breaking into buildings, rioters setting fires in the streets and smashing the windows of local businesses. One area news report recently quoted Portland’s mayor comparing the perpetrators to a “flash mob.” There seems to be no end in sight to the mayhem. Just a few days ago about 100 protestors vandalized businesses and police headquarters in the Portland suburb of Tigard.

The ongoing violence has earned Oregon the distinction of having the largest arsenal of criminally charged domestic terrorists during a record-breaking year for homegrown terrorism in the U.S. In fact, in 2020 the Department of Justice (DOJ) initiated more domestic terrorism cases than any other year in the last decade and a half, according to figures provided by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research center at Syracuse University. The records published by TRAC show that U.S. attorneys around the country filed 183 domestic terrorism cases in 2020, most of them related to nightly protests in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death during an arrest by Minneapolis Police. Seventy-eight of the cases were brought in Oregon, ground zero of leftist rioting. It marks the highest total of such cases since government tracking began a quarter of a century ago, TRAC confirms. “This compares with 69 such prosecutions in fiscal 2017, the first year of the Trump Administration, 63 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2018, and 90 such prosecutions during FY 2019,” the research group writes in its report.

The government categorizes domestic terrorism to include assault, resisting or impeding officers or law enforcement employees, threats against the president, entering or remaining in restricted buildings or grounds, importing, or storing explosives, civil disorders and making threatening communications. Back in September Oregon’s top federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, announced that his office was committed to charging those who impede or assault law enforcement officers, damage federal property, and set buildings on fire. “Those who commit violence in the name of protest, will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” Williams writes in the announcement. Days later dozens got charged in Oregon with assault on a federal officer, destruction of government property, arson of federal property and violating national defense airspace. The cases all stem from nightly protests outside Portland’s federal courthouse after Floyd’s death 1,700 miles away.

The District of Columbia ranks second with 16 domestic terrorism cases, according to TRAC figures obtained from the government. Ohio is third with six followed by Utah with five. The nonpartisan university research conglomerate points out that many U.S. Attorneys offices failed to charge perpetrators with domestic terrorism, even in states where violent BLM protests made international headlines. Among them is the U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Washington, which has jurisdiction over Seattle, a city with BLM protests just as violent as those in nearby Portland. In the aftermath of Floyd’s death, Seattle became a war zone with daily vandalism and violence as well as the occupation of a neighborhood—in the name of racial justice—that was finally dismantled by the city after two fatal shootings. Protestors managed to convince lawmakers to drastically cut police funding even as Seattle experiences the highest murder rate in 26 years.

Federal prosecutors in Washington may have chosen to look the other way as domestic terrorists trashed their largest city, but the numbers nationally are still unsettling. Data provided by TRAC reveals that the homegrown extremists—mostly violent leftists claiming to be fighting for racial justice—greatly outnumber the 21 international terrorism cases filed by feds last year. “Federal prosecutors also labeled as terrorism prosecutions some cases brought to safeguard critical infrastructure to protect national security, terrorism-related financing offenses, and terrorism-related export enforcement,” TRAC writes in its report. “They also categorized others as internal security offenses. But despite the diversity of categories, the 183 domestic terrorism prosecutions during FY 2020 accounted for the majority. Prosecutions under the broad terrorism/internal security label altogether totaled 301.”

The post BLM “Racial Justice” Riots Result in Record Number of Domestic Terrorism Cases appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, BLM “Racial Justice” Riots Result in Record Number of Domestic Terrorism Cases

4,700-Plus Georgia Absentee Votes Tied to Non-Residential Addresses

From Tom Fitton’s NewsMax article:

You can trust Judicial Watch to investigate and expose the conduct of the 2020 elections. Our efforts are well under way with dozens of open records requests and other investigations.

For example, we just collected voter data showing that more than 4,700 absentee voters in the presidential election listed non-residential addresses as their places of residence. Georgia law requires citizens registering to vote to reside “in that place in which such person’s habitation is fixed …”

We shared our data with the Georgia Secretary of State and requested an investigation.

A total of 9,989 Georgia voters seem to be registered at non-residential addresses: 1,882 at commercial addresses, 1,336 registered at county and state governmental buildings, and 6,735 at either hotels or motels.

Additionally, 215 new registrations (between November 4-December 14) for the special election are linked to non-residential addresses.

We previously alerted the Georgia Secretary of Office to the voter registration address issue in April 2020.

This issue must be immediately investigated. We are concerned about the impact on Georgia’s elections in November and earlier this week.

Read More Here.

The post 4,700-Plus Georgia Absentee Votes Tied to Non-Residential Addresses appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, 4,700-Plus Georgia Absentee Votes Tied to Non-Residential Addresses

Judicial Watch: Declassify, Distribute, and Let the People Decide

From Chris Farrell’s Breitbart article:

Democrats clamoring for Donald Trump’s immediate removal from office may be afraid of what documents he might declassify in his final week. I say, what is taking him so long?

I have written on the topic of declassifying and releasing full, unredacted government documents related to Trump-era controversies many times. The point is the same in every instance: the deep state can never be trusted to engage in meaningful oversight over its corrupt and potentially illegal actions. And because self-policing is unlikely, if not impossible, it is up to the American people to decide. But the public cannot judge the case lacking full information, so President Trump must supply the full, unadulterated record as evidence.

This is becoming more critical as days pass and the Trump presidency runs out. It’s now or never. Those about to take total control of the government move to censor, de-platform and otherwise gag conservative voices, and would certainly have no problem destroying documents that conflict with their preferred narrative. The inconvenient truths preserved in the documentary record would simply be put down the Orwellian memory hole, shredded in the basement on January 21.

People in the president’s retinue are aware of the issue. On November 8 Donald Trump Jr. tweeted “DECLASSIFY EVERYTHING!!! We can’t let the bad actors get away with it.” Rudy Giuliani has said the same thing for months, and most recently commented that Trump “owes it to the American people to put it out.”

Read More Here.

The post Judicial Watch: Declassify, Distribute, and Let the People Decide appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch: Declassify, Distribute, and Let the People Decide

The Billion Dollar California-China Mask Deal

“I encourage you to read and review all of the documents we’ve uncovered because the media won’t tell you about it, because the leftists controlling California don’t want to be held accountable.”

Friday’s Judicial Watch Weekly Update with Tom Fitton covered a number of pressing topics, including a billion dollar facemask deal struck between the California state government and the Chinese mask manufacturer, BYD. As Fitton explained, “we were able to extract 848 pages of documents about a California government deal… we’re trying to figure out what was behind this contract which was quite controversial… the documents are pretty interesting.” 

According to Judicial Watch’s findings, “the documents reveal that the Office of Emergency Services Assistant Chief Counsel in California admits that they deviated from the normal procurement protocol for this contract.” As Fitton summarized from an April 7th 2020 email, the President of the Chinese company, BYD, suggested that the California agency “should open champagne at the conference call when California finalized the purchase of the masks.”  In a later amendment to the agreement, “BYD had to refund 247 million of the 495 million down payment [to California] because they weren’t able to meet the deadline to receive certification for the N95 masks.

“These are remarkable documents,” Fitton continued. “The documents show how a well-connected and controversial Chinese firm was able to get a leg up on a billion-dollar mask contract with California politicians,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. 

The post The Billion Dollar California-China Mask Deal appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, The Billion Dollar California-China Mask Deal

Judicial Watch Obtains Body Cam Footage Detailing Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today it obtained three videos of body cam footage from the Montgomery County, MD, Police Department (MCPD) detailing the scene of the fatal shooting of Duncan Socrates Lemp earlier in 2020. The videos show the covered body of Mr. Lemp; detained individuals in the house; and various weapons found at the scene. Judicial Watch blurred images of occupants of the house who appear in the video to protect their privacy.

According to the Montgomery County attorney who emailed the footage to Judicial Watch, “These videos comprise the totality of any body worn camera footage in existence from this event.”

Judicial Watch obtained the footage in response to a Public Information Act lawsuit against MCPD for all body-worn camera videos relating to the raid on, and resulting death of Duncan Lemp

(Judicial Watch v. Montgomery County Police Department (No. V482964)).

The video shows a gun propped up at the head on the bed of the room in which Mr. Lemp’s body is lying covered. An officer states off camera “that was the weapon that he (Lemp) had that was underneath him at the door leading into the rest of the main house. It got moved as medical treatment was being done on him.”  The officer also states, “He (Lemp) was blocking the door with the gun directly underneath him as we were trying to come through that (same) door.” (Lemp had fallen against the door after being shot through his bedroom window by another officer after Lemp allegedly raised and pointed the weapon at the officer.)

In the video, the same officer also points out a shotgun shell rigged with a tripwire to fire in the face of anyone who opened the door. The video also details several other guns, including a handgun and other weapons hanging on a wall, under a couch and in a closet.

The Maryland SWAT officer who killed Lemp was cleared of any wrongdoing in December 2020. A prosecutors’ reportconcluded:

[T]he actions of the shooting officer on March 12, 2020 were reasonable under the circumstances. The threat caused by Duncan Lemp retrieving a rifle and pointing it at the officer, coupled with Lemp’s apparent refusal to obey lawful commands, justified the shooting officer’s use of deadly force.

The report also stated:

Once the house was secured, it appears that a police officer, using body worn camera equipment, entered the house and went from room to room in order to document the scene. Investigators determined that very little evidentiary value could be obtained from this recording as it was conducted after the raid was over.

“It shouldn’t have taken a lawsuit and nine months to get these limited videos of the aftermath of the shooting death of Duncan Lemp,” state Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch President. “The videos may raise additional questions for the public while settling others.”

In the early morning hours of March 12, 2020, 21-year-old Duncan Socrates Lemp, a student and software developer, was shot and killed by police in his Potomac, Maryland home during the execution of a “no-knock” search warrant. 

Lemp’s family reportedly said that Lemp and his family were asleep “when police besieged the residence from the front of the house” and the family was “awakened by shots fired through Duncan’s bedroom window followed by the sound of flash bangs.” According to the family’s attorney, an eyewitness said Lemp was asleep in his bedroom when police opened fire from outside the house.

Police disputed that account. The MCPD said in a March 2020 statement that SWAT team officers were acting on an anonymous tip that Lemp was in possession of firearms that he was prohibited from having “due to his criminal history as a juvenile.” 

The MCPD maintains that, upon making contact with Lemp, officers identified themselves as the police and gave Lemp multiple orders to show his hands and comply with the officer’s commands to get on the ground. It also reportedly maintains that Lemp refused to comply with the officer’s commands and proceeded towards an interior bedroom door where other officers were located. 

The MCPD statement said Lemp was out of bed and standing “directly in front of the interior bedroom door” holding a rifle “he slept with” each night as officers “made entry into the bedroom.”

According to the Lemp family attorneys, SWAT officers shot Lemp multiple times. They also reported that an eyewitness “told investigators that police never made verbal commands upon either her or Duncan until after Duncan was shot and lay bleeding on the floor. Multiple eyewitnesses told investigators that the police only forced entry into the home after Duncan was shot. According to those eyewitnesses, the police had no contact with any family members until after Duncan was shot.”

The prosecutor’s report concluded that Lemp ignored orders to “don’t move” or “don’t do it” in pointing a weapon at the officer outside his bedroom window and that the officer, in fear for his life, shot Lemp after other SWAT officers had entered the home.

###

The post Judicial Watch Obtains Body Cam Footage Detailing Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Obtains Body Cam Footage Detailing Scene of Fatal Police Shooting of Duncan Lemp

Most Illegal Immigrants Arrested by ICE in 2020 Had Average of Four Criminal Convictions or Charges

The overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants arrested by federal authorities in 2020 had an average of four criminal convictions or charges, according to a year-end report published by the government. In the document Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reveals it arrested 103,603 illegal aliens last fiscal year with a total of more than 374,000 convictions and charges. Driving under the influence was the most popular conviction or charge at 74,000, followed by drug crimes (67,000), assaults (37,000), sex offenses (10,000), robberies (3,800), homicides (1,900) and kidnappings (1,600).

It doesn’t end there. An additional 185,884 illegal immigrants were deported by ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) in 2020 and most of them—64%—had criminal convictions or pending charges. In fact, they had a total of 399,235 criminal convictions and pending charges, according to statistics provided by the Homeland Security agency. Those removed from the country include 4,276 gang members, 675 of them from the famously violent Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), and 31 terrorists. ICE reports that 350 were considered “high-profile removals.” Among them is a Bosnian named Saudin Agani who provided material support to a terrorist organization and has ties to the suspect who attacked two New York City police officers in 2020. “ERO Removal Division’s ICE Air Charter Operations coordinated a record-breaking 76 Special High-Risk Charters to 61 countries, six of which were new countries it had not previously visited,” the report says. Those countries include Jordan, Albania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, and Mongolia, effectuating 3,278 removals. “This is a 160% increase in total removals via Special High-Risk Charter flights compared to FY 2019,” according to ICE.

The agency also issued 122,233 detainers last year with local law enforcement agencies nationwide for illegal immigrants with criminal histories. More than 1,900 committed homicide-related offenses, 3,600 robberies, 42,800 assaults and 11,900 sex crimes. The detainers are issued as part of a federal-local partnership known as 287(g) that notifies ICE of jail inmates in the country illegally so they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. A growing number of leftist officials running local governments around the country refuse to participate in the program, but 150 still do and federal immigration authorities credit them with significantly improving public safety. ICE says when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability protect public safety and carry out its mission. Judicial Watch has reported extensively on some of the culprits, providing outrageous examples that include elected law enforcement officials freeing child sex offenders, major counties releasing numerous violent convicts and a state—North Carolina—that discharged nearly 500 illegal immigrant criminals from custody in a year.

The problem continues as more local police departments refuse to comply with 287(g). In the recently issued report ICE discloses that a two-month program known as Operation Cross Check XI helped arrest more than 2,700 at-large individuals living illegally in the U.S. with pending charges or convictions for crimes involving victims. That means the offenders were likely protected by sanctuary policies. “Of the arrests conducted during Operation Cross Check XI, there were more than 5,800 criminal convictions and more than 3,200 pending charges associated with those arrests,” the ICE report states. “The aliens who were the subjects of these arrests had criminal histories including, but not limited to, the following charges and convictions: more than 1,500 assaults, more than 340 sex crimes, nearly 200 weapon offenses, more than 50 robberies and 31 homicide offenses.”

As if all this information was not enraging enough, the document also reveals that the government spent a ghastly $315 million on healthcare for illegal immigrants in custody last year. That includes comprehensive medical, dental, and public health services. In 2020 the feds delivered health care to nearly 100,000 detainees at 20 facilities nationwide that have inhouse ICE Health Services Corps (IHSC) and oversaw health care for more than 169,000 additional detainees housed in facilities without IHSC. This includes 99,219 intake screenings, 3,048 emergency room visits,15,571 dental visits,19,367 urgent care visits, 123,936 sick calls, 68,985 mental health interventions, 270,222 filled prescriptions and 52,278 physical exams. Adding to the expenses, when COVID-19 hit, ICE created a working group of medical professionals, disease control specialists and other experts to minimize the spread of the virus.

The post Most Illegal Immigrants Arrested by ICE in 2020 Had Average of Four Criminal Convictions or Charges appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Most Illegal Immigrants Arrested by ICE in 2020 Had Average of Four Criminal Convictions or Charges

President-elect Biden

President-elect Biden Certified
Over 4,700 Georgia Absentee Votes Tied to Non-Residential Addresses
Inactive Registrations Stayed on Kentucky Rolls Despite Consent Decree
Judicial Watch Exposes a $1 Billion Mask Deal Between California and Chinese Company
Nasdaq Wants to Require Minority and Female Directors for Members

President-elect Biden Certified

To give some perspective on the controversies we’ve witnessed in this election, remember that four years ago this week Obama, Biden and Comey were talking about spying on and targeting Donald Trump and his team for prosecution.

In my view, the election results in the various battleground states were compromised by unlawful rule changes that led to votes being counted that shouldn’t have been counted. State legislatures, the courts – in particular the Supreme Court – and Congress failed to seriously grapple with these and other problems. It is shameful. And the inexcusable and deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol is being used by the Left to suppress all its conservative and other principled opposition. The Leftists at Big Tech are banning conservatives for even talking about election fraud!

The Left is even talking about impeachment again! They don’t, as they claim, want to remove our president because he incited violence. He didn’t – and they don’t care much about violence as they endorse and use it regularly. No, they want to abuse impeachment again to undermine someone who is likely to be an effective opposition voice.

So, as we look ahead, you won’t be able to rely on the corrupt media or Congress to hold the government to account. Judicial Watch will be only game in town, more or less, when it comes to investigating and litigating over government corruption in the new Biden administration. 

Over 4,700 Georgia Absentee Votes Tied to Non-Residential Addresses

You can trust Judicial Watch to investigate and expose the conduct of the 2020 elections. Our efforts are well under way with dozens of open records requests and other investigations.

For example, we just collected voter data showing that more than 4,700 absentee voters in the presidential election listed non-residential addresses as their places of residence. Georgia law requires citizens registering to vote to reside “in that place in which such person’s habitation is fixed …” 

We shared our data with the Georgia Secretary of State and requested an investigation.

A total of 9,989 Georgia voters seem to be registered at non-residential addresses: 1,882 at commercial addresses, 1,336 registered at county and state governmental buildings, and 6,735 at either hotels or motels.

Additionally, 215 new registrations (between November 4-December 14) for the special election are linked to non-residential addresses.

We previously alerted the Georgia Secretary of Office to the voter registration address issue in April 2020.

This issue must be immediately investigated. We are concerned about the impact on Georgia’s elections in November and earlier this week. 

This is part of our years-long effort to clean up voter rolls.

In September 2020, we released a study revealing that 353 U.S. counties had 1.8 million more registered voters than eligible voting-age citizens. In other words, the registration rates of those counties exceeded 100% of eligible voters.

In Georgia: Bryan County (118%); Forsyth County (114%); Dawson County (113%); Oconee County (111%); Fayette County (111%); Fulton County (109%); Cherokee County (109%); Jackson County (107%); Henry County (106%); Lee County (106%); Morgan County (105%); Clayton County (105%); DeKalb County (105%); Gwinnett County (104%); Greene County (104%); Cobb County (104%); Effingham County (103%); Walton County (102%); Rockdale County (102%); Barrow County (101%); Douglas County (101%); Newton County (100%); Hall County (100%)

You can learn more about our election efforts here.

Inactive Registrations Stayed on Kentucky Rolls Despite Consent Decree

Even when Judicial Watch succeeds in court to ensure better election integrity, we face continued battles from government officials who try to undermine our success.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky has agreed that Kentucky’s former Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes breached the terms of a National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Consent Judgment with us. 

She delayed sending out voter notices, which allowed the names of people who have died or moved away to remain on the Commonwealth’s voter rolls. 

As a result of the breach, District Court Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove extended the judgment beyond its termination date from October 31, 2023, to March 31, 2025, which allows it to encompass one additional federal election. Kentucky is set to remove over 250,000 names from the voter rolls under the terms of the consent judgment.

By breaching the court’s decree and delaying sending out voter notices before a critical deadline, Kentucky allowed outdated registrations to remain on the rolls through the 2022 midterm federal elections, two years longer than Kentucky agreed to in the original judgment.

This latest court ruling comes in our 2017 lawsuit under the NVRA (Judicial Watch, Inc. and the United States of America v. Alison Lundergan Grimes, et al. (No. 3:17-cv-00094)). (The original defendant has since been replaced by Michael Adams, the new secretary of state elected in November 2019.) In June 2018, with our agreement, the Justice Department moved to intervene in the lawsuit against Kentucky.

The court agreed with us that “the initial Defendants breached the Consent Judgment” by failing to send address notices in time:

Since [the secretary of state’s office] failed to follow up with the [lawfully required] notices … registrations belonging to those with a change of address cannot be cancelled after the November 2020 election.… Therefore, this inaction delayed Kentucky’s progress toward “ensuring an accurate and current voter registration” list, one of the main purposes of the NVRA and Consent Judgment.

For years prior to entering into the Consent Judgment, Kentucky had been in violation of the NVRA’s requirement to keep its voter rolls up to date, which forced us to sue to bring the Bluegrass State into compliance with the law. Our lawsuit against Kentucky alleged that 48 counties had more registered voters than citizens over the age of 18. The suit noted that Kentucky was then one of only three states in which the statewide active registration rate was greater than 100% of the age-eligible citizen population.

In signing the Consent Judgment, Kentucky acknowledged:

[T]he practices currently in place in Kentucky do not comply with the NVRA’s requirement that states conduct a general voter registration list maintenance program that makes a reasonable effort to remove ineligible persons from the voter rolls due to a change in residence outside of the jurisdiction …

Why would a leftist secretary of state purposefully allow ineligible names to remain on Kentucky’s voter rolls in violation of a federal court’s consent decree? We know, don’t we? Dirty voting rolls make it easier to steal elections. That’s why our litigation to clean up rolls across America is urgent.

 

Judicial Watch Exposes a $1 Billion Mask Deal Between California and Chinese Company

Judicial Watch could spend all our time on the accountability and corruption issues tied the coronavirus issue.

We received 848 pages of documents revealing the details of a $1 billion contract for face masks between the California Office of Emergency Services and the Chinese Communist Party linked BYD.

BYD is controversial:

[T]he first company the FDA approved has been prohibited by law from bidding for some federal contracts in the United States. Although the company, BYD, is a major global player in the electric vehicle and lithium battery markets, it also has glaring red flags on its record, experts warn, including a history of supplying allegedly faulty products to the U.S., ties to the Chinese military and Communist Party, and possible links to forced labor. BYD also has no history of making personal protective equipment … 

Moreover, the documents reveal that the Office of Emergency Services Assistant Chief Counsel admits that they deviated from their normal procurement process for this contract. Additionally, in the contract between Office of Emergency Services and BYD, BYD uses a different name, Global Healthcare Product Solutions, LLC., and BYD provides no liability or warranty for the masks if they are faulty.

The records were produced in response to our California Public Records request sent to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for all records and communications related to the state’s contract for masks with BYD.

The records include an April 7, 2020, email from the Office of Emergency Services Assistant Chief Counsel Jennifer Bollinger to Oscar Su, Senior Director of BYD America, in which Bollinger states, “Our normal procurement process has been deviated from given the exigency of the situation.” 

In an April 6, 2020, email Stella Lu, the president of BYD Motors (the guarantor of the masks) tells Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the Office of Emergency Services that they should, “open champagne tomorrow morning at our conference call,” where they will finalize the purchase by California of $1 billion worth of BYD masks.

On April 7, John Zhuang, counsel for BYD and BYD’s lead negotiator, sent the finalized contracts to Bollinger, who led the negotiations for the Office of Emergency Services. Bollinger replied, “This is very exciting!!! We will circle back today with the signature as soon as we can.” 

In an amendment to the master agreement, BYD had to refund $247 million to California of the $495 million down payment they had received apparently because they weren’t able to meet the deadline of receiving National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certification for their N95 masks. The certification deadline was extended from April 30, 2020, to May 31, 2020. 

On March 28, 2020, Brian Stansbury, a member of the board of the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, emailed Grady Joseph of the CA Office of Emergency Services and Paul Teng of Himalaya Capital in order to introduce Joseph to Teng, saying, “Grady as we discussed the pension system for the City of San Francisco – the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) – reached out to our investment partners to see how they can help in the fight against COVID-19. 

Teng responded, offering to assist with the procurement of N95 masks: “Paul I would like to introduce Grady Joseph Assistant Director of Recovery Operations for Cal OES from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. We know Grady is in good hands and want to thank you for your partnership.”

Teng later responds, “Hi Grady, nice to meet you through email though I wish it was under better circumstances. We have a deep relationship with BYD which is now the largest mask maker in the world capable of producing 10MM masks a day. I have just facilitated an order between BYD [redacted] to procure 4 MM in N95 masks and 3 MM surgical masks that will be delivered over the next three weeks or so in batches. Happy to make the same connection as well. My number is below if you need to reach me.”

Brian Stansbury, a member of the board of San Francisco Employees Retirement System (SFERS), introduced Paul Teng of Himalaya Capital (with whom SFERS reportedly had invested $200 million and which Stansbury calls their “investment partners”), to Grady Joseph, Office of Emergency Services Asst. Director Of Recovery Operations to help in the procurement of face masks. Teng tells Joseph that Himalaya has a “deep relationship” with BYD, which he claims, “is now the largest mask maker in the world.” Oscar Su, a BYD executive introduced by Teng to Joseph and another Office of Emergency Services official, responds, “Thanks Paul for the introduction.” 

According to the “Equipment Master Supply Purchase Order Agreement” effective April 7, 2020, BYD lists the “Seller” to the State of California as a Wilmington, DE-based company called Global Healthcare Product Solutions, LLC. The contract states that the “Buyer will support the Seller’s efforts to obtain the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) certification for the N95 masks purchased under this Agreement.” A provision of the contract calls for BYD Motors, a subsidiary of BYD Co, Ltd, to be the Guarantor of the contract, in the event the Seller breached the “Guaranteed Material Obligation” of the contract. 

Pursuant to a “Sweatfree Code of Conduct” provision of the contract, the Seller guarantees that no material furnished to the Buyer “have been produced in whole or in part by sweatshop labor, forced labor, convict labor, indentured labor under penal sanction, abusive forms of child labor or exploitation of children in sweatshop labor…” In a “Nondiscrimination” clause of the contract, the Seller agrees to not “unlawfully discriminate” against any employee based on “ancestry” or “religious creed.” The provision also calls for the Seller to adhere to the “Fair Employment and Housing Act.” 

California’s Office of Emergency Services had to provide a 50% down payment totaling $495 million (one-half of the total $990 million contract) under the payment terms of the contract. 

According to a purchase order, Global Healthcare Product Solutions (the Seller) is a subsidiary of BYD International Development based in Los Angeles. BYD was to supply 300 million N95 masks at a unit price of $3.30 each. 

In an April 3, 2020, email exchange between Bollinger and BYD’s counsel, Zhuang, Bollinger asks Zhuang why BYD is using a company called “Global Healthcare Product Solutions, LLC” as the “contracting entity” for the masks. She notes that “I understood this to be a contract directly with BYD North America.” Zhuang then responds, saying, “BYD’s contract manufacturing division started Global Healthcare Product Solutions earlier this year to sell healthcare products in the US … They picked the name because they wanted folks to recognize it as a business that sold healthcare products, not to be conflated with the EV [Electric Vehicle] / clean energy business.”  

In the master agreement, under “Limits of Liability” section, the contract notes that “In no event shall Seller be liable for any consequential, special, incidental, indirect or punitive damages …” In the contract provision titled “Limits on Warranty,” the contract notes that Seller … makes no warranties or representations … as to the Equipment … provided for under this Agreement …” The contract contains a provision that “Seller warrants that no gratuities … were offered or given by the Seller, or any agent or representative of the Seller, to any officer or employee of the Buyer with a view toward securing the Agreement …” 

California purchased a total of 300 million N95 masks from BYD for $990 million on April 7, 2020. 

In an April 2, 2020, email, Trevor Houser of “Frontline Support” connects multiple BYD and the Office of Emergency Services representatives. Frontline Support shares the same address in Oakland, CA, as Rhodium Group, where Trevor Houser is listed as a partner. Rhodium describes itself as “an independent research provider” combining “economic data and policy insight to analyze global trends.”

In an April 24, 2020, email, Shige Honjo from “Frontline Support” provided advice/directives to BYD on quality control measures for the masks that were to be provided to the Office of Emergency Services, describing various metrics that BYD should supply to ensure that the masks being provided met certain standards. These metrics included, “Product cleanliness spec – number and size of particles allowed, blemish, etc.” and “Reliability specs – when does filtration become no good, how many times can the straps be stretched out, etc.” 

The BYD representative in charge of handling shipments of the masks to the Office of Emergency Services is Sean Li, Procurement and Logistic Supervisor of BYD Coach and Bus LLC. 

In an email on March 21, 2020, a California lobbyist named Mark Weideman sent Gov. Newsom’s Chief of Staff, Ann O’Leary, a copy of an article about BYD titled “A Chinese Electric Car Maker Backed by Warren Buffett Re-Tooled to Make Face Masks When Covid-19 Hit – Now It Says It’s the World’s Largest Mask Factory.” Weideman says in his email that BYD was willing to “donate” 50,000 masks to California, along with hand sanitizer, and asked if someone could “notify GGN” [presumably Governor Gavin Newsom] so they could “hopefully execute on BYD’s offer to help California, a place they and their unionized workforce call home for their North American operations.” Abby Browning of the Office of Emergency Services responds to Weideman, noting she’d been forwarded his email from O’Leary, and said, “I am happy to help you facilitate this donation.” Weideman replies to Browning, “Yes, address and receiving information would be great. I am copying Frank Girardot and Nancy Liu with BYD who can help coordinate logistics.” 

In an April 24, 2020, email exchange among the Office of Emergency Services officials handling delivery of 3.4 million masks from BYD, CA Office of Emergency Services Dep. Director Mitchell Medigovich notes that “The physical count will be at the airport and upon movement into the warehouse for inventory and QC [quality control], we will notify receipt and if there are any deficiencies. We are only checking 1% due to volume.” 

These documents show how a well-connected and controversial Chinese firm was able to get a leg up on a billion-dollar mask contract with California politicians. 

Nasdaq Wants to Require Minority and Female Directors for Members

We filed a public comment with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to a proposed rule change requiring race and gender quotas on the boards of corporations listed on the Nasdaq exchange. The proposed rule would require a self-identifying female and a self-identifying member of certain listed racial backgrounds, or an explanation from the company as to why it does not have at least two directors on its board who self-identify as such.

In September 2020, we also filed a taxpayer lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles to prevent California from enforcing Assembly Bill 979 (AB 979), which requires that boards of directors of California-based, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations satisfy racial, ethnicity, sexual preference and transgender status quotas by the end of the 2021 calendar year (Robin Crest, et al. v. Alex Padilla, in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the State of California (No.20ST-CV-37513)).

In a related case, we are prosecuting a taxpayer lawsuit that challenges California’s gender quotas (Crest et al. v. Padilla, (No.19ST-CV-27561)). In June 2020, in a major development, the court held that Judicial Watch’s clients have standing to sue under state law and Judicial Watch attorneys are now in discovery

In our comment to the Securities and Exchange Commission we explained that the proposed rule regulating Nasdaq corporations violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause: “At the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.”

Race and gender quotas are brazenly unconstitutional, and NASDAQ’s proposed rule must be rejected by the SEC. You can expect more litigation if this discriminatory proposal moves forward.”

Here is our comment to the SEC:

Dear Secretary Countryman:

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, public interest organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Founded in 1994, Judicial Watch seeks to promote accountability, transparency and integrity in government, and fidelity to the rule of law. In furtherance of these goals, Judicial Watch files public comments and amicus curiae briefs on issues involving civil rights as well as prosecutes lawsuits on matters it believes are of public importance. Judicial Watch respectfully submits this comment in opposition to Nasdaq’s Proposed Rule Change to Adopt Listing Rules Related to Board Diversity. We urge the SEC to decline adopting the Proposed Rule because it violates the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, requires companies listed on Nasdaq to discriminate, and will likely lead to extensive litigation. In addition, Judicial Watch is concerned about potential conflicts of interest related to the Proposed Rule as Nasdaq also has recently announced a partnership with Equilar to provide services to listed companies that have not met the Proposed Rule’s “diversity objectives.”

I. The Proposed Rule Violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Although the Fifth Amendment, unlike the Fourteenth Amendment, does not have an express equal protection clause, the Supreme Court has held that “[t]he reach of the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment is coextensive with that of the Fourteenth.” United States v. Paradise, 480 U.S. 149, 166, n. 16 (1987) (plurality opinion); Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 217 (1995). Therefore, the Fifth Amendment forbids the federal government from: (1) creating racial classifications that are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest; and (2) creating gender classifications that are not substantially related to the achievement of important government objectives. See Adarand, 515 U.S. at 227; see also United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 533 (1996).

The Proposed Rule violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. “At the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.” Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900, 911 (1995) (quoting Metro Broadcasting v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547, 602 (1990) (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (internal quotation marks omitted)). The Proposed Rule, however, does just that. It would require:

Nasdaq-listed companies, subject to certain exceptions, (A) to have at least one director who self-identifies as a female, and (B) to have at least one director who self-identifies as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, two or more races or ethnicities, or as LGBTQ+, or (C) to explain why the company does not have at least two directors on its board who self-identify in the categories listed above[.]

Contrary to the fundamental guarantee of equal protection under the law, the Proposed Rule’s requirement to have at least one director who self-identifies as a specific race is a racial quota that, if adopted as law, will violate the Fifth Amendment. All racial classifications, both disadvantaging and benefitting minorities, are subject to strict scrutiny. Adarand, 515 U.S. at 227. To survive strict scrutiny, the government must demonstrate that the racial classifications are narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest. Id. “Diversity” itself is not a compelling interest. See Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 330 (2003); see also Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch. v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 551 U.S. 701, 729-731 (2007). Neither is “outright racial balancing,” which the Supreme Court deems “patently unconstitutional.” Grutter, 539 U.S. at 330.

What Nasdaq proposes is unlike any other racial classification approved by the Supreme Court. Cf. Grutter, 539 U.S., at 316, 335-336 (holding constitutional an affirmative action program that considered race as only one factor in achieving student body diversity and did not seek any particular number or percentage of minority students). Nasdaq justifies the Proposed Rule’s racial quota by relying on studies that purportedly show that racial diversity on boards discourages “groupthink” by increasing “cognitive diversity.” But this justification “embod[ies] stereotypes that treat individuals as the product of their race, evaluating their thoughts and efforts—their very worth as citizens—according to a criterion barred to the Government by history and the Constitution.” Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900, 912 (1995). This numerical set-aside amounts to just another form of unconstitutional racial balancing. See Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch., 551 U.S. at 732 (“Racial balancing is not transformed from ‘patently unconstitutional’ to a compelling state interest simply by relabeling it ‘racial diversity.’”).

Moreover, employing racial classifications for the sake of “cognitive diversity” and inclusion does not further a compelling government interest. “[T]he interest in diversity of viewpoints provides no legitimate, much less important, reason to employ race classifications apart from generalizations impermissibly equating race with thoughts and behavior.” Metro Broadcasting, 497 U.S. at 602 (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (emphasis in original); see also Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod v. FCC, 141 F.3d 344, 355 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (citing approvingly J. O’Connor’s dissent in Metro Broadcasting).

Additionally, “the [Supreme] Court has given every indication of wanting to cut back Metro Broadcasting,” where it found that diversity was only an “important” government interest. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 141 F.3d at 354-355. The Supreme Court overruled Metro Broadcasting to the extent that it was inconsistent with its holding in Adarand that racial classifications at all government levels are subject to strict scrutiny review. 515 U.S. at 227. It is thus doubtful that the Supreme Court would now elevate “diversity” from an important to a compelling government interest. Moreover, a race-conscious program is not narrowly tailored if it uses a quota system, like the one proposed by Nasdaq. See Grutter, 539 U.S. at 334. Thus, this quota system will surely fail strict scrutiny review. Simply put, the diversity interest advanced by Nasdaq is insufficient under the law to justify the Proposed Rule’s racial quotas.

Further, the Proposed Rule’s requirement to have at least one director who self-identifies as a female is a gender quota that, like the racial quota, if adopted as law, will violate the Fifth Amendment. Gender classifications are constitutional only if the government can demonstrate “exceedingly persuasive justification” for the classification. Virginia, 518 U.S. at 531. To meet this burden, the government must show that the classification is substantially related to achieving an important governmental objective. Id. at 533.

Just like its justification for racial quotas, Nasdaq justifies the gender quotas by relying on studies that purportedly show that gender diversity on boards discourages “groupthink” by increasing “cognitive diversity.” For a gender classification to be constitutional, not only must the justification be “genuine, not hypothesized,” but it also “must not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.” Id.Yet, Nasdaq’s justification is, at its essence, exactly that – an assumption that women think so differently than men that it can affect the output of a board.

Moreover, the “comply-or-explain” framework does not save the Rule from its constitutionally fatal flaws. Nasdaq portrays its Proposed Rule as a choice rather than a mandate. However, this “choice” is unduly coercive. As explained below, the government cannot encourage or facilitate private discrimination. The Proposed Rule is designed to do just that, with or without the option to explain non-compliance. Although the Proposed Rule permits a listed company to explain in a public statement why it has failed to meet the racial and gender quotas, “the relevant question is not whether a [Rule] requires the use of such measures, but whether it authorizes or encourages them.” Bras v. California Public Utilities Commission, 59 F.3d 869, 875 (9th Cir. 1995). If adopted, the SEC would undoubtedly be authorizing and encouraging Nasdaq-listed companies to use racial and gender quotas.

This sort of government authorization and pressure to employ such quotas violates the Fifth Amendment. That is precisely what the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found in MD/DC/DE Broadcasters Ass’n v. FCC, 236 F.3d 13, 18 (D.C. Cir. 2001). There, the court found that although a FCC rule allowed broadcasters to select one of two options for “broad outreach” in recruiting efforts, one of the options was unconstitutional because “the rule [created] pressure to recruit women and minorities, which pressure ultimately [could] not withstand constitutional review.” Id. This “option,” the court explained, was instead a “government mandate for recruitment targeted at minorities [and females]” that constituted a “racial [and gender] classification” that subjects persons of different races to ‘unequal treatment.’” Id. at 20 (emphasis added). This was true even though the other option did not focus specifically on race or gender. Id. at 18-20. Similarly, the Proposed Rule’s “comply-or-explain” framework does not transform the Rule from being unconstitutional to being constitutional.

II. The Proposed Rule Requires Nasdaq Members Discriminate. 

The Proposed Rule, if adopted, will inevitably require listed companies to discriminate on the basis of race and sex when selecting board members, in violation of the Constitution: “A ‘law compelling persons to discriminate against other persons because of race’ is a ‘palpable violation of the [Fifth] Amendment,’ regardless of whether the persons required to discriminate would have acted the same way regardless of the law.” Monterey Mech. Co. v. Wilson, 125 F.3d 702, 707 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Peterson v. City of Greenville, 373 U.S. 244, 248 (1963)). This requirement to discriminate puts skin color and gender ahead of merit.

As Warren Buffet explained in a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, “At Berkshire, we are in the specialized activity of running a business well, and therefore we seek business judgment.” Requiring Nasdaq members to focus more on race and gender takes away from the focus on merit. To put it bluntly, as Warren Buffet did when discussing such requirements, the Proposed Rule “sounds as if the mission is to stock Noah’s ark.” Under this Rule, the question won’t be “Who has the best business judgment?” Instead, it will be “What are the racial and gender checkboxes that we need to fill?” The SEC should not be in the business of condoning and mandating such discriminatory decision-making.

III. The Proposed Rule Amounts to Government Action. 

For an action to violate the Fifth Amendment, the government must act. Discrimination on the basis of race or sex violates the Constitution “only when it may be attributed to [government] action.” Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 U.S. 614, 619, 111 S. Ct. 2077, 2082 (1991) (citation omitted). Here, the Rule would constitute government action on the part of the SEC for purposes of establishing an equal protection claim. See Blount v. SEC, 61 F.3d 938, 941 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

The Proposed Rule only takes effect if the SEC approves it. Under the Securities Exchange Act, the SEC is a governmental body charged with ensuring that every self-regulatory organization (“SRO”), such as Nasdaq, complies with the provisions of the Act, the SEC’s own rules and regulations, and the SRO’s own rules. See generally 15 U.S.C. § 78s. Nasdaq’s proposed rules cannot “take effect unless approved by the Commission.” Id. at §78s(b)(1). Once the SEC approves a proposed rule, it, in effect, becomes binding federal law. The rule then “may be enforced by such organization to the extent it is not inconsistent with the provisions of [the Exchange Act], the rules and regulations thereunder, and applicable Federal and State law.” Id. at § 78s(b)(3)(C).

As has been the case in other actions maintained against the SEC, a court is likely to find that that the proposed rule, if adopted, constitutes government action. In Blount, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument of defendant-intervenor, a self-regulatory organization, that a challenged rule was not the product of government action. Blount, 61 F.3d at 941. And in New York Republican State Comm. v. SEC, government action was not an issue that barred the court from hearing a claim challenging the constitutionality of FINRA’s proposed rule that was adopted by the SEC. 927 F.3d 499, 503 (D.C. Cir. 2019).

Further, the SEC, as a federal governmental agency, is forbidden from encouraging and facilitating discrimination on the basis of race and sex. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “the impetus for the forbidden discrimination need not originate with the State if it is state action that enforces privately originated discrimination.” Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis, 407 U.S. 163, 172 (1972) (citing Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948). As the Court announced in Reitman v. Mulkey, the government may not authorize or encourage private discrimination. 387 U.S. 369, 375-76 (1967). In that case, the Court found that an amendment to the California Constitution amounted to government authorization of private discrimination in the housing market. This was enough for the Court to find state action, such that the government was encouraging and facilitating private discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id.

In short, if the SEC adopts the Proposed Rule, it will amount to government action facilitating and encouraging private discrimination on the basis of race and sex, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. There is no doubt that litigation will commence shortly after the Proposed Rule goes into effect.

The Proposed Rule is repugnant to the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Because it runs afoul to the Fifth Amendment, Judicial Watch urges the SEC to reject this flagrantly unconstitutional Rule.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Fitton

President, Judicial Watch, Inc.

To read the full comment letter with footnotes, click here.

Until next week …

The post President-elect Biden appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, President-elect Biden

With Hundreds of Potato Varieties in U.S. Govt. Spends Millions to Develop More

Although there are already hundreds of different types of potatoes in the United States, the government wants additional varieties and is spending $2.5 million to develop more kinds. It appears to be a concocted potato emergency and American taxpayers will come to the rescue by funding an essential Potato Research Program. The goal, according to the federal agency doling out the cash, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is to establish new potato varieties with a high value to the nation’s commercial potato industry. It will be accomplished through a process known as varietal development and testing research that uses conventional breeding and/or biotechnological genetics to develop improved potato varieties, according to the grant announcement.

“The Potato Research program will fund two-year projects that have great potential for developing and releasing new potato varieties with a high value to the commercial U.S. potato industry,” the USDA grant document states. “The Potato Research program encourages applicants to establish and work through regional, multi-location, research breeding networks to address priority national or regional science needs of the potato industry. By bringing together expertise across multiple university, federal agency, and industry organizations and states, the Potato Research program seeks to enhance the effectiveness of limited state, federal, and industry resources and accelerate the development of superior varieties that produce benefits to the potato industry.” Creating “superior varieties” of potatoes may not sound like a pressing issue deserving of government funding, especially in the middle of a health pandemic.

The government is clearly catering to the potato business. Outcomes important to the industry are identified by the USDA as: Developing superior performing varieties with resistance to established pests and diseases that include potato virus Y, damaging nematodes, storage rot diseases, powdery scab and white mold that limits profitability; creating a variety with a decreased demand for irrigation and fertilizer; identifying desirable yield, storability, consumer, and other value-added quality traits for use in new varieties and developing high throughput methods for rapidly selecting traits, specifically for new superior-performing varieties targeted for specific markets. “The goals of this program imply that successful proposals will be associated with practicing, variety-releasing breeding programs,” according to the USDA. Grant recipients must have at least one letter of support from industry partners to “verify industry relevance.”

There are already more than 200 varieties of potatoes in the United States, according to Potatoes U.S.A., the nation’s potato marketing and research organization. All of them belong to one of seven categories that include white, yellow, russet, blue/purple, red, petite and fingerling. Russet, large with brown skin and white flesh, is reportedly the most widely used potato in the U.S. The Potato Association of America offers interesting data, including varieties available by state and links to an Ivy League university’s potato cultural guide as well as assortments available internationally. Potato research is a serious business handsomely funded by American taxpayers. A multitude of public universities have programs dedicated to the starchy vegetable, such as Michigan State University’s Potato Outreach Program and the University of Idaho’s Potatoes, a “program of distinction” within the school’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Oregon State University has a potato breeding program and Colorado State University has an acclaimed potato research center in the San Luis Valley. The list goes on and the money keeps flowing.

The post With Hundreds of Potato Varieties in U.S. Govt. Spends Millions to Develop More appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, With Hundreds of Potato Varieties in U.S. Govt. Spends Millions to Develop More

DOD to Release Al Qaeda Operative with Ties to 9/11 Terrorist from Gitmo

While the nation was preoccupied with holiday celebrations, an Al Qaeda operative incarcerated at the U.S. military jail in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a “forever prisoner” was cleared to be released. His name is Said Salih Said Nashir and a Department of Defense (DOD) file says he has ties to 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash and trained at the infamous al-Faruq camp in Afghanistan to participate in terrorist operations against U.S. forces in Karachi, Pakistan and inside the U.S. The document labels Nashir a high risk likely to pose a threat to the U.S. and of high intelligence value. He has been locked up at the compound on the U.S. Naval station in southeast Cuba for nearly two decades. A few years ago the Office of Military Commission’s parole board denied the Yemen national release, determining that “continued law of war detention of the detainee remains necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat to the security of the United States.”

The ruling was issued because his terrorist connections run deep. Nashir, who is in his 40s, served in the 55th Arab Brigade under the leadership of Al Qaeda commander Nashwan Abd al-Razzaq Abd al-Baqi, his DOD file reveals. He was deployed with other Al Qaeda personnel to attack U.S. and coalition forces and has admitted training and living at Al Qaeda facilities. An Al Qaeda facilitator named Marwan Mughil recruited Nashir to train in Afghanistan for two months then return to Yemen. “Detainee gave Mughil his passport and sometime later, Mughil sent detainee to Sanaa, YM to meet Mughil’s associate, Abu Muad,” the military file states. In June 2001 Nashir traveled to an Al Qaeda safe house in Kandahar known as the al-Nibras Guesthouse via the United Arab Emirates and Karachi with three other men from Yemen. Al Qaeda leadership at al-Nibras “issued detainee an AK-47 assault rifle and deployed him to guard an airport located 30 minutes south of Kandahar,” the U.S. military document says. After completing his terrorist training at al-Faruq, Nashir returned to the al-Nibras Guesthouse where he remained until September 2001.

Once considered too dangerous to ever be released, the Gitmo “forever prisoner” also hid in caves along with fellow jihadists in an Afghan valley for 10 days and received $1,000 from an Al Qaeda official before trying to head back to Yemen via Iran. However, Nashir returned to Karachi because he was afraid Iranian police would capture him. He was arrested in 2002 when police and intelligence agencies in Pakistan raided three Al Qaeda residences in Karachi. After a lengthy “firefight” with Pakistani security forces five Arabs—including Nashir—were captured. All were members of a special terrorist team deployed to attack targets in Karachi, including hotels frequented by American soldiers. The terrorists were turned over to U.S. forces at the Karachi Airport before being transferred to Bagram Airfield, the largest American base in Afghanistan. The reasons listed for Nashir’s transfer to Guantanamo are to provide information on the al-Faruq camp where he trained for several months, various safe houses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran and Al Qaeda recruiter Marwan Mughil. The file also reveals that a laptop hard drive recovered from the safe house that Nashir shared with other terrorists “contained information that could have been used in targeting aircraft, to support hijacking and other terrorist operations.”

Nashir’s extensive record explains why the Military Commission’s parole board, known as the Periodic Review Secretariat (PRS), refused his release appeal a few years ago. In a document posted on the commission’s website, the PRS writes this: “In making this determination, the Board considered the detainee’s past ties with al-Qaida’s external operations planners and senior leadership, including 9/11 conspirator Walid Bin Attash.” The PRS also lists the detainee’s lack of credibility, candor, and inconsistency in responses. “His recent expressions of continued support for jihad against legitimate military or government targets and his statements celebrating the idea of Muslims killing invaders, including continued interest in seeing footage of past al Qaida attacks, were also considered by the Board, as well as his lack of detail regarding a plan for the future and his susceptibility to recruitment.”

It is not clear what changed in the last few years while the Al Qaeda fighter sat in a maximum-security cell at Gitmo, but the PRS did an about face. In the latest assessment granting Nashir release, the military parole board writes that continued detention is no longer necessary to protect against the significant threat he once posed to the security of the United States. Here is why: “Detainee’s low level of training and lack of leadership in Al Qaeda or the Taliban” as well as “his efforts to improve himself while in detention, to include taking numerous courses at Guantanamo.” The panel also found that Nashir has family support and a “credible plan for supporting himself in the event of transfer.” The board recommends “robust security assurances to include monitoring, travel restrictions and integration support.” That is unlikely. Judicial Watch has for years reported on the long list of prisoners released from Gitmo who return to terrorist causes. Among them is an Al Qaeda leader that the U.S. government put on a global terrorist list with a $5 million reward for information on his whereabouts after releasing him.

The post DOD to Release Al Qaeda Operative with Ties to 9/11 Terrorist from Gitmo appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, DOD to Release Al Qaeda Operative with Ties to 9/11 Terrorist from Gitmo

Judicial Watch Uncovers Documents Behind $1 Billion Mask Deal Between California and Chinese Communist Party Linked Company

‘Our normal procurement process has been deviated from given the exigency of the situation’

‘We could open champagne tomorrow morning at our conference call’

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it received 848 pages of documents revealing the contract materials and communications related to a $1 billion contract for face masks between the California Office of Emergency Services and the Chinese Communist Party linked BYD.

BYD reportedly has been barred by law from some federal contracts for providing faulty electric vehicles and lithium batteries to American buyers.

The documents reveal that the Office of Emergency Services Assistant Chief Counsel admits that they deviated from their normal procurement process for this contract. Additionally, in the contract between Office of Emergency Services and BYD, BYD uses a different name, Global Healthcare Product Solutions, LLC., and BYD provides no liability or warranty for the masks if they are faulty.

The records were produced in response to a Judicial Watch California Public Records request sent to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for all records and communications related to the state’s contract for masks with BYD.

The records include an April 7, 2020, email from the Office of Emergency Services Assistant Chief Counsel Jennifer Bollinger to Oscar Su, Senior Director of BYD America, in which Bollinger states, “Our normal procurement process has been deviated from given the exigency of the situation.”

In an April 6, 2020, email Stella Lu, the president of BYD Motors (the guarantor of the masks) tells Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the Office of Emergency Services that they should, “open champagne tomorrow morning at our conference call,” where they will finalize the purchase by California of $1 billion worth of BYD masks. 

On April 7, John Zhuang, counsel for BYD and BYD’s lead negotiator, sent the finalized contracts to Bollinger, who led the negotiations for the Office of Emergency Services. Bollinger replied, “This is very exciting!!! We will circle back today with the signature as soon as we can.”

In an amendment to the master agreement, BYD had to refund $247 million to California of the $495 million down payment they had received apparently because they weren’t able to meet the deadline of receiving National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) certification for their N95 masks. The certification deadline was extended from April 30, 2020, to May 31, 2020.

On March 28, 2020, Brian Stansbury, a member of the board of the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System, emailed Grady Joseph of the CA Office of Emergency Services and Paul Teng of Himalaya Capital in order to introduce Joseph to Teng, saying, “Grady as we discussed the pension system for the City of San Francisco – the San Francisco Employees’ Retirement System (SFERS) – reached out to our investment partners to see how they can help in the fight against COVID-19.

Teng responded, offering to assist with the procurement of N95 masks: “Paul I would like to introduce Grady Joseph Assistant Director of Recovery Operations for Cal OES from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. We know Grady is in good hands and want to thank you for your partnership.”

Teng later responds, “Hi Grady, nice to meet you through email though I wish it was under better circumstances. We have a deep relationship with BYD which is now the largest mask maker in the world capable of producing 10MM masks a day. I have just facilitated an order between BYD [redacted] to procure 4 MM in N95 masks and 3 MM surgical masks that will be delivered over the next three weeks or so in batches. Happy to make the same connection as well. My number is below if you need to reach me.”  

Brian Stansbury, a member of the board of San Francisco Employees Retirement System (SFERS), introduced Paul Teng of Himalaya Capital (with whom SFERS reportedly had invested $200 million and which Stansbury calls their “investment partners”), to Grady Joseph, Office of Emergency Services Asst. Director Of Recovery Operations to help in the procurement of face masks. Teng tells Joseph that Himalaya has a “deep relationship” with BYD, which he claims, “is now the largest mask maker in the world.” Oscar Su, a BYD executive introduced by Teng to Joseph and another Office of Emergency Services official, responds, “Thanks Paul for the introduction.”

According to the “Equipment Master Supply Purchase Order Agreement” effective April 7, 2020, BYD lists the “Seller” to the State of California as a Wilmington, DE-based company called Global Healthcare Product Solutions, LLC. The contract states that the “Buyer will support the Seller’s efforts to obtain the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health (“NIOSH”) certification for the N95 masks purchased under this Agreement.” A provision of the contract calls for BYD Motors, a subsidiary of BYD Co, Ltd, to be the Guarantor of the contract, in the event the Seller breached the “Guaranteed Material Obligation” of the contract.

Pursuant to a “Sweatfree Code of Conduct” provision of the contract, the Seller guarantees that no material furnished to the Buyer “have been produced in whole or in part by sweatshop labor, forced labor, convict labor, indentured labor under penal sanction, abusive forms of child labor or exploitation of children in sweatshop labor…” In a “Nondiscrimination” clause of the contract, the Seller agrees to not “unlawfully discriminate” against any employee based on “ancestry” or “religious creed.” The provision also calls for the Seller to adhere to the “Fair Employment and Housing Act.”

California’s Office of Emergency Services had to provide a 50% down payment totaling $495 million (one-half of the total $990 million contract) under the payment terms of the contract.

According to a purchase order, Global Healthcare Product Solutions (the Seller) is a subsidiary of BYD International Development based in Los Angeles. BYD was to supply 300 million N95 masks at a unit price of $3.30 each.

In an April 3, 2020, email exchange between Bollinger and BYD’s counsel, Zhuang, Bollinger asks Zhuang why BYD is using a company called “Global Healthcare Product Solutions, LLC” as the “contracting entity” for the masks. She notes that “I understood this to be a contract directly with BYD North America.” Zhuang then responds, saying, “BYD’s contract manufacturing division started Global Healthcare Product Solutions earlier this year to sell healthcare products in the US … They picked the name because they wanted folks to recognize it as a business that sold healthcare products, not to be conflated with the EV [Electric Vehicle] / clean energy business.”  

In the master agreement, under “Limits of Liability” section, the contract notes that “In no event shall Seller be liable for any consequential, special, incidental, indirect or punitive damages …” In the contract provision titled “Limits on Warranty,” the contract notes that Seller … makes no warranties or representations … as to the Equipment … provided for under this Agreement …” The contract contains a provision that “Seller warrants that no gratuities … were offered or given by the Seller, or any agent or representative of the Seller, to any officer or employee of the Buyer with a view toward securing the Agreement …”

California purchased a total of 300 million N95 masks from BYD for $990 million on April 7, 2020.

In an April 2, 2020, email, Trevor Houser of “Frontline Support” connects multiple BYD and the Office of Emergency Services representatives. Frontline Support shares the same address in Oakland, CA, as Rhodium Group, where Trevor Houser is listed as a partner. Rhodium describes itself as “an independent research provider” combining “economic data and policy insight to analyze global trends.”

In an April 24, 2020, email, Shige Honjo from “Frontline Support” provided advice/directives to BYD on quality control measures for the masks that were to be provided to the Office of Emergency Services, describing various metrics that BYD should supply to ensure that the masks being provided met certain standards. These metrics included, “Product cleanliness spec – number and size of particles allowed, blemish, etc.” and “Reliability specs – when does filtration become no good, how many times can the straps be stretched out, etc.”

The BYD representative in charge of handling shipments of the masks to the Office of Emergency Services is Sean Li, Procurement and Logistic Supervisor of BYD Coach and Bus LLC.

In an email on March 21, 2020, a California lobbyist named Mark Weideman sent Gov. Newsom’s Chief of Staff, Ann O’Leary, a copy of an article about BYD titled “A Chinese Electric Car Maker Backed by Warren Buffett Re-Tooled to Make Face Masks When Covid-19 Hit – Now It Says It’s the World’s Largest Mask Factory.” Weideman says in his email that BYD was willing to “donate” 50,000 masks to California, along with hand sanitizer, and asked if someone could “notify GGN” [presumably Governor Gavin Newsom] so they could “hopefully execute on BYD’s offer to help California, a place they and their unionized workforce call home for their North American operations.” Abby Browning of the Office of Emergency Services responds to Weideman, noting she’d been forwarded his email from O’Leary, and said, “I am happy to help you facilitate this donation.” Weideman replies to Browning, “Yes, address and receiving information would be great. I am copying Frank Girardot and Nancy Liu with BYD who can help coordinate logistics.”

In an April 24, 2020, email exchange among the Office of Emergency Services officials handling delivery of 3.4 million masks from BYD, CA Office of Emergency Services Dep. Director Mitchell Medigovich notes that “The physical count will be at the airport and upon movement into the warehouse for inventory and QC [quality control], we will notify receipt and if there are any deficiencies. We are only checking 1% due to volume.”

“The documents show how a well-connected and controversial Chinese firm was able to get a leg up on a billion-dollar mask contract with California politicians,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.  

###

The post Judicial Watch Uncovers Documents Behind $1 Billion Mask Deal Between California and Chinese Communist Party Linked Company appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Uncovers Documents Behind Billion Mask Deal Between California and Chinese Communist Party Linked Company

Judicial Watch: Over 4,700 of Georgia’s Absentee Votes in November 2020 Election Tied to Non-Residential Addresses

(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch announced today that Georgia voter data shows over 4,700 absentee voters in the presidential election listed non-residential addresses as their places of residence. Georgia law requires citizens registering to vote to reside “in that place in which such person’s habitation is fixed …” Judicial Watch yesterday shared its data with the Georgia Secretary of State and requested an investigation.

In total, 9,989 Georgia voters seem to be registered at non-residential addresses: 1,882 at commercial addresses, 1,336 registered at county and state governmental buildings, and 6,735 at either hotels or motels.

Additionally, 215 new registrations (between November 4-December 14) for today’s special election are linked to non-residential addresses.

Judicial Watch previously alerted the Georgia Secretary of Office to the voter registration address issue in April 2020.

“Judicial Watch found thousands of voters in Georgia who seemed to have used non-residential addresses to register to vote. This must be immediately investigated.  We are concerned about the impact on Georgia’s elections in November and today,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Judicial Watch is a national leader for cleaner elections.

In September 2020, Judicial Watch released a study revealing that 353 U.S. counties had 1.8 million more registered voters than eligible voting-age citizens. In other words, the registration rates of those counties exceeded 100% of eligible voters.

In Georgia: Bryan County (118%); Forsyth County (114%); Dawson County (113%); Oconee County (111%); Fayette County (111%); Fulton County (109%); Cherokee County (109%); Jackson County (107%); Henry County (106%); Lee County (106%); Morgan County (105%); Clayton County (105%); DeKalb County (105%); Gwinnett County (104%); Greene County (104%); Cobb County (104%); Effingham County (103%); Walton County (102%); Rockdale County (102%); Barrow County (101%); Douglas County (101%); Newton County (100%); Hall County (100%)

In 2020, Judicial Watch sued North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Colorado for failing to clean their voter rolls, and sued Illinois for refusing to disclose voter roll data in violation of federal law.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio. California settled a federal lawsuit with Judicial Watch and in 2019 began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls.

Kentucky also began a cleanup of hundreds of thousands of old registrations last year after it entered into a consent decree to end another Judicial Watch lawsuit. However, as recently reported by Judicial Watch, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky agreed that Kentucky’s former Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes breached the terms of the Consent Judgment by delaying sending out voter notices, which allowed the names of people who have died or moved away to remain on the Commonwealth’s voter rolls.

You can learn more about Judicial Watch’s election efforts here.

###

The post Judicial Watch: Over 4,700 of Georgia’s Absentee Votes in November 2020 Election Tied to Non-Residential Addresses appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch: Over 4,700 of Georgia’s Absentee Votes in November 2020 Election Tied to Non-Residential Addresses

Kentucky’s Former Democrat Secretary of State Allowed ‘Inactive Registrations’ to Remain on Voter Rolls in Violation of Federal Court Consent Decree

Judge Extends Consent Decree beyond Another Federal Election

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky agreed with Judicial Watch that Kentucky’s former Democrat Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes breached the terms of a National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Consent Judgment with Judicial Watch by delaying sending out voter notices, which allowed the names of people who have died or moved away to remain on the Commonwealth’s voter rolls. As a result of the breach, District Court Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove extended the judgement beyond its termination date from October 31, 2023, to March 31, 2025, which allows it to encompass one additional federal election. Kentucky is set to remove over 250,000 names from the voter rolls under the terms of the consent judgement.

By breaching the court’s decree and delaying sending out voter notices before a critical deadline, Kentucky allowed outdated registrations to remain on the rolls through the 2022 midterm federal elections, two years longer than Kentucky agreed to in the original judgment.

This latest court ruling comes in Judicial Watch’s 2017 lawsuit under the NVRA (Judicial Watch, Inc. and the United States of America v. Alison Lundergan Grimes, et al. (No. 3:17-cv-00094)). (The original defendant has since been replaced by Michael Adams, the new secretary of state elected in November 2019.) In June 2018, with Judicial Watch’s agreement, the Justice Department moved to intervene in the lawsuit against Kentucky.

The court agreed with Judicial Watch that “the initial Defendants breached the Consent Judgment” by failing to send address notices in time:

Since [the secretary of state’s office] failed to follow up with the [lawfully required] notices …  registrations belonging to those with a change of address cannot be cancelled after the November 2020 election. … Therefore, this inaction delayed Kentucky’s progress toward “ensuring an accurate and current voter registration” list, one of the main purposes of the NVRA and Consent Judgment.

For years prior to entering into the Consent Judgment, Kentucky had been in violation of the NVRA’s requirement to keep its voter rolls up to date, which forced Judicial Watch to file its lawsuit to bring the Bluegrass State into compliance with the law. Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against Kentucky alleged that 48 counties had more registered voters than citizens over the age of 18. The suit noted that Kentucky was then one of only three states in which the statewide active registration rate was greater than 100% of the age-eligible citizen population.

In signing the Consent Judgment, Kentucky acknowledged:

[T]he practices currently in place in Kentucky do not comply with the NVRA’s requirement that states conduct a general voter registration list maintenance program that makes a reasonable effort to remove ineligible persons from the voter rolls due to a change in residence outside of the jurisdiction …

“Why would a leftist secretary of state purposefully act to allow ineligible names to remain on Kentucky’s voting rolls in violation of a federal court’s consent decree?” asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Dirty voting rolls make it easier to steal elections, which is why Judicial Watch’s litigation to clean up rolls across America is urgent.”

Judicial Watch is a national leader for cleaner elections.

In October 2020, Judicial Watch revealed a study showing 353 U.S. counties had 1.8 million more registered voters than eligible voting-age citizens. In other words, the registration rates of those counties exceeded 100% of eligible voters. The study found eight states showing state-wide registration rates exceeding 100%: Alaska, Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

In October 2020, Judicial Watch sued Colorado to force the state to clean up its voter rolls. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of itself and three residents of Colorado against Jena Griswold, Colorado Secretary of State, and the State of Colorado for failing to clean the state’s voter rolls as required by the NVRA.

In September 2020, Judicial Watch sued Illinois on behalf of the Illinois Conservative Union and three of its members for refusing to disclose voter roll data in violation of Federal law.

In April 2020, Judicial Watch sued North Carolina for failing to clean its voter rolls.

In April 2020, Judicial Watch sued Pennsylvania for failing to make reasonable efforts to remove ineligible voters from their rolls as required by the NVRA.

Also in April 2020, a federal court ordered the State of Maryland to produce the voter list for Montgomery County that includes the registered voters’ date of birth.

In 2019, California settled a NVRA lawsuit with Judicial Watch and began the process of removing up to 1.6 million inactive names from Los Angeles County’s voter rolls.

In 2018, the Supreme Court upheld a voter-roll cleanup program that resulted from a Judicial Watch settlement of a federal lawsuit with Ohio.

Judicial Watch Attorney Robert Popper is the director of Judicial Watch’s clean elections initiative.

###

The post Kentucky’s Former Democrat Secretary of State Allowed ‘Inactive Registrations’ to Remain on Voter Rolls in Violation of Federal Court Consent Decree appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Kentucky’s Former Democrat Secretary of State Allowed ‘Inactive Registrations’ to Remain on Voter Rolls in Violation of Federal Court Consent Decree

Judicial Watch Challenges Nasdaq Rule, Obama DHS Operations in Georgia

Judicial Watch: Records Show Obama DHS Scanned Georgia Election Site in 2016

The records were produced in response to Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which asked for all records related to reported cyberattacks against the Georgia secretary of state’s information network involving DHS, including investigative reports, memoranda, correspondence and communications between October 1, 2016, and February 14, 2017.

Read more.

Judicial Watch Challenges Pending Nasdaq Rule Change Requiring Minority and Female Directors for Member Corporations

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a public comment with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to a proposed rule change requiring race and gender quotas on the boards of corporations listed on the Nasdaq exchange.

 Read more.

Judicial Watch: New Obama State Department Emails Show Ukraine Prosecutor General Was Pitched ‘High-Level’ Access to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign

“This smoking gun email ties Hunter Biden’s Burisma’s lobbying operation to an influence-peddling operation involving the Clinton campaign during the 2016 election,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This further confirms the Obama-Biden-Deep State targeting of President Trump was to cover-up and distract from their own corruption.”

Read more.

Pete Buttigieg Agrees to Search His Personal Email Account to Avoid Testimony in Judicial Watch Lawsuit

South Bend refused or ignored Judicial Watch APRA requests for multiple times between June 24, 2019, and July 18, 2019. Each time, South Bend said the requests were too broad and not “reasonably particular.” After each refusal, Judicial Watch would comply with South Bend’s suggestion to limit their request. After four exchanges, South Bend produced Mayor Buttigieg’s executive order and 2 information bulletins that were already publicly accessible.

Read More.

 

Must Read 

GREATEST HITS, 4: Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit for Dr. Fauci and WHO Records – The World Tribune 

In March, Fauci praised the work of the WHO and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying: “Tedros is really an outstanding person … I mean, obviously, over the years anyone who says that the WHO has not had problems has not been watching the WHO. But I think under his leadership they’ve done very well.”

Read more.

The Hillary-Ukraine Connection  Judicial Watch

An ongoing Judicial Watch investigation into the Biden family’s dealings in Ukraine has produced bombshell revelations about the Clinton campaign and Burisma – exposing the so-called “Kyiv – Washington gravy train,” as State Department official George Kent termed it in 2016. According to Judicial Watch’s findings, Burisma’s lobbying firm, Blue Star Strategies sought to offer its services to then-Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Yuriy Lutsenko, in “giving him access to high levels of the Clinton campaign,” Fitton explained.

Read more.

FARRELL: The Fang Fang Dossier – The Daily Caller

Democratic Congressional leaders are hoping that the alleged spy scandal swirling around California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell will just go away. They have successfully convinced the mainstream media that there is no story. Swalwell himself was confident enough to emerge on Twitter to suggest that any Republican who questions the validity of the 2020 election is a “traitor.” That level of tone-deafness from Swalwell is stunning but hardly surprising, given his history.

Read more.

Must Watch

Obamagate Targeting Felt like HOSTILE TAKEOVER by Hostile Force! | Lt. General Mike Flynn
YEAR IN CORRUPTION: Trump Impeachment Coup, Biden-Burisma Corruption, COVID-19 & MORE!
Deep State ASSAULT against Trump Is an Assault on Our Republic! | Tom Fitton

 

 

The post Judicial Watch Challenges Nasdaq Rule, Obama DHS Operations in Georgia appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Challenges Nasdaq Rule, Obama DHS Operations in Georgia

Judicial Watch Challenges Pending Nasdaq Rule Change Requiring Minority and Female Directors for Member Corporations

Quotas Violate the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution   

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a public comment with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to a proposed rule change requiring race and gender quotas on the boards of corporations listed on the Nasdaq exchange. The proposed rule would require a self-identifying female and a self-identifying member of certain listed racial backgrounds, or an explanation from the company as to why it does not have at least two directors on its board who self-identify as such.

In September 2020, Judicial Watch also filed a taxpayer lawsuit in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles to prevent California from enforcing Assembly Bill 979 (AB 979), which requires that boards of directors of California-based, publicly held domestic or foreign corporations satisfy racial, ethnicity, sexual preference and transgender status quotas by the end of the 2021 calendar year (Robin Crest, et al. v. Alex Padilla, in his official capacity as Secretary of State of the State of California (No.20ST-CV-37513)).

In a related case, Judicial Watch is prosecuting a taxpayer lawsuit that challenges California’s gender quotas (Crest et al. v. Padilla, (No.19ST-CV-27561)). In June 2020, in a major development, the court held that Judicial Watch’s clients have standing to sue under state law and Judicial Watch attorneys are now in discovery

In its comment to the Securities and Exchange Commission Judicial Watch explained that the proposed rule regulating Nasdaq corporations violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause: “At the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.”

“Race and gender quotas are brazenly unconstitutional, and NASDAQ’s proposed rule must be rejected by the SEC,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch is suing over similar quota mandates in California and one can expect more litigation if this discriminatory proposal moves forward.”

The Judicial Watch SEC comment reads as follows:

Dear Secretary Countryman:

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a non-partisan, not-for-profit, public interest organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Founded in 1994, Judicial Watch seeks to promote accountability, transparency and integrity in government, and fidelity to the rule of law. In furtherance of these goals, Judicial Watch files public comments and amicus curiae briefs on issues involving civil rights as well as prosecutes lawsuits on matters it believes are of public importance. Judicial Watch respectfully submits this comment in opposition to Nasdaq’s Proposed Rule Change to Adopt Listing Rules Related to Board Diversity. We urge the SEC to decline adopting the Proposed Rule because it violates the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, requires companies listed on Nasdaq to discriminate, and will likely lead to extensive litigation. In addition, Judicial Watch is concerned about potential conflicts of interest related to the Proposed Rule as Nasdaq also has recently announced a partnership with Equilar to provide services to listed companies that have not met the Proposed Rule’s “diversity objectives.”

I. The Proposed Rule Violates the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Although the Fifth Amendment, unlike the Fourteenth Amendment, does not have an express equal protection clause, the Supreme Court has held that “[t]he reach of the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment is coextensive with that of the Fourteenth.” United States v. Paradise, 480 U.S. 149, 166, n. 16 (1987) (plurality opinion); Adarand Constructors v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200, 217 (1995). Therefore, the Fifth Amendment forbids the federal government from: (1) creating racial classifications that are not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest; and (2) creating gender classifications that are not substantially related to the achievement of important government objectives. See Adarand, 515 U.S. at 227; see also United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515, 533 (1996).

The Proposed Rule violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause. “At the heart of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection lies the simple command that the Government must treat citizens as individuals, not as simply components of a racial, religious, sexual or national class.” Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900, 911 (1995) (quoting Metro Broadcasting v. FCC, 497 U.S. 547, 602 (1990) (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (internal quotation marks omitted)). The Proposed Rule, however, does just that. It would require:

Nasdaq-listed companies, subject to certain exceptions, (A) to have at least one director who self-identifies as a female, and (B) to have at least one director who self-identifies as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latinx, Asian, Native American or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, two or more races or ethnicities, or as LGBTQ+, or (C) to explain why the company does not have at least two directors on its board who self-identify in the categories listed above[.]

Contrary to the fundamental guarantee of equal protection under the law, the Proposed Rule’s requirement to have at least one director who self-identifies as a specific race is a racial quota that, if adopted as law, will violate the Fifth Amendment. All racial classifications, both disadvantaging and benefitting minorities, are subject to strict scrutiny. Adarand, 515 U.S. at 227. To survive strict scrutiny, the government must demonstrate that the racial classifications are narrowly tailored to further a compelling government interest. Id. “Diversity” itself is not a compelling interest. See Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306, 330 (2003); see also Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch. v. Seattle Sch. Dist. No. 1, 551 U.S. 701, 729-731 (2007). Neither is “outright racial balancing,” which the Supreme Court deems “patently unconstitutional.” Grutter, 539 U.S. at 330.

What Nasdaq proposes is unlike any other racial classification approved by the Supreme Court. Cf. Grutter, 539 U.S., at 316, 335-336 (holding constitutional an affirmative action program that considered race as only one factor in achieving student body diversity and did not seek any particular number or percentage of minority students). Nasdaq justifies the Proposed Rule’s racial quota by relying on studies that purportedly show that racial diversity on boards discourages “groupthink” by increasing “cognitive diversity.” But this justification “embod[ies] stereotypes that treat individuals as the product of their race, evaluating their thoughts and efforts—their very worth as citizens—according to a criterion barred to the Government by history and the Constitution.” Miller v. Johnson, 515 U.S. 900, 912 (1995). This numerical set-aside amounts to just another form of unconstitutional racial balancing. See Parents Involved in Cmty. Sch., 551 U.S. at 732 (“Racial balancing is not transformed from ‘patently unconstitutional’ to a compelling state interest simply by relabeling it ‘racial diversity.’”).

Moreover, employing racial classifications for the sake of “cognitive diversity” and inclusion does not further a compelling government interest. “[T]he interest in diversity of viewpoints provides no legitimate, much less important, reason to employ race classifications apart from generalizations impermissibly equating race with thoughts and behavior.” Metro Broadcasting, 497 U.S. at 602 (O’Connor, J., dissenting) (emphasis in original); see also Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod v. FCC, 141 F.3d 344, 355 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (citing approvingly J. O’Connor’s dissent in Metro Broadcasting).

Additionally, “the [Supreme] Court has given every indication of wanting to cut back Metro Broadcasting,” where it found that diversity was only an “important” government interest. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, 141 F.3d at 354-355. The Supreme Court overruled Metro Broadcasting to the extent that it was inconsistent with its holding in Adarand that racial classifications at all government levels are subject to strict scrutiny review. 515 U.S. at 227. It is thus doubtful that the Supreme Court would now elevate “diversity” from an important to a compelling government interest. Moreover, a race-conscious program is not narrowly tailored if it uses a quota system, like the one proposed by Nasdaq. See Grutter, 539 U.S. at 334. Thus, this quota system will surely fail strict scrutiny review. Simply put, the diversity interest advanced by Nasdaq is insufficient under the law to justify the Proposed Rule’s racial quotas.

Further, the Proposed Rule’s requirement to have at least one director who self-identifies as a female is a gender quota that, like the racial quota, if adopted as law, will violate the Fifth Amendment. Gender classifications are constitutional only if the government can demonstrate “exceedingly persuasive justification” for the classification. Virginia, 518 U.S. at 531. To meet this burden, the government must show that the classification is substantially related to achieving an important governmental objective. Id. at 533.

Just like its justification for racial quotas, Nasdaq justifies the gender quotas by relying on studies that purportedly show that gender diversity on boards discourages “groupthink” by increasing “cognitive diversity.” For a gender classification to be constitutional, not only must the justification be “genuine, not hypothesized,” but it also “must not rely on overbroad generalizations about the different talents, capacities, or preferences of males and females.” Id.Yet, Nasdaq’s justification is, at its essence, exactly that – an assumption that women think so differently than men that it can affect the output of a board.

Moreover, the “comply-or-explain” framework does not save the Rule from its constitutionally fatal flaws. Nasdaq portrays its Proposed Rule as a choice rather than a mandate. However, this “choice” is unduly coercive. As explained below, the government cannot encourage or facilitate private discrimination. The Proposed Rule is designed to do just that, with or without the option to explain non-compliance. Although the Proposed Rule permits a listed company to explain in a public statement why it has failed to meet the racial and gender quotas, “the relevant question is not whether a [Rule] requires the use of such measures, but whether it authorizes or encourages them.” Bras v. California Public Utilities Commission, 59 F.3d 869, 875 (9th Cir. 1995). If adopted, the SEC would undoubtedly be authorizing and encouraging Nasdaq-listed companies to use racial and gender quotas.

This sort of government authorization and pressure to employ such quotas violates the Fifth Amendment. That is precisely what the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals found in MD/DC/DE Broadcasters Ass’n v. FCC, 236 F.3d 13, 18 (D.C. Cir. 2001). There, the court found that although a FCC rule allowed broadcasters to select one of two options for “broad outreach” in recruiting efforts, one of the options was unconstitutional because “the rule [created] pressure to recruit women and minorities, which pressure ultimately [could] not withstand constitutional review.” Id. This “option,” the court explained, was instead a “government mandate for recruitment targeted at minorities [and females]” that constituted a “racial [and gender] classification” that subjects persons of different races to ‘unequal treatment.’” Id. at 20 (emphasis added). This was true even though the other option did not focus specifically on race or gender. Id. at 18-20. Similarly, the Proposed Rule’s “comply-or-explain” framework does not transform the Rule from being unconstitutional to being constitutional.

II. The Proposed Rule Requires Nasdaq Members Discriminate.

The Proposed Rule, if adopted, will inevitably require listed companies to discriminate on the basis of race and sex when selecting board members, in violation of the Constitution: “A ‘law compelling persons to discriminate against other persons because of race’ is a ‘palpable violation of the [Fifth] Amendment,’ regardless of whether the persons required to discriminate would have acted the same way regardless of the law.” Monterey Mech. Co. v. Wilson, 125 F.3d 702, 707 (9th Cir. 1997) (quoting Peterson v. City of Greenville, 373 U.S. 244, 248 (1963)). This requirement to discriminate puts skin color and gender ahead of merit.

As Warren Buffet explained in a letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, “At Berkshire, we are in the specialized activity of running a business well, and therefore we seek business judgment.” Requiring Nasdaq members to focus more on race and gender takes away from the focus on merit. To put it bluntly, as Warren Buffet did when discussing such requirements, the Proposed Rule “sounds as if the mission is to stock Noah’s ark.” Under this Rule, the question won’t be “Who has the best business judgment?” Instead, it will be “What are the racial and gender checkboxes that we need to fill?” The SEC should not be in the business of condoning and mandating such discriminatory decision-making.

III. The Proposed Rule Amounts to Government Action.

For an action to violate the Fifth Amendment, the government must act. Discrimination on the basis of race or sex violates the Constitution “only when it may be attributed to [government] action.” Edmonson v. Leesville Concrete Co., 500 U.S. 614, 619, 111 S. Ct. 2077, 2082 (1991) (citation omitted). Here, the Rule would constitute government action on the part of the SEC for purposes of establishing an equal protection claim. See Blount v. SEC, 61 F.3d 938, 941 (D.C. Cir. 1995).

The Proposed Rule only takes effect if the SEC approves it. Under the Securities Exchange Act, the SEC is a governmental body charged with ensuring that every self-regulatory organization (“SRO”), such as Nasdaq, complies with the provisions of the Act, the SEC’s own rules and regulations, and the SRO’s own rules. See generally 15 U.S.C. § 78s. Nasdaq’s proposed rules cannot “take effect unless approved by the Commission.” Id. at §78s(b)(1). Once the SEC approves a proposed rule, it, in effect, becomes binding federal law. The rule then “may be enforced by such organization to the extent it is not inconsistent with the provisions of [the Exchange Act], the rules and regulations thereunder, and applicable Federal and State law.” Id. at § 78s(b)(3)(C).

As has been the case in other actions maintained against the SEC, a court is likely to find that that the proposed rule, if adopted, constitutes government action. In Blount, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument of defendant-intervenor, a self-regulatory organization, that a challenged rule was not the product of government action. Blount, 61 F.3d at 941. And in New York Republican State Comm. v. SEC, government action was not an issue that barred the court from hearing a claim challenging the constitutionality of FINRA’s proposed rule that was adopted by the SEC. 927 F.3d 499, 503 (D.C. Cir. 2019).

Further, the SEC, as a federal governmental agency, is forbidden from encouraging and facilitating discrimination on the basis of race and sex. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that “the impetus for the forbidden discrimination need not originate with the State if it is state action that enforces privately originated discrimination.” Moose Lodge No. 107 v. Irvis, 407 U.S. 163, 172 (1972) (citing Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948). As the Court announced in Reitman v. Mulkey, the government may not authorize or encourage private discrimination. 387 U.S. 369, 375-76 (1967). In that case, the Court found that an amendment to the California Constitution amounted to government authorization of private discrimination in the housing market. This was enough for the Court to find state action, such that the government was encouraging and facilitating private discrimination in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. Id.

In short, if the SEC adopts the Proposed Rule, it will amount to government action facilitating and encouraging private discrimination on the basis of race and sex, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. There is no doubt that litigation will commence shortly after the Proposed Rule goes into effect.

The Proposed Rule is repugnant to the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law. Because it runs afoul to the Fifth Amendment, Judicial Watch urges the SEC to reject this flagrantly unconstitutional Rule.

Sincerely,

Thomas J. Fitton

President, Judicial Watch, Inc.

To read the full comment letter with footnotes, click here.

###

The post Judicial Watch Challenges Pending Nasdaq Rule Change Requiring Minority and Female Directors for Member Corporations appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Judicial Watch Challenges Pending Nasdaq Rule Change Requiring Minority and Female Directors for Member Corporations

GREATEST HITS, 4: Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit for Dr. Fauci and WHO Records

From The World Tribune:

Judicial Watch announced that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation against the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) for communications and other records of National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIH) Director Anthony Fauci and Deputy Director H. Clifford Lane with and about the World Health Organization (WHO) concerning the novel coronavirus.

The suit was filed after HHS failed to respond to an April 1 FOIA request seeking:

• Communications between Dr. Fauci and Deputy Director Lane and World Health Organization officials concerning the novel coronavirus.

• Communications of Dr. Fauci and Deputy Director Lane concerning WHO, WHO official Bruce Aylward, WHO Director General Tedros Anhanom, and China.

The time period for the request is January 1, 2020 to April 1, 2020.

Additionally, the DCNF requested and was granted expedited processing of its request.

“It is urgent that the NIH follow transparency law during the coronavirus crisis,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is of significant public interest to learn what WHO was telling our top medical officials about the coronavirus that originated in China.”

In March, Fauci praised the work of the WHO and Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying: “Tedros is really an outstanding person … I mean, obviously, over the years anyone who says that the WHO has not had problems has not been watching the WHO. But I think under his leadership they’ve done very well.”

Read More Here.

The post GREATEST HITS, 4: Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit for Dr. Fauci and WHO Records appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, GREATEST HITS, 4: Judicial Watch Files Lawsuit for Dr. Fauci and WHO Records

Happy New Year!

We enter the new year with the presidential election still undecided and with a good deal of uncertainty about the next few days.

Be of good cheer nevertheless!

We have a good example to follow. On New Year’s Eve a year ago, President Trump was facing impeachment, and yet he was cheerful as he celebrated with friends and family. Here’s what he said then:

“Happy New Year. We’re going to have a great year, I predict. I think it’s going to be a fantastic year.”

On that day there was trouble in Iraq, Iran and North Korea – when is that not true? – and still the president was upbeat. He also noted, quite presciently, given what’s happening in Washington right now:

“I do say two things: We have to check corruption, and we also have to find out why is it that the United States is always giving foreign countries money.”

I am hopeful about this New Year. Despite the howling of the media that the election is over, I know it isn’t. I explained in an article in Breitbart:

The Electoral College vote can be challenged under federal law and the United States Constitution. Republican electors in seven contested states cast alternate votes for Donald Trump to keep their legal options open. State legislatures retain their constitutional authority to offer alternative slates of electors. And Congress is the ultimate arbiter of the race since the ballot count can be contested during the joint session on January 6.

Something President Eisenhower once said reminds me of our current president: “Neither a wise man nor a brave man lies down on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run over him.”

I suggest you contact your senators and congressmen to let them know what you think about this historic constitutional battle over the Electoral College. The Capitol Hill switchboard number is 202-225-3121.

At Judicial Watch we are firmly resolved that in this New Year we will continue to expose the two biggest scandals in U.S. history: the coup attempt by the Deep State to overthrow our president, and the massively fraudulent election that resulted when the coup failed. And we will continue to uncover the details of the Biden scandals that the media and Justice Department can’t be trusted to pursue. I hope you’ll make a special New Year’s contribution in support of our essential work ahead.

We are resolutely optimistic. And we wish for you and your family good health and prosperity in 2021.

Happy New Year and God Bless America!  

The post Happy New Year! appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, Happy New Year!

FARRELL: The Fang Fang Dossier

From Chris Farrell’s Op-Ed for The Daily Caller:

Democratic Congressional leaders are hoping that the alleged spy scandal swirling around California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell will just go away. They have successfully convinced the mainstream media that there is no story. Swalwell himself was confident enough to emerge on Twitter to suggest that any Republican who questions the validity of the 2020 election is a “traitor.” That level of tone-deafness from Swalwell is stunning but hardly surprising, given his history.

Swalwell’s longstanding relationship with alleged communist Chinese spy Christine Fang – also known by the Bond-villianesque moniker Fang Fang – is a case study in foreign intelligence penetration. Swalwell met Fang while he was a city councilman in Dublin, California, in 2011. Fang helped him get reelected to Congress in 2014 and helped place an intern in his office.

The two remained close – just how close he says is “classified” – until 2015 when the FBI gave Rep. Swalwell a defensive briefing about Fang. This was especially important since Nancy Pelosi had by then picked Swalwell to be a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Fang soon vanished back to China, and Swalwell became a leading proponent of the debunked anti-Trump Russian collusion conspiracy theory.

Read More Here.

The post FARRELL: The Fang Fang Dossier appeared first on Judicial Watch.



Source: Judicial Watch, FARRELL: The Fang Fang Dossier