The EPA is down in the dumps. Since 45 took office, morale at the Environmental Protection Agency has plummeted as his administration looks to stop work on climate change, cut the Superfund program in half and more. Concerned citizens are sending appreciative notes and cookies to lift the spirits of EPA employees. Even old-timers like Bill Ruckelshaus, the first EPA chief under Richard Nixon and later under Ronald Reagan, are saying, “Hang in there.” Let’s do it too!
This outrage came to our attention late and with the vote on April 20th, we, the people, need to move fast to protect ourselves from the predatory rollbacks of our Internet privacy rights and the removal of ALL REGULATIONS AND OBLIGATIONS on the incumbent phone utility companies (you know the names….AT&T, Verizon, Century Link…)
Call your MoC’s and demand that they call for a suspension of the vote and an immediate scheduling of hearings to replace the two potted plants currently serving as “commissioners 4 & 5””.
Bill: S. 27. To establish an independent commission to examine and report on the facts regarding the extent of Russian official and unofficial cyber operations and other attempts to interfere in the 2016 United States national election, and for other purposes.
Federal Legislature: Federal – Senate
Current Status: As of 01/04/2017, read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
Stake Holders: American Public, Local Boards of Elections, Congress, POTUS, Political Parties, Other Nations, Our Democracy
Why We Care:
Compelling reasons to support an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election include:
- Pervasive reach of interference impedes impartial examination
The entities ordinarily responsible for investigating such matters (Justice Department, Congress) are under the control of the party that apparently benefited from the Russian interference. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself; Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, has stepped aside after his apparent attempts to shift attention to the Democrats by releasing classified information; and his replacement, Mike Conaway, has contended that Russian meddling in the 2016 election is no different than Democrats enlisting Mexican entertainers to campaign for Hillary Clinton.
- Multiple links between Trump campaign and Russia:
- Michael Flynn – Trump’s first pick for National Security Adviser, was forced to resign after failing to disclose potentially illegal phone conversations with the Russian Ambassador prior to Trump’s inauguration regarding American sanctions on Russia.
- Carter Page – A campaign adviser recruited by Russian spies, intervened to change language regarding Ukraine in the Republican National Platform to remove anti-Russian sentiment.
- Erik Prince (brother of Betsy DeVos, founder of Blackwater) met with a Russian close to Putin 9 days before the inauguration at a secret meeting in the Seychelles arranged by the United Arab Emirates.
- Ties between Trump organization, Russia, former USSR states
When Trump’s businesses were faltering in the 1990s, he was unable to secure domestic loans and turned to Russia for help. “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Donald Trump, Jr. told a real estate conference in 2008. According to Talking Points Memo, “many of the figures in [Trump’s] orbit were at least in the business of shepherding money out of those countries into New York real estate. In many or most cases the FBI and the DOJ suspected them of money laundering and ties to organized crime.”
- FBI’s complex involvement
Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant and co-founder of Bayrock Capital, illustrates not only the complexity of Trump’s ties to people and money in the countries of the former Soviet Union but also the muddling of the FBI’s role in this matter. Sater was recently in the news for delivering a pro-Russian “peace plan” for Ukraine, to Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer (who has significant energy investments in Ukraine), for forwarding to Michael Flynn.
- Widespread national support for independent investigation
There is widespread national support for an independent investigation and bi-partisan support in Congress. John McCain (R.-AZ) said recently that Congress had lost the credibility to objectively investigate the Trump camp’s Russia ties, and called for the creation of an independent commission. A March 2017 Quinnipiac poll of voters nationwide indicates the growing public concern over this issue and the need for investigation.
How Does It Meet Our Stated Objective? Indivisible promotes inclusiveness, tolerance and fairness. A foreign government’s interference in a presidential election is inherently unfair to the democratic process and the American voter. Only an independent investigation can restore the public’s faith in our democratic system and the current administration.
Local Impact: Disillusionment and distrust regarding the legitimacy of the current administration and its policies as they play out locally
- Contact both Democrat and Republican MoCs urging them to support S. 27
- Remind Republicans of Watergate and how they have the most to gain in terms of their support for S. 27
- Write a letter to the editor urging Republicans in Congress to step up
- Read the complete bill
- Explore other examples of Trump/Russia links including Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2nd Campaign Manager here and here, and Trump Advisor Roger Stone’s involvement with the DNC hacking here
- More from Politico on Trump, Bayrock, Sapir and Chabad
- Trump’s shady Azerbaijan hotel and connections to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard
- See related legislation including 94 (sanctions for cyber intrusions) and H.R. 1059 (requiring Trump to Congress before lifting sanctions related to Ukraine/Russia meddling)
- More from NYT on what the I.A. knew about Russian involvement and when
Bill: HR 305 and S 26 – Presidential Tax Transparency Act
Sponsors: Rep. Anna Eshoo (D – CA); Sen. Ron Wyden (D – OR)
Cosponsors: 87 House; 20 Senate
Federal – House and Senate
Where is it now? House: Ways and Means; Oversight and Government Reform; Senate: Rules and Administration
Summary: This bill amends the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 to require the President and certain candidates for President to disclose federal income tax returns for the three most recent taxable years in reports filed with either the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) or the Federal Election Commission (FEC), in the case of a candidate.
The OGE or the FEC must make the disclosed tax returns publicly available after making appropriate redactions. If the income tax returns are not disclosed as required by this bill, the OGE or the FEC must request the returns from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
The bill amends the Internal Revenue Code to require the IRS, upon receiving a written request from the FEC or the OGE, to provide any income tax return that is required to be disclosed under this bill.
The bill also establishes civil and criminal penalties for failing to file or falsifying income tax returns that are required to be disclosed pursuant to this bill.
Stakeholders: All Americans
Why do we care? Breaking with 40 years of presidential tradition, President Trump refuses to release his federal tax returns, giving the bogus excuse that his returns are being audited by the IRS and can’t be released, a claimed dismissed by most tax experts. At the same time, three-quarters of Americans believe that Trump should release his tax returns.
Release of Trump’s taxes would show the American people the extent of his global financial entanglements with foreign countries, particularly Russia. In fact, Trump has had extensive business dealings with Russia for 30 years, and Russian oligarchs have invested nearly $100 million in Trump properties.
Trump made a big show in January about how he will no longer be involved in the running of his businesses, delegating that job to his children. Yet, Trump will continue to profit from his businesses while in office. The Office of Government Ethics in his own White House dismissed Trump’s plan to limit his conflicts of interest as “meaningless.”
The president’s taxes are an issue of national security. We need to know the extent of his financial interests in foreign countries, who he is in debt to, and if his wealth is actually the self-reported $10 billion.
Trump’s tax returns could expose the extent of his global business entanglements, including potential conflicts of interest that violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause. In particular, Trump’s returns could tell us quite a bit about his ties to Russian entities and banks. Although Trump has claimed he has no business or loans in Russia, his son said in 2008 that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” (LA Times, 3/7/2017)
Finally, the returns might reveal that Trump, who has long claimed to be a generous philanthropist, gives little or no money to charity.
According to Nancy Pelosi: “It is not a right to privacy that the president has. There’s a question of Russian connections –politically, financially, and personally.” It is not the law for the president to release tax returns but it is a long term tradition. President T is the first non-compliant president since Gerald Ford who released only a summary of his taxes. (cbsnew.com 4/5/2017)
In January 2017, Kellyanne Conway said that Mr. Trump is “not going to release his tax returns” and that “Most Americans are very focused on what their tax returns will look like while Trump is in office, not what his look like.”
A poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News in January found that 74% of Americans believe that Trump should release his income tax records. (cbsnews.com 4/5/2017)
How does it meet our stated objective? In order to resist the Trump agenda, we must reject 45’s excuse that his taxes are “under audit” and demand financial transparency through the release of his tax returns from at least the last 3 years.
The bill contains a “Special Rule for Sitting Presidents” – “Not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this section, the President shall submit to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics a copy of income tax returns described in paragraph 1-A” 1-A = “…3 most recent years for which a return has been filed with IRS…”
- Attend Tax Rally on April 15 in Washington D.C. or Cambridge. More information: taxmarch.org
- Call our MOCs to thank them for cosponsoring the bill: Elizabeth Warren, Edward Markey, and William Keating.
- Call or text the following members of Congress and demand that they act: House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady, 202-225-4901; House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz, 202-225-5074; Senate Rules and Administration Committee Chair Richard Shelby, 202-224-5744.
State Pressure (politico.com 3/30/2017)
“In at least 24 states, legislators have introduced bills that would force Trump (and all other presidential candidates) to disclose their tax returns in order to qualify for their states’ ballots in 2020.”
“There’s one big obstacle: Requiring presidential candidates to release their taxes as a condition of ballot access may not be constitutional. And even if it is, the Democrats sponsoring such legislation run the risk of major retaliatory measures being taken in Republican state.”
MA Bill S365: “An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections”
Presented by Michael Barrett (Third Middlesex) and referred to Joint Committee on Election Laws – 1/23/2017
Concurred by the House 1/23/2017
Local Petitioner: Julian Cyr – 617-722-1570 (senate office)
The use of chemical weapons in Syria is an atrocity that the world cannot ignore, and those responsible must be brought to justice. However, no Commander in Chief should take lightly a decision to deploy the US military overseas—and if the President commits to a long-term military action, they’re legally required to seek congressional authorization.
Whenever military action is taken, by any President, it is critical that Congress hold the President fully accountable. And that’s even more true when the President is a thin-skinned egomaniac. Trump cannot be allowed to fire off missiles the way that he fires off tweets. He cannot be allowed to bar Syrian child refugees from our shores and then claim he’s taking military action to protect them. And he absolutely cannot be allowed to drag us into another Middle East war. It’s Congress’ job to stop this from happening. Call and demand that they return to session to exercise oversight over Trump’s warmongering. (You can send a text message to MoC’s using a great new tool, Resistbot)
We also encourage you to think about ways to help the people of Syria. Organizations like the White Helmets, Doctors Without Borders, and the International Rescue Committee are just a few of the many organizations helping on the ground and assisting refugees. Stand with them as an ally. And make your voice heard: there’s never been a more important time to call on your MoCs to support Syrian refugees. During this April recess, ask them what they’re doing to make sure America truly supports Syrian refugees by allowing them to come to the United States.
Swing Districts are places where the winner of the last House of Representatives election was determined by a thin margin. Swing Left helps people find and commit to supporting progressives in their closest Swing District so that they can help ensure we take back the House in 2018. Most of us don’t live in Swing Districts, where the races really matter.
Our closest Swing District is the 1st Congressional district in Southeastern New Hampshire (Greater Manchester, the Seacoast and the Lakes Region) represented by Carol Shea-Porter (D. Rochester). It is probably the “swingiest” Congressional district in the country, having swung back and forth between Shea-Porter and Republican Frank Guinta four times in the last 10 years! We can’t afford to have the district swing back to the Republican in 2018!
Swing Left offers opportunities for those who live near Rep. Shea-Porter’s district (like those of us on Cape Cod) to help from afar and/or to travel to New Hampshire to help out in person.
Help support progressives—and defeat Republicans—in NH-1, no matter where you live. We can stop Trump and the GOP agenda by working together NOW!
Here’s where Swing Left stands in Rep. Shea-Porter’s district after 11 weeks.