Colin Powell, First Black Secretary of State, Dead at 84 of COVID-19 Complications

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell died Monday morning due to complication from COVID-19, according to his family. He was 84.

Powell was the first black U.S. secretary of state, serving in the second Bush administration from 2001-2005. From 1989-1993, he served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the presidency of George H.W. Bush.

He was fully vaccinated, the family said.

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11 Months After 2020 Election Georgia Secretary of State Missing Chain of Custody Documents for 6,995 Absentee Ballots Deposited in Fulton County Drop Boxes

A review of transfer forms provided to The Georgia Star News in response to an open records request reveals that the Secretary of State’s office in Georgia is missing chain of custody documents for 6,995 absentee ballots deposited in drop boxes in Fulton County during the November 2020 election.

The number of absentee ballots for which the office has no evidence of the origination of the ballots represents 9 percent of the 79,460 total that Fulton County has recorded as being deposited into drop boxes during the more than month-long early voting and election day period.

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‘They Lied to Us’: Hundreds of American Citizens and Others with Green Cards Were Left in Afghanistan

Hundreds of American citizens and people with green cards were left in Afghanistan after U.S. forces withdrew from the country, the Associated Press reported Thursday.

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who were left in Afghanistan were reportedly told after the last American flight took off from the Kabul international airport to expect information about routes out of the country, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland said, according to the AP.

“We will communicate directly to them personalized instructions on what they should do, when they should do it, and how the United States government feels we are best positioned to help them do that,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said, the AP reported.

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Kari Lake Calls for Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs to Recuse Herself from Overseeing Gubernatorial Race

Kari Lake AZ

Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake is calling for “the most partisan Secretary of State in the history of Arizona,” Democrat Katie Hobbs, to recuse herself from overseeing the governor’s race. Hobbs is also running for governor. Lake cited Hobbs’ behavior during the 2020 election and aftermath, her “history of irrational bias and disdain toward Republicans in addition to what election investigators have reported to the public about serious issues affecting tens-of-thousands of ballots and voters.” She said, “Arizona voters have lost confidence in Katie Hobbs to run another election.”

Lake is concerned that Hobbs will not conduct the election fairly for Republicans like herself in the race. She asked other candidates to join her demand. She cited a tweet from Hobbs in 2017, where Hobbs said, “[email protected] has made it abundantly clear he’s more interested in pandering to his neo-nazi base than being @POTUS for all Americans.” Hobbs did not delete the tweet.

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Georgia Public Broadcasting Reveals Secretary of State Raffensperger Delivered Some Fulton County Absentee Ballot Chain of Custody Documents to Them in April

An interview between The Georgia Star News and Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) News revealed that they had received Fulton County’s drop box absentee ballot transfer forms from the Secretary of State’s office in April.  GPB News, however, did not report on their findings until after The Star News report in June.

Stephen Fowler of Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) News requested an interview with John Fredericks, which also included Laura Baigert, of The Georgia Star News, as part of his fact-check for a story and to get comments from everyone involved.

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Georgia Secretary of State Says He Wants Fulton County Elections Taken Over by State

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told Just the News on Wednesday that he wants Fulton County elections taken over by the state under a new law that addresses localities with habitual problems counting ballots, dramatically escalating his battle with the state’s largest urban center in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

“I think people are saying, enough is enough,” Raffensperger said in a podcast interview in which he discussed using the new election integrity law known as Senate Bill 202 to have the State Elections Board take over the Atlanta-area election counting in time for the 2022 elections.

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Conservative Sues Twitter, California Officials, and Biden Campaign Consultants For Colluding to Deplatform Him

Screen cap of Fox News interview

Conservative political commentator and attorney Rogan O’Handley is suing former California Secretary of State and now U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, current Calif. SoS Shirley Weber, Twitter, Team Biden campaign consultants SKDK, and others, for coordinating to deplatform him from Twitter after he tweeted his concerns about the 2020 election.

The Center for American Liberty in conjunction with the Dhillon Law Group, Inc. filed the federal civil rights lawsuit on Thursday in the United States District Court in Central California.

O’Handley spent years developing a verified Twitter account with 440,000 followers only to find his account permanently suspended at the direction of the Secretary of State’s office, according to a press release from Center for American Liberty.

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Michigan Bills Aim to Give $25 Million to SOS Office to Clear Months-Long Backlog

Michigan Democrat leaders are pushing for bills to allocate $25 million to the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office to clear an expanding 15-month backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as government orders to shut down walk-in service.

The legislation includes allocation of $5 million in overtime costs and $20 million of federal stimulus money to hire 200 more workers.

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New Georgia Bill Would Demand More Detailed Vote Reporting System from Secretary of State

Georgia legislators have submitted a bill that would require the secretary of state create a far more detailed election reporting system for general primaries, general elections, and runoffs from general primaries and general elections. “Such system shall provide for the entry of the number of ballots cast by type in each precinct, the results of state and federal races by precinct, the number of absentee ballots issued and returned, the number of absentee ballots certified, the number of absentee ballots rejected, the number of provisional ballots cast, and such other information which the Secretary of State deems relevant and useful to the citizens of this state,” according to the language of the bill.

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Fifteen Secretaries of State Endorse Keep Nine Amendment

A group of 15 secretaries of state this week issued their support for the “Keep Nine Amendment” recently introduced in Congress, marking the latest victory for the organization seeking to preserve the independence of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Keep Nine Amendment said in a statement that the 15 sent the letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader of the House Kevin McCarthy.

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Georgians Demand Answers from Department of Labor on Missed Payments

Georgians are circulating petitions demanding that the state government, particularly the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) begins responding to their requests for information. 

“This petition was started and organized by residents all throughout the State of Georgia that have filed claims with the Georgia Department of Labor,” says a Change.org petition started by Felicia Primus. “Many of Georgia Residents [sic] haven’t received any updates on claims or they’re missing payments from the Department of Labor. GDOL has not provided better Self-service [sic] options for its website or phone support to help with the increasing demand of unemployment claims, during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Biden’s Secretary of State Pick Led ‘Biden Center’ at UPenn, as School Allegedly Accepted Millions in ‘Anonymous’ Donations from China

Antony Blinken

Antony Blinken — former Vice President Joe Biden’s choice to become Secretary of State if he is inaugurated president in January — was the director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement, which recently faced criticism for accepting $22 million in “anonymous” funds originating in China.

The Biden Center, which the University of Pennsylvania officially launched in February 2018, “engages Penn’s students and partners with its faculty and global centers to convene world leaders, develop and advance smart policy, and strengthen the national debate for continued American global leadership in the 21st century.” It is located in Washington, D.C.

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Georgia State House Republicans Continue Push for Change Ahead of U.S. Senate January Runoff Elections

Republican Georgia lawmakers increased their push for election changes Friday ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections for U.S. Senate.

House Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington) sent a second letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday asking him to respond to an initial letter calling for two specific changes to the election process.

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Trump Pulls Out of Military Transparency Treaty with Russia, Europe

The Trump administration officially withdrew from the Open Skies Treaty, a 2002 agreement to promote military transparency signed by more than 30 countries including Russia.

The Department of State said Sunday that the U.S. had officially withdrawn from the Open Skies Treaty, which went into effect nearly two decades ago. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both announced on May 21 that the U.S. intended to exit the agreement, according to The Associated Press.

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State Board Meets Today to Decide if Ohio Secretary of State May Spend Up to $3M to Prepay Absentee Ballot Postage

A state board is meeting today to decide if Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose can spend up to $3 million to pay for absentee ballot postage for the November elections.

The Ohio Controlling Board will consider LaRose’s request today. Their agenda is here, and more information about LaRose’s request is here.

This appropriation of state funds will be used by the Ohio Secretary of State to pay the cost of returning absentee ballots on behalf of any Ohio voter who opts to use that manner of voting in the November 3, 2020 General Election. This will not expand Ohio’s existing absentee voting opportunities and will not permit universal vote by mail. There will still be in-person voting at polling locations on Election Day, November 3, 2020. 

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Advocates Sound Alarm Over Absentee Ballot Signature Verifications in Michigan

Election integrity advocates believe something fishy is going on in Wayne County with absentee ballots, and they say Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is undermining the security of the process there and across Michigan.

Glen Sitek of the Election Integrity Fund provided an exclusive statement to The Michigan Star.

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Tennessee General Assembly Primary Results

While there were 115 Tennessee General Assembly seats open for Thursday’s primary, most went uncontested.  In fact, there was just a fractional 36 primaries yielding some surprising results.

In the Senate, all of the incumbents won their primary bid.

In the House, Representatives Micah Van Huss and Matthew Hill both lost their primaries.  Coupled with Representative Timothy Hill leaving the House to run in the U.S. House District 1 Republican primary, which he also lost, the representation of the northeast corner of the state will undergo dramatic changes.

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LaRose Draws Heat for Moving Primary Election Date, a Move Called ‘Anarchy’ and ‘Executive Fiat’

Skeptics are calling Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s June 2 primary election date theoretical, saying the Legislature, not he, has the power to move the date.

Adjectives that are being thrown around include “anarchy” and “executive fiat.”

LaRose is already dictating the rules 88 county boards of elections should follow, the Ohio Capital Journal said. These LaRose rules include the dictate that county boards of election should not accept any new voter registrations ahead of the not-yet-official June 2 election.

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U.S. Guarantees Hormuz Shipping Passage

  The United States says it will “guarantee freedom of navigation” for shipping through the Strait of Hormuz through diplomatic talks or military intervention, contending again that it was “unmistakable” that Iran launched last week’s attacks on two tankers sailing through the narrow passage. “These were attacks by the Islamic…

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Ohio Lawmakers Look into Strengthening State’s Election, Cybersecurity Efforts

by Steven Bittenbender   With election security frequently in the news, the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee took the opportunity recently to discuss a cybersecurity bill. The panel convened a hearing on Senate Bill 52, which deals with bolstering the state’s cybersecurity. A major part of the initiative…

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Ohio Secretary of State: Redistricting Ohio Before 2020 Election Could ‘Hurt’ Voter Turnout

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose stated on Thursday that he was against Ohio redrawing its district lines before the 2020 presidential election. It was a statement that surprised many, considering he made it at a voting rights forum, hosted by the Ohio League of Women Voters who are currently suing…

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275,000 Inactive Voters in Ohio Sent ‘Last Chance’ Notice to Confirm Eligibility Before Being Purged

This week, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has triggered one of the most consequential and controversial “voter integrity” measures in the country. 275,000 inactive voters, registered in Ohio, have been sent “last chance” letters, informing them that if they do not confirm their current address and voting status, they will…

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Minnesota Secretary of State Unveils Plan to Restore Voting Rights to 60,000 Felons

Secretary of State Steve Simon (D-MN) unveiled his “Investing in Democracy” 2019 agenda during a Thursday press conference where he announced plans to restore voting rights to felons after they are released from prison. Currently, Minnesota is one of 22 states that revokes voting rights for felons during incarceration and…

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Republicans in State Senate Did Not Support Bill To Secure Tennessee Voting Machines With Paper Ballot Audit Trail

Yarbro

When Democrat Senator Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville) sponsored a bill earlier this year that would provide greater vote security by requiring that before January 1, 2020, electronic voting machines have the capability to create a voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) for each ballot cast and that the VVPATs be preserved…

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Democrats Clear Path For Pompeo’s Nomination as Secretary of State

Mike Pompeo

by Robert Donachie   Three Senate Democrats have announced their support for President Donald Trump’s pick to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, making it almost a virtual guarantee the Senate will confirm the nomination of Mike Pompeo. “When I met with [CIA] Director Pompeo, we had a productive conversation about…

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Five Dumbest Questions Democrats Asked Mike Pompeo During His Confirmation Hearing for Secretary of State

Senate Democrats bombarded Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo with an array of questions Thursday, ranging from his views on same-sex marriage and climate change to which circumstances would cause him to resign. President Donald Trump selected Pompeo, currently the CIA director, to replace former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

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FBI Originally Deemed Hillary Clinton ‘Grossly Negligent’ in Handling of Emails

The FBI originally planned to say that Hillary Clinton was “grossly negligent” in her handling of her secret emails, a top senator said Monday, revealing early drafts of the statement former FBI Director James Comey drew up. Sen. Charles E. Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, demanded the FBI detail…

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Tony Podesta Lobbied For Russia’s ‘Uranium One’ And Did Not File As A Foreign Agent

Tony Podesta’s lobbying firm, the Podesta Group, represented the Russian-owned company Uranium One during former President Barack Obama’s administration and did not register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, The Daily Caller News Foundation has determined. Podesta collected lobbying fees of $180,000 from Uranium One, according to the non-partisan Center…

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President Trump Sends Lieutenants to Pakistan with Tough Message

President Donald Trump will dispatch his top diplomatic and military advisors to Pakistan in the coming weeks, turning up the heat on a nuclear-armed ally accused of harboring terror groups. Weeks after Trump angrily accused Islamabad of providing safe haven to “agents of chaos,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans…

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The Public Won’t See the Rest of Hillary’s 100k Emails Until 2020

Tennessee Star

  A federal attorney said Tuesday that officials at the Department of State and other agencies can’t make the remaining 100,000 unreleased Hillary Clinton emails public for 42 months, or until October 2020. Justice Department attorney Jennie Kneedler told U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg Tuesday that “processing takes…

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