Minnesota and Wisconsin Withhold Voter Registration from Public That Most States are Federally Mandated to Disclose

Meagan Wolfe Steve Simon

Wisconsin is one of the most fiercely contested battleground states in this election cycle, but it lacks federal transparency requirements for voter registration imposed on most states, according to a lawsuit by an election watchdog.

Minnesota, generally a solidly blue state although it saw a razor-thin margin in the results of the 2016 presidential race, also doesn’t make its voter rolls available to the public, the lawsuit contends.

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Tennessee Launches Dashboard Showing How ‘American Rescue Plan’ Funds Are Being Used

The state of Tennessee launched a dashboard with data showing how the state has spent funds granted to it via the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal bailout package for states whose economies were decimated due to lockdowns during the COVID-19 panic. 

The dashboard explains the parameters of the usage of the federal funds, and notes that Tennessee received almost $4 billion of taxpayer money:

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New Bill Would Make Arizona Teacher Pay Increases Transparent, Require School Districts to Comply

Arizona State Senator J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler) shared in his weekly update to constituents that his bill, aimed at ensuring school districts comply with the state transparency laws, is moving along through the Legislature.

“Given the importance of having transparency with such a critical topic as teacher pay, I sponsored a bill (SB 1599) that would add some teeth to the law and instruct the Arizona Department of Education to engage if a school district is not in compliance. The bill has passed the Senate and is poised for a House Floor vote,” Mesnard said.

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The Goldwater Institute Sues the City of Phoenix for Not Producing Requested Union Records

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute (GI) announced Wednesday that it had filed a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix for refusing a public records request relating to union records.

“The public’s business should be done in public, not behind closed doors,” says GI Staff Attorney Parker Jackson, lead attorney on the case. “The city of Phoenix has a duty to comply with state law—and the city’s own code—so that residents can find out what their government is up to.”

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Online Posting of Pennsylvania Legislators’ Expenses Proposed

Pennsylvania Senator Lindsey Wiliams (D-Pittsburgh) is preparing to reintroduce a bill to instruct the state’s chief legislative clerks to post all lawmakers’ taxpayer-funded expenses online. 

In a memorandum asking fellow senators to cosponsor her measure, Williams mentioned that she and some other legislators provide online access to may of their public expenditures. Her own website contains a page linking to monthly expense reports. Spending listed includes such items as lodging and office event expenses. 

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State Rep. David Livingston Sends Follow-Up Letter to Hobbs Regarding Inauguration Funds, Answers Lead to More Questions

Arizona State Rep. David Livingston (R-Peoria) sent another letter to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) Wednesday demanding more answers regarding where she is placing funds for 2023 inauguration events. While Livingston did receive answers to his first letter, he said those have only led to more questions.

“Those records have not alleviated my concerns regarding your administration’s solicitation of inaugural funds. Instead, they have prompted new concerns and this supplemental request for more information,” Livingston wrote.

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State Representative David Livingston Seeks Further Transparency from Gov. Katie Hobbs on Inauguration Funds

Arizona State Representative David Livingston (R-Peoria) sent letters Monday to Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) and her campaign manager Nicole DeMont seeking further transparency regarding the funds Hobbs received for her inauguration events.

“To that end, I have serious concerns relating to the procurement of funds that appear to have been solicited and donated for the purpose of sponsoring Inauguration events hosted at the Capitol in early January,” Livingston wrote. “It is my understanding that you or your campaign manager publically disclosed some of the donors and the amounts of their donations several weeks ago, but this disclosure is incomplete.”

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Transparency Troubles Dog Memphis Police Department Again in Tyre Nichols Case

On January 15, the Memphis Police Department issued a statement on its “internal investigation” into the death of Tyre Nichols — five days after the 29-year-old black man died. MPD said it “was important to take swift and deliberate action to maintain transparency, accountability, public trust, and legitimacy amongst our community.” 

But the troubled police department has had a host of transparency troubles surrounding the brutal beating of Nichols at the hands of five black police officers  – and a history of closed government offenses. 

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Commentary: Anonymous ‘Dark’ Money Plus Unions Generally Equals Corrupt Politics

It is critical that Tennesseans and Americans trust their election process. Almost certainly, cash is being funneled into obscure organizations in our state to attempt to influence and win elections – and shape future policies. Our state has been rocked by political scandals throughout our history. One incident – “The Battle of Athens” has been immortalized for standing up to corruption. A recent Tennessee Speaker of the House, Glen Casada, awaits trial on bribery and kickback charges later this year.

It is easy to observe that teacher unions have donated millions to political campaigns, mostly going to Democratic candidates and committees. Since 2010, Democrats replaced Republicans in dark money spending. Nobody likes to talk about the millions spent on private jets, Broadway shows, or luxury retreats by the Republican National Committee. Where did that money come from?

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National Legal and Policy Center Attorney Paul Kamenar Comments on May 2020 Letter Alerting Lack of Transparency in Anonymous Funding to Biden Penn Center

Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed the counsel for National Legal and Policy Center, attorney Paul Kamenar to comment on the letter he wrote in May of 2020 alerting Secretary of Education’s Betsy DeVos about millions in anonymous funds received by the Penn Biden Center.

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Americans for Prosperity – Tennessee Proposes Four Public Policy Changes in Its 2023 Legislative Agenda

The conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity – Tennessee (AFP-TN) published its 2023 Legislative Agenda, suggesting four major policy changes in the state.

During Tennees’s General Assembly legislative session this year, AFP-TN will advocate for legislation that moves to tackle and overall improve: economic opportunity, educational freedom, transparency, and criminal justice reform.

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Undisclosed Amounts from Special Interests Sponsor Katie Hobbs’ Inauguration Event

Democrat Katie Hobbs was sworn in as Arizona’s governor on Monday, in the first of two inaugural events this week. A third related event is raising eyebrows, a ball which is funded by special interests, including lobbyists, companies that do business with the state, developers, and builders. Hobbs refuses to disclose how much they are contributing.

Michele Swinick of the Save my Freedom Movement told The Arizona Sun Times she believes it is inappropriate for Hobbs not to disclose the amounts contributed by special interests. “The public has a right to know who is putting the most money into bribing their taxpayer-funded government,” she said. “This is a continuing pattern Hobbs has so it’s not a surprise that she would start out her very first fraudulent day of office with this move protecting her friends. She hid herself from the Arizona Voters during her campaign and now she’s showing you, yet again, how she operates. At least you can give her credit for one thing, she’s been consistent.”

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Arizona Court of Appeals to Hear Case Involving 2020 Maricopa County Ballot Images

Audit USA (AU), a nonpartisan organization based in Arizona focusing on election integrity, will have an opportunity to present arguments in the Arizona Court of Appeals Wednesday in a case involving Maricopa County and ballot images.

“I’m hopeful we will win this case because the facts are with us and transparency in our elections is vital for democracy,” said John Brakey, co-founder and director of AU. “Transparency is the currency of trust and without it, our democracy will die in darkness.”

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Arizona Senate President Applauds Court Decision Protecting Legislative Privilege

The Arizona Senate President, Karen Fann (R-Prescott), applauded a decision from the Arizona Supreme Court (ASC) protecting the Senate’s legislative privilege concerning discharging documents from the 2020 Maricopa County Election Audit.

“The Senate’s position on legislative privilege was supported by decades of precedent from federal and state courts. The lower courts’ attempt to disregard those precedents in the interest of short-term political concerns was wrong from the beginning. This is a huge victory for the protection of the legislative process,” Fann said.

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Gulbransen Joins Host Leahy to Talk Tennessee AG Selection Process and Call for Governor Lee’s Pick, Gibson to State Her Case

Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report, host Leahy welcomed official guest host Aaron Gulbransen in-studio to talk about the AG selection in the state of Tennessee and the unanswered calls for comment by Governor Lee’s alleged pick for new AG, Brandon Gibson. Leahy and Gulbransen later called for Gibson to come on the show and state her case.

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Voter Reference Foundation Sues New Mexico for More Transparent Voter Rolls

The Voter Reference Foundation (VRF) filed a federal lawsuit against Democrat Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Democrat Attorney General Hector Balderas in an attempt to secure more transparent voter rolls.

According to a press release from the group, they “filed a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court against top Democrat officials in New Mexico to ensure the public’s right to view public voter rolls is not blocked.”

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Cleveland Police Officer Cleared in Shooting of Wanted Alleged Murderer

Cleveland, Ohio, Police car

A Cleveland Police officer was cleared by a grand jury earlier this week after it determined that he acted lawfully in self-defense in the shooting death of an alleged murderer last year. 

“The grand jury ruled that the officer acted properly based on its review of a thorough, independent investigation,” Attorney General Dave Yost (R) said in a press release. “The goal is always to find the truth.”

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Members of Tennessee’s Congressional Delegation Seek Greater Transparency Within the Tennessee Valley Authority

U.S. Representative Tim Burchett (R-TN-02) on Wednesday reintroduced a bill that aims to improve transparency within the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

The legislation, known as the Tennessee Valley Authority Transparency Act, received bipartisan support among members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, as Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN-09) and Mark Green (R-TN-07) cosponsored the measure.

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FDA Announces Postponement of Approval of COVID Vaccine for Babies and Young Children

Young girl with a blue shirt on getting a vaccine

Pfizer and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Friday they are delaying their plan for Pfizer’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for its coronavirus vaccine for children under five years old due to insufficient data on the efficacy of a third dose.

Pfizer announced February 1 FDA had asked the drug company, and its partner BioNTech, to submit data on a COVID vaccine series for babies as young as six months old and young children up until age five.

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JC Bowman Commentary: Government Needs Oversight and Transparency

It is a disturbing trend to hire outside consultants or independent contractors, with little direct oversight, to perform government jobs, whether nationally or statewide. The running joke is “if you have an out-of-state license plate on your car and drive by slowly at the Tennessee Department of Education, they will throw a contract in your car, and you too can be an education consultant.” Now that is probably not very accurate or fair, but then again, I have a Tennessee tag on my car and I have been known to drive a little fast.

It is likely that the majority of consultants and contractors follow our state laws and maintain the necessary integrity. However, all Tennesseans should be somewhat concerned by a contracting process if it has little or no accountability. We must also do a better job of tracking performance data. Especially when we are using tax dollars in Tennessee to contract with people outside the state. Oversight is critical to making sure taxpayers are getting what they are paying for.

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Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf Vetoes Education-Transparency Bill

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) this week vetoed legislation that would have directed school districts to publish their curricula online.

State Rep. Andrew Lewis (R-Harrisburg) sponsored the bill to provide a “standardized, simple and user-friendly” means for residents to review the general lesson plans and the titles of textbooks to which children in their districts are subject. New or revised plans would have had to appear online within 30 days of their approval. The representative has observed that many parents have publicly voiced frustration about their inability to ascertain their kids’ curricula ahead of time, with some speaking to him directly about the issue.

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Phill Kline Commentary: It’s Not Good When Public Officials Fear Transparency

Politics is getting in the way of government transparency, preventing the sort of accountability on which our governing institutions depend for maintaining public trust and legitimacy.

In Wisconsin and elsewhere around the country, public officials are steadfastly refusing to answer basic questions about their official conduct from the people’s elected representatives. These are not salacious questions about their personal conduct, or fishing expeditions designed to stir up political scandal. Legislators are merely seeking to better understand how appointed bureaucrats and elected officials administered the 2020 elections amidst a pandemic and an unprecedented, and in many cases unlawful, infusion of private monies into public election offices.

Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, for instance, has sued to block a legislative subpoena seeking voter information as part of an investigation of the state’s voter registration system, known as SURE. Even though there is ample precedent for disclosing this type of information, the AG’s lawsuit argues that it would violate citizens’ right to privacy, as though allowing lawmakers to access government records would automatically compromise the security of that information.

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Republican Legislators Introduce Accountability Bills for Arizona’s School Boards

A Republican State Senator wants partisan school board elections in Arizona, which she says will encourage accountability. 

“It’s more to make a statement about the process,” State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita (R-Scottsdale) told The Arizona Sun Times. “Right now the process for electing school boards lacks in the accountability and transparency department. Candidates don’t have to be accountable to a party. Voters don’t have a clear understanding of the political lens these candidates are going to be basing decisions on.”

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Congress Wants to Make Big Tech Responsible for Online Speech

Person on space gray iPhone

While there is agreement between large factions of both Republicans and Democrats that social media companies should be liable for certain third-party content hosted on their platforms, the parties differ on what that content should be, and why platforms should be liable in the first place.

Congress appeared no closer to finding common ground following a House Energy and Commerce hearing Wednesday, in which lawmakers considered several bills seeking to reform Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

“Wednesday’s hearing made clear that Republicans and Democrats have drastically different solutions to hold Big Tech accountable,” Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who serves as Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Republicans are fighting for free speech, while Democrats continue to push for more censorship and control. Bipartisanship will not be possible until Democrats agree that we need less censorship, not more.”

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‘It’s a Felony:’ A New Lawsuit, with Video Evidence, Alleges Delaware County, Pennsylvania Election Officials Destroyed Voting Records

A lawsuit alleging multiple violations of federal and state election laws as well as Pennsylvania’s “Right to Know” statute was filed in Pennsylvania Wednesday night, according to sources familiar with the litigation.

In early 2021, a whistleblower working for the Delaware County Bureau of Elections began inquiring why it was apparent to her that multiple documents pertaining to the Nov. 3, 2020 elections were being destroyed in the southeastern Pennsylvania county, the sources said. The name of the whistleblower has not yet been made public.

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‘Hard to Know Where Pandemic Relief Money Went,’ Admits Federal Spending Watchdog

Woman in mask in the dark looking at computer screen

This week’s Golden Horseshoe goes to a broad sweep of federal agencies for a systemic lack of transparency that is hampering efforts to monitor many billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief spending, according to a report by the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.

The PRAC was established in 2020 by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to “promote transparency and conduct and support oversight” of more than $5 trillion in pandemic relief funds.

In a report released Wednesday, the watchdog details its difficulty in determining how funds are being spent due to federal agencies’ poor reporting on the government spending website, USAspending.gov.

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Surveys: 46 Million People Can’t Afford Health Care, Majority of Hospitals Not Providing Pricing Transparency

Assorted color syringes.

An estimated 46 million people — or 18% of the country — would be unable to pay for health care if they needed it today, a recent poll conducted by Gallup and West Health found.

In another survey by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, the majority of hospitals in the U.S. have yet to comply with a transparency ruling implemented this year that would help patients shop around for the most affordable prices.

Gallup’s findings are based on a poll conducted between February 15 and 21 among 3,753 adults with a margin of error of 2%.

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Michigan Business Groups Oppose Some House Health Care Reform Bills

A health care reform package the House passed Wednesday is creating a rift between the state’s business groups and the GOP.

Michigan business leaders formed a new Michigan Affordable Healthcare Coalition that aims to reduce health care costs without raising costs on small businesses.

In a Thursday afternoon press conference, business leaders voiced opposition to House bills 4346 and 4354, claiming they would raise health insurance premiums that are already a heavy burden for many businesses.

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Whitmer Faces Bipartisan Criticism over Lack of Transparency

Embattled Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), who faced backlash for her overbearing COVID-19 shutdown orders, and who is now facing scrutiny for her COVID-19 nursing home policies, has a new issue to contend with: growing calls for transparency from her administration. 

“Michigan is not just out of the mainstream. We’re out of the universe, basically, on limiting the access for our citizens to better know how its government works,” state Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) told Michigan Live.

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Rep. Green Introduces Bill to Open Federal Reserve Board Meetings Once More

U.S. Rep. Dr. Mark Green wants the governing board of the Federal Reserve to resume meeting in public to comply with the Sunshine Act.

The CARES Act has allowed the board of governors to meet in secret for the most part, Green said. So, he and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) this week introduced the Federal Reserve Sunshine Act, HR 8007, to make the board transparent once again.

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Guest Host Ben Cunningham and Laura Baigert Discuss the Media’s Glorification of Protesters and the Need for Government Transparency

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Kevin and Laura Baigert to the studio.

During the third hour, Cunningham and the Baigerts discussed the protesters at Legislative Plaza who broke their deal with the Tennessee Highway Patrol yet manage to be fawned over by media outlets. The Baigerts added that there is now a large class of people whose job is of political theater by provoking the police and manipulating the news media.

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The Tennessee Star Report: Which Republicans Have Called for a Meeting of the House GOP Caucus?

  On Thursday morning’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – the duo spoke about the recent call for a meeting of the Tennessee Republican House Caucus to discuss the controversies surrounding House Speaker Glen Casada. Later on in the segment, the team discussed how this was just another attempt at a Democratic induced “scandal” to remove Casada based solely on inappropriate text messages sent before he became Speaker and unproven allegations of bad conduct.  The men agreed that the caucus should be held openly so that the truth would be heard by the public. Here is the transcript from the show: Gill: Alright, the poll is open and voters are flocking to Tennessee Star on Facebook to cast their votes. The poll question of the day, very easy. Should the Republican House caucus meeting Monday to discuss the future of Glen Casada be open to the public? Is there support? Is there the base to pull him off the speakership? To pull him out of the House all together to expel him? And again, what are the charges? What has he…

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Commentary: Trump Picks the Right Fight With Pelosi and Schumer

by George Rasley   Yesterday, President Trump surprised White House reporters by calling them into the Oval Office conversation with Democrats that was originally designated as closed to the press. During the debate, both House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer protested that it was taking place on camera. “Let’s debate in private,” said the Senate’s Democratic Minority Leader Senator Charles Schumer of New York after President Trump opened his meeting on border security to the media. “We came in here in good faith and we’re entering into this kind of a discussion in the public view,” said a very unhappy soon-to-be Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi of California. “I don’t think you should have a debate in front of the press,” she said. “But it’s not bad, Nancy. It’s called transparency,” said a very happy President Donald J. Trump. Yesterday’s meeting between President Trump, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was an awesome display of how Trump can win the battle for the Wall, simply by sticking to his guns. Naturally, the establishment media would like to convince you and the rest of America that Trump is being unreasonable, but…

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