The National Democratic Redistricting Committee last week “made its first campaign donation: $500,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia to help elect” Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D). “Kelly Ward, NDRC’s executive director, said the organization was monitoring the race and may send more cash if necessary.”
ED-UCATION. Former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (R) “on Wednesday called for criminal justice reform that goes beyond what the GOP-controlled state legislature has so far been willing to embrace, including raising the state’s felony threshold to $500 from $200 and softening marijuana enforcement. … Gillespie also cast his proposals in economic terms, pointing out that the state spends more than $1 billion a year on incarceration.
“While he said he opposes decriminalizing marijuana because it ‘sends the wrong signal’ to young people, Gillespie said he would favor a three-strikes approach for simple possession: The first two arrests would not carry criminal charges, but a third would. … Gillespie also said he supports “limited, tightly regulated” use of marijuana for treatment of some medical conditions. …
“Gillespie also said he would support finding ways to ‘functionally end’ the practice of suspending driver’s licenses when someone fails to pay court costs and legal fees. … He also proposed banning state government from asking job applicants to check a box indicating whether they’ve ever been convicted of a felony but would not move to require the same of private employers.” (Washington Post)
SUNSHINE, BUT NO DAYLIGHT. “[T]here wasn’t much daylight Wednesday between … Gillespie and … Northam … at a downtown forum organized by the James River Association and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The candidates, taking the stage separately at The National theater in staggered sessions … covered sea-level rise, a pair of controversial pipeline projects planned to carve through Virginia, how best to clean up the millions of tons of coal from power generation that sit next to waterways across the state, and their level of commitment to continue cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, among other topics.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
2016 REDUX. Khizr Khan, whose late son was a Gold Star recipient, endorsed Northam. (Blue Virginia)
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The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.
"Hundreds of new and supplemental FARA filings by U.S. lobbyists and public relations firms" have been submitted "since Special Counsel Mueller charged two Trump aides with failing to disclose their lobbying work on behalf of foreign countries. The number of first-time filings ... rose 50 percent to 102 between 2016 and 2017, an NBC News analysis found. The number of supplemental filings, which include details about campaign donations, meetings and phone calls more than doubled from 618 to 1,244 last year as lobbyists scrambled to avoid the same fate as some of Trump's associates and their business partners."