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Iowa Dems could upend caucus tradition, consider letting delegates vote by app or phone

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Iowa Dems could upend caucus tradition, consider letting delegates vote by app or phone

DES MOINES, Iowa — State Democrats here want to let caucus participants phone it in — literally.

Under proposals being considered by Iowa party officials, they want to allow caucus delegates to cast their vote by phone or a smartphone app.

It’s part of sweeping proposals for the first-in-the-nation caucus, an important early step for candidates on both sides of the political aisle vying for the White House.

Iowa party leaders said they want to make the caucus process more accessible and transparent.

“There have been people in the past who have not been able to participate,” said Troy Price, chair for the Iowa Democratic Party. “Folks serving in the military,  shift workers, working parents, who can’t get childcare. We are creating this process that’s going to allow them to participate remotely. We’ve set up six different times that people can participate.”

It would be the most historic changes to the state’s caucus process since its creation in 1972. Iowans would be given various opportunities to vote remotely through a virtual caucus on February 3.

To participate, voters would be able to pre-register and select a date and time to cast their vote for their candidate of choice. Those who participate in the virtual caucus will not be able permitted to caucus in person the day of.

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“These changes are really going to make sure that the Iowa caucuses are the most transparent, inclusive, and accessible caucuses we’ve ever had,” he said.

But some have expressed concerns that voting remotely will have less influence than voting in person on the caucus date because the changes under consideration would limit the weight of those voting remotely to 10 percent of the overall vote, regardless of how many people call in.

“My concern about the proposed changes is that the powers that be in the Democratic Party are taking what is already a complex and confusing process and potentially making it even more complex and confusing,” said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University. “Complexity can breed confusion or sometimes it can solve a problem. At this point, we don’t know which way it will go.”

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For voters like Laura Brelin, she believes the proposed changes means that voting in-person would be the better option.

“If I were volunteering for a candidate, I would hesitate to encourage supporters to do a virtual caucus because it’s more likely that they will have a greater impact if they can be there in person,” she said.

Iowa Democrats State Central Committee and the Democratic National Committee must approve the proposal before they go into effect.

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If approved, Iowa Democratic state leaders are expecting tens of thousands more voters in 2020.

“We’re excited about the changes because we think our democracy works better if everyone has a chance to have their voice heard,” said Price.

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Bernie Sanders’ hiring of non-American campaign advisers may violate federal election laws, complaint says

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New spokeswoman for Bernie Sanders won't be able to vote for him in 2020 -- she's an illegal immigrant

Bernie Sanders was hit a complaint this week, claiming his presidential campaign violated federal election laws by employing non-Americans in advisery positions.

A new complaint by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) notes that three members of the Sanders campaign are foreign nationals, which appears to be a violation of federal election laws that prohibit foreign interference.

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Maria Belén Sisa, Sanders’ deputy national press secretary who joined the campaign last month, was among the staffers named in the complaint, as first reported by the Washington Free Beacon. Sisa claims to be an illegal immigrant whose residency is protected under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama-era program for assisting illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

Sisa recently caused an uproar after invoking an anti-Semitic “dual allegiance” trope of Jewish Americans while defending Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and questioning whether American Jews, including Sanders, were loyal to the United States.

The complaint notes that Sisa not only got a salary from Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, she also contributed money to it and is now serving in “an advisory position” in the 2020 campaign – all of which are “direct and serious violations” of federal election laws.

“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations,” the complaint reads.

“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations.”

— The complaint

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According to the FEC rules, foreign nationals, who aren’t lawfully admitted permanent residents, cannot directly or indirectly participate in political campaigns. Such individuals are also barred from making political contributions.

The complaint also names two other foreign nationals on the Sanders’ 2016 campaign, immigration activists Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, who worked as the campaign’s national Latino outreach strategist and press secretary for Latino outreach, respectively.

“Due to the high profile of Cesar Vargas, Erika Andiola, and Maria Belén Sisa as leading activists in the undocumented community, there is reason to believe that respondents are ‘foreign nationals’ within the meaning of 52 U.S.C. § 301219b)(2), and in violation of 11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (i) and A.O. 2004-26, directly or indirectly participated in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2016,” the complaint continued.

“There is reason to believe, having previously employed Ms. Sisa, that Bernie 2020 is currently, and knowingly, permitting a ‘foreign national’ … to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2020.”

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The complaint calls on the FEC to investigate both the 2016 and the current presidential campaigns and take action to curb the violations.

“The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations,” the complaint read. “Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents’ future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”

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Democrats vow to keep investigating Trump despite Mueller's conclusions, no new indictments

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Congressional Democrats vowed Friday to keep investigating President Trump, his family, and associates despite Special Counsel Robert Mueller wrapping up his Russia investigation with no new indictments.

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‘There needs to be a reckoning’ for those who spread Russia collusion narrative: Mollie Hemingway

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MSNBC’s Chris Matthews livid over Mueller report: ‘How could they let Trump off the hook?’

Those who spent the last two years pushing the narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election need to be held accountable, the Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway argued Friday.

Earlier in the day, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller handed in its report on the Russia investigation to the Department of Justice and it was announced that no new indictments would be forthcoming.

During Friday’s All-Star panel segment on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Hemingway — along with Washington Free Beacon editor-in-chief Matthew Continetti and Reuters White House correspondent Jeff Mason — weighed in on the breaking news that reverberated throughout Washington.

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Hemingway began by noting that the “Russia narrative” predates the Mueller probe, having begun circulating during the 2016 election after the creation of the infamous Clinton campaign-funded Steele dossier, which pushed the theory that then-Republican candidate Donald Trump was a “Russian agent.”

“We have, for the last three years … frequently [witnessed] hysteria about treasonous collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election,” Hemingway told the panel. “The fact [is] that there are no more indictments coming and the fact [is] that all of the indictments that we’ve seen thus far have been for process crimes or things unrelated to what we were told by so many people in the media was ‘treasonous collusion’ to steal the 2016 election.”

“If there is nothing there that matches what we’ve heard from the media for many years, there needs to be a reckoning and the people who spread this theory both inside and outside the government who were not critical and who did not behave appropriately need to be held accountable,” she added.

“The people who spread this theory both inside and outside the government … and who did not behave appropriately need to be held accountable.”

— Mollie Hemingway, senior editor, the Federalist

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Mason told the panel that there’s likely “some relief” in the White House, particularly from Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and top adviser. And while he insisted it was “too early” to draw major conclusions, he later added that those who attacked Mueller’s credibility throughout his investigation will have to walk back their hostility if he concludes that there was no collusion, including President Trump.

Meanwhile, Continetti suggested that the Mueller report could be the “greatest anticlimax in American history,” and that the entire investigation could be “for nothing” because it was “an investigation without a crime.” He did, however, insist that the “battle will continue” as the White House will fight Congress on transparency of the Mueller findings.

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