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CD200: How to End Legal Bribes

Congressional Dish

Release Date: 07/14/2019

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Congressional Dish

Rep. Alcee Hastings: We just lost a good one. As we thank CD producers in this bonus thank you episode, we flashback to our favorite Alcee moment, learn why Bill Gates is a monster, ponder what the dingleberry method could be used for in 2021, hear apologies for various Thank You episode ramblings, and air our first producer voicemail!

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Congressional Dish

In mid-February 2021, a not-as-rare-as-it-used-to-be winter storm swept across the country, causing massive power outages in the state of Texas with deadly consequences. In this episode, hear the highlights of the congressional investigation into the causes of the extended power outages. They were foreseeable, and in fact foreseen, and similar power outages can be prevented; the only question is whether they will be.

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Congressional Dish

Rep. Matt Gaetz is accused of sex trafficking. In this episode, we look at the trustworthiness of the allegations before turning our attention to another powerful member of Congress whose selfish actions are far easier to prove. Jen then thanks the wonderful producers who make Congressional Dish possible.

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Congressional Dish

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Coronabus both enacted laws aiming to stop China from advancing their Belt and Road economic system that may soon be able to compete with the "rules based international order", which the United States has been leading the implementation of since the end of WWII. In this episode, learn about the NDAA's most significant changes, including a new U.S. military build up in China's neighborhood: The Pacific Deterrence Initiative.

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Congressional Dish

The 2021 hits just keep on coming. In this episode, learn about a wonderful soul who left this Earth far too young before Jen thanks Congressional Dish producers. Also in this episode is a request for producer opinions about how to present our Congressional Dish episodes to the public in the future, an update on the state of the firing wave, and the most absurd Congressional Dish pink slip of all time.

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Congressional Dish

We are in the process of regime changing Belarus. In this episode, I prove it.

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Congressional Dish

Donald Trump was acquitted of "Incitement of Insurrection" at the end of his second impeachment trial. Many seem to think this result was inevitable, but that wasn't the case. In this episode, by examining the evidence and how it was presented by the House Impeachment Managers, learn how the trial could have been structured to provide the possibility of a different outcome.

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Congressional Dish

After an introduction to Sludge, a fantastic independent journalism outlet that investigates Congress, Jen thanks all the producers who make Congressional Dish possible.

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Congressional Dish

The 116th Congress finished their reign by passing every section of government funding into law with COVID relief attached. In this episode, learn about the new COVID relief law after you hear about a surprise dingleberry that promises to end surprise medical billing in the United States. That's right! Something good happened! Find out in this episode how the new provisions will positively affect you.

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Congressional Dish

On a sad day, Jen provides some follow up to past episodes including correcting a possible mistake about the capitol storm story, an update on the congressional COVID count, and we get a confirmation on a suspicion we had about Google rigging their search results to favor corporate news sources. After the updates, Jen thanks all the wonderful souls who produce Congressional Dish.

More Episodes

The currently legal ability of obscenely rich people to bribe lawmakers and law enforcers is the source of many - if not all - of our political problems. In this episode, get an update on the few democracy-enhancing bills that have moved in this Congress and Jen speaks to Sam Fieldman - the National Counsel at Wolf-PAC - who explains how we can constitutionally end the role of money in politics by going around Congress.

Joe Briney joins Jen for the thank you's.

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Bill Outline

H.R. 2722: SAFE Act

Sponsor: Zoe Lofgren of northern California
74 pages

Passed the House on June 27, 2019 225-184

  • Only GOP yes: Newbie Rep. Brian Mast - 38 year old wounded Afghanistan war veteran representing the Palm Beach area

Went to the Committee on Rules and Administration in the Senate

Title 1: Financial Support for Election Infrastructure

Subtitle A: Voting System Security Improvement Grants

Sec. 102: Paper ballot requirements

  • “The voting system shall require the use of an individual, durable, voter-verified paper ballot of the voters’ vote that shall be marked and made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter’s vote is cast and counted, which shall be counted by hand or read by an optical character recognition device or other counting device."
  • “The voting system shall provide the voter with an opportunity to correct any error on the paper ballot…”
  • Recounts: The paper ballot “shall constitute the official ballot and shall be preserved and used as the official ballot for purposes any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office in which the voting system is used.”

Sec. 104: Durability and readability requirements for ballots

  • Ballots must be on “durable” paper, which means it is capable of withstanding multiple recounts by hand without compromising the fundamental integrity of the ballots” and they must maintain readability for 22 months.

Sec. 105: Recycled Paper

  • Ballots must be printed on recycled paper starting on January 1, 2021.

Sec. 107: These rules will apply “for any election for Federal office held in 2020 or any succeeding year.”

  • Grandfathered equipment: Districts using machines that print paper ballots with the votes already tallied can use those machines until 2022, but they must offer every voter the opportunity to vote using a blank paper ballot, which are not allowed to be designated as provisional.

Sec. 111:Grants for equipment changes

  • Federal tax money will be given to states to replace their voting system, if needed.
  • Grant amount: At least $1 per the average number of people who voted in the last two elections
  • To use these grants, the states can only buy voting equipment from a vendor “owned and controlled by a citizen or permanent resident of the United States”
  • The vendor must tell government officials if they get any part of their election infrastructure parts from outside the United States
  • Authorizes (but doesn’t appropriate) $600 million for 2019 and $175 million for each even number election year through 2026

Subtitle B:Risk-Limiting Audits

Sec. 121: Risk-limited audits required for all elections for Federal office

  • State election officials will make the rules for how these will be done

Sec. 122: Federal government will pay for audits

  • Authorizes “such sums as are necessary”

Title II: Promoting Cybersecurity Through Improvements in Election Administration

Sec. 201: Voting system cybersecurity requirements

  • Vote counting machine rules

    • Machines that count ballots must be built so that "it’s mechanically impossible for the device to add or change the vote selections on a printed or market ballot”
    • The device must be “capable of exporting its data (including vote tally data sets and cast vote records) in a machine-readable, open data standards format”
    • The device’s software’s source code, system build tools, and compilation parameters must be given to certain Federal and State regulators and “may be shared by any entity to whom it has been provided… with independent experts for cybersecurity analysis.”
    • The devise must have technology that allows “election officials, cybersecurity researchers, and voters to verify that the software running on the device was built from a specific, untampered version of the code” that was provided to Federal and State regulators.
    • Loophole for moles: The Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security can waive any of the requirements other than the first one that prohibits machines that can change votes. The waivers can be applied to a device for no more than two years. The waivers must be publicly available on the Internet.
    • Not effective until November 2024 election.
  • Ballot marking machines and vote counters can’t use or “be accessible by any wireless, power-line, or concealed communication device” or “connected to the Internet or any non-local computer system via telephone or other communication network at any time.”

    • Effective for the 2020 general election and all elections after
  • Ballot marking devices can’t be capable of counting votes

    • States may submit applications to Federal regulators for testing and certification the accuracy of ballot marking machines, but they don’t have to.

Sec. 202: Testing of existing voting systems

  • 9 months before each regularly scheduled general election for Federal offices, “accredited laboratories” will test the voting system hardware and software with was certified for use in the most recent election. If the hardware and software fails the test, it “shall” be decertified.
  • Effective for the 2020 General Election.

Sec. 203: Requiring use of software and hardware for which information is disclosed by manufacturer

  • “In the operation of voting systems in an election for Federal office, a State may only use software for which the manufacturer makes the source code… publicly available online under a license that grants a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, sub-licensable license to all intellectual property rights in such source code…."
    • …except that the manufacturer may prohibit people from using the software for commercial advantage or “private monetary compensation” that is unrelated to doing legitimate research.
  • States “may not use a voting system in an election for Federal office unless the manufacture of the system publicly discloses online the identification of the hardware used to operate the system”
    • If the voting system is not widely-used, the manufacture must make the design “publicly available online under a license that grants a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, perpetual, sub-licensable license to all intellectual property rights…”
  • Effective for the 2020 General election

Sec. 204: Poll books will be counted as part of voting systems for these regulations

  • Effective January 1, 2020

Title III: Use of voting machines manufactured in the United States

Sec. 301: Voting machines must be manufactured in the United States

HR 391: White House Ethics Transparency Act of 2019

Pdf of the bill

Reported June 12, 2019 out of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform 23-16

On January 28, 2017 - a week after taking office - President Trump issued an executive order that requires all executive agency appointees to sign and be contractually obligated to a pledge that…

  • The appointee won’t lobby his/her former agency for 5 years after leaving
  • Will not lobby the administration he/she previously worked for
  • Will not, after leaving government, “engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which, were it undertaken on January 20, 2017, would require me to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938”
  • Will not accept gifts from registered lobbyists
  • Will recuse themselves from any matter involving their former employers for two years from the date of their appointment
  • If the appointee was a lobbyist before entering government, that person will not work on any matter that they had lobbied for for 2 years after the appointment

BUT Section 3 allows waivers: “The President or his designee may grant to any person a waiver of any restrictions contained in the pledge signed by such person.”

Sec. 2: Requires any executive branch official who gets a waiver to submit a written copy to the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and make a written copy of the waiver available to the public on the website of the agency where the appointee works.

  • Backdated to January 20, 2017 (President Trump’s inauguration)

H.R. 745: Executive Branch Comprehensive Ethics Enforcement Act of 2019

Reported March 26, 2019 out of the Committee on Oversight and Reform 18-12

Pdf of the bill 

Sec. 2: Creates a transition ethics program

  • Requires the President-elect to give Congress a list of everyone in consideration for security clearance within 10 days of the applications submission and a list of everyone granted security clearance within 10 days of their approval.
  • Requires the transition team to create and enforce an “ethics plan” that needs to describe the role of registered lobbyists on the transition team, the role of people registered as foreign agents, and which transition team members of sources of income which are not known by the public
  • Transition team members must be prohibited by the ethics plan from working on matters where they have “personal financial conflicts of interest” during the transition and explain how they plan to address those conflicts of interest during the incoming administration.
  • The transition team ethics plan must be publicly avail on the website of the General Services Administration
  • Transition team members need to submit a list of all positions they have held outside the Federal Government for the previous 12 months -including paid and unpaid positions-, all sources of compensation that exceed $5,000 in the previous 12 months, and a list of policy issues worked on in their previous roles, a list of issues the team member will be recused from as part of the administration.
  • Transition team members that do not comply will not be granted any access to the Federal department or agency that isn’t open to the public.

S. 195 : Creates a transition ethics program: Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act

Pdf of the bill  

Reported 4/10/19 out of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. On Senate Calendar

Sec. 2: Definitions

  • “Congressionally mandated report” means a report that is required to be submitted to Congress by a bill, resolution, or conference report that becomes law.
    • Does NOT include reports required from 92 nonprofit corporations labeled as “Patriotic and National Organizations” (“Title 36 corporations”)

Sec. 3: Website for reports

  • 1 year after enactment, there needs to be a website “that allows the public to obtain electronic copies of all congressionally mandated reports in one place”
  • If a Federal agency fails to submit a report, the website will tell us the information that is required by law and the date when the report was supposed to be submitted
  • The government can’t charge a fee for access to the reports
  • The reports can be redacted by the Federal agencies



Sound Clip Sources

Watch on C-Span: House floor debate on HR 2722 June 27,2019

sound clip transcripts pdf

Watch on C-Span: William Barr Testifies on Mueller Report Before Senate Judiciary Committee May 1, 2019

  • 1:57:55 Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): For the last two years, Senator Lankford and I, on a bipartisan bill with support from the ranking and the head of the intelligence committee; have been trying to get the Secure Elections Act passed. This would require backup paper ballots. If anyone gets federal funding for an election, it would require audits, um, and it would require better cooperation. Yet the White House, just as we were on the verge of getting a markup in the rules committee (getting it to the floor where I think we would get the vast majority of senators), the White House made calls to stop this. Were you aware of that?
  • Attorney General William Barr: No.
  • Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): Okay, well that happened. So what I would like to know from you as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer if you will work with Senator Lankford and I to get this bill done? Because otherwise we are not going to have any clout to get backup paper ballots if something goes wrong in this election.
  • Attorney General William Barr: Well, I will… I will work with you, uh, to, uh, enhance the security of our election and I’ll take a look at what you’re proposing. I’m not familiar with it.
  • Sen. Amy Klocuchar (MN): Okay. Well, it is the bipartisan bill. It has Senator Burr and Senator Warner. It’s support from Senator Graham was on the bill. Senator Harris is on the bill and the leads are Senator Lankford and myself, and it had significant support in the house as well.

Hearing: Committee on Oversight and Reform:Strengthening Ethics Rules for the Executive Branch, February 6, 2019

Watch on Youtube

  • *28:00 Rep Jordan (OH): 2013 we learned that the IRS targeted conservative for their political beliefs during the 2012 election cycle systematically for a sustained period of time. They went after people for their conservative beliefs, plan in place, targeted people. They did it. The gross abuse of power would have continued, if not for the efforts of this committee. 2014 the Obama Administration doubled down and attempted to use the IRS rule making process to gut the ability of social welfare organizations to participate in public debate. Congress has so far prevented this regulation from going into effect, but HR 1 would change that.

Hearing: Judiciary Committee For The People Act Of 2019, January 29, 2019 


  • Sherrilyn Ifill - President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Watch on YouTube

  • 32:00 Sherrilyn Ifill: Well before the midterm election, in fact, Georgia officials began placing additional burdens on voters, particularly black and Latino voters, by closing precincts and purging. Over half a million people from the voter rolls the voter purge, which removed 107,000 people, simply because they did not vote in previous elections and respond to a mailing was overseen by the Republican candidate for governor Brian Kemp, who was also the secretary of state. LDF and a chorus of others called on him to recuse himself from participating in the election. But he refused. 


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Music Presented in This Episode

Intro & Exit: Tired of Being Lied To by David Ippolito (found on Music Alley by mevio)