SocraticGadfly: Jill Stein is still 'recounting' while getting less transparent

May 30, 2018

Jill Stein is still 'recounting' while getting less transparent

Update, Nov. 28, 2018: I owe Jill Stein a partial apology. While I still think both transparency and administration of her recount fundraising and the work it funded could have been better, it has now gotten results.

From a legal settlement, Pennsylvania is going to paper ballots in 2020, followed by automatic audits in 2022.

Hey, it's only 18 months after the 2016 presidential election.

Remember the recount that Jill Stein asked for in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

Remember how she pledged to have a plebiscite on how to distribute any leftover funds?

Well, per the Daily Beast, she's still "recounting," she's gone dark on transparency about reporting to the feds and other things what she's doing with that, and in addition to what he made as her campaign manager, David Cobb has been raking $7,500 a month as her recount legal czar or whatever.

And, no, I don't assume that's the only legal work he's done during this time. As for what he does to earn that money, he wouldn't tell the author:
Well, that's nice.

The feds are concerned enough about not reporting to the FEC since last September that they've given her an official threat:
In a May 7, 2018 letter, the FEC warned Stein campaign treasurer Steven Welzer that he was violating federal law by not accounting for half a year of spending. 
“The failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, suspension of matching funds, an audit or legal enforcement action,” the letter states, noting there is no grace period.
Seems pretty straightforward.

As does this:
As the Center for Responsive Politics has noted, U.S. law dictates that funds raised for a recount “only go toward expenses directly related to the recount, such as paying state staff that counts the votes or any other administrative or overhead payments, as well as post-election litigation.”
If that group's name is unfamiliar, this should be — the Center for Responsive Politics runs the well-known, widely-respected Open Secrets campaign finance website.

The House Intell Committee hauling her up on Russophobia was stupid. Her getting an FEC audit would be an actual black eye.

Some people try to say this about continuing the now non-recount:
But David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says there is good reason to keep fighting. An expert on election security, he provided technical support and guidance during the initial recount effort. 
“It absolutely was not a Stein campaign cash grab,” he told The Daily Beast. And while examining voting machines and their source code may not change the result of the last election — Stein’s attorneys would quickly note they are not trying to — it could help secure the next one, Jefferson argued. It is about transparency. 
“To be perfectly clear, we never really had any evidence [of vote hacking],” he said. “The point we have always been making is that you have to look. You have to check. You don’t just accept the results of complex software, especially proprietary software. You don’t just trust it.”
This ignores what the Center for Responsive Politics said — this doesn't count as a recount and needs to stop. (Jefferson tried to sell Clinton on a recount.)

In my opinion, the Green Party Executive Committee, which rejected backing her recount, needs to take follow-up action in an official statement of some sort. Some sort of distancing statement. But, it may not, as six months later, it said it supported it. (eyeroll)

Now, it is true, as I updated here, that she couldn't recount New Hampshire and Minnesota, as far as the ex comm claiming politics. (Hillary Clinton could have recounted New Hampshire, and I am guessing the law was changed there to block a repeat of Nader's 2004 recount.) However, the other information, on margins of victory, etc., still stand true, as does the fact that, at the time of the recounts, Stein never cited Minnesota or New Hampshire law herself as a reason she couldn't get recounts there. So, I still see it as part of apparent "lesser evilism," which falls in line with claims she was willing to step aside if Bernie could be persuaded to stand for the Green nomination.

On the Cobb deal, he's not the only staffer from her 2016 campaign to be on the recount payroll, another eye-raiser; her campaign's director of operations, Kendall Ferguson, is hauling in about as much, per the last FEC filing. Former press director Meleiza Figueroa is getting a few dinero, and campaign information director Matthew Kozlowski is raking more than Cobb! But, not a surprise; a year ago, I noted that Cobb, Bob Fitrakis and other lawyers got more than 20 percent of the funds raised; I'm sure we're past 30 percent just on insider lawyers now, and probably at more than 50 percent to old campaign staff.

In a June 5 brief update, Davis has crunched some more pay numbers, beyond what I did in the original post here, as somebody from Stein must have seen his first piece and done a new FEC filing.
"The delay in our latest filing is due to the fact that we have had to revise our reports as a routine part of the audit process that automatically follows the use of clean money public campaign finance matching funds," Stein campaign communications director Dave Schwab said in a statement. "This is a difficult, labor-intensive process that has taken our compliance team months of work to prepare."
Sure. Amazing that you caught up on seven months of filing, plus your 2017 year-end, all at once, and within a week of the original story.

Also, Davis finally gotten a comment from Cobb trying to justify his existence. And the $7,500 a month he continues to rake. The pay of him and Kozlowski is half the total month burn rate of the non-recount effort.

Schwab still says a vote will be taken in the future of how to distribute remaining money. Well, you're below $800K; only the suckers are holding their breath, though many suckers exist on this issue.

This, this money laundering by other means, and expectation of this, as well as my disagreement with most of the premises of the recount, is why I never gave her any money. I rejected most of her claims about faulty computers. That includes, as TDB notes, that she appears to want to try to have it both ways on "Putin Did It." But, setting that whole issue aside, I rejected the claims of Michigan State computer science prof Alex Halderman.

That said, it is interesting that, while campaign manager Cobb and others are still raking, old campaign chairwoman Gloria Mattera is not associated.

I mean, this recount was so serious that the doppelganger of Greg Palast, the famous Greg AtLast, started his own investigation, and later discussed it in detail. He did not get $7,500 a month, though.

As for the money? Supposedly, some donations have been returned. But Stein's own recount webpage has no line item for that. As for Greens who claim friends have gotten refunds from Stein? Those are nice anecdotes, but again, nothing listed on the recount website. Nor did she promise that. She did promise a plebiscite or whatever on how to disburse any remaining money. Never promised refunds. And, given Schwab's claim that a vote will be held in the future? Those claiming refunds? There's a word for anecdotes that remain unconfirmed and where at least indirect evidence argues that they're untrue.

This too has made me realize that for many Greens (perhaps more than the average of all humans) a sample of n = 1 is to them actual evidence and not anecdote. Or, given that refunds were never promised, that a simple claim of n = 1 is evidence.

That said, is Charlie Davis, the author of the piece, a Hillbot in lockstep with his employer? I doubt it, but, that doesn't mean he's "all right," beyond the scope of this particular piece.

First, per his Daily Beast pieces, he did criticize unnamed members of "the left" over Syria in 2016, right around political conventions time, so the answer is ... maybe, right there. That said, he's also written for In These Times. And, In These Times as a site gave some positive coverage to Stein. It even ran a piece by Cobb.

That doesn't mean that Charles Davis feels that way ... and per his personal website, he almost certainly is more aligned with DB than with In These Times. He also likes to strawman leftists, again in relation to interventionism both on his own website where he claims to see a leftist new McCarthyism and at Daily Beast. When not strawmanning, he's disparaging, and claims "Assad did it" in Ghouta, or in Khan Sheikhyoun, both of which almost certainly are wrong. (He takes whacks at Max Blumenthal in that new McCarthyism piece, and called Sy Hersh a conspiracy theorist over his Pentagon + Turkey claims but hasn't even touched him on Syria — or Ted Postal, or Robert Fisk. And Fisk, if anything, may be harsher on the White Helmets than Blumenthal. And, there's only one other group of people besides liberals who strawman leftists on Syria — that's Trots, and I'm pretty sure Davis is not one of those. The liberal + Trot mix usually claim we leftists normalize Assad, which is again simply not true. Indeed, a day later, Fisk's newest piece notes how Assad is starting to practice what we could call "opposition cleansing.")

Also, he's kind of touchy at even the insinuation that factual evidence might be used to stuff Stein down. And referencing a 2015 interview with Stein, before it became clear per that summer 2016 piece at Daily Beast, that Clinton didn't have close to a cakewalk, proves little, Mr. Davis.

And, I wouldn't have semi-rhetorically told him on Twitter, in essence, "it may not be a hit piece but ... " if I hadn't already looked at his background.

I moved this information up the page so that Greens can't say I'm blind to some of his background. Anyway, I have found factual information at places like National Review and the New York Post. And, I'm not so much a conspiracy theorist to believe Daily Beast made up quotes in this piece. But yet, many Greens — including the many who still don't get that Stein, not the GP, pushed the recount — can't accept that.

In short, overall, the article was quite fair. It was also helpful, in a Green-related Facebook group, for showing the contortions in which some Greens will engage. Hey, Greens, this is just like Berniecrats having problems with Hillary Clinton but not necessarily with the Democratic Party as a whole.

(And, reactions illustrate that those who overestimate their political knowledge are more likely to engage in conspiracy theories. More here, in a piece linked at that original, which also shows that conspiracy theories generally aren't driven by ideology but by losing. Especially in the US, with its strong-president system and first-past-the-post Congressional system, this means third parties probably should have more conspiracy thinkers than Republicans or Democrats. So, Libertarians?)

It actually, on who individually was raking, could have had the additional detail I provided, though Davis did do more of a breakout on the second piece. I'm still curious as to why DB thought it needed to be that long as it is after Davis pitched it. I'm also curious if DB was his first target or not. Appearing on, say, The Intercept, a few Greens might have found it allegedly less biased. However, many others would have found reasons to attack The Intercept.

What's behind this, anyway? That is, what's behind the extended recount/non-recount?

Stein has an endgame, I'm thinking.

As noted, this is not a recount. It's purportedly about voting integrity. If Stein wants to create a PAC or think tank to address this, fine. (I wouldn't give her money for that, either, as there are much better people for this than her advisors. And, I'm not alone. Look three paragraphs below.)

And, in fact, she may have. 

Frankly, I think there's some other end game here. I wouldn't be surprised if Stein pulls a Bernie Sanders and starts an Our Revolution type group, or a Sanders Institute, or both. Possible proof of that is that her recount page has a link to a new website, Voting Justice.

As for what she would expect to do with such a site, in the future? Mark Lause had her number on this in his end-of-2016 piece about the recount's start:
(T)here are scads of people in numerous government agencies with money bins of resources more than the recount fund-raising goals looking for exactly this sort of thing 24/7.  Does anybody think that they’d find such a thing and keep a lid on it to be nice to the Russians?  And they are competing to find exactly this sort of thing.  So, does anybody think that one of these agencies might find evidence for this and cover it up knowing that a competitor would be following the same chain of evidence? But does anyone seriously think that the recount will uncover what no part of that massive national security apparatus has not? 
Frankly, if anyone seriously thinks that 2016 represents some major departure from the standard of electoral integrity (or lack thereof) characteristic of contemporary voting, they’ve simply not been paying attention.
My thoughts exactly.

Frankly, like Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein needs to go away. (And I like Bill Kreml's take in this Vice piece; he was my preferred Green candidate in 2016.)

And, speaking of that, Charles Davis, do you think Hillary needs to go away? Does Chelsea not need to rise up, herself?

Meanwhile, OpenSecrets also led me to Stein's top 2016 donors among corporations and their PACs. Pretty tech-heavy. Also, how did she miss accepting a donation from Lockheed, unless she returned it later?

And, that Voting Justice site?

DC already has presidential votes. Other countries have similar federal districts, and some of them may also have lack of parliamentary delegates. Otherwise, retrocession to Maryland, not statehood, is the constitutional option on the table now. Puerto Rico has engaged in self-determination. Multiple plebiscites have continually favored its current status, therefore that issue's a simple lie. If voters there want another plebiscite in the future, and opt for statehood, we'll go from there.

Corporate constitutional rights cut both ways, as the likes of Glenn Greenwald have noted. If corporations had zero personhood, they could not, as corporations, be sued or tried. (In Europe, as the VW emissions cheating scandal has show, the German government has basically no way to corporately punish the company.) Finding the right balance, not eliminating this, is the answer.

On voting integrity, I agree with the basics. That said, elections were stolen in the days of paper ballots, too. And, citing and linking to Greg Palast as a "source" on this issue kind of lost me.

And, as for Green Party members? If wanting a better party, and better candidates, is trolling, then fine, I'm a troll.


Update: Per Cobb's belated response to the initial Daily Beast piece, the Ohio problems he claims his 2004 recount fixed have been overblown by many, including Ohio "Green Party" grifter Bob Fitrakis, who reportedly is no longer even a party member.

And, I was unaware until now that New Mexico had a serious problem. Per this report, I can explain one portion of the alleged problem — no undervotes in many precincts — quite easily. New Mexico had straight-ticket voting in 2004. Remember that not all political precincts have anywhere near the same number of voters. With straight-ticket voting in a small precinct, "zero undervotes" is fairly likely.

Other claims aren't as "spooky" as the authors present. It's arguably easier to think about undervoting on a machine than a paper ballot if each race is presented on a separate screen, dealing with the more undervotes on voting machine claims. Their own numbers support that. Precincts with an average of three early votes? I'd be more surprised if 5 percent had zero undervotes than the 36 percent that did. Some issues on the report are of more concern, but, the authors undercut their case with the instances I mentioned.

Update 2: Stein is supposedly using some of the "recount" money for her Putingate legal bills vis a vis Congress. It is all legal, though, as Davis eventually has to admit. But, ethical? Different question. But, a better author than Davis, per my strawmanning observations, would be a better person to ask the next round of actual and rhetorical questions.

1 comment:

PDiddie said...

As Katy Anders recently noted, this seems like a good time to point out that Roseanne Barr won 25% of the Green Party delegates for President back in 2012.