Progressive Briefing for Friday, September 14

15 groups account for nearly all dark money, Trump claim Democrats rigged hurricane death toll, Bezos commits fraction of $163B fortune to help homeless, and more.


Since ‘citizens united,’ just 15 groups account for 75 percent of the $800+ million in dark money spent on US elections

Just 15 groups were responsible for more than 75 percent of dark money political spending from 2010 to 2016, and together poured more than $600 million – out of a total of $800+ million – into campaigns in the wake of the landmark Citizens United case, according to a new analysis from Issue One, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for stricter campaign finance rules.

“Dark money groups hold enormous sway over what issues are, and are not, debated in Congress and on the campaign trail,” the report explains. “But the donors behind these groups rarely discuss their motivations for bankrolling these efforts, leaving the public in the dark about who funds these increasingly prominent and potent organizations.”

Former East Chicago Councilman sentenced to 20yrs in federal prison

After pleading guilty to discharging a firearm in relation to a drug trafficking crime, causing the death of another person, former East Chicago Councilman Robert Battle was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison followed by 2 years of supervised release. While serving as a Council member, Battle participated in dealing cocaine and marijuana before fatally shooting his supplier in the back.

In April 2015, law enforcement agents began investigating Battle in relation to drug trafficking activities and later received information that Reimundo Camarillo was supplying the sitting East Chicago Councilman with large quantities of drugs. On September 23, 2015, agents conducted a traffic stop as Battle was returning from a drug delivery to Michigan.

FEMA left 20,000 pallets of water bottles on Puerto Rico runway for at least four months

As the federal government prepares for Hurricane Florence this week, alarming photos are raising fresh questions about its response to Hurricane Maria last year.

The photos, first reported by CBS Wednesday after going viral on social media the day before, show potentially millions of water bottles sitting on a runway in Ceiba, Puerto Rico nearly a year after the storm.

In unhinged tweets, Trump claims Democrats rigged hurricane death toll in Puerto Rico

President Trump on Thursday morning accused the Puerto Rican government of lying about the death toll from Hurricane Maria, attributing the recently increased death toll to a conspiracy orchestrated by his political opponents.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico,” Trump tweeted. “When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…”

Federal judge rules against Education Department in student borrower protection cases

After the Trump administration postponed a student borrower protection rule, two students and Democratic attorneys general from 19 states and the District of Columbia challenged the government and won. U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss ruled in favor of the plaintiffs claiming the delaying the “student borrower protection rule was improper and unlawful,” NPR reported.

“This is such an important win for student borrowers and anyone who cares about a government that operates under the rule of law,” Toby Merrill, Harvard Law School’s Project On Predatory Student Lending, said.

The “borrower defense” allows a student attending a college who was misled, or if the school engaged in misconduct, to apply to student loan relief. The rule was put in place in the mid-1990s, but produced very few claims because of its obscurity until the collapse of for-profit Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech when the Obama administration clarified and updated the rule.

After pressuring Seattle to forgo corporate tax to fund affordable housing, Bezos commits fraction of $163B fortune to help homeless

More than a year after he requested proposals from the general public for philanthropic initiatives that he could put a portion of his $163 billion fortune toward, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – the world’s wealthiest person – unveiled the idea he’d come up with: a $2 billion fund to help the homeless and establish a network of schools for low-income communities.

The tech founder’s plan was slammed as amounting to far less than what he could easily afford to do for communities that are struggling, especially after Amazon pressured the city of Seattle out of passing a corporate tax that would have funded affordable housing for the city where the company’s headquarters has contributed to its sky-rocketing home prices – a tax that could have alleviated some of the need for the homeless shelters Bezos’s initiative will help.

Multiple explosions and fires reported across 3 Mass. towns, at least 13 injured

Massachusetts State Police have confirmed officials are responding to 70 house fires, explosions or reports of gas odors – possibly caused by gas leaks – around the towns of Lawrence, Andover and North Andover on Thursday evening.

Officials urged all residents in the area who are Columbia Gas customers to evacuate, “as should anyone else who smells gas.”


If you liked this article, please donate $5 to keep NationofChange online through November.