California Republicans are allegedly setting up fake 'official' drop-off boxes to harvest ballots
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla's office has received complaints about what appear to be unauthorized ballot drop boxes in Los Angeles, Orange, and Fresno counties, and it appears from social media posts that California Republicans have set them up to collect ballots, The Orange County Register reported Sunday night. The metal boxes, which purport to be 'official,' have been reported at local political party offices, churches, and headquarters for GOP candidates. 'Operating unofficial ballot drop boxes — especially those misrepresented as official drop boxes — is not just misleading to voters, it's a violation of state law,' Padilla said, and a felony conviction would land perpetrators in prison for two to four years. County elections officials and registrars are solely empowered to set up and maintain drop boxes in accordance with strict state security rules. The California Republican Party did not respond to the Register's requests for comments, nor did individual GOP operatives who have implicated themselves on social media. But the state GOP has 'been defending the practice in replies on Twitter, alleging the process was made legal under a 2016 law that allows California voters to designate a person to return their ballot for them,' the Register reports. 'The GOP calls the practice 'ballot harvesting' and blames it for losses to the Democrats in OC and other places in 2018.' State officials say unauthorized drop boxes would violate that law since there's no designated person to sign for the ballot, as required. Slate judiciary staff writer Mark Joseph Stern sees something a little more nefarious than just trying to make it more convenient for Republicans to vote. 'California Republicans are allegedly creating fake drop boxes and tricking voters into depositing their ballots in them,' he tweeted. 'Apparently they're trying to prove voter fraud is real by committing actual election fraud.' Republicans in Texas, Ohio, and other states are currently fighting to limit ballot drop boxes to one per county. Republicans in Southern California are trying to win back a slate of congressional seats they lost in the 2018 midterms. And if they are using fake official drop boxes, they are breaking the law, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley said Sunday. 'It would be like me installing a mailbox out on the corner — the post office is the one that installs mailboxes.' Read more at The Orange County Register. Peter Weber
Trump apparently paid 200 times more in taxes to India and the Philippines than U.S. income tax in 2017
President Trump paid no income tax in 11 of the 18 years from 2000 to 1018, The New York Times reported late Sunday, citing copies of tax records it had legally obtained from unidentified sources, but he did pay $750 in both 2016 and 2017. But he did report paying taxes on a number of his overseas ventures, which brought in $73 million in revenue (not profit) in his first two years in the White House, the Times reports. But 'in 2017, the president's $750 contribution to the operations of the U.S. government was dwarfed by the $15,598 he or his companies paid in Panama, the $145,400 in India and the $156,824 in the Philippines.' A Trump organization lawyer pointed out to the Times that Trump did pay more in federal taxes — likely meaning Social Security and Medicare contributions and taxes for his household employees. And the Times notes that Trump 'paid substantial federal income taxes for the first time in his life,' $70.1 million, from 2005 to 2007, when the tax-reducing power of nearly a billion in 1995 losses dried up and he started earning serious money from The Apprentice and related licensing deals — but he recouped most of that money, plus interest, starting in 2010 by taking advantage of an obscure provision of a bill passed after the 2008 financial meltdown. The $72.9 million tax refund Trump eventually secured has been under scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service and the bipartisan Joint Committee on Taxation since 2011, and if the audit finds he cheated — the Times suggests that's at least possible — he could owe the U.S. government more than $100 million. Trump's foreign business entanglements also pose a long list of potential conflicts of interest, both foreign and domestic, and Turkey has been particularly aggressive in wielding its leverage, the Times reports. The good news for Trump is that the records the Times obtained don't 'reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia.' Read more (in depth or in brief) at The New York Times. Peter Weber
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