Trump’s book touting draws hypocritical complaint
The Center for Responsive Politics, normally a campaign finance reform advocacy group that supports taxpayer-funded political campaigns, accused President Trump of violating an ethics rule that applies to federal workers but not to the president. Trump drew CRP’s ire by suggesting in a Tweet that a book by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr., Cop Under Fire, was “a great book by a great guy.” CRP conveniently forgot that President Obama touted dozens of titles during his presidency including The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead and Sapiens by Yuval Harari during a September 3, 2016, interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.
Court: First Amendment doesn’t shield fly-by-night schools
The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the First Amendment doesn’t protect private religious colleges from an Illinois certification rule that requires all colleges—public and private alike—to meet educational standards in order to confer a degree to a student. A consortium of bible colleges claimed the Illinois rule violated the First Amendment’s “establishment of religion” clause. But the Court held that because the bible schools hadn’t sought certifications there was no reason to believe the state rules would infringe upon their religious beliefs.
Antitrust law doesn’t affect presidential debates
An attempt by third-party presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein to apply antitrust law to the Commission on Presidential Debates collapsed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. There, a three-judge panel affirmed that any perceived injury they may have suffered due to their absence from the 2012 presidential debates was not caused by the Commission but by “media coverage decisions.” Johnson and Stein claimed a pact between the Obama and Romney campaigns kept them out of the debates, and called it an unlawful agreement to monopolize and restrain competition in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Al-Awlaki disciple arrested on terrorism charges
Parveg Ahmed, 22, a U.S. citizen who resides in Queens, N.Y., was arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to the radical Islamic terrorism cult known as ISIS, the Department of Justice said. Ahmed, according to charges lodged against him, traveled to Saudi Arabia in June to celebrate an Islamic holiday, but instead attempted to travel to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. A search of Ahmed’s computer revealed he viewed or listened to recordings of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born radical Islamic cleric who was killed in a 2011 drone strike in Yemen.
California judge disallows tax-funded elections
A county judge struck down the California Legislature’s circumvention of a voter-approved initiative that bans the use of taxpayer money to finance political campaigns. The lawsuit pitted rival political heavyweights against each other—with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and former State Sen. Quentin Kopp who opposed allowing politicians to feed their campaigns with tax funds on one side, and Gov. Jerry Brown and the Fair Campaign Practices Commission who favored allowing politicians to raid the state’s coffers. The Center for Competitive Politics participated in the lawsuit.
County doles out taxpayer cash to religious ministry
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to remind the Yakima Valley Conference of Governments, a county-level association of communities and Indian tribes in Washington State’s Yakima County, that it is illegal to finance a religious ministry with taxpayer funds. FFRF said the Council has provided more than $400,000 to operate a homeless shelter which is dedicated to religious proselytizing and promoting Christian theology. The letter points out that using taxpayer funds to promote religion is prohibited by the First Amendment’s “establishment of religion” clause as well as by the Washington State Constitution.
Rip ‘n Read is a daily compilation of press releases found on hundreds of websites that are maintained by the federal government, think tanks, watchdog groups and national advocacy organizations. Press releases selected for this feature are, in the opinion of the editor, exceptionally newsworthy, interesting or just plain curious.
The press releases and documents linked to this report were posted on their websites on Tuesday, August 29