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About NH Labor News

The New Hampshire Labor News is a group of NH Workers who believe that we need to protect ourselves against the attacks on workers. We are proud union members who are working to preserve the middle class. The NHLN talks mostly about news and politics from NH. We also talk about national issues that effect working men and women here in the Granite State.

15 Civil and Human Rights Leaders Urge Nissan to Allow Workers to Organize Through a Free and Fair Election

WASHINGTON— Today, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with 14 national civil rights leaders, sent a letter to José Muñoz, chairman of Nissan North America, urging him to allow the workers of their Canton, Mississippi plant to organize a local union through a free and fair election.

The Nissan plant in Canton, and two plants in Tennessee, are the only Nissan plants in the world without unions and meaningful employee representation. The organizations noted that Nissan has engaged in a potentially unlawful anti-union campaign at the Canton facility, where a majority of the workforce is African American. Nissan touts the Altima as the top-selling vehicle in the nation amongst African Americans.

“Labor rights are economic rights, and economic rights are civil rights,” said Vanita Gupta. “The history of the civil rights movement is deeply tied to the labor movement and we are proud to stand with workers who simply want to exercise their right to pursue union representation. There is nothing more fundamental to economic justice then the right of workers to organize.”

The text of the letter is below and is also available here.

Dear Mr. Muñoz:

We, the undersigned supporters of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), write to you in your role overseeing Nissan’s operations in the United States, including the company’s assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi, where a majority of the workforce is African American. Our organizations are committed to the protection and advancement of civil and human rights, which includes support for principles of free association and the right of workers to organize.[i]

We are writing to you today regarding the effort of the workers of the Canton, Mississippi plant to organize a local union through a free and fair election.

As you know, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has found that Nissan in Canton has “threatened its employees with termination because of their union activities … interrogated its employees about their union support … [and] threatened its employees with plant closure if they choose the union as their representative.”[ii] We are deeply troubled to learn that since the filing of a July 10 election petition for representation, Nissan has escalated its anti-union campaign and continued its troubling, potentially unlawful pattern of activity at the Nissan plant.

Furthermore, you are aware that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations finding that Nissan has not provided “a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”[iii]

Finally, you know that the Nissan plant in Canton — and two plants in Tennessee — are the only Nissan plants in the world that do not have unions and meaningful employee representation. Union membership boosts wages for working people, which is particularly important for people of color and women, whose wages typically lag behind the wages of white, non-Hispanic men.

As leaders in the U.S. civil rights movement, this situation is of grave concern to us. Each year, Nissan touts the Altima as the top-selling vehicle among African-American consumers. Yet you oppose civil rights at the Canton plant and of this majority African-American workforce. We urge you to accord these workers the same dignity and respect that Nissan workers are provided everywhere else in the world.

With this letter, we urge you to immediately cease unfair labor practices. Further, we urge you to meet with representatives of MAFFAN to discuss conditions for achieving neutrality to ensure that Nissan employees in Canton can vote on a local union in a free and fair election.

We believe that Nissan employees in Canton deserve better — and that workers’ rights are civil and human rights. We look forward to your prompt reply. If you have any questions, please contact Seema Nanda at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights at nanda@civilrights.org.

Sincerely,

Vanita Gupta
President and CEO
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

John C. Yang
President and Executive Director
Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

Hector Sanchez
Executive Director
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement

Kristen Clarke
President and Executive Director
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Leon W. Russell
Chairman of the National Board
NAACP

Derrick Johnson
Vice Chairman of the National Board and President of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP
NAACP

Sherrilyn Ifill
President and Director-Counsel
NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund

Rev. Al Sharpton
President
National Action Network

Melanie Campbell
President and CEO
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation

Jim Winkler
General Secretary and President
National Council of Churches

Chris Owens
Executive Director
National Employment Law Project

Terri O’Neil
President
National Organization for Women

Debra L. Ness
President
National Partnership for Women & Families

Fatima Goss Graves
President and CEO
National Women’s Law Center

Janet Murguía
President and CEO
UnidosUS

House Passes National Defense Authorization Act Include Amendments From Kuster And Shea-Porter

Amendments address opioid misuse, military sexual assault, outdated electronic medical records at the VA and address perfluorinated chemical (PFC) contamination around military bases

(Washington, DC) – Today the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation to fund the United States’ national defense and security operations. The 2018 NDAA includes amendments introduced by Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porte to improve the Department of Defense (DoD) response to opioid misuse, assist transitioning service members in receiving adequate care for addiction and chronic pain, address military sexual assault, and improve the Department of Veteran Affairs’ (VA) outdated electronic record system, address perfluorinated chemical (PFC) contamination around military bases.

“I’m pleased that today the House came together to fund important operations central to the security of our nation,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This year’s NDAA includes several provisions I authored that will improve our response to the opioid epidemic within DoD, continue our effort to end military sexual assault, help care for our nation’s brave men and women once their service is over, and support the necessary work of improving the VA’s outdated medical record system.”

“We know that the opioid epidemic, in addition to impacting communities across the country, is posing a particular challenge to our service members and veterans,” Kuster continued. “Two of my amendments would direct the Defense Department to study the effectiveness of their opioid prescriber education policies and require Department providers to counsel or give referrals to the VA for transitioning veterans who suffer from addiction or chronic pain. We’ve seen the VA and DoD take important steps to support those suffering from substance misuse and these provisions will help bolster those efforts.”

On her amendment to address military sexual assault, Kuster said, “I’m encouraged that my Amendment to direct the Department to analyze sexual coercion in the military is part of its annual report on sexual assault. While I commend the Department for their progress in reducing the occurrence of sexual assault in the military, more work needs to be done. Understanding sexual coercion is important for the safety of our brave men and women and important for national security.”

“It’s long past time the Department of Veterans Affairs update its electronic medical records system,” Kuster said of her final amendment. “The men and women who serve our nation in uniform should not be relying on decades old computer systems that are woefully out of date and incapable of performing to the standards our veterans deserve. The American taxpayer should not continue to fund poorly implemented VA efforts to improve its health record. I’m hopeful this Amendment will lead to greater accountability of the VA’s latest endeavor to implement an improved and integrated system that will allow the VA and DoD to operate together seamlessly.”

The text of Kuster’s Amendments are available below:

Beginning in the 1970s, more than 600 U.S. military fire training sites used Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting foam that contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Testing conducted by the Department of Defense at many of these sites has found PFC groundwater levels that exceed EPA guidelines many times over. At Pease, it is 12.5 times higher than the health advisory. In fact, a 2016 study by researchers at Harvard University’s Chan School of Public Health and Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences found that public drinking water for six million Americans exceeds the EPA’s lifetime advisory limits for perfluorinated chemicals.

Because of the broad scope of PFOA and PFOS use by entities including the U.S military, contaminated drinking water now poses a nationwide public health threat. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), PFOA is especially problematic “because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time.” Numerous peer-reviewed studies indicate health dangers of perfluorinated chemicals, including links to testicular, kidney, and thyroid cancer and impaired immune system performance, decreased fertility, and harm to a developing fetus or child. However, ACS says “more research is needed to clarify these findings,” because a comprehensive, long-term study of the health impacts of PFOA and PFOS has not yet been conducted.

“Community members who live near contaminated sites like Pease deserve answers about how they and their children may be affected by perfluorinated chemicals, and guidance on what steps they can and should take to protect their health,” said Shea-Porter. “Bipartisan support for the provisions secured today reflects the national scope of PFC contamination around military bases across the country.”

The annual defense authorization bill, which Shea-Porter helped to write as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, includes:

  • An Shea-Porter cosponsored amendment directing the Department of Defense to conduct a health impact study on the effects of exposure to PFCs at affected military installations, including Pease.
  • Shea-Porter’s provision directing the Secretary of Defense to brief the House Armed Services Committee on:
    • The locations near current and former military installations where the Department has tested drinking water system PFC levels and a summary of the results of those tests, including whether they exceeded lifetime health advisory levels;
    • The Department’s short-term mitigation actions in locations where elevated PFC levels have been identified, such as Pease; and
    • The process and timeline for long-term remediation actions in locations with elevated PFC levels.
  • A Shea-Porter cosponsored amendment requiring a report on the Department of Defense’s progress developing and implementing alternatives to firefighting foam containing PFCs that was used at more than 600 U.S. military fire training sites, including Pease.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund PAC Proudly Endorses Kevin Cavanaugh for State Senate

Granite State’s Largest Women’s Health Organization Cites Cavanaugh’s Strong Commitment to Women’s Health and Access to Care

CONCORD, NH – Today, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund PAC proudly endorses Kevin Cavanaugh, candidate for State Senate, District 16. The special election, following the death of first term Democratic state Senator Scott McGilvray, will take place July 25, 2017. Senate District 16 includes the towns of Dunbarton, Bow, Hooksett, Candia and Wards 1, 2 and 12 in Manchester.

Kevin’s priorities include working to ensure that all Granite Staters have access to affordable, quality health care, including speaking out strongly to support Medicaid expansion. As a State Senator, he will fight for ensuring that Planned Parenthood remains a place for women, men, and young people to seek quality, affordable care in the Granite State.

“Kevin Cavanaugh has pledged to be a champion for women’s health, and Senate District 16 deserves to have a strong advocate to preserve reproductive health and rights,” said Jennifer Frizzell, Chair, Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund PAC. “As a community leader in our state’s largest city, Cavanaugh recognizes the importance of safeguarding access to quality reproductive health care services. As a State Senator, we know that women and families in District 16, and across New Hampshire, will have a strong voice and advocate in Kevin Cavanaugh.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund PAC,” said Kevin Cavanaugh.  “I’m proud to fully support the work that Planned Parenthood does in advancing reproductive rights and protecting access to quality, affordable health care services for the 11,000 women, men, and young people of the Granite State who depend on this care. The work that Planned Parenthood does in our community is essential in keeping us healthy and safe.  As a State Senator,  I look forward to supporting Planned Parenthood patients, and I will always fight to protect access to care.”

Brad Bannon: 4 Reasons Why Democrats Should Support Medicare For All

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) call for Democrats to campaign on and fight for a national single-payer health insurance program is just the remedy the doctor ordered for her party.

Here are the four reasons for Democrats to push the envelope on health care reform.

Medicare for all is good policy

ObamaCare provided health insurance to nearly 20 million Americanswho didn’t have it, but the law still leaves 26 million out in the cold. If TrumpCare replaces ObamaCare 22 million people will be unprotected by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Medicare for all means just that. Everybody would be covered.

The only way to lower healthcare costs is to take private insurance companies and their highly paid CEOs out of the equation. Economist Robert Frank recently pointed out in the New York Times that Medicare’s administrative costs are only 2 percent of its total cost.

Administrative costs for private insurance companies are about 6 times higher.

Medicare for all is good politics

Democrats must push aggressively on issues where we have a big advantage. A survey conducted in June by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal indicates that the biggest advantage Democrats have over Republicans is on health care. Americans think Democrats do a better job on healthcare than Republicans by a margin of 43 percent to 26 percent.

President Andrew Johnson once said Washington is 12 square miles surrounded by reality.

The conventional wisdom in the swampland is that Medicare for all is a health hazard for Democrats. But a national survey last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found American supported the expansion of government run healthcare.

So, what are Democrats afraid of anyway?

A Fight for Medicare for all Demonstrates Democratic Determination

Trump won because he sounded and acted like a bull in a china shop which is what angry voters wanted. In contrast, Democrats walk on eggshells and don’t sound angry enough to shake things up in Washington. A push for universal health insurance is a great way for Democrats to prove that they’re not intimidated by D.C. conventional wisdom and a tough fight.

Leadership means Dems need more than blind opposition to Trump.

Republicans including Trump win with all sorts of push the envelope issue stands. During the campaign last year Trump and most successful GOP candidates pushed for repeal of ACA, even though few voters wanted to destroy Obamacare.

A poll conducted for National Public Radio last month showed that only a quarter of the public favored repeal while everybody else either wanted to fix Obamacare or even extend it.

Taking unpopular stands on issues demonstrates leadership and boldness to Americans who are frustrated with the status quo. The good news for Dems is that Medicare for all is more than twice popular than Trumpcare.

Medicare for all is easy to explain

Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) was chairman of the committee that took the lead in the consideration of President Bill Clinton’s healthcare proposal. When he first saw the plan with more than a thousand pages Clinton submitted to Congress, he told his aide Lawrence O’Donnell that he could reform the healthcare system simply by deleting 3 words “65 and older” from the legislation that created Medicare health plan for seniors.

You can’t sell legislation that you can’t explain.

Medicare for all would be a lot easier to explain to the public than either Clinton’s or Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The Clinton and Obama proposals were incredibly complex. The bill the Clintons sent to Congress in 1993 clocked in more than 1,000 pages. The final version of the Affordable Care Act was 906 pages long.

In the fight for Clintoncare and Obamacare, the devil was in the details. Presidents Clinton and Obama both had a problem building support for health care reform because both proposals were so complex and difficult to explain. The lesson Dems need to take from past health initiatives is the KISS principle, keep it simple, stupid.

None of this will be easy but Dems need to get it done.

Truman proposed a health insurance program for seniors in 1945 and again in 1949. Medicare did not become law until Lyndon Johnson pushed Congress to enact it in 1965. LBJ had a big Democratic majority in Congress. Right now, Democrats are a minority in Congress.

The fierce battles over ObamaCare and Trump demonstrate that any health reform fight will be long, tough and polarizing. So, if Democrats take the time and trouble to fight, they might as well just go for the gold.

A big push for single payer health care insurance would take years but it is an opportunity Democrats can’t afford to miss and a responsibility the party can’t ignore.


Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. Campaigns and Elections magazine called him a mover and shaker in the political consulting industry. He hosts and contributes to the nationally syndicated progressive talk show, “The Leslie Marshall Show.” Bannon is also a political analyst for CLTV, the cable news station of the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV. He is also a senior adviser to, and editor of, the blog at MyTiller.com. Contact him at brad@bannoncr.com.

Gatsas Files For 5th Term As Mayor Of Manchester, Joyce Craig And Firefighters Respond

Today, Mayor Ted Gatsas filed his paperwork to run for a fifth term as Mayor of Manchester.  The Manchester Mayoral race is shaping up to be a rematch between Joyce Craig and Ted Gatsas.  Craig lost the last election by only a few votes.

“Over the last eight years Manchester has stumbled from crisis to crisis and Mayor Ted Gatsas keeps claiming he doesn’t know when there are problems in the city,” said Joyce Craig.

“In just the last two weeks, Mayor Gatsas claimed he didn’t understand the “severity” of a violent crime in a school, claimed he didn’t know that the City Solicitor’s office was failing to prosecute domestic violence cases, and he didn’t realize his budget would result in the closure of fire stations. Mayor Gatsas is responsible for effectively managing the city and claiming he doesn’t know what is going on is not an acceptable excuse.”

“I’m ready to have an honest conversation about the challenges our city is facing and get to the hard work of making Manchester a better place for all families. Manchester has endless opportunities, but is being held back by a Mayor who doesn’t understand and doesn’t address problems until they are crises,” Craig concluded.

In his statement, Mayor Gatsas claimed he “saved a fire station from closing,” however local Firefighters disagree.

“The people of Manchester are tired of Teddy’s tall tales. Mayor Gatsas’ claim to having ‘saved a fire station from closing’ skirts the fact that the Mayor’s proposed budget underfunded the Manchester Fire Department from the start. Chief Goonan and his administration warned the Board of Mayor and Aldermen repeatedly that restricting his budget would result in station closures,” said the Manchester Professional Fire Fighters Association and the Manchester Association of Fire Supervisors in a joint statement.

“Not until the final warning came and sufficient plans were presented did the Board act to keep Station 9 open in an emergency meeting. Mayor Gatsas’ careless delays and ignoring public safety professionals’ warnings put lives at risk, and now he wants the credit for fixing a problem he created. Enough is enough,” the firefighters added.

Yesterday, a group of women from Manchester wrote an open letter to Mayor Gatsas highlighting his failed leadership surrounding the rape of a girl at West High School.

“As women of varied ages and backgrounds who are mothers, sisters, daughters and residents of Manchester, we are writing to express our shock over your clear misunderstanding of the severity of any incident of sexual assault and why we expect better from the Mayor of our city,” the women wrote.

The people of Manchester deserve better than two more years of Gatsas’s failed leadership.

VA Union Calls on Senate to ‘Work on Fixing, Not Dismantling Veterans’ Healthcare’

AFGE applauds efforts to increase hiring, but finds that proposed legislation falls short of what’s needed

WASHINGTON – On Tuesday the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing to address proposed legislation aimed at improving veterans’ access to care. With 49,000 vacancies at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide and a growing veteran population, AFGE cautioned lawmakers that some of the proposals under consideration may lead to the dismantling of the VA healthcare system and undermine the VA’s efforts to hire desperately needed staff.

The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 250,000 working people at the VA, submitted written testimony to the hearing, “Pending Health Care Legislation,” that addresses the positive and negative bills that will alter the future of the VA.

AFGE’s comments focused on several bills that will increase the hiring and access to care for veterans at the only healthcare system tailored to their unique needs. In addition, the union’s statement raised concerns about proposals that would vastly expand the use of non-VA care to such an extreme as to threaten the world-class healthcare system’s long-term survival.

In its comments on S. 1325, the Better Workforce for Veterans Act from Senators Jon Tester and Jerry Moran from Montana and Kansas respectively, AFGE supported provisions aimed at improvement of management and human resources practices. But, the union expressed concern about the adverse impact of new hiring authorities on promotion opportunities for current employees. AFGE also questioned a bill provision to use expensive Public Health Service medical officers who lack the expertise and stability of VA’s own workforce, and another that tries to fix VA police recruitment and retention problems without affording them much needed law enforcement officer status.

“We support new legislation that will allow for the VA to fill the glaring number of open positions at the agency,” said AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr. “Veterans want the VA. Veterans need the VA. They have said time and again that they don’t want to be forced out into the private sector with longer wait times, less access to care, and medical professionals ill-equipped to handle their unique needs,” he added.

In their testimony, AFGE also highlighted several proposals for reforming current programs that provide non-VA care.  “AFGE strongly opposes the Veterans Choice Act of 2017,” from Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, AFGE said in its testimony. Adding, “This bill would vastly increase the use of non-VA care through a massive expansion of the Choice Program. Like the Concerned Veterans of America plan that was soundly rejected by the Commission on Care, this bill would erode the critical core of the VA health care system and put such an enormous financial strain on it threatens its very survival.”

In contrast, AFGE praised the Improving Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2017 from Sen. Tester. The union lauded the legislator’s efforts to modernize VA services, lay the foundation for VA-run integrated networks, and keep the VA as the primary provider and coordinator of VA care. AFGE said these provisions protect “the critical resources that the VA must retain in order to keep its promise to veterans”

“Veterans have overwhelmingly said that they want Congress to work on fixing, not dismantling veterans’ healthcare, and Sen. Isakson’s bill does nothing of the sort,” said Cox. “We believe that the Improving Veterans Access to Community Care Act of 2017 is a much better approach – albeit with its own faults – to providing veterans options outside of the VA if they so choose.

“Ultimately, AFGE will stand with veterans who make up one-third of workers at the VA, and the millions that use it to receive world-class medical treatment. It’s been proven time and again that the VA is the best option for those who have borne the battle, and we’ll never stop fighting to make it the best that it can be,” said Cox.

Women Of Manchester Send Scathing Letter To Mayor Gatsas Over 2015 Rape At West High

Manchester, NH– Women of Manchester release an open letter to Mayor Ted Gatsas expressing shock over recent incidences.  For other women who wish to sign on please visit: www.ipetitions.com/petition/dear-mayor-gatsas.  Full letter text included below.

The Hon. Mayor Theodore Gatsas

1 City Hall Plaza

Manchester, NH 03102


Mayor Gatsas,

As women of varied ages and backgrounds who are mothers, sisters, daughters and residents of Manchester, we are writing to express our shock over your clear misunderstanding of the severity of any incident of sexual assault and why we expect better from the Mayor of our city.

On June 23rd, 2017, when asked by a Union Leader reporter about the rape of a student at West High School on September 30, 2015, you stated that you “didn’t know the severity of it.”

Police Chief Nick Willard and former Deputy Superintendent David Ryan have each publicly stated that they personally informed you on the day of and in the days immediately following the incident that a female student had alleged she was the victim of a rape at West High School.

When asked on June 26, 2017 by WMUR whether you knew about the rape, you replied that you “had been informed by email of a sexual assault, but at no point did anyone tell me of the severity of it. It could be a minor thing, a sexual harassment. It could have been someone forcing a kiss on someone or someone touching someone.”

While it is impossible to imagine that Chief Willard and former Deputy Superintendent Ryan are all mistaken or lying about their recollections of what they told you, please know that for the over 55,000 women who live in the city of Manchester, any form of sexual assault is severe. For you, the Mayor of our city, to think and say otherwise demonstrates an appalling lack of understanding and empathy that is unacceptable.

We can’t help but notice that the decision to keep this sexual assault hidden from the parents of West High students was made just a few weeks before the 2015 election for Mayor.

In the wake of any incident of sexual assault, it is critical that the Mayor of Manchester send a message that unwanted sexual contact of any kind is serious. It is a crime. There is no excuse. And there are no acceptable levels or degrees of sexual assault.

Respectfully,

  • Beth Hamilton
  • Samantha Ruth
  • Erin Kerwin
  • Mary Heath
  • Joan Reische
  • Liz Wester
  • Martha West Lyman
  • Anna Caron
  • Christine Stevens
  • Kerry Greene
  • Virginia Theo-Steelman
  • Marion Conery
  • Ashley Marcoux
  • Elizabeth Marcoux
  • McKenzie St. Germain
  • Jennifer Share
  • Patty Cornell
  • Sarah Duffley
  • Kari Thurman
  • Laurie DiCenso
  • Patricia Lynott
  • Corey Doherty
  • Laura O’Neil
  • Christy Slavik
  • Campbell Harvey
  • Marissa Chase
  • Kristen Bannister
  • Jan Sutcliffe
  • Lauren Smith
  • Mary Lynn Edwards
  • Jacqueline Chretien
  • Erin Martin
  • Alyssa Lynough
  • Amanda MacLellan
  • Laura Aronson
  • Voula Annas
  • Kathy Sullivan
  • Cheryl Carten
  • Marcia Garber
  • Susan Thompson
  • Patricia Findlen
  • Amy Kennedy
  • Elizabeth MacLellan
  • Elsie Raymer
  • Meredith Shevitz
  • Virginia Smith
  • Maria Law
  • Pam Jorgensen
  • Devon Dunn
  • Kathleen Goulet
  • Jill Teeters
  • Tara Chynoweth
  • Allison B. Nussbaum
  • Anne Armstrong
  • Phoebe Stone
  • Marcia J Lorang
  • Judy Reardon
  • Debbie Ashby
  • Debra Brown
  • Emily Ragsdale
  • Sue Corby
  • JoAnn Smith
  • Karen Rosenberg
  • Debbie Howe
  • Susan McKeown
  • Judith Pence

1) http://www.wmur.com/article/gatsas-acknowledges-receiving-email-phone-call-on-2015-sexual-assault-from-school-official/10224115

Lawsuit Filed By Civil Rights Lawyers To Stop Election Commission

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Files Lawsuit To Halt Commission Hearing for Failure to Comply With Federal Law

Lawsuit Also Demands Release of Information About the Commission Under Key Government Transparency Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) on Monday filed a lawsuit against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for its failure to operate in a transparent manner under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

The suit comes after the Commission failed to respond to a Lawyers’ Committee request sent one week ago for documents regarding the Commission’s upcoming July 19th meeting—a meeting that will not be open to the public.  In its suit, the Lawyers’ Committee alleges the Commission’s failure to disclose communications and make its meetings open to the public violates FACA.

“We filed today’s lawsuit because the so-called Election Integrity Commission has been operating covertly and its actions, to date, have been shrouded in secrecy,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Through the Federal Advisory Committee Act, we are using an important statutory tool to expose and curb the illegitimacy of this Commission and to bar the commencement of any meetings before they make materials available for our inspection.  In our view, the Commission must not conduct any meetings before complying with our request.  We will continue to fight to expose all of the Commission’s illegitimate actions.”

Monday’s lawsuit filed with co counsel Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP in the United States District Court for District of Columbia addresses the Commission’s lack of transparency on several fronts.  It notes that the Commission’s upcoming July 19thmeeting will not be open to the public, and exposes the Commission’s lack of oversight and accountability given that its unprecedented request for personal voter data was not accurately directed at statewide officials nor was it in compliance with many state privacy laws.  The lawsuit additionally notes that the Commission failed to provide public notice or disclose details regarding its June 28th telephone conference meeting, during which the commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, approved a plan to request an unprecedented amount of voter data from statewide election officials.

The suit seeks a temporary restraining order mandating the production of records before the July 19th meeting, blocking the July 19thmeeting until the Commission fulfills its obligations to disclose its documents, and ordering that all commission meetings be open to the public.

“Federal law demands that the President’s Commissions operate in an open and transparent manner.  That principle is of paramount importance when, as here, the Commission seeks to impact the fundamental right to vote.  We are proud to stand with the Lawyers’ Committee in this fight,” said Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer partner John A. Freedman.

On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a corresponding FACA lawsuit in the D.C. District Court.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Pence-Kobach Commission.  This includes: the launch of a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); letters sent to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; requesting documents regarding the Commission made pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.

To read the complaint filed Monday, click here.

ACLU of NH Sues To Block Secretary Of State From Disclosing Statewide Voter Information

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire today sued to bar the New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner from illegally disclosing statewide information concerning New Hampshire voters.  The complaint can be found attached below.

On Friday, June 30, 2017, Secretary Gardner agreed to produce to the recently-created Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (the “Commission”) statewide information concerning over 984,000 registered voters’ names, domicile and mailing addresses, and party affiliation, if any. This response ignored New Hampshire laws that place strict and binding requirements on how the State is to produce voter information.  (See RSA 654:31)

“The legislature carefully designed strict restrictions on the sharing of voter information for good reason: to protect voter privacy,” stated Representative Neal Kurk (R-NH), a plaintiff in the lawsuit. “These protections would be rendered meaningless by the transfer of this data to the Commission, which has established no security protocols and intends to post everything it receives online.”

Representative Kurk was involved in the crafting of the relevant statutes under RSA 654:31, which limit the prospect of mass dissemination of this statewide voter information in order to ensure that statewide voter information is only used for political purposes, not for commercial gain. (RSA 654:31(VI) explicitly prohibits voter information from being used for commercial purposes.)

“The Secretary of State has no statutory authority to release a copy of the statewide public checklist to anyone other than a political party, political committee, or candidate for New Hampshire office,” stated Senator Betty Lasky (D-NH), another plaintiff in the case.

RSA 654:31(II)-(III) only allows requesters to: (i) view the statewide public checklist on the statewide centralized voter registration database at the state records and archives center during normal business hours where requesters are prohibited from printing, duplicating, transmitting, or altering the data and (ii) obtain hard copies of the public checklist from local municipalities on a town-by-town/ward-by-ward basis at a fee of at least $25 per municipality or ward.

“The Commission is not entitled to special, unwritten exemptions from the Secretary of State that circumvent New Hampshire law,” stated Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the ACLU of NH. “He must apply the law to the Commission no differently than he would apply the law to a regular member of the public seeking this information.”

The lawsuit, Kurk v. Gardner, seeks to bar the Secretary of State from disclosing this information without full compliance with New Hampshire law. It was filed in Hillsborough Superior Court South.

FINAL Filed Complaint (1)

Concord Lawyer And Executive Councilor Says ‘It Is Illegal To Give Voter Information Away’

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky pens letter to Governor Sununu and Secretary of State Gardner citing New Hampshire law that prohibits the State from divulging the personal information requested by the Election Integrity Commission.

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky

“The stakes are too high for state office holders of good conscience to remain silent in the face of this action,” said Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. “As you know, claims of rampant voter fraud are baseless and defame the good people of New Hampshire.”

Many states have already rejected the Election Integrity Commission’s request to hand over personal information on every voter in the state, including: party registration, voter history, and the last four digits of the voter’s social security number.

Governor Sununu stated that New Hampshire would “comply” with the request from the commission sparking outrage from Granite Staters who are concerned about how this information is going to be used and the security of the data.

Secretary Gardner issued a statement on Friday that said:  “What is public is what has been public for decades. In this state, every town and city clerk must keep every checklist they use in an election for at least five years so that any citizen can go in and look at the checklists,” said Gardner.

Secretary Gardner is absolutely correct: anyone can go to the state’s archives and view the voter rolls, party affiliation, and voting history, but they cannot leave with it.

Lawyer and Executive Councilor, Andru Volinsky explained how a person can view the information in a letter to Gov. Sununu and Sec. Gardner.

“Pursuant to RSA 654:31, III, may view the statewide centralized voter registration database only during normal business hours at the state archives building, but may not print, duplicate, or transmit the data.”

“…While RSA 654:31-a makes some voter information public, it is subject to significant restrictions as, for example, law enforcement personnel may access information for investigative purposes.”

Volinsky also confirmed the fears of many Granite Staters.

“Once the Commission makes our voter information public, it will be subject to commercial exploitation.  No voter has given you permission to share voting information with commercial concerns.”

The Secretary of State’s office should be closed for the 4th of July holiday but that does not mean you cannot leave them a message.  Call them at 603-271-3242 (3243) and tell them you do not want your personal information shared by the state.

A full copy of Councilor Volinsky’s letter is attached below.

Volinsky Letter
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