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Kobach Using Sham Voter Fraud Commission Bolster Inaccurate Voter Database

Trump’s Voter Fraud Commission Forced to Produce Electronic Communications Related To Its Work, Revealing Potential Coordination With Federal Agencies

Lawsuit By Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Yields Index Of Electronic Communications Exposing Coordination By Most Partisan Members Of Commission

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity recently released records of its communications in response to litigation brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  These records, available online, underscore the partisan nature of the Commission led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.  Records indicate that Kobach communicated exclusively with partisan allies regarding the Commission’s work, to the exclusion of other Commissioners.  The communications released late last week also make available to the public the most information yet regarding the Commission established by President Trump to support his unfounded claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

“The information released by the so-called Commission on Election Integrity as a result of our lawsuit paints an incomplete but alarming record about the Commission’s work and intentions.  For example, it appears that known vote-suppressors Kris Kobach, J. Christian Adams, and Hans von Spakovsky, worked together without the input of other commissioners to develop the unprecedented June 28thletter to state election officials seeking vast amounts of personal voter data.  Email communications with the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security also suggest the Commission appears directed at facilitating Secretary Kobach’s dangerous agenda of comparing personal voter information with inaccurate databases to bolster his unfounded claim of widespread voter fraud to support the enactment of suppressive laws,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Clarke added: “The American people deserve to know the full story behind this Commission.  With the voting rights of millions of Americans at stake, we will continue the fight to ensure full transparency with respect to this so-called Commission’s activities.  The release of these new materials further underscores the dangerous agenda of this Commission.”

Under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), presidential commissions are obligated to operate in a transparent manner, yet the Kobach Commission has fallen short of that requirement.  Court filings by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law previously revealed that Commissioners were communicating on private email accounts rather than using federal government-issued accounts in violation of the Presidential Records Act.  Now, in providing a catalogue of communications to the D.C. District Court as part of the lawsuit brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, it appears that the Commission failed to provide any records of text messages or a complete record of staff communications regarding the Commission’s work.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Commission.  This includes filing litigation that remains active in the D.C. District Court seeking for the Administration’s compliance with federal transparency requirements pursuant to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA); launching a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); issuing letters to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for private voter data; and 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.

Alliance For Retired Americans: Activists Stop Graham-Cassidy Health Care Tax On Older Americans

Vulnerable Citizens Dodge another GOP Senate Bullet

The following statement was issued by Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, regarding Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision not to hold a vote on the Graham-Cassidy bill repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy introduced a bill that would have placed an age tax on older Americans, eliminated protections for people with pre-existing conditions and resulted in at least 32 millions of Americans losing affordable health care.

“Fortunately, enough of their fellow Senators recognized the ramifications of a dangerous bill and a warped legislative process, preventing Sen. McConnell from moving forward with his cruel plans.

“Millions of Americans can breathe a sigh of relief, but not for long. Majority Leader McConnell and Vice President Pence have already promised to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act again, instead of working in a bipartisan manner to improve health care for all.

“The 4.4 million members of the Alliance will not rest. Our members will stand down for the moment, but are ready to speak out for health care for all Americans whenever it is threatened.”

Questions About Registering To Vote Today? Election Protection Is Here To Help

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law & Election Protection Hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) To Take LIVE Calls During National Voter Registration Day

Washington, D.C. – Today, Election Protection – the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil RightsUnder Law – will join hundreds of organizations across the country in a national effort to register people to vote for National Voter Registration Day.

To support national, state and local partners’ efforts to register voters, the nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection (EP) hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683), will be answering calls in real time from 9:00am to 7:00pm EDT, verifying voters’ registration status and helping them navigate the voter registration process. In addition to registration-related assistance, our trained volunteers will be available to answer a wide range of voting questions from voter ID, to language assistance resources.

“The importance of voter registration cannot be overstated.  In the face of an administration determined to take away the right to vote for millions of Americans, the work of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to inform citizens of their voting rights and to protect those rights is even more pressing,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “An informed electorate gives way to increased participation.  This National Voter Registration Day, we encourage the public to contact 866-OUR-VOTE with any voting-related questions, and above all, to register to vote so that your voice can be heard.” 

While trained volunteers are available to answer questions on National Voter Registration Day and on Election Day, Election Protection works year-round to support efforts to expand the franchise.  Election Protection utilizes field monitors and voter education, and it relies on an expansive network of national partners and state advocates to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.  In 2016 alone, Election Protection received over 118,000 calls from voters from around the country.

The 866-OUR-VOTE Election Protection hotline will be answered live today, September 26, 2017 from 9:00 AM-7:00 PM EDT. Voters are encouraged to call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) for voting-related questions or problems.  For assistance in Spanish, we invite callers to dial 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682); for assistance in Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi, or Bengali, dial 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683).

Latest Poverty Numbers Do Not Show The Real Struggles Of NH Working Families

New Hampshire Poverty Rate Continues to Decline, but Many
Granite Staters Still Struggle with Very Limited Income

Concord, NH – New data released today by the U.S. Census Bureau finds that New Hampshire’s poverty rate declined to 7.3 percent in 2016, down from 8.2 percent in 2015. New Hampshire continues to boast the lowest state poverty rate in the country, a distinction it has held for the last decade.

“New Hampshire’s low poverty rate masks the experiences of far too many Granite Staters who live above the federal poverty threshold and struggle to afford basic necessities,” said John Shea, executive director of the New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute. “In particular, the state’s high cost of housing leaves many working families with little income left to put food on the table and acquire other essentials.”

The Census Bureau data finds an estimated 94,289 people in New Hampshire lived below the federal poverty line in 2016. The poverty threshold used by the Census Bureau for income in the twelve months preceding July 2016 is $12,391 for an individual under 65 years of age and $19,171 for a family of three with one child.

NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data for New Hampshire finds that females were more likely than males to live in poverty, with estimated poverty rates of 8.1 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively. Those 65 years of age or older were less likely to live in poverty, with an estimated poverty rate of 4.6 percent, than those under 18 years old, who faced a poverty rate of 7.9 percent. Child poverty declined 2.8 percent from the 2015 level. NHFPI’s analysis is available here.

The official poverty threshold understates the degree of economic insecurity in New Hampshire and elsewhere. Due to a relatively high cost of living, New Hampshire families require a significantly higher level of income in order to afford housing, child care, health care, transportation, and food, among other basic necessities. NHFPI’s 2016 report, Taking the Measure of Need in the Granite State, outlines the shortcomings of the official poverty measures and examines alternate methods of assessing what it takes to afford a modest standard of living in various regions of the state.

New Hampshire’s low poverty rate does not provide an accurate measure of the numbers of workers struggling to get by. NHFPI analysis of the 2016 Census poverty data finds that approximately 117,000 households, or more than one in five households, collected less than $35,000 in income and benefits in 2016. In contrast, the state’s estimated median household income for 2016 was $70,936.

Despite a strong economy and low unemployment rate, much of the recent job growth in New Hampshire has occurred in sectors that typically offer low wages, such as the health care, social assistance, accommodation and food services industries, and wages for many low-income workers have not kept pace with inflation. NHFPI’s Snapshot of the State’s Labor Market outlines average weekly wages in these fields and additional information.

“As New Hampshire endeavors to sustain a strong workforce, policymakers should strive to ensure that all residents have access to the necessary education and training that will prepare them for new employment opportunities and help them achieve economic stability,” added NHFPI Executive Director John Shea. “In addition, policymakers should find ways to increase the availability of housing and child care services, which are affordable to all residents.”


The New Hampshire Fiscal Policy Institute is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to exploring, developing, and promoting public policies that foster economic opportunity and prosperity for all New Hampshire residents, with an emphasis on low- and moderate-income families and individuals. Learn more at www.nhfpi.org.

Workplace Safety Groups Head To Houston To Train Reconstruction Workers

After Harvey, Immigrant and Labor Rights Groups Team Up to Provide Ongoing Health and Safety Training for Reconstruction Workers 

Harvey Flood and Damage by Jill Carlson (jillcarlson.org) FLIKR CC

Fe y Justicia Worker Center, National COSH, Chemical Workers Union and National Day Laborer Organizing Network deliver “Train-the-Trainers” sessions and prepare Reconstruction Works campaign to support recovery workers facing severe toxic health and safety hazards in the workplace 

HOUSTON, TX:  With recovery efforts underway from the devastating effect of Hurricane Harvey – and new storm damage now confronting Puerto Rico, Florida and the Caribbean – health and safety trainers as well as workers and immigrant rights advocates from local and national safety groups will be in Houston this week to train workers and community members on safe clean up procedures and their rights to a safe workplace.

Ongoing efforts are currently underway to expand and build upon past “Reconstruction Works” campaigns that have played a critical role in supporting reconstruction workers after Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Rita and other disasters.

During previous cleanup efforts recovery workers exposed to flood waters suffered skin infections, lesions, asthma attacks, allergic reactions and other conditions. Workers are also exposed to the risk of lead poisoning and asbestos exposure when working in damaged or collapsed buildings.

This week, experienced health and safety trainers from National COSH and other COSH affiliates from around the country will join local advocates from the Houston-based COSH affiliate Fe y Justicia (Faith and Justice) Worker Center to provide “Train-the-Trainer” classes for workers and advocates, who will in turn provide awareness training in workplaces and communities throughout Houston.

“The response from COSH groups and our allies to the emergency on the Gulf Coast has been amazing,” said National COSH co-executive director Jessica Martinez, who is joining the “Train-the-Trainer” session in Houston. “Groups are sending people, sharing information and resources and helping to raise funds so that recovery workers can stay safe while rebuilding their communities.”

“Most Houston neighborhoods were somehow impacted, so workers and neighbors are cleaning up a wide range of water and wind damage that can get people seriously hurt,” said Marianela Acuña Arreaza, executive director of Faith and Justice Worker Center (Centro de Trabajadores Fe y Justicia), the premier worker center in the Houston area coordinating local efforts.

“Day laborers, construction workers, utility workers, domestic workers, as well as neighbors and volunteers, are already going into flooded and damaged buildings, where they will encounter mold, sewage, and air and water that may have been contaminated with toxic pollutants,” said Acuña Arreaza. “Our goal is to equip them with the tools and information they need to reduce the risk of getting sick, injured or killed while taking on these difficult assignments.”

“Gulf Coast communities face a massive, urgent rebuilding job, as will Florida, Puerto Rico and Caribbean islands,” said Frank Cyphers, President of the Akron, Ohio-based International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC). The ICWUC, a council of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, is assisting the worker and community training effort in Houston, with support from federal grants from the National Institute of Environmental and Health Sciences (NIEHS).

“This is no time to cut corners on worker safety,” said Cyphers. “We need to build on lessons learned during recovery from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy and other disasters: Workers must know their rights – and know how to assess and prevent potential hazards.”

BACKGROUND: The three-day, bilingual “Train-the-Trainer” sessions, in English and Spanish, begins today, September 13th at the Dominican Sisters of Houston campus. The curriculum will develop trainers to teach safety awareness, workplace safety rights, and information about mold, sewage, airborne and waterborne contaminants, and other hazards associated with disaster recovery.

In addition to upcoming training sessions, National COSH has partnered with NYCOSH to provide a series of fact sheets on safe clean up procedures. The fact sheets describe known hazards experienced during previous recovery efforts, including asphyxiation, building collapse, electrocution, explosion, mold, sewage, toxic contaminants and other conditions.

As recovery efforts continue in the coming weeks and months, Fe y Justicia Worker Center will operate a hotline for affected workers and provide ongoing safety awareness training at worksites and community centers.  A donation page at youcaring.com gives concerned citizens a way to support safe and sustainable recovery efforts.


Fe y Justicia (Faith and Justice) Worker Center, based in Houston, campaigns for justice and dignity for day laborers, domestic workers and other vulnerable workers.

National COSH links the efforts of local worker health and safety coalitions in communities across the United States, advocating for elimination of preventable hazards in the workplace. For more information, please visit coshnetwork.org

The International Chemical Workers Union Council (ICWUC), based in Akron, Ohio, represents workers in the chemical industry and other occupations in the U.S. The ICWUC has six worker health and safety federal grants and collaborates with 10 other union partners, including National COSH, to conduct a range of worker safety and health programs and develop rank and file worker trainers.

The National Day Laborer Organizing Network works to improve the lives of day laborers in the United States. NDLON works to unify and strengthen its member organizations to be more strategic and effective in their efforts to develop leadership, mobilize and organize day laborers.

Durham Weighs Columbus Day v. Indigenous Peoples’ Day At Council Meeting This Week

Town Council to Consider Resolution Establishing “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on Monday, 9/11/17

During the Public Comments section of the Town Council meeting on February 6, 2017, Durham resident Neil Ferris spoke about a movement underway to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He said the New Hampshire State Legislature should join Vermont in this effort, and could use some nudging on this from Durham. He asked that this be placed on the Council’s agenda in the near future. 

During the Town Council and Administrator roundtable discussion at the Town Council meeting on April 17, 2017, Councilor Wayne Burton noted Mr. Ferris’ earlier request and suggested that Administrator Selig bring the request to the Durham Human Rights Commission (HRC) for discussion and then come back to the Council on whether the commission believed this was a viable idea. 

This item was placed on the HRC’s meeting agenda for June 7, 2017 and Mr. Ferris was in attendance. Mr. Ferris said his request was for Durham to replace Columbus Day with an Indigenous Peoples’ Day and also petition the State of New Hampshire to do the same. He felt that if enough communities in New Hampshire were to do this, then the state may be more inclined to follow suit. He noted that efforts should be made to encourage people to become educated about Native Americans and America’s real history and anything that can be done toward this type of effort should be embraced. 

The commission continued its consideration of Mr. Ferris’ request at its meeting on July 26, 2017. Based on the discussion held at that meeting, Administrator Selig said he had given additional thought to other possible solutions besides replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He offered an alternate name: “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, that would celebrate both the age of European exploration and the cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples, and to reflect upon the historical offenses against and ongoing struggles of indigenous people. The group discussed this notion further and consensus was to move it forward to the Town Council for its consideration.

The HRC met again on September 6, 2017 and reviewed and discussed a draft resolution introduced by Administrator Selig that would designate the second Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in Durham. Some amended language was offered by members of the group and this language has been incorporated into a draft resolution for the Council’s review and consideration on Monday evening, September 11, 2017, at the Town Council meeting.  

Durham Town Manager Todd Selig stated, “After much consideration and reflection regarding the discovery of the Americas by Europeans, I have come to support this resolution to designate the 2nd Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”  Not only is it appropriate to our local history, but also to recognize and value indigenous people everywhere.  The double naming of this day will serve to encourage people to learn more about the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the “Doctrine of Discovery,” while also recognizing the devastating affects of colonialism on indigenous peoples.”

To our knowledge, Durham would be the first community in New Hampshire to establish the 2nd Monday in October as a day that recognizes Indigenous Peoples in addition to European exploration in the Americas.  A growing number of states and communities have taken such as step in recent years to include Los Angeles, Vermont, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Bangor.  

The Town Council meeting begins at 7 PM and is held at the Durham Town Hall, 8 Newmarket Road, Durham, NH.

Prayer Vigil Outside Of ICE Office Planned For Sept. 5th

Manchester, NH – Members of area religious congregations will hold a vigil at the Norris Cotton Federal Building in Manchester on Tuesday morning to pray for an end to immigrant deportations.

“Deportations are tearing apart families, tearing apart congregations, tearing apart our communities,” said the Rev. Joseph Gurdak of Saint Anne/Saint Augustin Church in Manchester, whose congregation includes many immigrants.  “We are offering prayers for this cruel practice to end.”

The vigil will begin at 8:30 AM with a “Jericho Walk” around the building, led by the Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor at Brookside Congregational Church and President of the Greater Manchester NAACP.

The prayer vigil coincides with required appointments that dozens of immigrants have with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency responsible for immigrant detention and deportation, which has offices on the building’s second floor.

“Our traditions call on us to love our neighbors and welcome the stranger,” observed the Rev. Rev. Becca Girrell of the Lebanon United Methodist Church.  “My faith compels me to stand with those who face the danger of detention and deportation, so that if nothing else, they know they are not alone. My hope is that our presence conveys that people of faith denounce these cruel practices, support keeping families together, bear witness to the humanity and dignity of all persons, and believe in a Divine who holds all people’s lives as sacred.”

Following the Jericho Walk, prayers and readings will be led by Father John Bucchino of Blessed Sacrament Church, the Rev. Jonathan Hopkins of Concordia Lutheran Church, and other faith leaders.

Among those who are required to report to ICE on Tuesday are more than twenty members of the state’s Indonesian immigrant community, whose members fled from religious persecution but who have been denied asylum in the United States.

Is Frank Edelblut Playing Partisan Politics In His Official Capacity?

Governor Sununu’s Handpicked Education Commissioner Still Engaging in Partisan Politics, Keynote Speaker at Strategy Meeting to “Further the Right’s Agenda Within the State”

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is keynote speaker at “Right of Center” political strategy meeting in September; public has a right to know if Edelblut has been participating all along – and whether any other members of Governor Sununu’s leadership team are participating in partisan politics in their official capacities 

Concord, NH – Governor Chris Sununu’s handpicked Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut is still using his Commissioner position to engage in partisan politics, this time as the scheduled keynote speaker for the September 13th Right of Center political strategy meeting where “Brainstorming how to further the Right’s agenda within the state is at the forefront of conversations.”

The bi-weekly meetings are organized by former House Speaker Bill O’Brien and the Hon. Stephen Stepanek under the banner of Liberty Tree Consulting Services, and hosted at the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity office. According to the hosts, the meetings are “for elected officials and political activists, centering around how to improve communication in NH through a center right agenda” and “create ‘Right of Center’ political progress” in New Hampshire. Commissioner Edelblut is not an elected official and New Hampshire commissioners typically don’t engage in partisan politics in their official roles – although Commissioner Edelblut has frequently done so with Governor Chris Sununu’s blessing.

See meeting announcement advertising Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“It’s high time for Governor Sununu to tell his handpicked Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut to stop using his official position for partisan political purposes. Commissioner Edelblut’s participation in political strategy meetings is inappropriate, and his actions in office demonstrate how far he will go to enact his far-right political ideology. Commissioner Edelblut continues to put his personal politics over the best interests of Granite State students and families, and Governor Sununu is endorsing his behavior by not putting an immediate stop to it.”

Just months into his position as Education Commissioner, Edelblut has made waves for trying to re-open the Next Generation Science Standards that were just approved last year; he initially refused to come clean about making a donation to a school privatization lawsuit against the Department he now leads; he forwarded an internal education department job posting to one of his Free State Project friends and then sent that individual’s resume to the HR director (that individual is also on the Board of an off-shoot group literally organizing for New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the country); he is using his position to lobby for SB 193, school vouchers/privatization; and he tried to usurp the State Board of Education’s rule-making responsibilities by injecting himself between the State Board and JLCAR – all without informing the State Board.

“While Education Commissioner Edelblut is the keynote speaker for the upcoming meeting, it is unclear whether he has been participating in the bi-weekly meetings all along or if any other members of Governor Sununu’s leadership team are participating in their official capacities as well,” Rice Hawkins said. “Administrative Services Commissioner Charlie Arlinghaus ran similar political strategy meetings himself in the past before his current post. The Governor and Executive Council should check which Commissioners are abusing taxpayer time and money by engaging in partisan politics in their official capacities. Governor Sununu has a responsibility to keep his leadership team focused on addressing the real issues facing Granite Staters, instead of attending meetings designed to advance a particular political ideology.”

Air Force Agrees to Provide City of Portsmouth $1.3 Million to Continue Ongoing Pease Clean-Up Effort

 PORTSMOUTH, NH — Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Senator Maggie Hassan, and Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today announced that the U.S. Air Force has agreed to pay the City of Portsmouth $1.3 million to complete next steps in the ongoing Pease clean-up effort.

“Today’s announcement demonstrates a real and ongoing commitment from the Air Force to rid the Pease wells of dangerous water contaminants,” said Senator Shaheen. “Granite State families who are worried about their children getting sick from drinking contaminated water deserve peace of mind, and the additional funding for this carbon filtration system is an important step forward. I’ll continue to work to improve the safety of drinking water in New Hampshire communities.” 

“The announcement of this funding from the Air Force to address water contamination at Haven, Harrison, and Smith Wells  is a step in the right direction, but there is more work to do to ensure that all Granite Staters and their families have access to clean, safe drinking water,” Senator Hassan said. “Communities exposed to emerging contaminants in their water understandably have many concerns about their health, and I will continue working with the Congressional Delegation and federal partners to ensure that those concerns are urgently addressed.”

“Today’s investment by the Air Force is a good next step toward addressing unacceptable PFC contamination in our drinking water,” said Congresswoman Shea-Porter. “I will continue to insist that the Air Force take financial responsibility for both cleaning up our water and for studying the health impacts of the level of PFC exposure that Pease-area residents have already experienced.”

Today’s Environmental Services Cooperative Agreement for Engineering Design Services will require the Air Force to provide the City of Portsmouth with funding to complete design plans for the carbon filtration system that will remove perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) in water from the Haven, Harrison and Smith Wells, which are treated at the former Pease Air Force Base water treatment facility now operated by the City. This is the third agreement between the Air Force and the City for expenses related to mitigating PFC levels, which have been measured at levels exceeding the EPA’s lifetime health advisory in local drinking water. The first two agreements provided funding for preliminary design services and for a pilot project and demonstration of PFC removal. 

To date, the financial commitment of the Air Force for Pease mitigation activities totals $25 million. The Air Force’s projected $30 million investment in 2017 includes $13 million to retrofit the water treatment facility.

Last month, Shea-Porter’s amendments directing the Department of Defense to fund a CDC health impact study of exposure to PFCs in groundwater around military installations, as well as an amendment she cosponsored to fund ongoing mitigation efforts, passed the House with unanimous support as part of its annual Defense Appropriations bill. 

In April 2017, Senator Shaheen introduced the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, bipartisan legislation, which Senator Hassan cosponsored, that would help strengthen Federal and state efforts to improve drinking water systems. The Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act creates a national strategy to coordinate the Federal response to emerging contaminants and provides state assistance in responding to related public health challenges. Shaheen also successfully included a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that directs the Department of Defense to fund a nationwide health study on the implications of perflourinated chemicals in drinking water. Both Senators and the Congresswoman continue to work to ensure that the Air Force continues to engage with the Pease community and responds to their concerns.

Chicago Teachers Pension Fund Win First Anti-Trust Case Against Big Banks

 Ruling advances case alleging world’s largest investment banks conspired to maintain anti-competitive stranglehold over $275-trillion market.

Case brought forward by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund

NEW YORK  — In a critical victory for investors and traders across the country, a federal judge ruled today to uphold a majority of claims in a class action lawsuit against many of the world’s largest financial institutions for allegedly conspiring to engineer and maintain a collusive and anti-competitive stranglehold over the market for interest rate swaps (IRS) in violation of federal antitrust laws. In a decision issued by U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, the court ruled that 11 “Dealer Defendant” banks, including Bank of America J.P. Morgan Chase & Co, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Credit Suisse, must face claims brought forth in litigation led by the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, which seeks an injunction against the banks’ anticompetitive arrangement and compensatory damages.

“We are pleased with the judge’s decision and look forward to vigorously pursuing justice for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and other investors harmed by this conspiracy by the world’s biggest banks,” said Michael Eisenkraft, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, which is co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the class action.

 “For far too long, the world’s banking giants have shut investors out of electronic trading, and today’s ruling is a critical victory in leveling the playing field,” said Carol Gilden, a partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll also representing the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and working on the case. “Interest rate swaps represent a multi-trillion-dollar market that traders across the world depend upon, and we will fight to ensure investors have access to the transparency, competitive pricing, and faster execution denied to them by the Defendant Banks.”

Interest rate swaps, which are regularly used by a broad spectrum of investors, including pension funds, university endowment funds, hedge funds, and municipalities, allow an entity to swap its fixed interest-rate payments for the floating interest-rate payments of a benchmark, or vice-versa.  Given their daily use across the financial industry, interest rates swaps are a critical, multi-trillion dollar market which investors depend upon.

According to the lawsuit filed in November 2015 in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, interest rate swaps have been standardized and ripe for exchange trading for years. Exchange trading brings transparent and competitive pricing and faster execution to a market, thus bringing significant benefits to investors.

As alleged in the complaint, the market for interest rate swaps has been economically ready for standardized exchange trading, but investors remain stuck trading IRS in an inefficient and antiquated market dominated by the Dealer Defendants. The lawsuit alleges that by blocking the entry of exchanges into the IRS market, the banks force investors to trade with them in an opaque and inefficient over-the-counter market, allowing the Dealer Defendants to extract billions of dollars in higher fees and costs. According to the lawsuit, the Dealer Defendants maintained this profit center by conspiring to squash potential market entrants that threatened to bring competition and transparency to the buy-side in the IRS market. As detailed in the complaint, the Dealer Defendants have jointly threatened, boycotted, coerced, and otherwise eliminated any entity or practice that had the potential to bring exchange trading to investors in the IRS market.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan.

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