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Gillibrand releases Social Security platform

 Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 17, 2019: Kirsten Gillibrand published a Medium post outlining her Social Security and senior policy plan. Cory Booker introduced the Second Look Act on early releases for inmates.
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Campaign Finance Spotlight

Monday was the deadline for presidential candidates to file second-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission. Here are three highlights from those reports: 

  • Trump led all presidential candidates with $26.5 million in receipts. Individual contributions accounted for $8.8 million of that total while amounts received from PACs and political committees were $17.6 million.
  • Buttigieg more than tripled the amount he received during the first quarter, reporting $24.9 million in individual contributions. Biden and Warren followed with $22 million and $19.2 million, respectively.
  • Sanders spent $14.1 million during the second quarter—the most expenditures of any candidate. He also ended the quarter with $27.3 million—the most cash among the Democratic candidates. Only two other Democratic candidates—Buttigieg and Warren—reported having about $20 million or more in cash on hand heading into the third quarter.

The following two charts show individual contributions, total receipts, expenditures, and cash on hand for each presidential candidate.

 

Notable Quote of the Day

“The path to maintaining a majority in the Senate goes through North Carolina and I think the path to the president’s re-elect does as well.”

– Thom Tillis, U.S. senator from North Carolina

Democrats

  • The Des Moines Register and AARP are hosting a series of five forums in Iowa this week. Michael BennetJohn DelaneyTulsi Gabbard, and Tim Ryan will participate in Wednesday’s event in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • Joe Biden unveiled his policy proposal focusing on rural communities Tuesday. Biden called for expanding a microloan program for new farmers, investing in broadband infrastructure, doubling funding for community health centers, and recruiting more doctors to residencies in rural areas.
  • Cory Booker is introducing the Matthew Charles and William Underwood Second Look Act Wednesday, which would establish several early release protocols. Booker proposed allowing people who have served more than a decade in prison to petition a court for early release. Inmates older than 50 would get the presumption of release following a petition.
  • Shondaland and MSNBC’s Chris Matthews interviewed Steve Bullock Tuesday.
  • Pete Buttigieg will speak at the Young Democrats of America convention in Indiana Thursday.
  • Democracy Now! interviewed Julián Castro about immigration, labor issues, and foreign policy.
  • Kirsten Gillibrand published a Medium post outlining her senior policy plan. Gillibrand said she would increase Social Security benefits by $65/month, eliminate a cap on total benefits, and expand eligibility to include surviving spouses and other select family members. Gillibrand would also increase the Social Security payroll tax cap and establish a 3.8 percent investment income tax to keep the program solvent.
  • Kamala Harris released her plan to lower the price of prescription drugs. Under Harris’ proposal, prices would be set by the Department of Health and Human Services. Companies that sell drugs at a higher rate would be taxed on the profits, which would then be turned into rebates for consumers.
  • The Chronicle interviewed John Hickenlooper about climate change, the Senate, and education policy.
  • Amy Klobuchar outlined her first 100 days in office during a policy address in Washington, D.C. She said she would first rejoin the International Climate Change Agreement, preserve insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions, and travel to Canada and Europe to strengthen international relationships.  
  • Beto O’Rourke hired Aisha McClendon to serve as his national director of African American voter outreach.
  • Bernie Sanders said he would try to split apart Facebook, Google, and Amazon, and pursue greater enforcement of antitrust legislation.
  • Joe Sestak wrote an op-ed in Fortune about his military service and the principle of accountable leadership.
  • Elizabeth Warren attended Mark Esper’s confirmation hearing Tuesday, where she questioned the nominee for secretary of defense about his relationship with defense contractor Raytheon.
  • The San Francisco Chronicle profiled Andrew Yang’s campaign and how he is performing better than several politicians in the race.

Republicans

  • Donald Trump launched the Women for Trump coalition Tuesday at an event near Philadelphia. Leading the effort were Lara Trump, Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, former Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle, and others.

On the Cusp: Tracking Potential Candidates

  • Mark Sanford announced that he was considering running for president. “I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters,” Sanford said.

What We’re Reading

Flashback: July 17, 2015

Politico reported on Elizabeth Warren’s speech at Netroots Nation and her influence on the 2016 Democratic primary.



The Daily Brew: Making sense of the 2nd quarter presidential fundraising

Today’s Brew compiles all the second-quarter presidential financial reports + highlights our upcoming webinar on SCOTUS’ rulings this term affecting the administrative state  
The Daily Brew
 

Welcome to the Wednesday, July 17, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. President Trump leads 2020 presidential candidates in second-quarter fundraising
  2. One week until our July 24 briefing on the Supreme Court and the administrative state
  3. Twenty candidates are running for six Toledo City Council seats

President Trump leads 2020 presidential candidates in second- quarter fundraising

The deadline for presidential candidates to file second-quarter financial reports with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was Monday. These reports summarize how much money each campaign raised from individual donors, political action committees, and other campaign committees. Candidates also reported how much their campaign spent during the quarter and the amount of money they had at the end of the period—also known as the amount of “cash on hand.”

Here are three highlights from those reports: 

  • President Donald Trump (R) led all presidential candidates with $26.5 million in receipts. Individual contributions accounted for $8.8 million of that total while amounts received from PACs and political committees were $17.6 million.

  • Pete Buttigieg (D) more than tripled the amount he received during the first quarter, reporting $24.9 million in individual contributions. Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren followed with $22 million and $19.2 million, respectively.

  • Bernie Sanders spent $14.1 million during the second quarter—the most expenditures of any candidate. He also ended the quarter with $27.3 million—the most cash among the Democratic candidates. Only two other Democratic candidates—Buttigieg and Warren—reported having about $20 million or more in cash on hand heading into the third quarter.

The following two charts show individual contributions, total receipts, expenditures, and cash on hand for each presidential candidate.

Fundraising

Fundraising

The “Individual Contributions” column represents donations from individuals. The “Total Receipts” column includes individual donations and contributions from other sources, including political committees and loans from the candidate.

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One week until our July 24 briefing on the Supreme Court and the administrative state 

As you know from reading the Brew these past few months, I love learning about the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, did you know that of the 68 decisions issued by the Court this past term, there were more 9-0 decisions (22) than 5-4 ones (19)? And that Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the opinion in more of those 9-0 cases—five—than any other justice?

My colleagues and I at Ballotpedia don’t just calculate statistics associated with the current term, we also analyze the effect the Court’s decisions have on public policy. One area of particular interest this term was the administrative state, as the Court heard cases regarding such principles as the nondelegation doctrine, judicial review of agency interpretations of laws, and Auer deference.

We’re hosting a briefing on the Court’s rulings on these issues and how they’re likely to affect policymaking on July 24 at 11:00 am Central time. We’ll cover the decisions in cases such as Gundy v. United States and Kisor v. Wilkie, among others. I can’t wait for what figures to be a really interesting session–click the link below to register and join me.

 

Twenty candidates are running for six Toledo City Council seats

Sixty of America’s 100 largest cities by population will hold elections in 2019, including contests for mayor, city council, and other city offices like clerk and treasurer. While the numbers vary from year to year due to special elections to fill vacancies, more of these contests take place in odd-numbered years. In the two most-recent odd-numbered years—2015 and 2017—an average of 54 cities held elections for council members for an average of 417 seats per year. In the last two even-numbered years, an average of 46.5 cities held council elections which decided an average of 204.5 seats.

Last week, the filing deadline passed in Toledo, Ohio – the 66th largest city. Twenty candidates filed to run. These races are for council members elected in each of the city’s six districts. The mayor and six at-large council members were elected in 2017. 

Although Toledo’s municipal elections are officially nonpartisan, party affiliations are available for each candidate. Four incumbents—all Democrats—are running for re-election. One Democratic incumbent is not seeking another term while one Republican incumbent is term-limited.

Five of the six districts will hold a primary election September 10 since more than two candidates are running in each. The top two vote recipients will then meet in the general election November 5.

 

 



Biden proposes $750 billion healthcare policy

Ballotpedia's Daily Presidential News Briefing

July 16, 2019: Joe Biden proposed expanding the Affordable Care Act. Cory Booker released his long-term care policy.


 

Which was the most recent presidential election where both parties renominated their candidates from the last election?

Notable Quote of the Day

“Some of these candidates need a miracle. It’s like if you’re a baseball team and you’re 15 games behind in mid-July, the odds are that you’re not making it to the playoffs.

If you don’t have the money, you’re not going to have the infrastructure. And if you don’t have the money or the infrastructure, what are you going to do to break through? At this point, it’s just very, very tough.”

– Mathew Littman, Democratic strategist

Democrats

  • Michael Bennet discussed agricultural runoff during a campaign stop at the Iowa Flood Center Monday.

  • Joe Biden unveiled his $750 billion healthcare plan Monday. It would build on the Affordable Care Act by adding a public option that resembles Medicare. Biden’s plan would also increase healthcare tax credits to limit healthcare spending to no more than 8.5 percent of a household’s income.

  • Cory Booker released his long-term care policy Monday. Booker proposed increasing Medicaid asset and income limits to cover more people. He also called for expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for family caregivers and paying long-term care workers a minimum of $15 per hour.

  • In an interview on Recode Decode with Kara SwisherPete Buttigieg discussed systemic racism, tech regulation, and the state of the Democratic Party.

  • The Des Moines Register and AARP are hosting a series of five forums in Iowa this week. Julián CastroKirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris will participate in Tuesday’s event in Davenport, Iowa.

  • John Delaney wrote an op-ed about the opioid crisis in the Concord Monitor.

  • Jay Inslee participated in the “20 Questions for 2020” series by NowThisNews, discussing clean energy, mountain climbing, and campaign strategy.

  • In an interview on the NPR Politics PodcastAmy Klobuchar said she would prioritize nominating federal judges on her first day in office, but would not release any names during her campaign. 

  • Wayne Messam spoke about his presidential campaign and uneven media coverage on The Breakfast Club.

  • In an interview on ABC News’ The Investigation podcast, Seth Moulton called for an impeachment inquiry to begin immediately and criticized the debate over the politics of impeachment.

  • Beto O’Rourke is opening 11 field offices in Iowa and his first field office in Texas.

  • Tim Ryan toured a migrant child detention center in Homestead, Florida, as part of an oversight visit.

  • Bernie Sanders proposed establishing a $20 billion emergency trust fund to enable local governments to purchase for-profit hospitals in financial distress.

  • In an interview with Cheddar PoliticsJoe Sestak spoke about space exploration and his proposal for a two-state solution in Israel.

  • Tom Steyer will campaign in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday.

  • The Washington Post reported on Elizabeth Warren’s legal consulting for Dow Chemical in a case involving women who had become sick from breast implants made by the company’s subsidiary.

  • Marianne Williamson campaigned in Beverly Hills, California, on Monday.

Republicans

  • Top donors to the Trump Victory Committee, a joint fundraising venture by Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, include Nebraska donor Marlene Ricketts and former Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon. They each gave the maximum contribution of $360,000. Trump is scheduled to host a fundraiser Friday at his Bedminister golf course.

Flashback: July 16, 2015

Politico reported on the salaries of top 2016 staffers. Marco Rubio campaign manager Terry Sullivan was earning an annual salary of $198,000. Rand Paul’s campaign manager, Chip Englander, followed with $129,000, according to financial reports.



20 candidates file for Toledo City Council elections

Twenty candidates filed to run for the November 5 general election for six of the 12 city council seats in Toledo, Ohio. A primary is scheduled for September 10 for races that had more than two candidates file. The filing deadline was July 12. Toledo’s municipal elections are nonpartisan, but party affiliations were available for each candidate.
 
District 1 incumbent Tyrone Riley (D) faces three Democrats and one Republican in his bid for re-election. In District 2, incumbent Matt Cherry (D) faces a Republican candidate and a Green Party candidate. Incumbent Peter Ujvagi (D) did not file to run for re-election, leaving the District 3 seat open for a newcomer. Two Democrats and one Republican are running for the seat. The District 4 race includes incumbent Yvonne Harper (D) and two other Democrats. No Republicans filed to run in that race. The District 5 race is also open for a newcomer as incumbent Tom Waniewski (R) was unable to run for re-election due to term limits. One Democrat and two Republicans are running for the seat. In District 6, incumbent [[Chris Delaney]] (D) is running for re-election against a Republican. Because only two candidates filed, no primary will be held for that race.
 
Elections for Toledo municipal judges and the clerk of the municipal court are also scheduled to be on the ballot in 2019. No official candidate lists were available for those races as of July 15.
 
Toledo is the fourth-largest city in Ohio and the 66th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Recall initiated against Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee

An effort to recall Colorado state Sen. Pete Lee (D) was approved for circulation on July 12, 2019. Supporters have until September 10, 2019, to collect 11,304 signatures to force a recall election. Another recall petition targeting state Sen. Brittany Pettersen (D) received approval by the secretary of state on July 12 but it was withdrawn by petitioners three days later. According to the Denver Post, supporters have plans to resubmit the petition.
 
The recall petition targeting Lee was submitted by Scott David Fisher. Supporters have until September 10, 2019, to collect 11,304 signatures to force a recall election.
 
According to the recall petition, Lee is being targeted for recall because he supported legislation related to firearms, oil and gas, the national popular vote, and sex education during the 2019 legislative session. The firearms bill was designed to temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others. The oil and gas bill was designed to give local governments more control over regulating the industry and also mandates that the state emphasize safety over promoting oil and gas production. The sex education bill updated the state’s curriculum for school districts that offer that education. The bill added instruction on such things as sexual orientation, consent, STDs, and pregnancy prevention. All four bills were signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis (D) in 2019.
 
After the recall was announced against Sen. Lee, he said: “I am disappointed that radical activists have decided to disrespect the voters of Senate District 11 and undermine the electoral process. I was elected eight months ago by 60% of the voters. To overturn the will of the people because of a disagreement on a couple of votes is inconsistent with our democratic process. They couldn’t defeat me in the election so they’re taking the back door of a recall.”
 
Gov. Polis is also facing an official recall campaign in 2019 over the same legislation as Sen. Lee. According to The Gazette, the Lee recall is being supported by the same group backing the recall against Gov. Polis. Two state representatives—Tom Sullivan (D) and Rochelle Galindo (D)—were also targeted by recall campaigns in 2019 due to the same legislation. The recall targeting Rep. Galindo (D) ended after she resigned her seat in May 2019. The recall targeting state Rep. Sullivan (D) ended in June 2019 after recall supporters concluded the effort. Unofficial recall campaigns are also underway against state Sen. Jeff Bridges (D), state Rep. Meg Froelich (D), state Rep. Bri Buentello (D), and state Sen. Leroy Garcia (D).
 
Lee was elected to the state Senate in 2018 with 62% of the vote. Prior to the 2018 election, Michael Merrifield (D) represented District 11 from 2015 to 2019.
 
Since 2011, 83 recall petitions have been filed against state lawmakers. Nine recalls were successful, nine were defeated at the ballot, 57 did not go to a vote, and eight are still ongoing. California state Sen. Josh Newman (D) was recalled in 2018. Two Colorado state senators were successfully recalled in 2013.
 
Colorado became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats flipped the state Senate in the 2018 elections. Democrats control the state House by a 41-24 margin and the state Senate by a 19-16 margin. Gov. Polis succeeded John Hickenlooper (D) as governor in 2019.
 
Additional reading:


Twenty-one Democrats qualify for 20 spots in the second Democratic presidential debate

The lineup for the second set of Democratic presidential debates on July 30-31, 2019, will be announced when CNN airs a live drawing for the qualifying candidates Thursday night.
 
Twenty-one candidates have reached the polling or grassroots fundraising threshold or both. The debate is limited to 20 candidates.
 
Candidates who have reached both sets of requirements are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen Kamala Harris, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, author Marianne Willamson, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.
 
Sen. Michael Bennet, Gov. Steve Bullock, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, former Rep. John Delaney, former Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Rep. Tim Ryan have met the polling threshold of 1 percent support or more in three eligible national or early state polls.
 
Over the weekend, former Sen. Mike Gravel reached the grassroots fundraising threshold of at least 65,000 unique contributions and at least 200 unique contributions from a minimum of 20 U.S. states. Under previously announced tiebreaker rules, the candidates’ polling averages will be considered before fundraising figures.
 
Joining Gravel on the bubble are four candidates who have not yet met either qualifying criteria: Miramar Mayor Wayne Messam and Rep. Seth Moulton and race newcomers former Rep. Joe Sestak and investor Tom Steyer.
 
The candidates who qualify for the July debates will encounter new debate rules when they appear on stage in Detroit, Michigan. Unlike the June debate hosted by NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo, there will be no questions requiring a show of hands or one-word, down-the-line answers. Candidates who repeatedly interrupt other speakers will be penalized. Candidates will also be allowed to make both opening and closing statements.
 
A third presidential debate is scheduled in Houston, Texas, on September 12-13, 2019. Candidates will need to receive 2 percent support or more in four national or early state polls and receive donations from at least 130,000 unique donors to qualify.


Four new statewide ballot measures certified for 2019 and 2020

Four new statewide ballot measures were certified for 2019 and 2020 ballots in the past 30 days.
 
Three statewide measures were certified for 2019 in Maine, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Here’s what they would do:
  • Maine: allow legislation to let persons with physical disabilities that prevent them from signing their own names use an alternative signature to sign petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures.
  • New Jersey: extend an existing $250 property tax deduction that veterans receive to continuing care retirement centers on behalf of the veterans living there, and require retirement centers to pass the value of the deduction on to veterans in the form of credits or payments. 
  • Pennsylvania: add specific rights of crime victims, together known as a Marsy’s Law, to the Pennsylvania Constitution.
 
A 2020 measure to establish the authority of state and local governments to pass campaign finance laws was certified in Oregon.
 
All four statewide measures certified in the past month were proposed constitutional amendments referred to the ballot by state legislatures.
 
Proponents of a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment in Florida designed to state that only citizens of the United States are qualified electors announced that they had collected 1.5 million signatures seeking to qualify their measure for the 2020 ballot; they need to submit 766,200 valid signatures and have them verified prior to a deadline on February 1, 2020.
 
Proponents of a 2019 sanctuary city measure in Tucson also submitted signatures for their initiative.


The Daily Brew: Who will be in the next Democratic presidential debate? We’ll know this week

Today’s Brew highlights which candidates have qualified for the second Democratic presidential debates + a summary of new state ballot measures from the past month  
 The Daily Brew
 

Welcome to the Tuesday, July 16, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Candidates in second Democratic presidential debates will be announced this week
  2. Four statewide ballot measures certified over the past month
  3. Nine candidates running for an open seat on Atlanta’s school board

Candidates in second Democratic presidential debates will be announced this week

Twenty-one Democratic presidential candidates have reached either the polling or fundraising threshold for the party’s second set of debates on July 30 and 31. Since only 20 candidates—10 per night—will participate, the Democratic National Committee will use tiebreaker criteria to determine who will participate. These criteria are, in order:

  1. Candidates who have achieved both the polling and fundraising thresholds,
  2. Candidates with the highest polling average, and
  3. Candidates with the highest number of contributors.

The 14 candidates who have reached both sets of requirements are Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Tulsi Gabbard, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Jay Inslee, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Willamson, and Andrew Yang.

Six other candidates—Michael Bennet, Steve Bullock, Bill de Blasio, John Delaney, John Hickenlooper, and Tim Ryan—have met the polling threshold of 1 percent support or more in three eligible national or early state polls.

Over the weekend, Mike Gravel announced he had reached the fundraising threshold of at least 65,000 unique contributors and at least 200 unique contributors from a minimum of 20 U.S. states. Four candidates have not yet met either qualifying criteria—Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Joe Sestak, and Tom Steyer.

The lineup for each night of the debates will be announced during a live drawing on CNN July 18. 

These debates—which will be held in Detroit—will be conducted using different rules than the first set of debates on June 26 and 27. According to CNN, candidates will be allowed to make both opening and closing statements and participants who repeatedly interrupt other speakers will be penalized. Unlike last month’s debate, there will be no questions requiring a show of hands or one-word, down-the-line answers. 

The third Democratic presidential debate is scheduled for Sept. 12 in Houston. Candidates will need to receive two percent support or more in four national or early state polls and have received donations from at least 130,000 unique donors to qualify.

Want the lineup in your inbox the morning after it is announced? Click here to sign up for Ballotpedia’s free Daily Presidential News Briefing.

Learn more
   

Four statewide ballot measures certified over the past month 

In our latest edition of State Ballot Measure Monthly—click here to subscribe—we learned that four new statewide measures have been certified for the 2019 and 2020 ballots. 

Three will go before voters in 2019. Here’s what each measure would do:

  • A state constitutional amendment in Maine would authorize legislation allowing persons with physical disabilities that prevent them from signing their own names to use an alternative signature to sign petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures. Maine’s constitution currently requires people to sign petitions for citizen-initiated ballot measures with their original signature. 
  • A New Jersey amendment would extend an existing $250 property tax deduction that veterans receive to be sent to continuing care retirement centers on behalf of the veterans living there. It would also require those retirement centers to pass the value of the deduction on to veterans in the form of credits or payments.  
  • A Pennsylvania amendment would add a specific set of rights for crime victims—together known as Marsy’s Law—to the state constitution.

A 2020 measure that would allow state and local governments to pass campaign finance laws was certified in Oregon. The state legislatures referred all four of these amendments to their respective ballots.

Read this month’s issue

 

Nine candidates running for an open seat on Atlanta’s school board

Nine candidates are running in a special election for a seat on the Atlanta Public Schools board. They include three former school board candidates, a former Atlanta city council candidate, and a former candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives.The election is Sept. 17. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff election will be held Oct. 15.

Former board member Byron Amos resigned the seat in January to run for the Atlanta City Council. Amos had served on the board since 2011 and was re-elected in a 2017 runoff by less than one percentage point. Keisha Carey, who lost to Amos in the 2017 runoff, is one of the nine candidates seeking the open seat. The winner of the special election will serve until 2021 when the entire nine-member board is up for election.

The Atlanta public school district is the sixth-largest in Georgia. It had 51,145 students during the 2014-2015 school year.

Learn more→

 



Harris leads Democratic candidates in Ballotpedia pageviews for second consecutive week

Each week, we report the number of pageviews received by 2020 presidential campaigns on Ballotpedia. These numbers show which candidates are getting our readers’ attention.
 
Sen. Kamala Harris’ campaign page on Ballotpedia received 3,594 pageviews for the week of July 6-13.
 
Harris’ pageview figure represents 8.7 percent of the pageviews for all Democratic candidates during the week.
 
Former Vice President Joe Biden had 7.7 percent of the candidate pageviews for the week, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren had 6.7 percent.
 
Every Democratic campaign’s pageviews decreased this week with former Rep. Eric Swalwell showing the steepest drop of 69.2 percent. Swalwell suspended his presidential campaign on July 8, 2019.
 
The top three candidates in lifetime pageviews are South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 86,772, entrepreneur Andrew Yang with 73,481, and Harris with 71,849.
 
On the GOP side, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had 8,945 pageviews to President Donald Trump’s 1,368.


Trump administration asks court to uphold restrictions on presidential authority over housing agency

In a July 9, 2019, letter, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold for-cause removal protections, which limit the circumstances in which presidents can remove the heads of agencies. The FHFA told the court that the agency’s new director had reconsidered the constitutionality of the agency’s structure.
 
The FHFA sent the letter as part of the ongoing proceedings in Collins v. Mnuchin, where a panel of the Fifth Circuit found that the structure of the FHFA is unconstitutional because it is led by a single director who is only removable by the president for cause. The court reheard the case en banc in January 2019 and had not announced a decision as of July 11, 2019.
 
The FHFA was created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) to oversee the government-sponsored mortgage security corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In Collins v. Mnuchin, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shareholders presented the following complaints:
  • A 2012 dividend agreement between the FHFA and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, which rendered their shares valueless, exceeded the statutory authority of the FHFA and the Treasury Department.
  • The FHFA is unconstitutionally structured because it is headed by a single director who is only removable for cause and it does not depend on congressional appropriations.
A district court dismissed the shareholders’ complaints. In a split decision, however, the Fifth Circuit panel reversed the decision on the grounds that the structure of the FHFA violates the separation of powers because the agency’s director is too insulated from presidential control. The court struck the language from HERA that only allowed the president to dismiss the FHFA director for good cause. Though the panel found the FHFA structure unconstitutional, they upheld the power of FHFA and Treasury Department to enter into the dividend agreement.
 
Additional reading:
 
FHFA letter to the 5th Circuit:


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