Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.

 

Recent Articles

What Trump Administration Corruption Lays Bare: Ineffectual Ethics Rules

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke arrives for a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FY19 budget on Capitol Hill democracy_rules.jpg I n an administration run by a president whose properties have scooped up millions in political and taxpayer money, the daily onslaught of ethics complaints and investigations into self-dealing by top Trump Cabinet officials should come as no surprise. A full catalogue of Cabinet-level corruption would fill a book, from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s real estate dealings with an oil industry executive to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s lucrative short sale of shipping company stock. But one Trump team member surpasses all others in his flagrant disregard for federal conflict-of-interest rules: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who now faces no fewer than 16 federal and congressional investigations, with no end in sight. What’s most stunning about Pruitt’s never-ending ethics saga is not the...

The Right's Campaign to Expand Voter Purges

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File Voters cast their ballots in Hinsdale, Ilinois. democracy_rules.jpg T he Supreme Court’s recent ruling to uphold Ohio’s controversial voter purge law spotlights the growing clout of right-wing “election integrity” groups that have aggressively bullied and sued states and jurisdictions into kicking thousands of voters off their rolls. Such groups, which include the deep-pocketed legal outfit Judicial Watch, and the Public Interest Legal Foundation, headed by J. Christian Adams, a leading proponent of voter fraud myths, hailed the high court’s ruling in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute as a major victory. Both Judicial Watch and the PILF called on states to follow Ohio’s lead and “clean up” their voter rolls—a practice that in Ohio’s case has meant blocking thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots. Cheering from the wings was Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a key architect of the Trump administration’s voter-unfriendly policies. The...

The Return of the Spoils System

AP Photo/Alex Brandon President Donald Trump holds his hands together during a meeting in the Oval Office democracy_rules.jpg P resident Trump’s attacks on what he calls “ 13 Angry Democrats ” working for Robert Mueller go well beyond his troublingly successful campaign to discredit the special counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference. Trump’s “deep state” rhetoric is part of a much broader assault on the federal civil service, the two million or so government professionals who by law are hired to serve the public based on merit and not on partisan fealty. Popular as it is to hate government bureaucrats, this merit-based civil service system is an unsung pillar of democracy—one Trump and his Cabinet are taking steps to topple. The administration’s latest move to deconstruct what former White House strategist Steve Bannon derided as the “ administrative state ” came late last week in the form of three executive orders that will make it easier to fire federal workers...

Business as Usual? Michael Cohen Payments Look More Like a Smoking Gun

AP Photo/Richard Drew Attorney Michael Cohen in at Trump Tower in New York A surprisingly popular take on the millions in “consulting” fees that Michael Cohen collected from heavy hitters in the telecommunications, aerospace and drug industries is that the payments were unseemly but not illegal. “Welcome to the reality of Washington,” opened the May 11 edition of “Playbook,” Politico’s daily briefing, which continued: “YES, guys like Michael Cohen routinely get paid amounts like $1.2 million to offer insights about their boss or former boss.” And even if Trump’s personal lawyer “explicitly sold access” to his boss, argues criminal attorney Randall D. Eliason in a recent op-ed , a string of Supreme Court cases has made public corruption cases almost impossible to prosecute. But anyone who shrugs off the Cohen scandal isn’t looking very carefully at a money trail that grows more complicated every day, and that points to both criminal and national security danger zones. The secret...

“No Corporate PAC” Pledges Go Beyond Cheap Promises

AP Photo/Denis Poroy Senator Kamala Harris speaks in San Diego I t would be easy to reject the growing popularity of “no corporate PAC” pledges among Democrats as symbolic at best. Corporate PAC dollars often add relatively little to candidates’ campaign coffers, and are subject to strict limits and full disclosure in any case. The real corruption threat these days comes not from conventional corporate PACs but from super PACs, which may raise and spend unlimited money if they keep candidates at arm’s length, and from secretive “issue” groups that skirt disclosure rules while spending millions on politics. Nevertheless, there are potent forces driving the more than 100 Democratic candidates who have promised to reject corporate PAC contributions, including a half-dozen potential 2020 presidential contenders. The “no PAC” pledges may strike some as campaign gimmickry, but they reflect both rising public anger over big money in politics, and the power behind anti-big money messages. “It...

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