Monday, November 27, 2023
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Monday, November 27, 2023

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Jennifer Dorow Considering Run for State Supreme Court

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We’ve heard from three sources that Waukesha County Judge Jennifer Dorow is considering a run for state Supreme Court.

We broke this news exclusively last week on social media. The race is incredibly important because it is for control of the court.

Conservative former Justice Dan Kelly is already in the race.

Kelly is known for his strong conservative opinions on the court, including helping strike down Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order. He is an attorney who worked on redistricting matters for conservatives, defending Republican redistricting maps, and who advised conservative non-profits, including the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. He was appointed to the seat by former Gov. Scott Walker. He’s been a leader in the Federalist Society.

Kelly lost the seat in 2020 getting 44.7% to liberal Jill Karofsky’s 55.2%. His supporters point out that this loss occurred in a presidential primary election.

Jennifer Dorow

Jennifer Dorow is a chief judge who was appointed to the Waukesha County bench by Walker and has been elected there twice. She was a 2004 Presidential Election Day Volunteer Lawyer with the State Republican Party, a Republican Party of Waukesha member, and a Republican Women of Waukesha County member.

She told Walker in writing to get the appointment, “I hold strong conservative values that will guide me as a judge and ensure that all litigants are treated fairly under the law. I do not believe in legislating from the bench, and subscribe to the principle of judicial restraint.” She and her husband, a former Waukesha police officer, have been involved in Republican campaigns behind the scenes.

Jennifer Dorow has been in the news as the judge presiding over the Darrell Brooks’ trial.

On the left, two judges have declared: Janet Protasiewicz of Milwaukee and Everett Mitchell of Madison. Both are former prosecutors. He has given talks on criminal justice “reform.”

The liberal Up North News called Protasiewicz a “progressive judge,” and quoted her as blaming “radical right-wing extremists” for attacking “our most closely-held constitutional rights.” She said “Our most closely-held constitutional rights are under attack by radical right-wing extremists.”

“For almost my entire life, the constitutional right to privacy has been settled law,” Protasiewicz added, making her position on abortion clear.

If you want our detailed analysis of this race, you can check out more here.

Table of Contents

warren.spahn@wisconsin.gov Evers' Use of “Secret” Email Account

Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty Condemns Gov. Evers’ Use of “Secret” Email Account

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Language Justice

Denver Schools Adopt ‘Language Justice’ Policy With Goal to Support Native Languages

The Denver school district is among the first in the country to adopt a “language justice” policy as a "long term goal."

The district would encourage non-English speaking students to be able to use their native language to learn as opposed to being educated in English, which advocates say is oppressive and rooted in racism.

Denver schools had about 90,250 students in 2022 with 35,000 multilingual learners with home languages other than English. The district has 200 languages spoken across the district, with Spanish as the home language for the majority of those.

The district included a draft of an equity document that includes a policy statement on "language justice." It was included in the Nov. 16 school board agenda. The document includes this definition for "language justice": "The notion of respecting every individual's fundamental language rights – to be able to communicate, understand, and be understood in the language in which they prefer and feel most articulate and powerful."

The district didn't respond to an email seeking comment. It's not clear how much such a policy would cost and the district didn't provide details in the school board agenda packet of how to implement it.

The Colorado chapter of the education advocacy organization Stand For Children stated it worked with the Denver school district to get the language justice policy adopted.

"We will continue to work with school leaders and staff to help provide knowledge of these policies and strategies to accomplish language justice in every classroom and school," Colorado Stand For Children posted on its website.

The Community Language Cooperative, which has advocated for language justice, referred to a chart that explained what is involved in the program.

"The organization has allocated significant funds to language justice efforts. This is a yearly budget line item," the chart states.

It also states that meetings or public events "are facilitated in the represented languages. ... Interpretation is made available to all participants, not just the non-English speakers."

The organization would also hire bilingual staff members, put them in leadership positions and pay them "equitably" to "ensure that bilingualism is a valued skill for the organization."

"It's not just a matter of hiring more interpreters and translators but rather creating systems and building the infrastructure that best supports linguistically diverse families and supporting multilingual staff," Rosa Guzman-Snyder, co-founder of Community Language Cooperative, said in an email to The Center Square.

The Community Language Cooperative, which provides translation services, explained in a post on The Colorado Trust's website how language justice could be implemented.

"Here’s how it works: When somebody speaks in English, [interpreter Luis] Gomez simultaneously whispers the Spanish interpretation into his mic, which feeds the headsets of everyone in the room. There’s another person whispering the English interpretation when somebody speaks Spanish," the post read.

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Biden Impeachment Biden Mandates Artificial Intelligence Biden’s Funding Request 6 Billion to Iran impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden $39 billion biden red background Falling Food Prices

Biden Impeachment Inquiry Builds Evidence

The impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden is gaining momentum as more evidence comes out to back allegations that the president himself financially benefited from the overseas business dealings of his son, Hunter.

While Republicans will find it very difficult to get the needed supermajority to impeach Biden, the mounting evidence and media coverage would be another obstacle for Biden to overcome as he campaigns for reelection.

The House Oversight Committee, led by Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., has filed a flurry of subpoenas in the investigation of Biden family members and associates this month, starting with Hunter Biden, the president’s son, James Biden, the president’s brother, and their business associate Bob Walker.

Comer then sent subpoenas for Hunter Biden’s business associates, Mervyn Yan and Eric Schwerin, as well as his gallerist, George Bergès, and art patron, Elizabeth Naftali.

As The Center Square previously reported, Hunter Biden’s art business has come under scrutiny as critics argue his expensive works were used to hide and funnel funds.

Comer has also sent a subpoena to former White House Counsel Dana Remus, raising concerns about Biden’s handling and retention of classified documents. Federal law enforcement found classified documents in Biden’s garage and his office at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, D.C. from his time as Vice President.

Notably, former President Donald Trump faces criminal charges for the same offense. Biden has not yet been charged.

In the Remus subpoena, Comer is planning a deposition to find out more about Biden’s handling of classified documents and if there is any connection to those documents and the countries involved in his family’s overseas business dealings.

Notably, reporting has suggested some of the classified documents may have been related to Ukraine, a country that allegedly funneled millions of dollars to the Biden family.

“Facts continue to emerge showing that the White House’s narrative of President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents doesn’t add up,” Comer said in a statement. “It is imperative to learn whether President Biden retained sensitive documents related to any countries involving his family’s foreign business dealings that brought in millions for the Biden family. The Oversight Committee looks forward to hearing directly from Dana Remus and other central figures to further our investigation into President Biden’s mishandling of classified documents and determine whether our national security has been compromised.”

The committee has released evidence that the Biden family and associates received more than $24 million from entities in China, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan. Comer says that money was shuffled between shell companies to hide its origin and destination.

Comer has also released copies of two checks for a total of $240,000 from family members made out to the president. The memo says “loan repayment,” but Comer argues these payments are evidence of kickbacks going to the president as Hunter and associates used the president’s political clout to secure deals worldwide.

President Biden has repeatedly dismissed the idea that he personally benefited from any overseas deals.

Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy launched the impeachment inquiry earlier this year, putting Comer, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Chair of the Judiciary Committee as well as Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., who leads the Ways and Means Committee, at the helm of the impeachment inquiry.

Comer, Jordan and Smith sent a letter last week to Hollywood lawyer and Democrat donor Kevin Morris requesting a transcribed interview. They pointed to media reports that Morris lent millions to Hunter Biden.

“Instead of investigating his loans as a potential campaign finance violation, the Justice Department, revealed in documents released by the Ways and Means Committee, said they had no interest in doing so, with one DOJ prosecutor saying they were not ‘personally interested’ in following the facts,” Smith said in a statement. “It’s time that Americans learn the truth about Kevin Morris’s monetary contributions to the Biden family business dealings.”

Comer, though, has largely spearheaded the investigation, releasing a series of documentation and evidence, including bank records and testimony from IRS whistleblowers who testified that the Biden administration interfered into their investigation into Hunter Biden.

Comer also requested transcribed interviews last week with four former White House employees: Annie Tomasini, Anthony Bernal, Katharine Reilly, and Ashley Williams.

“The Oversight Committee has conducted transcribed interviews in connection with this matter, including with individuals who worked at Penn Biden Center, one of whom was present at Penn Biden Center on November 2, 2022—the day that, according to the President’s personal attorney, classified materials were first “unexpectedly discovered,’” Comer said in a letter to Williams. “The Committees are now aware that, in addition to Ms. Kathy Chung (a Department of Defense employee), at least five White House employees accessed Penn Biden Center prior to the “discovery” of classified materials on November 2 and accessed boxes stored therein—including yourself on October 12, 2022, with President Biden’s personal attorney, Patrick Moore, and again, the next day, on October 13, 2022.”

Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge

Multiple Border Crossings Closed by Possible ‘Terror Attack’ at Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge

Multiple border crossings are closed and two are dead after a vehicle explosion Wednesday on the Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge connecting Canada and the United States.

Multiple reports say law enforcement sources are investigating as a possible terrorist attack. The explosion occurred at or near a toll checkpoint, the car was traveling at a high rate of speed, and both occupants in the vehicle were killed.

The afternoon before Thanksgiving Day, all four border crossings in western New York were closed.

No motive was immediately conveyed by federal or state authorities. There were no other reports of additional injuries on the bridge or surrounding area. It is unclear what precipitated the explosion.

The FBI confirmed the explosion and coordinated the investigation with state and local lawmen.

“The FBI Buffalo Field Office is investigating a vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge, a border crossing between the U.S. and Canada in Niagara Falls,” the FBI said in a release. "The FBI is coordinating with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners in this investigation. As this situation is very fluid, that all we can say at this time."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, posting on social media, said state police and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was working “to monitor all points of entry to New York.”

Hochul, in another social media post, wrote, “I have been briefed on the incident on the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls and we are closely monitoring the situation. State agencies are on site and ready to assist.”

The explosion came at one of the nation's busiest travel times.

“Cars coming into the Buffalo Airport will undergo security checks and travelers can expect additional screenings,” said a statement from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

President Joe Biden is vacationing in Nantucket, Mass. A White House statement said the administration was “closely monitoring” the situation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefly commented on the incident in Parliament, saying, “This is obviously a very serious situation in Niagara Falls.” He excused himself from a Question Period in the House of Commons while being briefed on the attempted attack.

artificial intelligence

Concerns Raised Over the Effect Artificial Intelligence Could Have on 2024 Elections

A University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy professor is waving a red flag on the impact that artificial intelligence could have on next year’s elections.

Ethan Bueno de Mesquita has written a white paper which he said provides an overview of the potential impact of generative AI on the electoral process. The paper offers specific recommendations for voters, journalists, civil society, tech leaders and other stakeholders to help manage the risks and capitalize on the promise of AI for electoral democracy in the hope of fostering a more productive public discussion of these issues.

“The No. 1 issue that we need to be thinking about are the ways in which AI is going to matter for elections and the ways it poses risks of degrading the information environment for voters,” Bueno de Mesquita said.

The Federal Election Commission has been investigating the possibility of regulating AI-generated images known as "deepfakes" in political ads ahead of next year’s elections.

The Biden administration recently issued an executive order on AI that “will develop effective labeling and content provenance mechanisms, so that Americans are able to determine when content is generated using AI and when it is not.”

Bueno de Mesquita said that misinformation or a “deepfake” close to election day could be damaging “if such a thing gets released and gets released widely on social media or traditional media very close to the election when there is not enough time for responsible actors to figure out what's true and what's false and help voters sort through that information."

According to a survey by the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, 58% of Americans believe AI will increase the spread of election misinformation, but only 14% plan to use AI to get information about the presidential election.

In the white paper, Bueno de Mesquita notes that during the campaign season, there is ample misleading content that is not AI-generated, and there will be plenty of perfectly accurate AI-generated content. Ultimately “there will be no substitute for your skepticism, common sense, and trusted sources,” he said.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Redistricting Hearing Wisconsin should soon have an answer about ballot drop boxes and just who can return absentee ballots. wisconsin supreme court

Wisconsin Supreme Court Redistricting Hearing: Lawmakers & Advocacy Groups React

(The Center Square) – There are no surprises among the reactions to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s questions about drawing new political maps in the state.

A number of lawmakers and advocacy groups weighed in after the high court Tuesday heard arguments to redraw the state’s legislative maps.

The top Democrat in the Wisconsin Senate, Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, said the redistricting case is “historic,” and “has the power to put voters back in control of our democracy.”

“For far too long, Republicans in power gerrymandered Wisconsin’s legislative maps to retain control rather than represent the will of the majority. It is shameful that for more than a decade, politicians in Wisconsin have chosen their voters, rather than voters choosing their representatives,” Agard said.

The top Republicans at the Wisconsin Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, issued a joint statement that echoed the line of questioning from conservative justices.

“The petitioners waited two years to file their meritless redistricting claims – and yet they waited only one day after Justice Protasiewicz’s investiture. Now they want to give the parties mere weeks to litigate Democrats’ demand for new maps statewide,” the two said in a statement. “Rushing to upend the 2024 elections and cancel the terms of the 17 duly elected senators will prove this case to be the campaign promise that Justice Protasiewicz professed it wasn’t.”

A number of advocates also gave opinions.

Law Forward, the group driving the redistricting challenge, also offered thoughts.

“Gerrymandered maps have distorted the political landscape, stifling the voice of the voters,” said Dan Lenz, staff counsel for Law Forward. “It challenges the very essence of fair representation and the erosion of confidence in our political system. The outcome will have far-reaching consequences for Wisconsin’s democracy.”

“We are appreciative of the new court majority’s willingness to listen to the people of Wisconsin in a case where our rights and freedoms are at stake,” Chris Walloch, executive director of A Better Wisconsin Together, said. “Wisconsin’s current maps reflect a long history of partisan map drawing that enables right-wing politicians to rig the rules for their own benefit, while the issues Wisconsin voters care about have gone unaddressed.”

The high court listened to two hours of arguments Tuesday. There is no word when the court will issue a ruling.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Redistricting Hearing Wisconsin should soon have an answer about ballot drop boxes and just who can return absentee ballots. wisconsin supreme court

Wisconsin Supreme Court Hears Redistricting Challenge

(The Center Square) – A lawyer for the groups seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s legislative maps didn’t finish his first sentence before one of the state’s conservative justices demanded to know why he was bringing the case now.

“Where were you? Where were your clients two years ago?” Justice Rebecca Bradley asked. “We've already been through this. Redistricting happens once every 10 years after the census. All of the issues that you're bringing actually could have been brought before this court two years ago.”

A number of liberal and progressive groups, with the support of Democrats in Wisconsin, are challenging Wisconsin’s the maps.

The groups say the maps are gerrymandered and favor Republicans. More specifically, they argue that because not every district is 100% connected, those maps are gerrymandered to the point where they are unconstitutional.

Attorney Mark Gaber told Bradley his clients didn’t go to court two years ago because they weren't yet sure what Wisconsin’s political maps would look like.

“I am unaware of any authority that would say if you don't raise a constitutional claim in 12 days that you're forever precluded from raising that claim in the future, when you have no idea that that claim is going to arise for the particular map that is going to be put into place,” Gaber answered.

Bradley didn’t buy that argument.

“Everybody knows that the reason we’re here is because there was a change in membership on the court,” Bradlley said. “You would not have brought this action had the newest justice had lost her election.”

The progressive groups who are challenging the maps announced their lawsuit less than 24 hours after newly elected liberal Justice Janet Protasiewicz was sworn-in on the court.

Protasiewicz faced calls to recuse herself from Tuesday's case after she called Wisconsin’s political maps “rigged” in favor of Republicans, and “unfair” during her campaign in the spring.

Gaber and the groups want the court to draw new maps and toss out the 2022 election results because every state representative and more than a dozen state senators were elected under what the groups call “malapportioned” boundaries.

“It’s an absolutely extraordinary remedy,” Bradley added. “There are many intonations about democracy throughout the briefing. I can't imagine something less Democratic than unseating most of the legislature that was just elected last year.”

Taylor Meehan, the lawyer for the Wisconsin legislature, argued many of the same points as Bradley.

“This court invited petitioners to intervene in [the last redistricting case] two years, one month and 15 days ago. They waited. They waited exactly one day after this court's membership changed to file their unprecedented collateral attack. They have no answer for their delay,” Meehan said.

She said the argument from the progressive groups are “meritless” and a “wolf in sheep's clothing.”

“[The groups] cannot now cry foul, shortening Wisconsin senators constitutionally prescribed terms and rushing this case to judgment in only a few months time,” Meehan said.

If the court agrees with the argument from the progressive groups, the court will then have to decide how to draw new political.

The court is not saying when a decision in the case will come. The groups who want the new maps are asking to have the maps redrawn before 2024’s elections.

FBI Director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Says Threats to US From Islamic Terrorist Groups Rise to ‘Whole Other Level’

The biggest terrorism threat Americans face is from violent extremists inspired by Islamic terrorist organizations like ISIS, al-Queda, Hamas and Iranian-financed groups, FBI Director Christopher Wray told U.S. senators Tuesday.

Wray also said the FBI is actively looking for such extremists who are in the country, and arrested one last week in Houston, thwarting Iranian-financed assassination attempts made against dissidents and high-ranking U.S. officials on U.S. soil.

Wray testified before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday about “threats to the homeland” after Hamas terrorists attacked Israel and after he told reporters that Hamas posed a threat to Americans on U.S. soil. He also did so after U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents apprehended the greatest number of known, suspected terrorists in U.S. history this past fiscal year.

“The reality of the terrorism threat has been elevated since 2023 but the reality of the ongoing war in Middle East has raised a threat of [a terrorist] attack against Americans in the United States to a whole other level,” Wray testified. Since Hamas terrorists attacked Israel, “we assess the actions of Hamas and its allies will serve as an inspiration the likes we have never seen since ISIS launched its so-called caliphate several years ago.

“In just the past few weeks, multiple foreign terrorist organizations have called for attacks against Americans and the west. Al-Queda issued its most specific call to attack the United States in the last five years. ISIS urged its followers to target Jewish communities in the United States and Europe. Hezbollah has publicly expressed its support for Hamas and threatened to attack U.S. interests in the Middle East. And we’ve seen an increase on U.S. military bases overseas carried out by militia groups backed by Iran."

The most immediate cause for concern, Wray said, "is that violent extremists … will draw inspiration [from Hamas] to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives,” including targeting Jewish Americans.

The FBI arrested a man last week in Houston, Texas, “who’d been studying how to build bombs and posted online his support for killing Jews,” the BI director added.

Wray didn’t elaborate on more details.

The FBI-Houston office confirmed the individual arrested is Sohaib Abuayyah. The Houston Chronicle reported “a person with that name had been charged on suspicion of unlawful possession of a firearm by an immigrant who had been admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa, according to records filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.” The redacted complaint alleges the man was a 20-year-old Jordanian accused of “contacting others with a radical mindset” and was charged with “conducting training with weapons and planning a possible attack.”

Wray said in addition to racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists operating in the U.S., “we cannot and will not discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict and conduct attacks here on our own soil.”

He said the FBI is conducting multiple investigations into Hamas-related threats in the U.S.

“But it’s not just Hamas,” he said. “The world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, the Iranians, for instance, have directly, or by hiring criminals, mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former U.S. government officials, including right here on American soil.”

In his written testimony filed with the Senate committee, Wray said the number of FBI domestic terrorism investigations has more than doubled since the spring of 2020. As of September 2023, the FBI has been conducting roughly 2,700 domestic terrorism investigations and roughly 4,000 international terrorism investigations.

The written testimony also states that the FBI has “seen an increase in reported threats to Jewish and Muslim people, institutions, and houses of worship here in the United States and are moving quickly to mitigate them.”

It also expresses concern about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the stated intent of ISIS and al-Qaeda “to carry out or inspire large-scale attacks in the United States.”

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Wisconsin School Choice Lawsuit Expanding School Choice Kirk Bangstad Wisconsin school choice Milwaukee School Choice

Evers Administration Rejects Idea of Emergency in Wisconsin School Choice Lawsuit

(The Center Square) – The effort to end school choice in Wisconsin through the state’s supreme court has failed to convince Gov. Tony Evers.

The Evers Administration late Friday submitted a brief with the high court, explaining there is no emergency basis for the Supreme Court to take the case.

“This response does not address the ultimate merits of Petitioners’ claims, but simply explains why they are more appropriately adjudicated in the circuit court,” the court filing from Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld stated.

Progressive activist and often-candidate Kirk Bangstad filed the lawsuit last month, claiming school choice and Wisconsin’s voucher programs are both unconstitutional and hurt traditional public schools by sending money to private schools.

Bangstad said both programs need to be shut down “before the next school year.”

The Evers’ Administration filing says nothing in Bangstad’s lawsuit makes that case.

“While the topic of educating Wisconsin’s children is obviously one of great public importance, the Petition does not meet the other criteria for an original action,” the brief added.

Evers’ team wasn’t the only one to file with the court in the school choice case last week.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos also filed a brief with the court.

He too said there is no emergency, and no need for the new to fast track Bangstad’s lawsuit.

“Petitioners bring this Petition For Original Action, asking this Court to strike down Wisconsin’s school choice regime. But no exigent circumstances justify allowing Petitioners to skip the ordinary litigation process to bring their claims, which all involve complex factual disputes that are not appropriate in the original action context,” Vos’ brief stated.

Vos’ filing, too, says Bangstad has failed to make a solid case as to why school choice must be reversed immediately.

“The Petition points to no breaking developments of fact or law that create any exigency with the programs now – let alone one that requires resolution by June 2024, as Petitioners request,” the brief added.

While Bangstad has publicly said he wants the cases handled as quickly as possible in order to protect school children, he said in a fundraising email earlier this month the next Supreme Court election is actually driving the case.

“We need the Supreme Court to take this case up NOW [because] there’s a real possibility that the uncorrupted Supreme Court majority that we worked so hard achieve by electing Janet Protasiewicz last April won’t be around in 2025 after the next Supreme Court election takes place,” Bangstad wrote in his email. “If we take this case slowly, it might not make it to the Supreme Court until 2025, and there’s a 50% chance (like every election in our swing state) that the court will become corrupted again and fall back into the pockets of Betsy Devos’ school choice lobby.”

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has not yet said if it will take Bangstad’s case or send it to a lower court first.

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