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Morning Reads: North Carolina GOP Pushes Cuts to Early Voting; Is Trump Aiming to Build a Media Empire?

A roundup of some of the stories we're reading at BillMoyers.com HQ...

Morning Reads: North Carolina GOP Pushes Cuts to Early Voting

Social justice activists mobilized by the Moral Monday Movement rally in downtown Raleigh, NC on February 13, 2016. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr CC 2.0)

Irrepressible drive to repress the vote –> After a series of court rulings struck down North Carolina’s new voting maps and restrictions on voting, including provisions that, according to one ruling, “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision,” Republicans in the state are doing what they can to fight back. Though one of the court rulings required 17 days of early voting, the state’s GOP executive director emailed county officials Sunday — the message was obtained by the Raleigh News & Observer — instructing them to limit the number of hours that early voting locations are open, and to not open early voting locations on college campuses. Early voting tends to favor Democrats, and communities with colleges also tend to vote Democrat.

Dark money battle in the states –> A measure on the November ballot in South Dakota calls for the donors to “dark money” groups that spend in elections to be publicly disclosed, would cap donations to candidates and would form a state ethics commission to finance political campaigns. Billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch are spending big in the state to defeat it. Through their Freedom Partners umbrella organizations, the Kochs coordinate donations among hundreds of donors, many of whom make use of “dark money” groups to shield their identities. Fredreka Schouten reports for USA Today that both the transparency groups pushing the ballot measure and the Kochs’ groups “view South Dakota as an important test in a year when voter anger about the role of moneyed interests in politics helped buoy the White House candidacies of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and the Republican nominee Donald Trump.”

Four big questions for Hillary –> The Working Families Party, a progressive minor-party that endorsed Sanders during the primaries, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president this week after pressing her on four key issues: student debt, money in politics, mass incarceration and climate change. Her answers to the party’s pre-endorsement questionnaire reiterate progressive elements of her policy platforms, including overturning Citizens United, ending the privatization of prisons and running every American home on renewably generated electricity within 10 years. (ICYMI: Bill Moyers spoke with Dan Cantor, executive director of the New York Working Families Party, after the last presidential election cycle about ways to limit the influence of money in politics.)

From Russia with love –> Jeff Horwitz and Desmond Butler at The Associated Press: “Donald Trump’s campaign chairman helped a pro-Russian governing party in Ukraine secretly route at least $2.2 million in payments to two prominent Washington lobbying firms in 2012, and did so in a way that effectively obscured the foreign political party’s efforts to influence US policy. The revelation, provided to The Associated Press by people directly knowledgeable about the effort, comes at a time when Trump has faced criticism for his friendly overtures to Russian President Vladimir Putin. It also casts new light on the business practices of campaign chairman Paul Manafort.”

And: The former pro-Russian government of Ukraine set aside $7.61 million in payments for Manafort — a new high, reported using fresh documents acquired by The Times of London.

Does Trump want to be president? Or media mogul? –> As Trump’s campaign acquires a growing number of high-profile figures from the conservative media, Brian Stelter floats the idea that he may be thinking beyond Nov. 8: “Trump has a great team in place for a new television network or digital media startup,” Stelter tweeted. And: “In recent months, Mr. Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, have quietly explored becoming involved with a media holding, either by investing in one or by taking one over, according to a person close to Mr. Trump who was briefed on those discussions,” The New York Times reported yesterday.

Call for Obama’s attention –> The Baton Rouge Advocate newspaper asks the president to pay the city a visit following floods that have damaged at least 40,000 homes and killed 13: “We’ve seen this story before in Louisiana, and we don’t deserve a sequel. In 2005, a fly-over by a vacationing President George W. Bush became a symbol of official neglect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The current president was among those making political hay out of Bush’s aloofness. Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don’t see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace. It’s past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans.”

Morning Reads was compiled by John Light and edited by Theresa Riley. See a story that you think should be included in Morning Reads? Tell us in the comments!

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