Our democracy is badly broken. Right now, Republicans in Arizona,Georgia and elsewhere are working hard to break it even further. But last week, my Democratic colleagues and I rose to repair and reconstruct it.
The For the People Act (H.R. 1), which passed the House of Representatives last week, will be the most significant improvement to our democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. My colleagues in the Senate should act swiftly to send this bill to President Biden’s desk. It is required to save our democracy from the people who incited the violent insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th.
The For the People Act is a comprehensive bill that establishes automatic voter registration, combats voter suppression, protects our elections from foreign interference, and ends partisan gerrymandering — a process by which representatives choose their voters rather than voters choose their representatives.
But I want to focus on how H.R. 1 changes how campaigns are funded, amplifying the voices of everyday Americans.
Our current campaign finance system gives the wealthy a megaphone and silences the rest of us. In 2016, just 400 mega-donors contributed a total of $1.5 billion – more than every small donor combined. Those donors are predominantly wealthy white men, and they predominantly contribute to white candidates.
Congress isn’t just funded by wealthy people — it’s full of them. More than 50% of lawmakers in the 116th Congress have a net worth of more than $1 million, compared to just three percent of the population. This is not by accident: our campaign finance system is rigged to favor wealthy candidates. They can fund their own campaigns. They’re more likely to have nest eggs they can rely on while campaigning. And when they need extra funds, they can lean on networks of affluent family and friends.
I experienced our broken campaign finance system firsthand in my own run for Congress. When I was considering running for office, the first question insiders asked me was not what I would fight for, not whether my community was behind me, but how much money I could raise.
My leading primary competitor never had to answer that question. As the son of a pharmaceutical billionaire, he didn’t have to raise any money at all. Instead, he spent $5.4 million of his inherited wealth to blanket the airwaves with TV commercials three months out from the primary election. In the general election, I faced yet another self-funding candidate who outspent me by pumping $1.5 million into his campaign.
Against these long odds, I was elected to Congress. As an openly gay, Black, working-class candidate whose community sent him to Congress, I’m an exception. But I shouldn’t be. With the small-donor matching system in H.R. 1, candidates like me could be the norm.
Small-donor matching is simple: for every dollar a regular person donates up to $200, public financing matches that dollar with $6. A $50 donation becomes a $350 donation. As a result, small donors would matter — fixing the toxic power dynamics that threaten our democracy.
Small-donor matching has already transformed New York politics for the better. The donors in New York City elections, which have a matching program, are by far more racially and socioeconomically diverse than the donors in New York State elections, which do not. H.R. 1 would take that transformation nationwide.
The same goes for candidates. Candidates of color disproportionately rely on small donations. But because big money drowns out small donors’ voices, we typically raise less money than our opponents. Thus, we are often prevented from even making the ballot. By multiplying the power of the people candidates of color rely on most, small-donor matching empowers more people to take their seats at the table.
When we can elect people who really represent us, we get a government that really serves all of us — not just the wealthy and well-connected. If Congress had more ordinary Americans, it surely would not be so indifferent to the needs of working families. My Democratic colleagues and I in this Congress are already proving that by passing real COVID-19 relief in the American Rescue Plan. And we’re just getting started.
For at least a decade, Democrats have promised that when we had the chance, we would fix our broken campaign finance system. It’s taken over 10 years, but we’re here. It’s time. If the Senate fails to follow through — if we compromise with corruption — we risk confirming many Americans’ beliefs that billionaires and corporations have captured both parties, that our elections offer no real choices, and that our democracy is a swamp in need of a strongman to drain it.
So let’s fight for H.R. 1 and its small-dollar matching program like our democracy depends on it — because it does.
Rep. Mondaire Jones represents New York’s 17th Congressional District, which includes most of Westchester County and all of Rockland County.
Ahmaud Arbery, an avid jogger who had his whole life before him, was chased down by two white men in a pickup and shot dead in cold blood on 2/23 in 2020. He was 25. Today I ran 2.23 miles as fast as my feet would carry me to honor him and raise awareness about his family’s fight for justice.
Dear Senators Kaminsky and Stec, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, and Assemblymen Englebright and Smullen, Chair and Ranking Member of the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation,
We write to ask that you support the advancement from Committee of Senate Bill S4028 (A4213 in the Assembly), also known as “The Kelp Bill,” sponsored by Senator Anthony H. Palumbo and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.
The bill adds “and seaweed” to an existing statute that allows shellfish farming in the Peconic and Gardiners’ Bays. This would open a valuable economic opportunity for further developing the ‘blue economy’ in this time of recession. Passage of this bill will have immediate benefits for local kelp farmers, who planted a crop for a three-year Stony Brook University feasibility study but are presently unable to harvest and sell their kelp without a legal framework applicable to their industry.
Exploratory kelp farming projects in the area have already made steady and promising advances. The Stony Brook University study mentioned above was conducted with input from GreenWave, a Connecticut-based organization and international leader in the regenerative ocean farming industry. This study established the potential for seaweed farming to bring a broad spectrum of benefits to the people, the economy and the coastal ecosystems of the East End, while also contributing to climate change mitigation through the absorption of excess carbon. This work lays the foundation for a regenerative industry to emerge around kelp as a new crop in eastern Suffolk County.
Notably, this is a non-partisan issue: the bill received unanimous support from the Department of Environment’s Marine Resources Advisory Council in 2018 – an unusual rallying point for a group that rarely votes 10-0.
In light of the wide range of benefits that kelp farming will provide, and the bi-partisan support, we urge you to advance The Kelp Bill and to support its passage in the Senate and Assembly.
Thank you for your leadership and consideration.
Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson Founder and CEO, Ocean Collective
Scott Bluedorn East Hampton Energy Sustainability Committee
Kate Rossi-Snook Environmental Advocate, Concerned Citizens of Montauk
Mary Morgan Cofounder, Drawdown East End
Diane Shapiro Ambassador, Drawdown East End
Sean Barrett Cofounder, Dock to Dish Montauk
Jenny Willis Climate Activist, Eat More Kelp
Chef Trevor Swope Climate Activist
Kim Knoll Concerned Citizen
Cassia Patel Cofounder, Oceanic Global
Lea d’Auriol Cofounder, Oceanic Global
Peter Strugatz Concerned Citizen
Chef Kerry Heffernan Grand Banks, Pilot Brooklyn, Island Oyster, Drift In Restaurants, NYC
If we want to save what’s left, from our pristine waters to our local economy, we have to accelerate our regenerative engagement with Nature.
A combination of the green economy, with strategies that focus on energy, transport, agriculture and forestry, and the blue economy, which focuses on fisheries and marine and coastal resources, says the UK Commonwealth Foundation .
Kelp is a Drawdown Solution
Kelp forests are the basis and habitat for vibrant ocean ecosystems. With the potential to grow up to half a meter a day, kelp is also an excellent means of sequestering carbon as it grows, with enormous carbon sequestration potential.
Seaweed, like land plants, use photosynthesis to turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into seaweed biomass (carbon sequestration) and release oxygen. Seaweed grows very fast so it can intake CO2 at a phenomenal rate. The CO2 is locked up in seaweed biomass and the seaweed can be harvested for use, or, it can sink to the seafloor or become stored under the sea floor (similar to soil sequestration). For more, check out this article by a marine ecologist Seaweed is About to Blow Your Climate Mind and her highlight of the Port of San Diego’s Blue Economy Incubator to support emerging aquaculture and blue technology businesses.
Project Drawdown has assessed a very limited selection of coastal and ocean solutions to date. This solution set will expand in the future (e.g., solutions for regenerative ocean farming and marine ecosystem restoration).
Sugar Kelp is Local
Local sugar kelp (latissima saccharina) is native to our waters, is an extremely beneficial habitat for marine and mitigates against harmful algal blooms. As a commercial product, Sugar kelp is a superfood, a thickening agent, a soil fertilizer, and has biofuel and bioplastic applications. Growing kelp, i.e. marine permaculture, can help regenerate our waters and provide sustainable local financial and health returns. Let’s grow, use and eat more kelp!
Democracy is never a given. January 6th proved that. A wrathful president unable to accept he lost an election, an angry mob stoked by bogus claims of a stolen election, a subservient caucus of Republicans willing to do the bidding of a corrupt president. On that day they all came together in a violent clash that almost derailed our democracy.
Fortunately, the will of the people prevailed — for now. But Trump has said his political movement “has only just begun.” Already we see what that means: punishing Republicans who dared to speak the truth and acknowledged that Trump lost the election and that he incited the insurrection, and rewarding those, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, who traffic in absurd conspiracy theories and seek to demonize those on the other side of the political divide.
In the coming months, each of us will have to decide if we are willing to stand up for our democracy, to support and protect it — by paying attention, by calling out lies, by working to roll back voter suppression laws, by voting for candidates who will uphold their oath to the Constitution, and by remembering that our congressional representative, Lee Zeldin, voted to overturn the results of a free and fair election.
Because if there’s one thing history has shown us, it’s that a failed coup often precedes a successful one.
Published in The East Hampton Star, Letter to the Editor, February 18
On Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021, members of South Country Unites, SCU, displayed yard signs in front of their homes to commemorate this very special day. They wanted to thank those committed, honest, hard working citizens, across 50 states and the District of Columbia, who made democracy happen. The members of SCU dedicated their display…
• “To all people who spoke up for justice and integrity
• To candidates for offices big and small, who believed that they can make a difference
• To campaign staffs, who in the time of COVID-19, planned and instituted a new, safer way of campaigning
• To petition carriers, door-knockers, phone and text bankers, letter writers – those who felt strongly that the best candidate must win
• To Boards of Elections in thousands of counties across our country who justly implemented voting laws, set up polling places, distributed ballots, hired and trained workers, and who counted and re-counted millions of votes under pressure
• To poll workers, who believed enough in free and fair elections to work 8 or 12 or 16 hour days with face masks and gloves, risking serious illness, to assure that each eligible citizen voted
• To the poll watchers who volunteered to assure that voters were treated fairly and laws were upheld
• To judges and public officials who sought to assure fair and free elections
• And to the voters, 161 million of us who made a voting plan and implemented it to assure that our voices were heard”
“The Members of SCU, THANK YOU! We honor your commitment and your hard work. May we all continue to work to support our fragile, 233 year old experiment in democracy. May we support President Biden and Vice President Harris as they and we, the people of the United States, address the difficult problems that lie before us.”
To: Win With Wind supporters From: Win With Wind steering committee Date: Feb. 14, 2021 Topic: Update on the South Fork Wind Farm
Dear friends of WWW,
We would like to update you regarding where we stand in the 4-year-long process of getting the South Fork Wind Farm approved, built and operational.
Permits for this project are on 3 tracks: Local (Town of East Hampton) State of New York Public Service Commission: article 7 Federal: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)
Regarding local permits, the town of East Hampton has voted to grant an easement for Orsted/Eversource to lay the underground powerlines coming ashore on Wainscott’s beaches. The Trustees have also voted to lease the beach area for the cable landing to Orsted/Eversource. See the East Hampton Town website and the East Hampton Star.
The federal BOEM process is wrapping up too. The following graph shows where we are:
We are in the late phases of BOEM’s environmental and technical reviews after which there will be a decision on COP (construction and operations plan) approval.
Many of you have asked how to help support the South Fork Wind Farm. One thing you can do this coming week is to join a ZOOM call managed by BOEM. It is educational as BOEM officials will present the entire project. It is also an opportunity to give an oral (and/or written) commentary in support of renewable energy and SFWF in particular. Several of us took part in BOEM’s first two ZOOM events earlier this week. Would you participate next week? Here is the sign-up link:
Forwarded from Geraldine Maslanka. By Chuck Collins This piece appeared on the inequality.org website with the heading:
Legislators in Washington state are taking bold steps towards instituting a state-level wealth tax. The proposed tax is a 1 percent levy on wealth over $1 billion, applying to fewer than 100 households in the state.
According to the state’s Department of Revenue, the tax would raise an estimated $2.25 billion in 2023 and $2.5 billion in 2024. At a February 2 hearing, House Finance Committee chair Noel Frame said it’s time to put a new “tool in the toolbox for comprehensive structural tax reform.” The state’s current tax system places an enormous burden on Washington’s working class.
At the February 2 virtual hearing, over 40 witnesses lined up to testify in support of HB1406, an act to “improve the equity of Washington state’s tax code” by creating a wealth tax and “taxing extraordinary financial intangible assets.”
Many witnesses pointed out that Washington state has one of the most regressive tax systems in the country, with no income tax, a weak corporate tax system, and an overdependence on sales taxes. “Low income families pay 18 percent of their income in taxes while the very wealthy pay less than 3 percent,” observed John Burbank from the Economic Opportunity Institute in his testimony.
“This state is a wonderful place to raise a family and to plant roots,” said Mary Curry, a Tacoma resident and owner of a day care center, in testimony before the committee. “But how do I build when the tax laws are so harsh to the working class such as myself?”
Got this from my friend JoAnne: its hilarious and a great video.
Rabia Aziz sent this out tonight. Since I was clueless about Amber Ruffin, I played it thinking OMG, she must be talking about some Trump racist saying we need a white history month, will this never end. Instead, we got a fascinating American history lesson about something that’s been vaguely talked about but this really put it all together. Thank you, Rabia. I wish all of you could have learned as much as I have over the past three years from Rabia and Miss Lillie about the American history we aren’t taught.
On Feb. 5th R&R heard a presentation by Rebecca Saletan and Nick Lyndon on “The Invest in our New York Act”. It is a package of 6 bills for the State of NY. Together they are proposed to raise more than $50 billion/year in sorely needed revenue:
TAXING HIGH INCOMES
Progressive Income Tax S2622: Creates a tax system where New Yorkers pay a higher rate if they earn significantly more money.RAISES $12-18 BILLION
Right now, individuals with incomes between $21,400 and $1,077,550 are all taxed at roughly the same rate of 6.5%. Higher earners should pay a higher rate. This bill would raise the tax rates on the top 5% of income-earners ($300,000 and above).
Sponsored by Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblymember Demond Meeks
Taxes income from investments like stocks same as wages.RAISES $7 BILLION
Rich people make much of their income from investments like stocks, not from their jobs. The federal government taxes investment income at a much lower rate than wages. New York can fix this by adding a tax to investment income that’s equal to the tax break the rich are getting from the federal government.
Sponsored by Senator Gustavo Rivera and Assemblymember Ron Kim
A progressive tax on large sums of inherited wealth.RAISES $8 BILLION
Many rich people also make their money from inheriting enormous sums. They can make up to $5 million in a year through inheritance and pay no tax on it. Inheritances of less than $250,000, family homes up to $2 million, money from pensions or retirement funds, and family farms will not be affected.
Sponsored by Senator Jabari Brisport and Assemblymember Michaelle Solages
4. Billionaires’ Tax:
An additional tax on billionaires, and constitutional amendment to allow a wealth tax. RAISES $23 BILLION IN THE FIRST YEAR, $1.3 BILLION PER YEAR THEREAFTER
New York already has a wealth tax: it’s called a property tax. Homeowners pay it every year. But if you own a massive stock portfolio, it is not taxed. This tax would treat billionaires’ gains in wealth as income, and these increases would be taxed at income tax rates. Additionally, a constitutional amendment would allow the state to tax large sums of intangible wealth—i.e., stocks, bonds and company ownership— in the future.
Sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos and Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa
TAXING CORPORATIONS AND THE FINANCIAL SECTOR:
5. Wall Street Tax : A small tax on Wall St. financial transactions.RAISES $12-29 BILLION
Unlike other major financial centers like London and Hong Kong, New York doesn’t place any tax on financial transactions. The financial industry is the state’s largest industry: it makes up 30% of our economy. This bill places small taxes on trades of stocks, bonds and derivatives; a similar tax on stocks existed in NY until 1981.
Sponsored by Senator Julia Salazar and Assemblymember Yuh-line Niou
6. Corporate Tax S2833: A bill to repeal the Trump tax cuts, by restoring taxes on the profit a corporation makes each year. RAISES $9 BILLION
In 2017, Trump’s tax cuts reduced the federal corporate profit tax rate from 35% to 21%, and cut taxes on real estate businesses by 20%. New York can end these tax breaks in our state so that businesses pay the same tax as they did three years ago.
Sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Anna Kelles
There is a detailed discussion with over 50 slides which is well worth reading (and beyond this summary):
Congress, in response to the far-right’s Nazi “America First” movement of the late 1930’s, enacted the Alien Registration Act of 1940. This law made it a “federal criminal offense to advocate the violent overthrow of our government or to organize or be a member of any group or society devoted to such advocacy.”
By the late 1940’s, this law, known popularly as the Smith Act, was employed to root out Communists from political, business and social organizations.
On January 6, one of the foundations of our democracy, our Congress, was attacked, verbally and physically, by a mob. This attack was planned and directed by the head of the Republican Party, Donald Trump, with the full aid, support and cooperation of Republicans Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, Lindsey Graham — and, yes, Lee Zeldin.
It is time for the Department of Justice to take action, using laws like the Smith Act.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” — Voltaire.
Biden’s economic rescue package will be passed using ‘budget reconciliation’. Here is a primer:
This from Dana Chasin (reprinted with permission):
Budget reconciliation is authorized through the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 to expedite budget bills. While most legislation before the Senate can be stalled with a cloture motion that takes 60 votes to break before a vote on the underlying bill can occur, reconciliation bills pass with a simple majority of those present. With increased political polarization in the Senate, reconciliation has become the primary method for passing big-ticket legislative priorities.
The Reconciliation Process
The reconciliation process starts with the House and Senate agreeing on a budget resolution that includes “reconciliation directives.” These directives, sent from budget committees to other committees of jurisdiction, identify the spending and revenue targets under which authors of the bill must work but do not detail what policies a particular committee should adopt. Once authorizing committees complete their work reaching their sub-topline figures, the Budget Committees assemble them into an omnibus bill to be considered by the full chamber.
While practically any policy can be tacked onto a reconciliation bill in the House, the Senate operates under the “Byrd Rule,” which limits reconciliation to policies that directly change mandatory spending (excluding Social Security), revenue, or the federal debt limit. The Byrd Rule also prevents reconciliation bills from increasing the deficit beyond a ten-year fiscal window.
If a Senator objects to any policy provision in a reconciliation bill, the Senate Parliamentarian will advise the Presiding Officer whether or not to strike it based on his or her interpretation of the Byrd Rule. Due to the Byrd Rule’s convoluted nature, senators often have to negotiate with the parliamentarian in advance to avoid a point of order that takes 60 votes to overturn.
Reconciliation is increasingly common and has been attempted successfully and unsuccessfully in recent years:
Bush Tax Cuts (2001/2003) — successive corporate and individual tax cuts totaling $1.5 trillion that sunset after 10 years.
Affordable Care Act (2010) — comprehensive health care reform package that cut the uninsured rate by half.
ACA repeal (2015/2017) — repeated efforts by the House GOP to repeal the ACA; the parliamentarian ruled that abolishing the individual mandate was not reconcilable because it only had an incidental budgetary impact.
TCJA (2017) — corporate and individual tax cuts totaling $1.7 trillion that are set to sunset after 2025; zeroed-out the individual mandate tax penalties by rewriting the legislation to be a revenue issue.
Deficit Increases for the 12 Authorizing Committees
Both chambers are expected to pass reconciliation rules this week, after which House committees must submit their recommendations to the Budget Committees by February 16th. Once committees have delivered their policies, Chair Yarmuth’s committee has a week to assemble an omnibus package. A House vote on a final package will then be expected in the last week of February. The Senate is likely to adopt the House bill as drafted instead of going through the lengthy conference committee process.
Major Stages of the Reconciliation Process
Source: Congressional Research Service
The primary Byrd Rule obstacle for Democrats will be ensuring that the reconciliation bill only affects mandatory spending. With a dozen committee bills and only a two-week time frame, Democrats will be tempted to borrow language from the HEROES Act which mostly affected discretionary spending levels — a potential problem for reconciliation.
Another sticking point is the proposed $15 minimum wage increase. Senate Budget Chairman Sanders maintains that the resulting increase in tax revenue and decrease in public benefits makes a minimum wage hike Byrd-compliant. Other Democrats suggest creating a punitive tax for any business that does not pay its employees at least $15 an hour, a surefire way of getting around the Byrd Rule.
Multiple Bites of the Apple
The current (Yarmuth) resolution uses Congress’ budget authority for fiscal year 2021, but Democrats could take another shot at reconciliation this calendar year using the FY 2022 budget resolution process. President Biden indicates that he would like to work on an infrastructure investment package once COVID relief is wrapped up. However, some Democratic legislative economic priorities are un-reconcilable and will need to go through regular order.
Opportunity Costs of Reconciliation
Budget reconciliation entails running through the “vote-a-rama” gauntlet; a chaotic 20-hour period in the Senate where dozens of amendments are voted on in rapid succession without debate. With zero margin for error, Democrats must hold their caucus together through some politically tough votes.
Assuming budget reconciliation is successful, Democrats also must navigate PAYGO rules, which trigger sequestration next January unless Republicans agree to waive the requirement in future legislation. If no waivers are passed, beloved bipartisan programs like Medicare, farm subsidies, and military spending would face draconian cuts. Republicans were able to avert these spending cuts after passing their deficit-funded TCJA by smuggling a PAYGO waiver into a must-pass continuing resolution. Democrats could use the same tactic this year, but it could come down to a game of chicken.
Busting the Filibuster
Senate Republicans will no doubt use the filibuster to block much of President Biden’s policy agenda. Senate Democrats could, with 50 votes, “nuke” the filibuster — change Senate rules so that bills advance by a simple majority. Then-Majority Leader Harry Reid did so in 2013 for non-Supreme Court judicial appointments after facing unprecedented obstructionism from the GOP, and Leader McConnell followed suit in 2017 for Supreme Court nominations. But Senators Manchin and Sinema have promised publicly not to vote to end the filibuster. Former opponents of ending the filibuster (such as President Biden) have hedged on the issue.
President Obama and former Leader Reid have already called for ending the filibuster, as have progressives like Senators Sanders and Warren. Vice President Harris advocated ending the filibuster to pass the Green New Deal during her presidential run.
Beyond “nuking” the filibuster, Senate Democrats have other options:
Preventing use of the filibuster when considering debate on bills while preserving a supermajority requirement for actual passage.
Reforming the Byrd Rule to allow more policy to pass through budget reconciliation.
Requiring Senators wishing to filibuster to be physically present in the chamber to prevent an end to debate, among other changes.
Almost Heaven, West Virginia 🎼
Democrats are on the brink of legislation that constituents everywhere await like manna. West Virginia’s 73-year-old Senator Joe Manchin is a full-throated supporter of the filibuster and an opponent of wishlist items such as a minimum wage increase and direct cash payments may yet vote yes. West Virginia’s Republican Governor Jim Justice, an unlikely ally, drew national attention this week when he called on Congress to “go big” with COVID relief — “don’t count the legs on a cow,” round up and bring it in. As the relief bill takes shape and center stage, Manchin on board is a critical first step.
Twenty-two New York lawyers have filed a complaint against Rep. Lee Zeldin, accusing him of violating “the most fundamental ethics rules, including participating in frivolous litigation, making false statements regarding the presidential election, and committing, arguably, a criminal act that reflects on his trustworthiness.”
The complaint asks the Attorney Grievance Committee of the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Third Department, where Zeldin was admitted to the New York Bar in 2004, to initiate an “immediate investigation of Rep. Zeldin’s actions and consider sanctions for his conduct, up to and including revocation of Rep. Zeldin’s license to practice law in New York.”
The complaint says Zeldin participated in “frivolous” litigation and engaged in “professional misconduct” involving “dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation” by signing on to an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit brought in the U.S. Supreme Court by the State of Texas Dec. 8 that sought to invalidate the election results in Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — four battleground states won by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.
Zeldin was one of 126 House Republicans who signed the amicus brief in support of the Texas lawsuit, which was rejected by the Supreme Court on Dec. 11 for lack of standing, the legal right to sue.
The complaint to the grievance committee, a copy of which was obtained by RiverheadLOCAL Monday night, says Zeldin signed on to the brief “despite the fact that numerous courts in eight different states, including the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, had already dismissed such meritless claims.”
Beyond that, the complaint states, “In the absence of any evidence of systemic malfeasance or fraud, he made public statements questioning the results of the presidential election and has spent weeks undermining confidence in the credibility and integrity of our election process.”
Zeldin — a staunch, outspoken supporter of President Trump — continued to question the presidential election results “without proof,” despite the Electoral College’s ratification of the results, the complaint states.
The Trump campaign and Trump supporters brought a series unsuccessful legal challenges to the results of the election in those states.
In a series of about two dozen tweets since Election Day, Zeldin has questioned the election results, calling changes to election procedures in battleground states “unconstitutional irregularities.” He has tweeted frequently — most recently two days ago — about the need to protect “ballot integrity,” criticizing, as Trump has, mail-in voting.
Some states, including New York, changed voting procedures in 2020 to allow, as Zeldin put it in his tweet on Monday, “no excuse mail in balloting” because of the pandemic. Some of those changes, including New York’s, were made by executive orders during the state of emergency declared in the states in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Zeldin and others object to changes made to voting procedures established by state legislature — by what they characterize “executive fiat” and settlements of “friendly lawsuits” — as unconstitutional.
On Jan. 2, Zeldin tweeted: “Some insist everything President Trump & his supporters claim about the 2020 election is ‘evidence free’. That lie may be easy to rattle off, but it’s still a massive, destructive lie that will haunt them on Jan 6th & far into the future.”
On the afternoon of Jan. 6, the lawyers’ complaint states, Zeldin announced on Twitter that he would formally object to the Electoral College’s determination.” By making that announcement, according to the complaint, “Zeldin not only engaged in dishonest conduct, but also contributed to the incitement of the Jan. 6 insurrection.”
On the House floor on Jan. 6, Zeldin spoke in support of objections to the election results in Arizona in a statement he labeled in a Jan. 6 tweet was made “in defense of the republic.” He voted to sustain objections to the election results in both Arizona and Pennsylvania.
His statement and both votes came on Jan. 6 after a large mob of Trump supporters violently attacked the Capitol while Congress was in a joint session to certify the Electoral College, as required by the Constitution.
The mob stormed the Capitol following a 90-minute “Save America” rally in the Ellipse park at which Trump aired his grievances about the election he claimed was stolen by Democrats and “weak” Republicans. Trump urged the crowd to go to the Capitol, where Congress was beginning to count and certify the Electoral College ballots.
The Trump mob stormed the Capitol, breaching barricades, overwhelming Capitol Police, breaking doors and windows and entering the building as lawmakers met in both chambers. The sessions were cut short as the mob could be heard in the corridors. The lawmakers were evacuated and staff members and reporters barricaded themselves in offices.
The chaotic scenes were broadcast live on television and circulated on social media, capturing Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence” — someone had erected a gallows outside the Capitol during the riot — and searching for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats. Members of the mob broke into offices and into both chambers of Congress.
Zeldin issued a statement that afternoon urging “everyone to please cooperate with the Capitol Police who need to gain control of this situation immediately.” He said the violence being witnessed by America “should never be the scene at the US Capitol” and said there should be “ZERO tolerance for violence in any form!”
The riots resulted in the deaths of five people, including a uniformed Capitol Police officer who was beaten to death by the mob. Scores of other officers were injured, some seriously.
Seven hours later, after the building was secured and the crowd was dispersed, Congress resumed its constitutionally mandated count. Some shaken Republican senators withdrew their support for objections after the riot, which left only two objections supported by senators to be brought to the floor of each chamber for a vote. (Without support in the Senate, there is no vote in either chamber.) A planned objection to Georgia’s results was withdrawn, and no senators signed onto the House’s objection to results in Michigan and Nevada.
“Even after the bloodshed and terror at the Capitol, Rep. Zeldin again asserted his baseless objections to the election results,” the lawyers complaint to the grievance committee states.
“He took to the floor of the House of Representatives, and in a speech riddled with misinformation and misrepresentations, challenged the results of the Arizona and Pennsylvania elections…” the complaint states.“Disregarding the will of the people, Rep. Zeldin sought to disenfranchise tens of millions of voters, which is particularly egregious conduct for an attorney who has been elected to high office and sworn an oath to uphold the constitution,
In a brief interview Monday following a news conference he held in Manorville, Zeldin said he had not heard anything about the complaint and could not comment on it.
Asked if he was willing to state that the 2020 presidential election was a free and fair election and constitutionally valid, Zeldin replied, “This was a free election. And we did go through the entire constitutional process.” That process includes a certification of the Electoral College vote, he said.
“After every Republican presidential win over the last generation, there have been objections that have been followed,” Zeldin said.
“At the end of that constitutional process, the first thing I did was put out a statement that says, regardless of whether you supported President Biden or or President Trump, regardless of your the opinions and passions everyone has, once Congress certifies the results, it’s over,” Zeldin said.
On the evening of Jan. 7, Zeldin issued a statement acknowledging Biden’s election.
“Moving forward, there will be continued debate and there will be disagreement, but out of that must be a healthy, guarded and even thriving republic,” he said in the Jan. 7 statement. “Right now, I am not going to dwell on any doubt, but to recommit to working towards a vigorous defense of lady liberty at all costs, and the pursuit of unity whenever possible,” he said.
The congressman reiterated Monday he still has “an issue with” changes made by executive order or otherwise to the electoral process established by state legislatures.
The lawyers’ complaint was filed with the court in Albany, where Zeldin was admitted to the New York bar in January 2004. The Shirley resident earned his law degree at Albany Law School in 2003.
The lawyers in the complaint urge the New York bar to “send a powerful message to the public that the legal profession is committed to the defense of our democratic institutions and will not tolerate the conduct of attorneys who seek to subvert the will of the people, undermine our elections, and recklessly contribute to the incitement of violence.”
RiverheadLOCAL provided Zeldin’s office with a copy of the complaint Tuesday morning, seeking additional comment from the congressman. Tuesday night, Zeldin spokesperson Katie Vincentz dismissed the complaint as a partisan attack.
“Nearly every single one of these attorneys is a registered Democrat and half have donated to Congressman Zeldin’s opponents,” Vincentz said in an email. “One even ran as a Democrat in the Town of Brookhaven and another was chairman of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee for almost 20 years,” she said.
“The eagerness of these partisan Democrats to further divide our community and country is despicable,” Vincentz wrote.
She reiterated Zeldin’s statements Monday that Democrats have raised objections to Electoral College vote counts after the election of Republican presidents.
“It’s an incredible double standard that if Republicans object as well on the same date in the same place as part of the same process, then that makes them all seditious traitors,” Vincentz said.
“Anyone who wants to call out a Congressional Republican for supporting an objection on January 6th needs to put up their past statements calling out every Congressional Democrat who objected in the past,” she said. “If those public calls don’t exist, their calls now are just hyper-partisan and hypocritical nonsense.”
Editor’s note: This article was amended post-publication to add further comment from Rep. Lee Zeldin’s office provided Tuesday night.
These two letters were sent out the same day to different recipient lists!
SWEET LEE (Jan 21, 2021)
Ideally, the commitment of all Americans each and every day should be to work towards unity and pursue a better course for our nation. Oftentimes, we will not agree on exactly how to best move America forward, but how we debate and disagree is especially critical. Respectful disagreement is a protected and treasured American value, and there will be many vibrant debates to be had over the next four years. Let us work towards ensuring they will always remain in the spirit that serves the betterment of our great country.President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took a sacred oath yesterday to our Constitution and our country as part of yesterday’s peaceful transition of power in a ceremony that has long been familiar to and celebrated by freedom-loving Americans.The months and years ahead are filled with great challenges and great opportunities for a country that truly does need less violence in our streets, more positivity in our hearts, and more understanding among our people.
Best Regards,Lee Zeldin Member of Congress
NASTY LEE (Jan 21, 2021)
Today is the first full day of the new Biden-Harris administration, which means it’s the first full day of Democrats jamming through their very disastrous priorities for America.
Logan sent you an email yesterday outlining Biden’s 100 day plan that will destroy small businesses, eliminate jobs, weaken our pursuit of energy independence, and embolden our adversaries like Iran by rejoining the Iran Nuclear Deal as is.
Biden, Harris, and Pelosi have made one thing clear, friend: their priorities aren’t our priorities and the rest of us better not sit back one minute and go quietly into the night while the country we love gets rolled.
This is why my team started the 48-hour Fight for Lee Fund yesterday.
We still have a few hours until our deadline, and we still need $5,450 to reach our fundraising goal!
Join in our fight against the radical left’s power grabs and ideologies. Donate a 2X-MATCHED gift now! >>>
PAID FOR BY ZELDIN FOR CONGRESS. P.O. BOX 610, SHIRLEY, NEW YORK 11967
This is a letter sent to Lee Zeldin on Jan 12th urging him to vote for impeachment of Trump. (I was having trouble posting until now). Although I knew it would have no effect in persuading him, I thought it important to say these things anyhow.
Rep Zeldin, it is not too late. You have one last chance for redemption. That chance is joining your principled Republican colleagues to impeach President Trump.
You have been instrumental in creating the environment that led up to an armed insurrectionist mob storming the Capitol and threatening our democracy. Shortly after you were elected to your first term you addressed a meeting of Oath Keepers. Oath Keepers is one of the far right armed militia groups that went all in on storming the Capitol on Jan 6. They’ve been lusting for armed uprising and civil war for years. More recently, during Trump’s first impeachment, you were one of the Congressmen who participated in the storming of the SCIF (Sensitive Compartmented Information Facilities) inside the Capitol during a hearing involving classified information. This, in spite of the fact that you already had secured access to the SCIF. The room was entered by force and security protocols were breached. Afterwards you spoke at a press conference praising this illegal action, thus abusing your position as a Congressman to set a terrible example of the lawless exercise of force to enter a secured area in the heart of the Capitol.
The worst of all was your vote to object to the certification of President-elect Biden’s wins in Arizona and Pennsylvania, AFTER the House chamber itself had been invaded by an angry mob baying for blood. There was no more ambiguity at that point about what the “stop the steal” rhetoric, led by President Trump and echoed by you, would lead to. It’s no use hiding behind sophistic and pettifogging language about “legal” votes and “investigations”. It was plain as day that you were aiding and abetting resistance to the peaceful transfer of power, and encouraging the delusion that the 2020 election was not free and fair, and that Trump should be declared the winner.
If ever a President fit the description of what the nation’s founders had in mind when they wrote the power to impeach the President into the Constitution, it is President Trump. Even before the election he refused to commit to the peaceful transfer of power should he lose. He in fact refused to concede the possibility that he could lose. That is the behavior of a dictator. Then, after he lost, he convinced millions of Americans that the election was rigged, broadcasting the “stop the steal” lie through Twitter and other media. On Jan 3rd he called the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger, and cajoled and threatened him to “find” the votes necessary to make him the winner in Georgia, even going so far as to name the exact number of votes Raffensberger needed to “find”. This followed multiple calls and meetings with state officials overseeing elections pressuring them to overturn the election result in their state. During all this you gave your backing, even though you are a Congressman sworn to defend the Constitution, to this effort to cast into doubt and perhaps nullify the verdict of millions of voters in various states, all based on what you must have known, as a lawyer and educated person, was a lie.
Then on Jan. 6th Trump addressed a mob which he himself had summoned to Washington using inflammatory rhetoric, demanding that Vice President Pence act in clear violation of the Constitution and simply arbitrarily declare Trump the winner. The mob, as we all know, then marched to the Capitol, overpowered the Capitol police who for reasons yet to be explained fully were unaided by any other federal agency, and smashed their way into the Capitol building itself, chanting, amongst other things “Hang Mike Pence!”. A Capitol police officer was fatally injured and other Capitol police officers were also injured. The legal and Constitutional process underway of counting the electoral votes was interrupted. The Vice President, Senators and Representatives were forced to flee for their lives to a secure location. Only after several hours, when reinforcements from the Washington D.C. police arrived was the Capitol cleared of the angry and bloodthirsty mob, after an orgy of pillage and looting had occurred, including the theft of electronics possibly containing classified information. It was only through both the bravery and quick thinking of certain outnumbered Capitol police officers that much worse did not occur, including the injury or murder of the Vice President, Senators, or Representatives.
Meanwhile, as all this was occurring President Trump was in the White House watching television. He refused numerous pleas coming from both those besieged in the Capitol and from officials of his own Administration to do something and summon help to clear the Capitol of the angry mob. In fact, reports are that he appeared to be enjoying himself and was pleased by the events that were occurring at the Capitol. During the critical hours the Capitol building was occupied by an insurrectionist mob, there was, in effect, no President of the United States. Donald Trump had abdicated his responsibility to preserve and protect the Constitution.
It is impossible for me to believe that you seriously think the behavior of President Trump is not impeachable. If his behavior is not impeachable what is the meaning of the impeachment clause in the Constitution? What would a President need to do to be impeached? Commit murder? Defect to Russia? Clearly that’s not what the founders had in mind by the phrase “high crimes and misdemeanors”.
This is your last chance to change your course and act in defense of our democracy instead of in defense of one autocratic and delusional man. Think about how you will be judged by history. Think about your daughters and what kind of country they will live in. Please, please think about the good of the country instead of pandering to the worst part of your “base”. This is your last chance to redeem yourself and act as something other than a political robot.
The Capitol building symbolizes the heart of our democracy; it is the place where the people’s will — the certification of the next duly elected president of the United States — is carried out.
After hours of chaos and sickening violence erupted on Wednesday — the horrors perpetrated by the lawless mob that laid siege to the Capitol, lawmakers barricaded in offices fearing for their lives, countless attacks, and five dead — the desecration of the symbols of our democracy ended, but the legislative assaults were just beginning.
As Congress reconvened to do their sworn duty, our congressman, Lee Zeldin, in direct violation of the oath of office he took to uphold the Constitution, voted to reject the state-certified election results of Arizona and Pennsylvania. Think about that. He sought to throw out millions of lawfully cast ballots, all the while knowing full well that the results had been legally challenged multiple times and were irrefutably legitimate.
The mob may have physically trashed the People’s House, but it was Zeldin and 146 fellow Republicans who drove a rhetorical stake through the heart of our democracy, attempting a legislative coup. He should never be allowed to walk the hallowed halls of the Capitol again.
Letter to the Editor printed in The East Hampton Star, January 14
I tried to leave a message for Zeldin at the Patchogue office but the answering machine instructed constituents to email his office with a comment. I share the comments I emailed to Zeldin with you. I hope many take advantage of the opportunity to express our serious reservations of Zeldin’s positions. Steve Ludsin
Dear Congressman Zeldin, I must protest your vote to challenge the electoral college and then send an email dated January 9, 2021 where you stated that you returned home from our nation’s Capitol after witnessing firsthand from inside the House chamber on Wednesday the best of America clash with some of the worst of it in a moment of your life you will never forget. I agree with your view that the vandalism and loss of life at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was totally unacceptable and there must be ZERO tolerance for violence in any form. Sadly your constant support of the electoral college challenge due to an alleged rigged election encourages the very violence you condemn. You need to rethink your position. Thank you for considering a constituent’s viewpoint. We both served on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council at different times. The attack on the Capitol was similar to Kristallnacht and we know what the results of that attack became.