Shameful Politics

Grind for May 8th, 2018

“Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Keep Your Head Down

The Headline

Russia investigation could have a big impact on midterm elections

The Grind

Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into the 2016 presidential election will have to conclude soon to avoid any appearance of trying to influence the 2018 midterm elections, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“I think it is the obligation of every reasonable prosecutor to minimize the duration of that cloud or cause lightning to strike as quickly as possible,” said former New York prosecutor Preet Bharara.

Mueller’s investigation, which has dragged on for more than a year, has produced nothing more than a handful of indictments against Russian individuals and companies for using social media to “sow discord” into American politics.

The investigation has produced no proof that Donald Trump “colluded” with Russia.

The Details

While the Department of Justice urges personnel not to time investigations for the purpose of influencing elections, there are no laws forcing Mueller to end his investigation or keep quiet.

“There aren’t any rules around how we act in the run-up to an election…there’s a norm, you avoid any action in the run-up to an election that might have an impact, if you can,” said former FBI head James Comey.

Comey, who obviously broke that norm when he re-opened the Clinton email investigation days before the 2016 election, says he is “sure” that Mueller would not do anything to harm Republicans or aid Democrats in the upcoming elections.

For Shame

The Headline

Energy company pays activists to support new power plant

The Grind

Rumors that an energy company called “Entergy” paid actors to express support for the construction of a $210 million gas-powered facility in New Orleans were confirmed this week by investigative news site The Lens.

Actors were paid to attend City Hall meetings and comment on the benefits of the power plant – which they said would create jobs and provide clean, reliable power.

Months before the allegations surfaced, The Lens commented on the unusual number of bright orange T-shirts worn by attendees at a meeting last October and quoted the company’s CEO as saying, “I think we’ve got them outnumbered.”

The New Orleans City Council approved Entergy’s proposal on March 8th.

The Implication

According to Facebook messages obtained by The Lens, actors were offered $60 to attend meetings and $200 to deliver a speech, as well as “free pizza and a round of drinks after it’s over.”

Actors were asked to sign a non-disclosure agreement and to avoid speaking with the media. They were told numerous times not to tell anyone they were being paid.

“It was very shady, very secretive, especially when we got paid. They literally paid us under the table,” said one actor.

The allegations against Entergy prompted a lawsuit from environmental groups, who insist opponents were turned away from meetings while supporters – some of them paid – were allowed to enter early.

Entergy says the meetings were “first-come, first-serve” and insists it did not pay anyone to attend, but one of the actors said he was instructed to arrive early “so if there are any protestors we got that whole room filled” before they arrive.

The man who organized the actors, Garrett Wilkerson, works for an LA-based service called “Crowds on Demand.” As the name suggests, the service pays actors to create the illusion of grassroots support (a practice known as “astroturfing”). While dishonest and misleading, the practice appears to be legal.

Did you know… The light hitting the earth right now is 30 thousand years old.

April grew up in the Midwest, where she developed a passion for writing and storytelling at a young age. She transformed that passion into a degree at Indiana University (2008-2012), after which she promptly moved to South Florida to escape the cold.

Since then, April has worked as a content writer, editor, proofreader, blogger, tour guide, scriptwriter, and - I’ll admit it - bartender. Her favorite topics on which to write include health, politics, science & nature, and space exploration (anything but sports, really).

April is an amateur artist who enjoys spending time outdoors and inventing new cocktails. She currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida

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