Allegra Kirkland

Allegra Kirkland is a New York-based reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked on The Nation’s web team and as the associate managing editor for AlterNet. Follow her on Twitter @allegrakirkland.

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Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum on Thursday demanded that Florida TV stations stop broadcasting a “maliciously false” attack ad put out by the state Republican Party, warning that further broadcast of the ad would be intentionally defamatory.

In a cease-and-desist letter, lawyers for the Gillum campaign claims the ad was approved by his GOP opponent Rep. Ron DeSantis and makes “demonstrably false” claims. The 30-second spot focuses on an ongoing FBI public corruption investigation into the city government in Tallahassee, where Gillum serves as mayor.

“Andrew Gillum is running for Governor and also from the FBI,” the ad, which is cut through with images of police tape, states. It ends with a line saying Gillum is “not just radical, but corrupt.”

Gillum’s attorney writes that the candidate is neither the subject of the probe nor received any anonymous payments from anyone, as suggested.

“The Advertisement constitutes libel and slander of the worst sort,” the letter reads. “This letter shall serve as notice that any further publication or rebroadcast of the Advertisement by you will be intentional and made with actual knowledge of the maliciously false and defamatory statements contained therein.”

The FBI probe focuses on whether developers were able to influence Tallahassee development projects. Investigators have requested information from Adam Corey, a lobbyist and Gillum friend, but Gillum has not been named in any subpoenas.

The Tallahassee mayor has posted related records online, and pledged to work with the FBI.

The probe has been a major talking point for Florida Republicans in the close gubernatorial race.

Read the full letter below.

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The chaotic Kansas gubernatorial primaries saw a GOP race that came down to just dozens of votes and a push to boot the independent nominee from the ballot. When the dust finally settled in late August, three major candidates had emerged for November’s five-person contest: Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Democratic state Sen. Laura Kelly, and Independent Greg Orman.

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President Trump’s alleged role in orchestrating hush money payments to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential election has been well documented.

But a Wall Street Journal report out Tuesday sheds new light on how Trump personally managed damage control over the revelation of the payouts to the former adult film star—well into the second year of his presidency. Per the Journal, Trump used his own private real estate company and his own son to do so.

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Four men allegedly associated with a militant white supremacist organization have been arrested on federal rioting charges in connection with the the August 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Four individuals—Cole Evan White, Benjamin Drake Daley, Michel Paul Miselis and Thomas Walter Gillen—were hit with one count each of federal rioting and conspiracy to riot charges, according to federal court documents unsealed in Virginia on Tuesday.

The four alleged members of the violent southern California-based Rise Above Movement (RAM) traveled to Charlottesville with the intent to encourage, promote, incite, participate in, and commit violent acts in furtherance of a riot,” by according to a sworn affidavit by Dino Cappuzzo of the Virginia State Police. Cappuzzo was working with federal authorities on this case.

Each of the men face a maximum of ten years in prison, according to U.S. officials.

At the Aug. 11 march on the University of Virginia campus, white supremacists allegedly including White, Daley, Miselis and Gillen marched with tiki torches yelling, “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, they took up arms and fanned out through the city streets, brawling with counter-protesters and shouting hate speech.

On the afternoon of Aug. 12, a car allegedly driven by white supremacist James Fields Jr. slammed into a group of demonstrators, killing Heather Heyer. Federal charges were brought against Fields in June.

In an extensive investigation published in July, ProPublica reported on RAM’s involvement in the Charlottesville rally. Miselis, who worked as an aerospace engineer for defense contractor Northrop Grumman and had a U.S. government security clearance, lost his job the day after the report came out.

The charges against the four RAM members are based largely on “open-source research” conducted by the FBI, per the affidavit. That appears to consist primarily of posts the group shared on their public Twitter account, the ProPublica story, and YouTube videos where they can be seen attacking counter-protesters both in Charlottesville and at 2017 events in California.

In screenshots, Daley can be seen “assaulting counter-protesters by punching, kicking and head butting,” while White was captured grabbing “a non-violent counter-protester” and “head-butt[ing] a clergyman.” Screenshots of counter-protesters lying on the ground or bleeding profusely after these attacks are also included in the affidavit.

RAM claims to promote “‘clean living,’ physical fitness and mixed martial arts” techniques, encouraging young men to espouse an anti-addiction, hyper-masculine lifestyle. Their Twitter feed is full of pictures of their members working out shirtless in sun-drenched parks, faces covered by skull masks.

Cappuzzo alleged this physical training is simply preparation to “engage in fighting and violence at political rallies.” The social media accounts of RAM and the four arrested members are full of mentions of their white supremacist, anti-Semitic beliefs, and Daley “made various admissions about committing acts of violence” in Charlottesville after returning to southern California, per the affidavit.

Read the document below.

This post has been updated.

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For hundreds of thousands of Floridians with felony convictions, a proposal on the November ballot to automatically restore their voting rights is a cause to rally behind—a beacon of hope. I wrote an in-depth report on this proposal for TPM’s voting rights series last week.

For a much smaller population, Amendment 4 represents a slap in the face. Sunshine State residents with murder or sex offenses on their records are explicitly excluded in the ballot measure’s language.

This is a “divide and conquer tactic,” according to Paul Wright, head of the Human Rights Defense Center, a non-profit organization that advocates for rights for former felons.

Wright, who lives in Lake Worth, is one of those who will be left out if Amendment 4 passes. In 1987, Wright was convicted of murder for fatally shooting a drug dealer in a botched robbery in Washington state. He became a forceful advocate for prison reform while incarcerated, publishing stories in the outlet he founded, Prison Legal News, that have exposed major corporations’ use of prison labor and price gouging in the prison phone industry.

Speaking in a quiet, measured voice, Wright told TPM in a phone interview that the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and ACLU’s decision to bar certain categories of felons from the amendment was a matter of “political opportunism.”

“They told me when they did focus groups that the groups said it wouldn’t pass unless it excluded murderers and sex offenders,” Wright said.

Painful as it is for those excluded, it’s hard to argue with that logic in a purple, crime-obsessed state like Florida.

In a statement to TPM, FRRC executive director Desmond Meade said the amendment “was produced through years of conversations with the people of Florida, and Floridians from all walks of life and all backgrounds have consistently shown super majority support for restoring the eligibility to vote for people with past felony convictions who have completed all portions of their sentence, with the exception of those convicted of murder and felony sexual offenses.”

A number of surveys conducted this year show Amendment 4 polling well over the 60 percent required to pass, and a number of Democratic politicians are enthusiastically campaigning on their support for the issue.

That scenario would be hard to imagine if child molesters were among those who would get their rights back.

Indeed, Gov. Rick Scott’s administration has highlighted the most serious categories of crimes in defending the clemency system he instituted. Scott’s policy requires former felons to complete all court-mandated aspects of their sentencing and then wait five years — seven in the case of those with murder or sex offense records — to apply for the opportunity to get their rights restored.

A Scott spokeswoman pointed to their concerns about the rehabilitation of those who have committed “murder, violence against children and domestic violence” when TPM asked about the fairness of restoring rights on a case-by-case basis.

Tampa attorney Richard Harrison, who has led the small opposition campaign to Amendment 4, is also concerned that the measure treats all felony charges the same. In Harrison’s view, those who committed violent crimes or repeat offenses should face a harder time getting their rights back.

But Wright argues that “isolating and singling people out based on offenses” is ultimately a damaging tactic for those who want to see fairer treatment of former felons. Realistically, no separate ballot measure will be pushed in the foreseeable future that applies only to those with murder or sex crime convictions, meaning that if Amendment 4 passes, those Floridians may never get their voting rights back.

Wright is concerned that the November results could further stigmatize some of the most politically vulnerable members of the state’s population.

“It’s a whole ends and means thing,” he said. “If 70 or 80,000 people need to be sacrificed, then so what? As long as its not me, my family or my social group that’s being affected, it’s really easy to make these decisions about other people. And they have.”

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Christine Blasey Ford “welcomes” the FBI investigation into her allegations that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, one of her attorneys confirmed Friday.

“A thorough FBI investigation is critical to developing all the relevant facts,” Debra Katz said in a statement. “Dr. Christine Blasey Ford welcomes this step in the process, and appreciates the efforts of Senators Flake, Murkowski, Manchin and Collins — and all other senators who have supported an FBI investigation — to ensure it is completed before the Senate votes on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.”

Republican senators have stressed that the probe should delay the vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation by no more than a week.

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Brett Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge would be willing to cooperate with an FBI investigation, Judge’s lawyer announced Friday.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) proposed that the FBI probe allegations that the Supreme Court nominee, in Judge’s presence, sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in 1982.

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