Oregon

'This Is Not The Bundy Ranch' Implores Mine Owner At Center Of Latest Oath Keepers Standoff

An Oregon mine owner who called in the Oath Keepers and their network of anti-government activists to provide “security” in a dispute with the Bureau of Land Management is now fed up with the “circus” that has showed up in his town trying to turn the conflict into another Bundy ranch standoff.

The co-owner of Sugar Pine Mine told the Medford, Oregon, Mail Tribune that an Oath Keepers camp near his mine has “taken on a life of its own” thanks in part to the “absolute bullshit” being circulated on social media.

"We don't need any more volunteers, we're not under attack, this is not the Bundy Ranch," he said, according to the paper. "Please stop calling the BLM and threatening their personnel."

The co-owner of a Josephine County mining claim at the center of a land-use dispute with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says an armed security presence by members of the Oath Keepers movement has "taken on a life of its own," and he is pleading for calm after supporters apparently phoned in threats to BLM employees.

"We don't need any more volunteers, we're not under attack, this is not the Bundy Ranch," said Sugar Pine Mine co-owner Rick Barclay. "Please stop calling the BLM and threatening their personnel."



Barclay said the ranger's visit made him and Backes worried the BLM would remove or destroy their equipment before they could appear in court to appeal the order.

"So I went to the Oath Keepers (to ask for security) and they said, 'OK,'" Barclay said.

The Oath Keepers is a nationwide organization made up of former and current U.S. military and law enforcement personnel who have pledged to disobey all "unconstitutional" orders. The group received significant media attention for its participation in a 2014 standoff with the BLM over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's cattle, which had been corralled by the agency for illegally grazing its lands. After Bundy's armed supporters confronted BLM rangers last April, the agency backed down and released the cattle.

Armed volunteers affiliated with the Oath Keepers began arriving Tuesday and set up camp at a "staging area" on private property on Camp Joy Road. Now things have gotten out of control, Barclay said, describing the fervor surrounding their presence has turned the event into a  "circus."

"What you're seeing is mostly a spectacle caused by social media and 'keyboard commandos' whooping it up," he said. "A lot of the stuff going around on social media is absolute bull----."

Barclay said the Oath Keepers' security presence is only intended to secure the mine and their property until he and Backes can be heard by a judge, and he blamed the BLM for creating the dispute.

"We are a constitutional republic — we are a nation of laws," he said. "The BLM would not be in this position had they followed the law."

Still, he expressed eagerness to put the matter to rest. "As soon as I get my court arrangements made, the Oath Keepers are leaving," he said. "It's OK. It's going to be OK."
 

On Bundy Anniversary, Oath Keepers Set Stage For Another Anti-Government Standoff

This week, as far-right groups are celebrating the first anniversary of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s armed standoff with the Bureau of Land Management over his refusal to pay years’ worth of grazing fees, the anti-government group Oath Keepers is getting involved in another dispute with the BLM, this time in Oregon.

The Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon, reports that members of the Oath Keepers are gathering in southwest Oregon to prevent the BLM from temporarily shutting down operations of a mine that is violating federal regulations, claiming that the BLM’s actions are “unconstitutional.”

A group of armed volunteers has descended on rural Josephine County in defense of a mining claim that's become the subject of regulatory action by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The federal agency says the Sugar Pine Mine, near Merlin, has been operating outside current mining laws and regulations, and the BLM recently ordered the claim's owners to cease operations until they file a plan of operations.

In response, the local chapter of the Oath Keepers, a group of former and current military and law enforcement personnel who've pledged to disobey any "unconstitutional" orders, says it was asked to defend the property from any encroachment by federal authorities.

Mary Emerick, a spokeswoman for the local Oath Keepers chapter, told the paper that she doesn’t want what’s going on in Merlin referred to as a “standoff” and that it has nothing to do with the Bundy anniversary:

She says the group doesn't want its security operation referred to as a "standoff," and says the event's timing coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Bundy's showdown with BLM agents was unintentional. "There's absolutely no relationship to that," she says.

But some of the national activists streaming to Oregon (Emerick says she’s “been contacted by people from Colorado, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, all parts of Oregon”) seem to see it differently. An article on the national Oath Keepers website promises a “brewing fight,” referring to it as a “potential standoff,” as does a piece in the popular far-right outlet Infowars and another on Glenn Beck's The Blaze.

The private mining consortium that includes the disputed mine is also promising to “do battle” with the BLM, posting a manifesto on its website that the non-standoff “presents what is probably a once-in-a-generation prime opportunity to strike at the heart of the very surface management authority of the DOI and USDA.”

Where is this all headed?

This case is headed in a direction that presents what is probably a once-in-a-generation prime opportunity to strike at the heart of the very surface management authority of the DOI and USDA and to restore the "as patent" rights of every mining claim owner in the United States by striking down the actual source of that intrusive authority.

Regardless, we intend to take BLM fully to task and will not feel sorry for any civil or criminal consequences that may be leveled upon any BLM employees who are found to be negligent of wrong doing. We are actively pursuing these individuals through a wide range of tactics with the intent to reign in these wrong doers.

Meanwhile, the BLM says it’s just asking for the Sugar Pine Mine to submit a “plan of operations” for the mine or appeal the decision. The local sheriff — viewed by many in the militia movement as the ultimate law enforcement authority in the country — says he’s trying to mediate the conflict.

Big Win for Voting Rights: Oregon Passes New Motor Voter Law

Yesterday the Oregon Senate passed an expansive new voter registration bill, a significant step forward in the fight to make voting easier, more secure, and more accessible for everyone in the state.

The Oregonian explains how the legislation will work:

Under the measure, driver's license data stretching back to 2013 will be used to begin registering Oregon citizens who aren't already signed up to vote. Elections officials will send a postcard to the prospective new registrants giving them a chance to opt out…. The secretary of state's office has estimated that the measure will add about 300,000 to the voting rolls, which now total just under 2.2 million.

Gov. Kate Brown, who as secretary of state supported the bill as a way to make it easier for low-income people and young people to vote, has promised to sign the measure.

With new barriers to voting taking root across the country and voting discrimination still a persistent problem, it can be easy to believe that our country is only turning back the clock on voting rights. But this win in Oregon underscores the fact that when we work together to make it easier rather than harder to cast a ballot, we can set an example of how to strengthen our democracy.

PFAW

Klingenschmitt: Anti-Gay Bakers Are Blessing The Gay Community By 'Refusing To Participate In Their Acts Of Sodomy'

On his "Pray In Jesus Name" program recently, Gordon Klingenschmitt was discussing the possibility that the owners of an Oregon bakery may have to pay significant fines after refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, when he praised the bakery owners for "being a blessing" to the entire gay community "by refusing to participate in their acts of sodomy."

After asserting that it is the goal of the government to bankrupt Christian business owners, Klingenschmitt declared that Aaron and Melissa Klein "are being persecuted for righteousness sake" and hailed them "for actually being a blessing to the homosexual community by speaking truth to them and refusing to participate in their acts of sodomy. They are defining right and wrong and saying, 'We are not going to endorse your sin because it is harmful to you in the homosexual community.'"

Klingenschmitt then went on to pray that Christians will not "manifest the demonic spirit that would endorse that sin" but will have "the freedom to not agree with the Devil":

Marriage Equality Now Law in 19 States, Only 2 Bans Remain Unchallenged

On Monday Oregon became the 18th state added to the win column when Judge Michael McShane struck down its ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Then on Tuesday Judge John Jones issued a similar ruling in Pennsylvania, followed Wednesday by the news that Governor Tom Corbett won't appeal – make that 19! Wednesday also brought the filing of a marriage equality lawsuit in Montana.
PFAW Foundation

Oregon Marriage Ban Struck Down

More good news from the fight for marriage equality: today a federal judge struck down Oregon’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

If you are feeling a sense of deja-vu, it’s understandable – the Washington Blade notes that this ruling is the “13th straight win for gay nuptials in the federal courts” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision last year, which struck down a key section of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act [emphasis added].

Given that decision, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum declined to defend the state ban, and the judge did not allow the right-wing National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to defend it. Earlier today NOM lashed out at the case, calling it “an ugly example of inappropriate cooperation between the Attorney General and the gay marriage lobby.”

Judge Michael McShane wrote:

It is at times difficult to see past the shrillness of the debate. Accusations of religious bigotry and banners reading "God Hates Fags" make for a messy democracy and, at times, test the First Amendment resolve of both sides. At the core of the Equal Protection Clause, however, there exists a foundational belief that certain rights should be shielded from the barking crowds; that certain rights are subject to ownership by all and not the stake hold of popular trend or shifting majorities.

As the Right continues to fight a losing battle to prevent loving couples from accessing the protections they need to take care of each other, we’ll keep fighting for nationwide equality.
 

PFAW Foundation

Florida & Oregon Drop Out Of Kris Kobach's Faulty Voter Roll Crosscheck Program

The Miami Herald reported Friday that Florida and Oregon have dropped out of Interstate Crosscheck, the disputed voter-fraud detection service run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, with Oregon election officials citing "unreliable" data from the program.

Interstate Crosscheck’s reports in 2013 include Florida data based on the 2012 election. However, Florida is absent from the 2014 report.

We asked a spokeswoman for Republican Secretary of State Ken Detzner why Florida dropped out.

“The Department of State and Supervisors of Elections currently work with elections officials in other states to update registrations regarding residency, and we are always exploring options to improve the elections process,” Brittany Lesser said.

Oregon is another state that changed its mind about sharing its voter data with the Kansas project. Its explanation was more blunt than the one we got from Florida.

“We left because the data we received was unreliable and we felt joining the ERIC project would better meet our needs, said Tony Green, spokesman for Oregon Secretary of State.

ERIC is a project of the Pew Charitable Trust  to improve the accuracy and efficiency of state voter registration systems. States must pay to participate in ERIC while the Kansas project is free.

Voting rights opponents went into full-blown panic mode last week when North Carolina elections officials, citing data from Kobach's program, announced that 35,000 people who voted in North Carolina could have also voted in another state. That this number turned out to be completely overblown -- and that the state's top elections official urged caution in jumping to conclusions  -- did not stop Dick Morris and the Tea Party Nation from claiming that as many as a million Democrats voted twice in the 2012 elections.

via Rick Hasen​

Oregon Becomes 16th State to Join the Fight Against Citizens United

Following the approval of House Joint Memorial 6 by a 17-13 vote in the Oregon Senate today, Oregon became the 16th state to call for an amendment to the Constitution overturning the 2010 Citizens United decision and related cases.

The passage of HJM6, first introduced in January by Representative Brian Clem, is the result of a grassroots mobilization effort by the people of Oregon. In 2012 alone, 12 Oregon cities and counties passed local resolutions urging state and federal legislators to call for a constitutional amendment taking back our democracy from corporations and special interests. The mobilization at the state level was led by Oregonians for Restoring Constitutional Democracy, a coalition that gathered signatures and endorsements in support of HJM6.

The joint memorial urges Congress to propose a constitutional amendment “clarifying the distinction between the rights of natural persons and the rights of corporations” and recognizing “that Congress and state legislatures may regulate all moneys raised and spent for political purposes.”

Rep. Jules Bailey, speaking to the Oregon House last week, urged his fellow representatives to support the measure, saying, “When we confuse the monolith with the individual, then a piece of our humanity dies. Let us ask Congress to undo this mistake.” The measure passed the House by a vote of 48-11 on June 21st before being sent to the Senate.

With each additional state joining the movement to overturn Citizens United and related decisions, the will of the American people becomes clearer. We will not let our elections be bought and sold. We will not let corporate power subvert the will of the people.

PFAW

GOP Senator on Key Committee Opposes Pileggi’s Electoral College Bill, Calls it ‘Poorly Thought Out'

NEW HOPE, Pa. – At a town hall meeting here Wednesday, Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, a Republican member of Pennsylvania’s Senate State Government Committee, spoke out against fellow Republican Sen. Dominic Pileggi’s scheme to change the way Pennsylvania apportions its electoral votes. McIlhinney said Pileggi’s bill was “poorly thought out” and “makes no sense to me whatsoever.” He added, “I won’t support it.”

McIlhinney is a member of the Senate State Government Committee, which would be the first to review Pileggi’s bill.

Rep. Allyson Schwartz and former congressman Joe Sestak have both denounced the plan. Gov. Tom Corbett has yet to state a position on the bill and whether he would veto it if it passed the legislature.

“Governor Corbett has not been forthright with the public on whether he favors legislation rigging future presidential elections in favor of one party over another and costing the state millions in economic activity. Despite his reluctance to clearly articulate a position on disenfranchising millions of Pennsylvanians, it is clear that his tacit approval will not stand well with voters or even with some members of his own party,” said Randy Borntrager, Political Director of People For the American Way.

“It’s time for the governor to step up and tell Pennsylvanians whether he sides with the best interests of the voters or with the interests of the Republican Party leadership.”

Last month, People For the American Way delivered over 100,000 petitions urging Corbett to reject Pileggi’s plan.

A transcript and video of McIlhinney’s remarks are below.

Question: I just had a question about a bill that Senator Pileggi had, that we have been hearing a lot in the press about, that changes the electoral college votes.  What is your stance on that? What is your position on that and why?

Senator McIlhinney: The electoral college….What they are trying to say is that you have a proportionate amount of votes you need…or  we have 20 electoral college votes and they should be based upon a proportionate of the number of people who voted in Pennsylvania.

Now, under that system, I could never see a Presidential candidate ever getting more than 11 to 9, no matter who it is. Because I am never going to see a candidate win 75% of the vote in Pennsylvania. So you could never even get more than 11 let alone 20. Which makes no sense to me whatsoever.

What you’re saying is you’ll have two….It will force us into a state that will only have two electoral college votes depending on which way you go with it. So, I won’t support it. I don’t think it’s gonna come up.

But that’s the logic is to say that every vote should count. So, even if your candidate lost, you’re still gaining him some electoral college votes in that electoral college….but it really was poorly thought out, if I can say that.

I respect Senator Pileggi a lot but I wouldn’t support it. And it really would set Pennsylvania back to a state like a small state like Vermont or Ohio…well not Ohio.
 

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Hearing for a Diverse Group of Judicial Nominees

The nominees at today's Judiciary Committee hearing exemplify Obama's commitment to increasing personal and professional diversity in the federal judiciary.
PFAW

PFAWF Releases Reports on Outside Election Spending in 21 States, Organizes ‘Money Out/Voters In’ Events Across the U.S.

Out of State Money Floods Contests in 2012

Washington, DC –  Today People For the American Way Foundation unveiled new state-by-state fact sheets detailing outside spending in U.S. Senate and House races in 21 states.  Each report analyzes the outside spending totals from Super PACs, dark money groups, and out-of-state spenders in the down ballot federal races from the 2012 election cycle.  The fact sheets reveal that, on average, a majority of outside election money in these states came from Super PACs.  And in every case, a vast majority came from organizations registered outside of the state.

The release of the “Outside Spending, Outsized Influence” reports coincide with the weekend marking Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the third anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC  to draw attention to the dual threats of voter suppression and unlimited corporate and special interest money in politics. The reports – a partnership between PFAWF and U.S. PIRG – are part of the Money Out/Voters In campaign.  As part of that campaign, People For the American Way Foundation, its affiliate People For the American Way, and other organizers across the country are hosting “Day of Action” events in more than 76 cities in 33 states this weekend. Members of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council will be leading Money Out/Voters In events in Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia.

“Last year’s elections were far and away the most expensive in history,” said People For the American Way Foundation Executive Vice President Marge Baker.  “A major reason was the influx of outside, special interest spending in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision. When big money floods our elections, it dwarfs the ability of individual Americans to have their voices heard. Just as important, when politicians push laws to suppress the vote, we turn back the clock on decades on progress to expand and improve our democracy. We need to pursue the full range of remedies to address the problem of too much money in politics, including amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United, and we need to stand up against the growing threat of voter suppression.  This weekend we are joining with allies across the country to call for a democracy that gets Money Out and Voters In.”

The states featured in the reports are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin.

For links to each report, please visit: http://www.pfaw.org/issues/outside-spending-outsized-influence-big-and-s...

For more information about the Money Out/Voters In campaign or the Days of Action, please visit: http://www.moneyout-votersin.org

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Movement to Overturn Citizens United Wins Big Across the Country

Washington, DC – The movement to overturn Citizens United v. FEC scored major victories in state and local elections across the country Tuesday as citizens voted to support a constitutional amendment returning democracy to voters. Statewide ballot initiatives calling for a constitutional amendment passed by wide margins in Colorado and Montana, as did initiatives in over half the cities and towns of Massachusetts. Initiatives in San Francisco, Chicago, and three cities in Oregon also passed by wide margins.

“Americans across the country are fed up with the enormous influence of big money in elections,” said Marge Baker, Executive Vice President of People For the American Way. “Yesterday, over seven million Americans in six states spoke out with their votes and overwhelmingly rejected corporate money in politics. What’s more, Americans reelected a president who supports a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United over a man who thinks “corporations are people.” This is a huge step for the ever-growing movement to return elections to the voters.”

More details about the successful ballot measures can be found here.

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Attend a Rally to Save the American Dream this Saturday!

Events have been organized in cities and state capitols across the nation to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin. Find the event or events nearest you.

Ads: Senators Who Put George W. Bush -- Not Their Constituents -- First

As part of People For the American Way's Save the Court campaign, we're running ads in key states targeting senators who voted against their constituents' interests by supporting George W. Bush's extreme judicial nominees. The ads below call out senators who sided with Bush when it came to judicial nominees whose decisions had very real — and negative — impacts on families in their state.
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