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Illinois’ congressional delegations split on significance of FISA abuse memo

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Illinois’ congressional delegation is split along party lines on whether the controversial memo released Friday exposes inherent bias in the FBI against the Trump administration or if it’s meant to undermine law enforcement investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The Republican-crafted memo was released Friday after it got the green light to be declassified from the White House. It alleges leadership at the FBI and the Department of Justice under the Obama administration signed off on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant applications to spy on the Trump campaign without disclosing that the underlying evidence was unsubstantiated opposition research funded by Democrats.

A “Key Points” document released alongside the memo says, “Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the [Democratic National Committee], Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding [Christopher] Steele’s efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.”

Steele is a former British intelligence officer who was hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the DNC to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia.

The “Key Points” documents also says “Former FBI Deputy Director [Andrew] McCabe confirmed that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) without the Steele dossier information.”

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said the release of the Republican memo was egregious, toxic, and an attack on special investigator Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged wrongdoing by Trump.

The memo was written by staffers of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence with access to tens of thousands of pages of classified intelligence.

Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, told WMAY Springfield he hopes the GOP memo release is just the beginning.

“I would love for the underlying intelligence to come out,” Davis said. “I would love for it to be scrubbed for top secret material. I frankly hope that the Democrat memo gets put out there because I think the American people need to see it all.”

The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week was unanimous in supporting release of the Democrats’ memo for review by the entire House. But Republicans wanted time to digest the 10-page memo that U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, said has up to 36 footnotes, “and some of the details there could be described as harming national interests.”

“I think we need time to absorb their 10-page memo before we release it to the full public,” Conaway said in transcripts of the committee meeting released alongside the Republican memo.

Following a campaign stop for Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker in Springfield Saturday, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said the Republican memo is flimsy and he’s worried about it’s motive.

“No one, including the president, is above the law and this idea that they’re going to undermine the FBI and that basic principle is really worrisome,” Durbin said.

As someone who was caught on FBI wiretaps with imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Pritzker said he didn’t have anything to add to the national conversation, other than it was a crafted distraction from alleged Trump wrongdoing. He said Gov. Bruce Rauner is doing the same thing running ads with Pritzker on the wire taps with Blagojevich.

 

Article By Greg Bishop. For more Illinois News Network content, visit ILNews.org

Illinois News Network, publisher of ILNews.org, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media company dedicated to the principles of transparency, accountability, and fiscal responsibility in the state of Illinois. INN is Illinois’ pioneering non-profit news brand, offering content from the statehouse and beyond to Illinoisans through their local media of choice and from their digital hub at ILNews.org. Springfield Daily was granted republishing permission by INN.

2018 Election

Rodriguez discusses fundraising, social security during Jacksonville town hall

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Democratic hopeful Junius Rodriguez held a town hall event in Jacksonville Thursday night. This was one of a series of town halls Rodriguez has scheduled around the 18th Congressional district. Around twenty people came out to take part and ask questions of the candidate.

Social Security was one of the main concerns of the town hall attendees. While the program is solvent today, it is a real possibility that it might not be in the coming future. Rodriguez acknowledged these fears, and discussed a number of possible solutions. Raising the amount of taxable income was seen as a short term solution. Over the longer term, he discussed possibilities of having several different options for individuals to choose delay receiving benefits. These small changes, in aggregate, could buy the system time for more lasting reforms to be developed.

Rodriguez also talked about his ideas on how Congressmen and Congress as a whole should act. He criticized the current Congress for failing to be an effective check on presidential power. However, Rodriguez stopped short of saying he would be an automatic vote to impeach President Trump. Despite his strong and vocal opposition to the current president, Rodriguez said that everyone should receive a fair hearing decided by the evidence.

He also spoke about how fundraising has become too important in politics. His campaign is a low budget affair, in part because he has not accepted money from PACs or corporations. But he asked why it was that candidates’ ability to fundraise, rather than quality of their ideas, was the main metric of what makes a viable candidate. He also felt that elected officials spend too much time fundraising. According to Rodriguez, a congressman may spend upwards of one third of their time fundraising for their party.

You can watch the full meeting in the player below. You can also learn more about Rodriguez and the other candidates in the 18th on our Campaign Headquarters page.

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Illinois Govt

Supreme Court Ruling Overturns Ban On Sports Betting

Eric Broughton

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On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New Jersey in the case that was formerly known as Chris Christie vs. NCAA (Christie’s name has been supplanted by Phil Murphy, the state’s new governor), striking down a 25-year old federal law known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) that largely outlawed sports betting outside of Nevada.

The court overruled a decision from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, saying PASPA violates the state’s 10th Amendment rights, thereby creating a path for New Jersey and other states to offer sports betting.

“Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own,” the opinion reads. “Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

What happens next?

New Jersey has been preparing in earnest for legalized sports wagering since 2012, and many locations are ready to move quickly. Monmouth Park — a racetrack on the Jersey Shore — says it could open betting windows within the next two weeks.

It could take other states weeks, or even months, to follow New Jersey’s blueprint, if they choose. One exception is Delaware, said Daniel Wallach, a sports gaming law expert and attorney at Becker & Poliakof, noting that the state already as infrastructure in place and doesn’t require any legislative tweaks.

Which states will be next?

Many state legislatures have been working on bills in anticipation of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and many were waiting to see whether the court would strike down PASPA entirely. Many places have already concluded their 2018 legislative sessions, which could mean state lawmakers can’t address the matter until next year.

While New Jersey and Delaware could have betting windows open soon, states such as West Virginia and Mississippi are also poised to move quickly. States such as Pennsylvania and Connecticut could be racing to get in the game, as well. Nearly 20 states have introduced bills that could legalize sports betting, and a 2017 report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that as many as 32 states could offer legal sports betting within the next five years.

What sports will I be able bet on?

The Supreme Court opinion means states can offer the same betting options as any other sports books, including college and professional sports, horse racing, golf, combat sports and non-American sporting events.

Is there anything I won’t be able to bet on?

Some sports leagues have urged states to ban some prop bets, primarily the situational variety that can be easily impacted by a single player or decision without necessarily altering the game’s outcome. For example, the leagues don’t want to see betting lines offered on which player will commit the first foul of a game, or whether the first pitch of a game is a ball or strike.

Most sports books are likely to offer single-game bets, over-under bets, prop betting, teaser bets and parlays, as Nevada sports books do.

Will mobile and online betting be available?

Many bills are encouraging mobile and online betting options. Without these options, gambling advocates warn that bettors will still turn to offshore accounts and illegal bookmakers.

New Jersey sports books will be able to take bets via phone or computer, but not right away. There will be a licensing process that could take weeks — possibly a few months — before books will be able to take bets remotely. Even then, only intrastate wagers will be permitted.

Can I place in-game wagers?

Like many of the details, in the absence of federal legislation, this ultimately could vary from state to state. Some of the proposed bills specifically allow for in-game betting, such as those in West Virginia and New York.

I already have accounts with DraftKings and FanDuel. Will they offer sports betting?

A: Many expect both these companies — the two giants in the world of daily fantasy sports — to quickly jump into this space and offer a large menu of sports betting options. They already have much of the infrastructure in place, and a long list of users familiar with their platforms.

In the meantime, those companies could still partner with specific casinos or venues, particularly on the mobile and online side of the business.

Are the pro sports leagues happy about this?

In 2012, the five biggest sports entities in the United States sued to prevent New Jersey from entering the sports gaming business. But since then, some have altered their stance. The NBA and Major League Baseball have both said some form of legal sports gambling seems inevitable, and have teamed together to urge states to pass bills that would help protect the integrity of their sports – while also directing some profits in the direction of the leagues.

While all of the leagues will likely take on added costs – education, monitoring and investigations, for example – they could also stand to make plenty of money through new partnerships and business opportunities.

What about the NCAA?

The world of college sports, relying on amateur student-athletes, has been resolute in its opposition of sports wagering.

There has been talk that the leagues will want a percentage of the money wagered? Is that happening? Does it impact bettors?

Major League Baseball and the NBA have proposed states mandate a 1 percent kickback to the leagues for assuming added risk. They liken to this to an “integrity fee,” or a “royalty to the league.” Some states have balked and the leagues have expressed a willingness to take less than 1 percent.

Some gambling advocates say cutting into sports books’ profits with such fees could force them to offer tighter odds, which could push bettors back to the illegal markets to make their wagers.

How big is the sports gambling industry?

While it’s probably impossible to accurately estimate, experts suggest that illegal betting in the United States is a $50-150 billion business – perhaps significantly more.

According to research by UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, legal sports betting in Nevada totaled nearly $5 billion last year, led by football — both college and professional — which accounted for $1.76 billion.

A 2017 report from Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimated that legal sports gambling could be a $6 billion industry — perhaps as much $16 billion if more states eventually get onboard.

Could this lead to corruption or scandals?

That has certainly been the big fear, which has prompted the leagues to dig in their heels on this issue for so long. The leagues know they’ll have to take on added costs to educate players and monitor betting trends to guard against any suspect activity.

But gambling advocates are quick to point out that sports gambling already takes place on a massive scale, meaning the leagues are already vulnerable to corruption.

What happens to that federal law that largely banned sports betting outside of Las Vegas?

Even with PASPA struck down, Congress could still move to establish federal guidelines that would produce uniformity from state to state.

On Dec. 7 — the same day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case — Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., introduced the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act, or GAME Act. His proposal doesn’t set federal guidelines, per se, but it does aim to remove obstacles and provide the legal framework for states to adopt sports betting.

What will Illinois do? Is there a plan and desire to allow for sports gambling in this state?

The gambling industry wants to capitalize on what’s long been a valuable black-market industry. They contend strict state regulations and high taxes could keep legal businesses from being able to compete with illegal bookkeepers, saying they already have incentive to make sure games stay clean to preserve their own bottom line.

Will Green, an official of the American Gaming Association, said high taxes could “burden a legal sports book with unnecessary costs” and make legal businesses unable to meet the higher payouts of illegal companies that currently operate offshore.

“It will cut the legs off of legal sports betting, quite honestly, before it has the chance to walk,” he said.

Opponents, though, say expanded gambling does more harm than the potential tax money could do good. Anita Bedell, executive director of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, said online gambling is a “gateway” that could get kids hooked, saying children are already “bombarded with gambling ads” on social media.

Gambling industry officials estimated sports betting could net the state about $85 million in taxes.

Illinois is was not the only state betting on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the federal ban. Similar legislation to regulate and tax sports betting has been proposed in at least a dozen states across the country, including Indiana, Missouri, California and Massachusetts. State legislatures in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Mississippi also passed laws in recent months.

 

 

 

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2018 Election

Rep. Bustos endorses Londrigan in the 13th

Thomas Clatterbuck

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Democratic candidate Betsy Dirksen Londrigan picked up another endorsement. Speaking at the Springfield Mel-O-Cream Donuts shop, Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-17) endorsed the Democratic challenger in the 13th. Bustos is the only Democratic Congressional representative from Central Illinois. During her speech, Bustos spoke in favor of unions as key to growing the middle class. The event was attended by around 50 people.

To learn more about Betsy Dirksen Londrigan and the other candidates in the 13th, check out our Campaign Headquarters page.

 

 

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