Dem dark money group to target Trump lawyers in ads in Pa., elsewhere | Tuesday Morning Coffee

The group aims to ‘expose and try to disbar more than 100 lawyers,’ who worked on Trump’s efforts to overturn the election

March 8, 2022 7:09 am

(Image AdobeStock via The Philadelphia Gay News)

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

If you’ve already found yourself growing weary of the onslaught of television ads ahead of May’s key primary elections for Pennsylvania governor and U.S. senator, brace yourselves. The airwaves are about to get a bit more crowded.

That’s because a high-powered dark money group with ties to the Democratic Party is getting ready to launch a TV blitz in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania, that aims to “to expose and try to disbar more than 100 lawyers,” who worked on former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to Axios.

The 65 Project, named for the number of failed lawsuits that Trump and his allies foisted on the courts two years ago, will start filing complaints this week, in the hope that it will avert similar legal shenanigans during the midterms or the 2024 election, Axios reported.

The group plans to spend about $2.5 million in its first year, Axios also reported.

For those in the back, it’s worth pointing out one more time that President Joe Biden won the Keystone State with 3.46 million votes, the Capital-Star previously reported.

And, as required by law, county election offices conducted a statistical sampling of ballots cast in the 2020 general election; 63 counties in Pennsylvania also conducted “risk-limiting” audits. Neither post-election review found evidence of fraud or misconduct, according to the Department of State, which has oversight of elections across the state, the Capital-Star’s Marley Parish has consistently reported.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Veteran provocateur David Brock, who founded Media Matters for America, and the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, is advising the group, according to Axios.

Brock told Axios that the plan behind the effort is to “not only bring the grievances in the bar complaints,” but also to “shame” lawyers and to make them “toxic in their communities and in their firms.”

“I think the littler fish are probably more vulnerable to what we’re doing,” Brock told Axios. “You’re threatening their livelihood. And, you know, they’ve got reputations in their local communities.”

The new organization is targeting 111 attorneys in 26 states who were involved in the election.

In addition to the ad blitz airing in five more states besides Pennsylvania (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin), the group also is pressuring the American Bar Association and state bar associations to firm up their rules on election challenges, and to adopt language saying that participating in “fraudulent and malicious lawsuits to overturn legitimate election results violate the ethical duties lawyers must abide by,” Axios reported.

Trump and his legal team were dealt some of their most stinging legal defeats in Pennsylvania.

In November 2020, U.S. District Judge Matthew Brann, a conservative Republican jurist appointed to the bench in 2012 on the recommendation of U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.dismissed a Trump lawsuit challenging the state’s election results as a “Frankenstein’s Monster” of legal claims that would have, if successful, resulted in the disenfranchisement of millions of Keystone State voters, the Capital-Star previously reported.

“One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption,” Brann wrote in a withering, 37-page ruling. “Instead, this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations … unsupported by the evidence.”

Brann was upheld by a 3-judge panel of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, which hammered Trump’s lawsuit in equally blistering language.

“Free, fair elections are the lifeblood of our democracy,” Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump appointee, wrote on behalf of the appeals court, according to the New York Times. “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Even so, you will not be shocked to learn that some attorneys view the very expensive push as little more than an intimidation campaign.

It’s an effort “to neutralize anyone on the right with the ability to stand in the way of the left’s efforts to hide malfeasance in the 2020 elections and to clear the path for a repeat of similar malfeasance in the 2022 mid-terms,” Texas attorney Paul Davis, who was targeted over his presence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, told Axios.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an emergency request from a group of Pennsylvania Republicans seeking to block the commonwealth’s new congressional map, Stephen Caruso reports.

The warring factions in a five-year-long legal battle over Pennsylvania’s decision to award tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to an anti-abortion group finally had their day in court on Monday. Cassie Miller has the details.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to support Ukrainian refugees and to take additional action to divest Russian-related assetsMarley Parish reports.

With just five days left before government funding expires, Democrats and Republicans are trying to reach agreement on $1.5 trillion in federal spending as well as billions more in assistance to Ukraine and COVID-19 relief, Capital-Star Washington Reporter Jennifer Shutt writes.

Experts are warning that increased threats on public officials could spark violence ahead of the 2022 midterm election, Michael Leslie, of our sibling site, the Nevada Current, reports.

On our Commentary Page this morning: It’s been 165 years, and the racist Dred Scott decision is still U.S. Supreme Court precedent, columnist Michael Coard writes. If we want to really address a worker shortage, Pennsylvania’s autistic and neurodiverse residents are ready to step up, a Pittsburgh advocate writes. And partisan policies didn’t raise gas prices, and partisan sniping won’t lower themHugh Jackson, of our sibling site, the Nevada Current, writes.

The Pennsylvania Judicial Center in Harrisburg (Capital-Star file)

The state Supreme Court will take up the fate of Pennsylvania’s mail-in balloting law during oral arguments today, PoliticsPA reports.

A school district in western Pennsylvania has halted the teaching of author Marjane Satrapi’s acclaimed graphic novel, “Persepolis,” amid complaints from residents, the Tribune-Review reports.

Gas prices have spiked to record levels in Philadelphia, the Inquirer reports.

And businesses in Luzerne County are ‘struggling’ to adjust to those rising gas prices, the Citizens’ Voice reports.

Former WMPT-TV anchor Matt Maisel has been named Harrisburg’s new communications director, PennLive reports.

A former lawyer from Ephrata, Pa., has pleaded guilty to planning to kill unidentified Democratic senators, LancasterOnline reports.

A Ukrainian businessman from the Lehigh Valley is urging the state to cut any of its remaining ties with Russia, the Morning Call reports.

The city of Chester’s state-appointed receiver has taken city officials to court, claiming they’re interfering with his financial recovery effortsWHYY-FM reports.

An incarcerated person’s death by suicide at Erie County Jail has sparked a federal civil rights lawsuitGoErie reports.

Talks on an omnibus spending bill appear to be on track, with a U.S. House vote eyed for WednesdayRoll Call reports.

Here’s your #Philadelphia Instagram of the Day:


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What Goes On
Budget hearings in the House and Senate continue today.
10 a.m., Hearing Room 1 North Office Building: Senate Appropriations Committee (Dept. of Human Services).
10 a.m., House Floor: House Appropriations Committee (State-related universities; 1 p.m., Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency)

Gov. Tom Wolf does an 8:07 a.m. interview with KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh this morning.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s some brand new music from The Head And The Heart for your Tuesday morning. It’s ‘Virginia (Wind in the Night).’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews notched his 40th goal of the season on Monday as the Leafs downed the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 at Nationwide Arena.

And now you’re up to date.

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John L. Micek
John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.