Eliza Newlin Carney

Eliza Newlin Carney is a weekly columnist at The American Prospect. Her email is ecarney@prospect.org.


Recent Articles

The FEC’s Moment of Truth

(Sipa via AP Images/Olivier Douliery/Abaca)
(Sipa via AP Images/Olivier Douliery/Abaca) The Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C. democracy_rules.jpg T he question of whether Donald Trump and his team violated campaign-finance laws remains front and center in the rapidly expanding Russia probe. But wherever federal and congressional investigations lead, the danger posed by foreign interference in U.S. elections goes beyond the Trump campaign. It’s alarming enough that the president’s son, campaign manager, and son-in-law met last year with a Russian lawyer said to have damaging information to share about Hillary Clinton. Even more alarming, though, are the American election vulnerabilities that the Russia scandal has exposed. It’s already come to light in recent weeks that Russia targeted and sought to hack into voter databases in 21 states, a disclosure that has set election officials on edge. Less discussed but equally concerning are the campaign-finance loopholes that make it all too easy for foreign actors to...

Is the Kobach Commission Violating the Law?

(AP Photo/John Hanna)
(AP Photo/John Hanna) Kris Kobach answers questions after the launch of his campaign for governor on June 8, 2017, in Lenexa, Kansas. democracy_rules.jpg T he Trump administration “election integrity” commission’s request that all 50 states turn over voter files containing sensitive personal information is not only a threat to election security and to Americans’ privacy and voting rights—it may also be illegal. In separate letters and court filings, several privacy, civil liberties, and voting rights groups have accused the commission and its de facto leader of violating no fewer than half a dozen federal statutes. These include laws that protect privacy, constrain government information-gathering, and dictate how presidential commissions must conduct their business. Commission Vice Chair Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, also stands accused of violating the Hatch Act by using his position on the panel to advance his gubernatorial bid. The most serious challenge to the...

The Limits of Lying and Cheating

AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks with a reporter in his office in Topeka. democracy_rules.jpg A federal magistrate’s recent decision to fine Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach $1,000 for “deceptive conduct and lack of candor” is extraordinary for two reasons. One, it’s a rare instance when a flat-out lie by President Trump or someone on his team is actually sanctioned. Two, it furnishes hard evidence that Trump’s so-called Election Integrity Commission, which Kobach helps lead, may seek to impose new national restrictions on voters. Voting-rights advocates have long warned that the commission’s stated purpose—to uncover the supposed fraud that Trump claims cost him the popular vote—may well mask a darker agenda. Kobach is one of the nation’s leading champions of harsh new limits on registration and voting, and critics fear that his commission will seek to implement on a national scale the voter ID, proof of citizenship, and other voter...

Keeping Russia Out of the Voting Booth

(AP Photo/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
(AP Photo/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call) A woman with her daughter votes in North Las Vegas on November 8, 2016. democracy_rules.jpg O f all the disturbing questions raised by Russia’s interference in last year’s election, the most alarming may be how a foreign power might hack into the nation’s voting infrastructure. So far there’s no evidence that Russian cyberattacks altered U.S. vote totals in any way. But recent disclosures make clear that Russian intelligence intrusions were much broader and deeper than initially known. And the U.S. election system, while it has strengths, remains vulnerable on several fronts. Aging voting machines, the absence of a paper trail in some states, and spotty audits are all weaknesses that could be exploited in 2018 and 2020. The threat posed by foreign meddling in American voting is a rare point of bipartisan agreement on Capitol Hill, where the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing Wednesday on Russian election intrusions. The panel’s GOP chairman...

Collecting Campaign Cash from the Homeless

Katz/Shutterstock Marchers at a campaign-finance reform rally in New York City democracy_rules.jpg I n the special election to be decided next Tuesday between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel in Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District, high-dollar donors and outside groups have pushed spending to just under $40 million , a House record. In municipal elections now unfolding in Seattle, by contrast, housing activist Jon Grant is collecting campaign contributions from a very different source —the city’s homeless encampments. Homeless donors are helping power Grant’s campaign for city council thanks to a new public financing program that gives every Seattle voter four vouchers worth $25 each, to hand out to candidates as they see fit. Such is the dichotomy between the federal campaign-finance system, where unrestricted money reigns supreme, and the experiments in publicly funded, citizen-powered elections that are popping up around the country in cities, states, and...