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May 20, 2020

President Trump is threatening to hold up funding to Michigan for sending all voters an absentee ballot, something the state has not done.

Trump in a tweet on Wednesday claimed that Michigan has mailed its 7.7 million registered voters absentee ballots for the primary and general elections, claiming this was "done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State."

Michigan voters will be receiving absentee ballot applications, but not ballots as Trump falsely claims. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) announced on Tuesday that all of the state's registered voters would get these applications to vote by mail, saying, "By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote. Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it."

Other states have taken this step as well, with Georgia last month mailing voters absentee ballot request forms ahead of its primary. Benson quickly weighed in to rebut Trump's assertion, writing that she's only sending out applications "just like my GOP colleagues." Brendan Morrow

May 28, 2019

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao owns stock in a construction-materials company she said she would give up last year, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

Chao, the report says, has retained shares in Vulcan Materials Co. despite an ethics agreement she signed before taking office stating that she would receive a cash payout in April 2018. In the subsequent year, company shares have risen 13 percent, and she reportedly gained $40,000 since then. The shares are reportedly worth $400,000 now.

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation told the Journal that under Vulcan's policy, directors' deferred share units are paid out in the form of company stock and so the ethics agreement was flawed. The department's top ethics official has reportedly determined that owning this stock presents no conflict of interest for Chao, but a department spokesperson said that the ethics agreement "is being clarified to avoid confusion." Chao has complied with her ethics agreement by resigning from her Vulcan board position and refraining from participating in DOT matters that would affect Vulcan, the agency said in a statement.

Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, told the Journal that "for the head of the DOT to have a financial interest in an asphalt company, that is not sending a message to employees of DOT that she is making ethics a priority." Brendan Morrow

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include more information from a Department of Transportation statement.

February 4, 2019

Hours after Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) claimed The Washington Post had found "inconsistencies" in a sexual assault allegation against him, the newspaper said that's not true.

Conservative website Big League Politics published a story on Sunday about a woman, Vanessa Tyson, who reportedly claimed in a Facebook post that Fairfax had sexually assaulted her. In a statement denying the allegation Monday, Fairfax said that the woman approached the Post with the allegation and that they "investigated the claim for several months" but found "significant red flags and inconsistencies" in her story, and decided not to publish it.

But the Post is now denying that this is the case. A report on Monday detailed how a woman whose name isn't mentioned approached the Post in 2017 to tell her story. She claims she met Fairfax at the 2004 Democratic national convention and went back to his hotel room, where he "used his strength to force her to perform oral sex." The Post writes that it didn't find significant red flags or inconsistencies like Fairfax said. Instead, the paper says the story wasn't published because reporters were unable to find any sources who could corroborate the woman's account, nor could they find any corroboration of Fairfax's account. The Post also says it found no similar complaints of sexual misconduct against Fairfax.

"Without that, or the ability to corroborate the woman’s account — in part because she had not told anyone what happened — The Washington Post did not run a story," the article reads.

Fairfax would be next in line to replace Virginia Governor Ralph Northam should he resign following the publication of a racist yearbook picture. Brendan Morrow

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