Early Returns - Law and Politics with Jan Baran

Jan Baran

Elections, lobbying, voting, and campaigning today are intense and filled with increasingly complex rules and resulting legal disputes. “Early Returns: Law and Politics with Jan Baran” spotlights players on the field, including political professionals, activists, election officials, lawyers, and journalists, eliciting their insights and personal experiences. Join Jan and his guests as they tackle current controversies in law and politics. Jan Baran is a partner at Holtzman Vogel Baran Torchinsky & Josefiak PLLC. read less
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Episodes

A Supreme Path: From Latin to Campaign Finance Law, to 38 Oral Arguments – Kannon Shanmugam
May 29 2024
A Supreme Path: From Latin to Campaign Finance Law, to 38 Oral Arguments – Kannon Shanmugam
Arguing before the Supreme Court increasingly has become a specialty of an elite group of lawyers.  A former Scalia judicial law clerk, Kannon Shanmugam has argued 38 cases at the court.  In this episode, Jan speaks with Kannon about his Midwest upbringing, his route to being a lawyer, his exceptional career, and his times before the Supreme Court.  They discuss his most memorable case, Maryland v King, involving DNA and the Fourth Amendment; he shares his observations about the Dobbs decision leak at the Court; and they recall the campaign finance case, McConnell v. FEC (how Jan and Kannon met) which largely upheld the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, otherwise known as McCain-Feingold.About Kannon ShamugamKannon Shanmugam is a partner at the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.  He is chair of the firm’s Supreme Court and appellate litigation practice, chair of the Washington office, and co-chair of the litigation department.  Kannon is widely recognized as one of the nation’s top appellate litigators.  Kannon has argued 38 cases before the Supreme Court, including 29 cases in private practice.  He has also argued over 100 appeals in courts across the country, including arguments in all thirteen federal courts of appeals and in numerous state courts.  Prior to private practice, Kannon served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice.  He also served as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and to Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
Ambassador Jim Gilmore: From the Popular Virginia Car Tax Reimbursements to Current Foreign Affairs
Apr 28 2024
Ambassador Jim Gilmore: From the Popular Virginia Car Tax Reimbursements to Current Foreign Affairs
In this episode of  Early Returns, Jan Baran speaks with Former Virginia Governor and U.S. Ambassador, Jim Gilmore.  They discuss his career in public service, his rise in Republican politics with the popular Virginia car tax reimbursement, and staying true to his roots and passion for foreign affairs and policy. As Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), he has been close to the past and current struggles throughout the world that threaten democracy.  He believes it to be important for the U.S. to protect its allies to keep America strong and our democracy and people safe. About Ambassador James S. Gilmore, IIIJames “Jim” S. Gilmore III is the former U.S. Ambassador to OSCE and former Governor of Virginia.Ambassador Gilmore grew up in the Fan District of Richmond, Virginia. In 1971, he enlisted as a volunteer in the U.S. Army after college and worked as a counter-intelligence agent in then-West Germany after intensive language training in German, in which he became fluent. In 1974, he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Service to NATO. He graduated from the University of Virginia (UVA) and earned a B.A. degree in International Relations, Russian Area Studies. He then earned his law degree at the UVA School of Law. Ambassador Gilmore practiced law until 1987 when he was elected as chief prosecutor for Henrico County. In 1993, he was elected Attorney General of Virginia. In 1997, he was elected as Virginia's 68th Governor. As governor, his administration established the first Secretary of Technology cabinet position in the nation. During his tenure, Gov. Gilmore was focused on creating jobs by leading several trade missions to: South America, Asia and Europe.  During the trade mission to Taiwan and Hong Kong, Gov. Gilmore promoted inward investment, opened new markets for Virginia products and services, and encouraged activity for Virginia's ports. Virginia exported $2.4 billion in products to Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong in 1999. Collectively, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong invested over $4.3 billion in Virginia facilities, employing over 12,000 people during his administration.Gov. Gilmore then ran for the GOP nomination for president from July 2015 to February 2016. In November 2018, he was nominated to serve as the U.S. Representative to the United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a position which carries the rank of ambassador and is based in Vienna, Austria. He served until January 2021. Prior to his USOSCE Ambassadorship, he served as President and CEO of the American Opportunity Foundation, which works to shape the discussions around American society and offer conservative solutions that promise prosperity, national security, and American values.
Deciphering Election 2024 with Charlie Cook
Feb 20 2024
Deciphering Election 2024 with Charlie Cook
At this point in a presidential election year, the national conversation would usually be focused on which candidates are wrestling for their party nomination.  But, as we know, this year is different.  Even though primary elections still remain and the nominating conventions won’t occur until late summer, the 2024 candidates for president appear to be settled: President Joe Biden v. Former President Donald Trump.  Charlie Cook, respected political analyst who has observed and analyzed U.S. politics for over 40 years, joins Jan to discuss this year’s unconventional election.  They discuss this year’s presidential campaigns, historic and newer polling tactics, the swing state effect, and how independents think about their vote.  About Charlie Cook:Charlie Cook is widely regarded as one of the nation’s leading authorities on U.S. elections and political trends. After years of working in politics, Charlie founded “The National Political Review” in March of 1984 before renaming it later that year to “The Cook Political Report.” His idea was to create a non-partisan newsletter that would analyze American political campaigns from the perspective of someone who actually had worked both in campaigns and as a pollster. Al Hunt in the Wall Street Journal has referred to Charlie as “the Picasso of election Analysis” while the New York Times has referred to the Cook Political Report as “a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative.” In 2010, Charlie was the co-recipient of the American Political Science Association’s prestigious Carey McWilliams award to honor “a major journalistic contribution to our understanding of politics.” In 2013, he served as a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  Charlie also serves as a political analyst for National Journal and is a co-author of the 2020 and 2022 editions of The Almanac of American Politics.
Sean Cooksey Shares FEC Menu for 2024
Dec 27 2023
Sean Cooksey Shares FEC Menu for 2024
As with the previous two season kick-offs of Early Returns, we welcome the third season with the newly elected 2024 chair of the Federal Election Commission, Sean Cooksey, who is a republican.  The FEC consists of six bipartisan commissioners with no more than three from the same political party.  It takes the vote of four commissioners to take any major action.  Chair Cooksey has three of his six years under his belt serving on the FEC.  He and Jan discuss what the FEC is doing in preparing for the 2024 election and his agenda as chair, including artificial intelligence and candidate security considerations.  About Sean CookseySean Cooksey was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President Donald J. Trump on October 30, 2020, and confirmed by the United States Senate on December 9, 2020. Prior to his appointment, Commissioner Cooksey served as General Counsel to U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, working on the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and advising the Senator on issues including constitutional law, judicial nominations, election law, federal criminal law, immigration law, antitrust policy, intellectual property, and ethics compliance. He previously served as Deputy Chief Counsel for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, and as an attorney at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP in Washington, D.C. He also served as a law clerk for Judge Jerry E. Smith of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Houston, Texas. Commissioner Cooksey received his B.A. in economics, summa cum laude, from Truman State University. He received his J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he graduated with High Honors and Order of the Coif and served as a Managing Editor on the University of Chicago Law Review.
Bradley Smith – Deregulating Political Speech Through Campaign Finance
Jul 31 2023
Bradley Smith – Deregulating Political Speech Through Campaign Finance
In this episode of Early Returns, Jan speaks with Bradley Smith, professor at Capital Law School, former Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) Chair, nationally recognized expert on campaign finance and the First Amendment, and the Founder and Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech (“IFS”).  IFS defends rights guaranteed by the first amendment of the United States Constitution.  Brad and IFS have been instrumental in modifying the debate about regulating money and politics by providing counter arguments questioning the efficacy of so-called “reforms.” They talk about Brad’s experience at the FEC, his run-in with Senator John McCain, his delayed FEC confirmation process, his academic tenure, and his work related to IFS which actively challenges government regulatory overreach.  The conversation includes analysis of recent free speech cases as well as suggestions on pending cases we should keep an eye on.  And, of course, there are some interesting reading suggestions.About Bradley SmithBradley A. Smith is the Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Professor of Law at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He has held prior visiting appointments at Princeton University and West Virginia University. Professor Smith is the founder and Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting and defending American citizens’ First Amendment political speech rights. Additionally, he serves as Chairman of the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, and the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. Professor Smith is the author or co-author of three books on election law and voting rights, and his scholarly research has appeared in the Yale Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, George Washington University Law Review, and many others. He also writes regularly for popular publications including the Wall Street Journal, National Review, the Atlantic, the New York Times, and others.From June 2000 until August 2005, Professor Smith served as Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, including as Vice Chairman in 2003 and Chairman in 2004.He is a cum laude graduate of both Kalamazoo College and Harvard Law School.
Jill Holtzman Vogel – A Trailblazing Woman in Politics and the Law
Jun 13 2023
Jill Holtzman Vogel – A Trailblazing Woman in Politics and the Law
In this episode, Jan speaks with Jill Holtzman Vogel, the managing partner of Holtzman Vogel and a Virginia State Senator. Jill started her law firm 21 years ago as a sole practitioner specializing in political law.  It now has over 40 lawyers in four states.  Jill also has devoted 16 years of public service in the Virginia Senate.  Jill speaks openly about her experiences as a woman in these two male dominated industries, and how she navigated her career, built a growing and successful law firm, and shared the same energy and focus with her six children and husband. Jill has now become a role model for women in politics and law, who can accomplish anything with the right passion, focus, determination, and sense of self.  And, perhaps, she can attribute a small percentage of her success to a childhood corkboard with photos of Geraldine Ferraro and Jeane Kirkpatrick, along with their inspirational quotes.  No wonder her book recommendation is America’s First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie.About Jill Holtzman VogelJill Holtzman Vogel is managing partner of Holtzman Vogel, a political, regulatory and litigation law firm she founded in 2001. Jill specializes in ethics, campaign finance law, and tax-exempt organizations. She has spent her career counseling party committees, Presidential, Congressional and state candidates as well as donors, lobbyists, corporations and non-profits on complex regulatory and ethics rules. Prior to starting the law firm, Jill previously held the position of Chief Counsel of the Republican National Committee, where she led the national party’s legal effort during the 2004 Presidential election.  She has also served as Deputy Counsel at the Department of Energy and as Deputy Counsel at the Republican National Committee. Following the 2000 election, Jill represented the Bush-Cheney campaign as counsel during the Florida Presidential Recount. She also served as staff counsel for the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego, California.In 2007, Jill was elected to the Senate of Virginia, where she continues to represent the 27th Senate district.Jill received her J.D. from DePaul University School of Law and her B.A. in Government and Religion from the College of William and Mary.
The Honorable Thomas Griffith – Judiciously Ruling in the Face of Politics
Apr 24 2023
The Honorable Thomas Griffith – Judiciously Ruling in the Face of Politics
It appears that policy changes are being resolved in the courts, and most specifically at the Supreme Court.  If we look at recent court decisions involving abortion, the Affordable Care Act, Environmental Protection Act and gun rights, many people believe these decisions are politically motivated, especially when the politicians and media help to plant that seed by branding each Justice as liberal or conservative partisans.  In this episode, Jan speaks with the Honorable Thomas Griffith, former judge for the U.S. Court of the Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  They discuss when law becomes political and when politics becomes legal.  They examine how politics affects the legal process and how the legal system tries to rule honorably in the face of politics and political issues. A previous Early Returns guest, POLITICO senior legal affairs reporter Josh Gerstein, recently offered some thoughts during an award acceptance speech:  “It often seems like litigation is replacing legislation as the preferred means of advancing one’s agenda in this country.”  Jan asks: “Is litigation replacing legislation?  What would someone from the judiciary say about that?”  Judge Griffith shares his experiences being on the bench for 15 years and his views on how the media, politics, and a divided country fuel perceptions of the courts and its decisions.About Hon. Thomas B. GriffithAfter serving on the United State Court of Appeals for the D. C. Circuit from 2005, Judge Griffith stepped down from the bench in 2020.  Currently he is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, a Fellow at the Wheatley Institute at Brigham Young University, and Special Counsel in the Washington, DC office of the law firm of Hunton Andrews Kurth.  Most recently, he was a member of President Biden's Commission on the Supreme Court. He is the author of Civic Charity and the Constitution, and the co-author, along with former judges Michael Luttig and Michael McConnell, of Lost, Not Stolen: The Conservative Case that Trump Lost and Biden Won the 2020 Presidential Election. https://lostnotstolen.org/ . Before being appointed to the D. C. Circuit, Judge Griffith was the General Counsel at BYU; Senate Legal Counsel, the non-partisan chief legal officer of the U. S. Senate; and a partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Long active in rule-of-law programs in former communist nations, Judge Griffith is a member of the international advisory board of the CEELI Institute in Prague. He is a graduate of BYU and the University of Virginia School of Law and is a member of the American Law Institute.
Donald Palmer and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s Role in the Integrity of the Voting Process
Mar 31 2023
Donald Palmer and the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission’s Role in the Integrity of the Voting Process
This episode examines an important government agency that helps keep our voting systems current, transparent, and reliable.  The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (“EAC”) has existed for a little over 20 years.  It was created in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election and the Florida vote recount.  In today’s political climate of distrust and controversy regarding, among other things, the voting process and vote counting, the EAC plays an integral role in ensuring the integrity of the election process.Our guest is Commissioner Donald Palmer, one of four EAC commissioners. He discusses with Jan the role of the EAC and his former experiences administering elections in Florida and Virginia.  Commissioner Palmer also discusses EAC’s testing and certification of voting machines, including the Dominion Voting Systems used in the 2020 election, and the security of future U.S. elections.  About Donald PalmerCommissioner Donald Palmer serves on the United States Election Assistance Commission (EAC) after being nominated and approved by unanimous consent in 2019. He served as the Chairman of the Commission in 2021.  He is currently the Designated Federal Officer for the EAC Board of Advisors. Before the EAC, he served as a Bipartisan Policy Center Fellow, advancing the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Don is a former Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections and served as the Commonwealth’s Chief Election Official from 2011 to 2014. During that time, he established Virginia as a founding member of the Election Registration Information Center (ERIC), a group of states working together to maintain the accuracy of voter registration rolls.  Don has also served as Florida’s Director of Elections, where he expanded the Florida voting system state certification program and modernized the state’s voting machines. Prior to his work in election administration, he served as a trial attorney with the Voting Section in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where he enforced the nation’s voting laws.  Finally, Don is a military veteran, retiring from the U.S. Navy after two decades as an intelligence officer and judge advocate general.
Wes Bizzell: The Role of Corporate America and Associations in Politics
Feb 6 2023
Wes Bizzell: The Role of Corporate America and Associations in Politics
Political activity and lobbying have become not only full time, but also highly regulated.  That also means that election campaigns as well as lobbying activities are getting under way for the next election cycle.  To talk about the demands and challenges of advising companies on political law, Jan speaks with Wesley Bizzell, a lawyer who has spent over 20 years specializing in political law, including at one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, Altria, which is politically active and lobbies both congress and state legislatures.  They discuss the corporate compliance issues unique to a tobacco company and its approach to their PAC strategy. Wes is also the immediate past president of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association and speaks to the protection and lobbying of gay rights and to the role of corporate America in social, cultural and political issues.  About Wesley BizzellWesley Bizzell serves as Senior Assistant General Counsel, Governmental and External Affairs, and Managing Director of Political Law & Ethics Programs for Altria Client Services.  Previously, he was with Winston & Strawn. His career also includes more than six years on Capitol Hill, where he served as an aide to Arkansas Senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers.  Wesley is an authority on political compliance law and is active in the compliance legal community.  He chairs the Conference Board’s Committee on Corporate Political Spending, a committee of leading American corporations dedicated to accountability, education, and engagement on issues of corporate political activity.  In addition, he is a longtime faculty member for the Practicing Law Institute’s annual Corporate Political Activities conference.  He served as co-chair of the Conference Committee for the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws (“COGEL”), a professional organization of government officials with responsibilities or interests in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, and lobby laws, and he currently serves on COGEL’s board. He received the COGEL Award, for making a “demonstrable and positive contribution to the fields of campaign finance, ethics, elections, lobbying and freedom of information over a significant period of time.”Wesley is extremely active in promoting diversity and inclusion within the legal and corporate communities and is a frequent speaker on the topic.  He is a founding member and serves as the Incoming Chair of Altria’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group and is currently the immediate past president of the National LGBTQ+ Bar Association. He received his B.A. from the American University, his master's degree from the Catholic University of America, and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the Georgetown Law Journal.
There's a New Chair in Town – Dara Lindenbaum and the FEC Agenda Looking Towards 2024
Jan 11 2023
There's a New Chair in Town – Dara Lindenbaum and the FEC Agenda Looking Towards 2024
This episode marks the start of the second season of Early Returns. We have been privileged to interview interesting guests and welcome a large and growing audience of listeners.  We have discussed laws about foreign election interference, representation of the president during the Mueller investigation, the perspective of a journalist who covers legal affairs, biographies of notable politicians and jurists, the recent work of election lawyers, and more.  Our very first guest was the chair of the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”), Alan Dickerson, who assumed office in the midst of COVID.  To start our second season, Early Returns is delighted to have the newly elected chair of the FEC, Dara Lindenbaum.  The FEC consists of six commissioners, three Democrats and three Republicans.  Each year the commissioners elect among themselves a chair and a vice chair who serve in those posts for one year.  It takes the vote of four commissioners to take any major official action. The new chair has experience representing clients before state election agencies that are odd numbered and susceptible to partisan investigations and manipulation.  The FEC even-numbered composition promotes bipartisanship.Dara joins Jan to talk about what is going on at the commission today and its agenda for the next election.  More specifically, she speaks about relationships in the FEC, its budget, and audit procedures and potential audit targets.About Dara LindenbaumDara Lindenbaum was nominated to the Federal Election Commission by President Joseph Biden on February 3, 2022, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on May 24, 2022. Prior to her appointment, Lindenbaum was a partner at Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C. (Sandler Reiff), where she advised candidates, political committees, and organizations on a wide range of laws and regulations, including complying with state and federal campaign finance and election laws. She served as outside general counsel for several organizations and campaigns, working with directors, boards, and staff on general business matters, structuring their programs, and navigating the complex legal and compliance landscape.  Before joining Sandler Reiff, Lindenbaum was an associate counsel in the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where she focused on election law and voting rights. Lindenbaum received her B.S. from Northeastern University and received her J.D. from the George Washington University Law School.
Jessica Furst Johnson and Jason Torchinsky - Political Lawyers Take a Deeper Dive into 2022 Elections and Look Ahead to 2024
Dec 14 2022
Jessica Furst Johnson and Jason Torchinsky - Political Lawyers Take a Deeper Dive into 2022 Elections and Look Ahead to 2024
The lead up to the 2022 election cycle was a very active two years, coming off of a very divisive 2020 election which included pandemic-related election changes and election deniers. Our guests, Jessica Furst Johnson and Jason Torchinsky, both political law partners at Holtzman Vogel, join Jan to review the legal issues that arose during this recent 2022 election cycle and to identify/forecast the legal compliance issues that are likely to arise in 2024, including new FEC actions, political fundraising and super PACs, recounts and associated litigation, and redistricting.  Jessica Furst Johnson is a partner at Holtzman Vogel and has spent the past thirteen years serving as General Counsel for three different national political party committees, cementing her as one of the most experienced campaign finance and election law attorneys in the industry. Jessica focuses her practice on political committees, campaign finance and election law, both on the federal level and across the 50 states, lobbying and ethics compliance, and tax-exempt organizations.Jason Torchinsky is a partner at Holtzman Vogel, specializing in campaign finance, election law, lobbying disclosure and issue advocacy groups. In addition to his practice counseling clients on compliance with campaign finance, ethics laws, lobbying disclosure and election laws, Jason has served as lead counsel in a number of litigation matters dealing with First Amendment freedoms and election law and redistricting issues.  He has filed numerous cert petitions, jurisdictional statements, and amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court. Jason has also represented candidates across the country during post-election canvass and recount processes.
Evan and Oscie Thomas on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court Then and Today
Oct 6 2022
Evan and Oscie Thomas on Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Supreme Court Then and Today
The first Monday in October is the traditional beginning of a new Supreme Court term.  This week the nine justices began hearing cases that involve our constitutional rights and that shape U.S. law.  Each term, the Supreme Court seems to be tackling the big issues including abortion, gun rights, voting rights, affirmative action and the checks and balances of the constitutional powers of Congress, the White House, and the Judiciary.The last term was significant for many reasons including the Court’s decision that overturned the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, which established a right to abortion under certain conditions.In the past 50 years, there may not have been a more important Justice on the Supreme Court than Sandra Day O’Connor.  She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan and retired in 2005.  She regularly was the deciding fifth vote on important cases including abortion cases.  She also was the first woman to serve as a Justice on the Court.  Jan speaks to Evan and Osceola (“Oscie”) Thomas about the Justice and the Supreme Court today. Evan and Oscie collaborated on First, the Sandra Day O’Connor biography.  They discuss the relationship of the Justices, including the one between O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  The candid discussion about Justice O’Connor, the Court, her role in specific cases, and her legacy ends with a book recommendation about Franklin Roosevelt and how his battle with polio made him a strong president entitled Becoming FDR by Jonathan Darman.About Evan and Oscie Thomas:Evan Thomas is the author of ten books:  The Wise Men (with Walter Isaacson), The Man to See, The Very Best Men, Robert Kennedy, John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, The War Lovers, Ike’s Bluff, Being Nixon and First: Sandra Day O’Connor.  John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, Being Nixon and First were New York Times bestsellers. Thomas was a writer, editor and correspondent for 33 years at Time and Newsweek magazines, including ten years (1986-96) as Washington bureau chief at Newsweek.  His current book-in-progress is an account of the final days of World War II.  He has appeared on many TV shows, including Meet the Press, CBS Morning News, Morning Joe and the Colbert Report.  Thomas has taught writing and journalism at Harvard and Princeton, where, from 2007-2014, he was Ferris Professor of Journalism.Oscie Thomas graduated from Stanford and the University of Virginia law school, where she was classmates with Evan.  In 1977, she joined Donovan Leisure, a litigation firm, in New York and Washington DC, before moving to AT&T, retiring as a Federal Government Affairs Vice President in 2000.  Since then she has worked with Evan as an editor and researcher.  She was deeply involved in First, a biography of Sandra Day O’Connor.
Nathan Gonzales: Nationally Respected Nonpartisan Voting Analyst’s Approach to Predicting Prior and Upcoming Mid-Term Elections
Aug 2 2022
Nathan Gonzales: Nationally Respected Nonpartisan Voting Analyst’s Approach to Predicting Prior and Upcoming Mid-Term Elections
The 2022 mid-term elections will decide the fate of 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats.  With 90 days remaining before election day, Early Returns welcomes nationally respected nonpartisan voting analyst, Nathan Gonzales.  As editor and publisher of Inside Elections, Nathan has studied and analyzed campaigns and elections for over 20 years.  He shares with our audience how he conducts his research and where his predictions and polling have been correct and where they have been off.  The current election cycle is in the first term of President Biden.  Such elections historically result in losses for the party controlling the White House.  Is that likely again?  What effect will former President Trump have?  How does redistricting affect races?  Listen to Nathan Gonzales as he scrutinizes the current campaigns and shares his predictions for next November’s elections.About Nathan Gonzales:Nathan Gonzales is Editor & Publisher of Inside Elections, which provides nonpartisan analysis of campaigns for Senate, House, governor and president, and an Elections Analyst for CQ Roll Call. On Election Night 2016, Nathan was an on-air analyst for the Newshour on PBS after working as an off-air consultant for ABC NEWS on their Election Night Decision Desk for 14 years. Previously, he was an editor, analyst and writer for The Rothenberg Political Report, and worked for CNN as a Political Analyst and as an associate producer for Capital Gang.Nathan has appeared on NBC's Meet the Press and NBC Nightly News, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, NPR's All Things Considered, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC and he has been quoted in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. His work has also appeared on FiveThirtyEight, NBCLatino.com and in Campaigns & Elections magazine. Nathan grew up in Oregon, earned his M.A. from the George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management and his B.A. from Vanguard University. He first came to Washington, D.C. as an intern in the White House Press Office and now lives in the city with his wife and four children.
Evan Thomas:  Did Watergate Change America or Does History Repeat Itself?
Jul 1 2022
Evan Thomas: Did Watergate Change America or Does History Repeat Itself?
Fifty years ago, on June 17, 1972, a group of men were arrested here in Washington for breaking into the offices of the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate office building.  The event was seen as odd. It was not heavily reported at first; but, it unleashed, over the following two years, major congressional and grand jury investigations, numerous criminal convictions, an impeachment proceeding and ultimately the first and only resignation of a sitting president, Richard Nixon.The Watergate scandal changed many American institutions including the press, congress, political campaigns and the judicial system.  But, America was changing even prior to the Watergate break-in and in some ways accounted for the misjudgments and illegal behavior of the burglars, Nixon campaign officials, White House staff and even Nixon himself.   In this episode of Early Returns, we discuss what Washington and America was like in 1972 and how Watergate seemingly changed things, including the sensationalism of the media.  Our episode guest is the respected journalist and historian, Evan Thomas.  Watergate affected his own decision to enter journalism instead of the law after graduating from University of Virginia Law School.  Evan spent decades reporting for Newsweek as Washington Bureau Chief, and also wrote books about Edward Bennett Williams, Bobby Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Sandra Day O’Connor.  Evan shares his observations, knowledge and opinions on what Watergate represented; how America was changing before Watergate; and how Watergate changed politics, journalism, and perhaps contributed to today’s polarized society.  He also addresses the age-old question of how history most certainly repeats itself.  Some believe America was then and is now losing faith in all traditional institutions.  Is the situation hopeless?  Can a great leader like Lincoln, Kennedy, or Reagan be sought to help bring this country together? Evan believes America can summon its “better angels” as outlined in his book recommendation, The Soul of America by Jon Meacham.About Evan Thomas:Evan Thomas is the author of ten books:  The Wise Men (with Walter Isaacson), The Man to See, The Very Best Men, Robert Kennedy, John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, The War Lovers, Ike’s Bluff, Being Nixon and First: Sandra Day O’Connor.  John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, Being Nixon and First were New York Times bestsellers. Thomas was a writer, editor and correspondent for 33 years at Time and Newsweek magazines, including ten years (1986-96) as Washington bureau chief at Newsweek.  His current book-in-progress is an account of the final days of World War II.  He has appeared on many TV shows, including Meet the Press, CBS Morning News, Morning Joe and the Colbert Report.  Thomas has taught writing and journalism at Harvard and Princeton, where, from 2007-2014, he was Ferris Professor of Journalism.
Ty Cobb, Former Special Counsel to President Trump:  Insights on the Response to the Russia Collusion Investigation, Past and Present
Jun 2 2022
Ty Cobb, Former Special Counsel to President Trump: Insights on the Response to the Russia Collusion Investigation, Past and Present
It has been six years since Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign was accused of colluding with Russia to win the White House. Those allegations have caused a tidal wave of legal battles—ranging from congressional inquiries, to a Special Counsel probe led by Robert Mueller, an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate, and multiple prosecutions. In this episode of Early Returns, Jan discusses some of this fallout with Ty Cobb – the former White House Special Counsel who spearheaded President Trump’s response to the Mueller investigation. In particular, Ty sheds light on what it was like to represent the President on this matter. He explains how his team worked collaboratively with Mueller in an effort to achieve speedy exoneration, while also preserving executive privilege. Ty also provides thoughtful analysis on the latest chapter in the Trump-Russia storyline: the ongoing Durham investigation into the origins of the scandal, and the related prosecution of Clinton lawyer Michael Sussman (who was accused of lying to the FBI about his role in raising Russian meddling concerns). As part of the conversation, Ty also shares some stories from his personal and professional background – including the time he successfully prosecuted the vice consul of Thailand for smuggling drugs into the United States. He also provides some excellent book recommendations for listeners of the podcast. About Ty Cobb:Ty Cobb currently is handling selected complex litigation and corporate governance matters at Ty Cobb, PLLC. Ty served in the government most recently as an Assistant to the President of the United States, serving as Special Counsel to the President from July 2017 until June 2018.  His prior government experience included a clerkship with a United States District Court Judge, over 6 years as a federal prosecutor (during a significant portion of which he served as the Head of the Criminal Division in Maryland and as the Regional Coordinator of the President’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force), and as Special Trial Counsel to the Independent Counsel in the HUD investigation in connection with which he prosecuted former Reagan Secretary of the Interior, James Watt. Until July 2017, he was a partner for 29 years primarily in in the Washington, D.C. office of Hogan Lovells. He served on the firm's Executive Committee and chaired Hogan's practices involving white collar criminal litigation, DOJ and SEC enforcement matters (with an emphasis on cases involving insider trading and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act), and Congressional investigations and hearings for over 20 years.  Ty was frequently sought after as an advocate for and advisor to Fortune 100 public companies and executives in "bet the company" cases. His clients also included Cabinet members and other senior government officials of both parties.Ty is a longstanding Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. In 2020, he was inducted into the Lawdragon Hall of Fame, and Lawdragon Magazine again recognized him as one of the "500 Leading Lawyers in America". In 2018, Ty was selected as a “Lawdragon Legend”.  In 2011, Ty was inducted into the Ethisphere Hall of Fame, which recognizes attorneys who made lasting contributions to the advancement of corporate ethics and compliance. In addition to his legal work, Ty is a committed conservationist and long served on the Board of the Grand Canyon Trust which he chaired for several years. He is currently on the Board of the Kiawah Island Conservancy.
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and Voting Reforms: How To Get Along and Accomplish Reform
May 3 2022
Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and Voting Reforms: How To Get Along and Accomplish Reform
Under the Constitution, each state establishes the time, place, and manner of holding an election for Senator or Representative unless Congress passes a nationwide change of the rules.  State laws on how to register and vote, where to vote, and how and when votes are counted vary widely.  COVID and the 2020 elections caused many voting changes and controversies.  Few people are more attuned to the challenges of election administration than Kentucky Secretary of State, Michael Adams. In this episode of Early Returns, Secretary Adams discusses voting rules and procedures through the lens of Kentucky’s history and culture. The conversation begins with Mike’s own campaign in 2019 for Secretary of State, a race which focused heavily on election integrity reforms including implementation of a voter ID requirement and bringing the state’s voter rolls into compliance with federal law. Mike shares some highlights from Kentucky’s 2020 pandemic response and what was achieved when a Democratic governor worked with a Republican Secretary of State and a Republican legislature.  The 2020 experience had a lasting impact in Kentucky when the Commonwealth enacted permanent reforms in 2021. As the 2022 midterms heat up, Mike shares his thoughts on issues like the H.R. 1 legislation introduced in Congress, continued court battles over redistricting, and campaign finance enforcement.  As with all our guests, Secretary Adams ends this episode with some intriguing book recommendations.About Michael G. Adams:  Michael G. Adams, a native of Paducah, is Kentucky's 86th Secretary of State and the 77th person to serve in that role.  Michael attended McCracken County public schools and was the first in his family to get a bachelor's degree. After graduating from the University of Louisville, Michael attended Harvard Law School on low-income aid. Returning to Kentucky, Michael served as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Ernie Fletcher, before moving to Washington to accept an appointment as Counsel to the U.S. Deputy Attorney General in the second Bush Administration. In 2007, Michael began full-time private practice in election law, first as General Counsel to the Republican Governors Association, and later opening a national practice in the field. He has represented several national political committees, numerous national political figures, and statewide campaign efforts in all 50 states. Inaugurated as Secretary of State on January 6, 2020, Michael first pushed his signature legislative issue, Kentucky's first Photo ID to Vote law, through the General Assembly, then pivoted to saving the primary and general elections from the problems that befell other states during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Adams presented state legislators with the most ambitious election reform plan since 1891, and the bill passed both chambers with near-unanimous support. Michael’s work in making it easy to vote and hard to cheat, and taking Kentucky from the back of the pack to a national leader in election administration in mere months, has earned praise throughout America and across party lines. Michael is happily married to Christina and is the proud father of Lucia.  For more information on the Kentucky Secretary of State's Office, please visit: Secretary's Desk - Secretary of State (ky.gov)