Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement on the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

“No one is above the law and any effort to interfere with the Special Counsel’s investigation would be a gross abuse of power by the President. While the President may have the authority to replace the Attorney General, this must not be the first step in an attempt to impede, obstruct or end the Mueller investigation.

“Senators from both parties have repeatedly affirmed their support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Every one of them should speak out now and deliver a clear message to the President that the Special Counsel’s investigation must continue without interference.”  

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C.  – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine sent a letter to the White House recommending Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Novak for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division.  

“We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and U.S. Magistrate Judge David J. Novak for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division following Judge Henry E. Hudson’s decision to take senior status in June. Both would serve with great distinction and have our highest recommendation,” the Senators said.

Warner and Kaine recommend these individuals based on the assessments of an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth as well as feedback from numerous bar associations in Virginia. The White House will now nominate one individual for the position to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

Full text of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division letter is available here.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement today on his decision to vote against the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court:

“This is the most consequential Supreme Court vacancy in a generation, yet it has been the least transparent confirmation process in recent history. Thanks to unprecedented efforts by the Trump Administration to conceal large portions of Judge Kavanaugh’s record and the nominee’s unwillingness to answer basic questions before the Judiciary Committee, much of Judge Kavanaugh's record and judicial philosophy remain a mystery to the American people. But what we have seen provides reason enough to vote against this nominee.

“His past rulings, writings, and evasive answers before the Judiciary Committee lead to the inescapable conclusion that, as a Supreme Court justice, Judge Kavanaugh would seek to undermine and eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, and would fail to protect people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination by insurance companies.

“I am also deeply troubled by Judge Kavanaugh’s views on executive power. We currently have a president whose conduct is at the center of a federal criminal investigation, but in his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh refused to say whether he thinks it is constitutional for presidents to be investigated, and whether he continues to believe that the president has the power to fire a prosecutor criminally investigating him. In this country, no one, not even the president, is above the law. Should the president’s legal team decide, as they have threatened, to contest that principle in court, it is imperative that the Supreme Court ensure that the president is held accountable.

“For all these reasons, I must vote no on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”


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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement after the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed G. Zachary Terwilliger to fill the vacancy of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia: 

“We are pleased that our colleagues agreed Zachary Terwilliger is well-qualified to serve as the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia,” the Senators said. “Mr. Terwilliger has ample experience in the Eastern District, and we’re glad he will be able to continue his good work in Virginia.”

Terwilliger previously served in the U.S. Department of Justice as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Chief of Staff in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. 

Warner and Kaine recommended Terwilliger to the White House for nomination to the position after a panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth—selected by Warner and Kaine—evaluated candidates and determined Terwilliger was highly qualified for the position. The Eastern District of Virginia has offices in Alexandria, Richmond, Newport News, and Norfolk.

 

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One Year After Deadly Charlottesville Rally, Warner & Kaine Press DOJ for Updates on Combating Racial Hate

Letter presses the Administration on carrying out actions to combat hate crimes as outlined in joint resolution led last year by Warner and Kaine

Aug 10 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) wrote a letter to John Gore, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ), pressing for more answers on how the Administration is implementing actions specifically outlined by S.J.Res.49, a joint resolution condemning racial hate and directing a coordinated federal effort to address hate violence, following the deadly protests in Charlottesville, Va. on August 11 and August 12, 2017.

The bipartisan resolution introduced by Sens. Warner and Kaine along with Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), unanimously passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by President Trump on September 14, 2017. The resolution explicitly condemned white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups involved in prompting the deadly attack in Charlottesville, Va. that killed counter-protester Heather Heyer, injured several others, and led to the deaths of two Virginia state troopers responding to the violence. Additionally, the resolution outlined specific actions for the Administration to take to fight hate violence, including thoroughly investigating all acts of hate crimes and domestic terrorism by hate groups, and calling upon the Administration to “use all resources available to the President and the President's Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”

Now, nearly one year after the bipartisan resolution was signed into law by President Trump, Sens. Warner and Kaine are pressing for answers on actions the Administration is taking - or not taking - to uphold the terms of the resolution calling for a coordinated federal effort to fight hate violence. 

“We are particularly interested if you have implemented, or plan to implement, the following: the creation of a task force dedicated to addressing hate violence, sufficient funding for civil rights offices, robust data collection procedures to document the prevalence and nature of hate crimes in the U.S., a federal website on hate violence to convene resources and communicate effectively to the public, the development of incentives for participation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Statistics Act reports, increased training and education for jurisdictions that underreport hate crimes, and the use of grants to promote strong enforcement on these issues,” wrote the Senators.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.

 

John M. Gore
Acting Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530

Dear Acting Assistant Attorney General Gore:

Nearly one year has passed since the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia between August 11 and August 12, 2017. As the one year anniversary of that tragedy approaches, we write regarding the progress made by the Department of Justice in carrying out the actions called for in S.J.Res.49, a joint resolution condemning that event.

President Trump signed the resolution into law (P.L. 115-58) on September 14, 2017. As Virginia’s Senators, we led the effort that unanimously passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law by the President. The legislation rejects White nationalists, White supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and other hate groups, and urges action from the President and his administration to combat this growing threat.

Specifically, the law urges the Attorney General to work with “the Secretary of Homeland Security to investigate thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation, and domestic terrorism by these groups to determine if any criminal laws have been violated and to prevent those groups from fomenting and facilitating additional violence.” Further, the law directs the Attorney General to collaborate with “the heads of other Federal agencies to improve the reporting of hate crimes and to emphasize the importance of the collection, and the reporting to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of hate crime data by State and local agencies.”

More broadly, the law directs the administration to use all available resources to address the growing prevalence of hate groups.

Given the direction provided to the Department of Justice in this legislation, we request that you provide our offices an update within 30 days of receipt of this letter on activities that you have undertaken in furtherance of the provisions of S.J. Res 49, as well as a full report on the multi-agency efforts on hate crimes data collection.

As you implement this request, we are particularly interested if you have implemented, or plan to implement, the following: the creation of a task force dedicated to addressing hate violence, sufficient funding for civil rights offices, robust data collection procedures to document the prevalence and nature of hate crimes in the U.S., a federal website on hate violence to convene resources and communicate effectively to the public, the development of incentives for participation in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Hate Crime Statistics Act reports, increased training and education for jurisdictions that underreport hate crimes, and the use of grants to promote strong enforcement on these issues.

We appreciate your attention on this important matter and look forward to your response within 30 days.

 

Sincerely,

 

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WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued the below statement on the status of a new headquarters building for the Federal Bureau of Investigation:

“Congress worked with GSA and the FBI for years to put together a comprehensive plan and bidding process to replace the current deteriorating headquarters building. With no warning and no rationale, the Trump Administration halted that process, and since then, has made no progress on replacing a building whose condition will only get worse in the years to come. That’s one reason why it is important that we see the results of the IG investigation into this decision. Our hardworking law enforcement and intelligence professionals deserve a state-of-the-art and secure facility. Having President Trump micromanage this complex procurement – with so many other issues on his plate and so many questions about apparent conflicts of interest here – just isn’t helpful to these public servants or to the region.”

Sens. Warner and Kaine have for years worked with the Maryland Senators as well as the bipartisan Virginia delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives to secure funding for a new FBI headquarters to replace the current, deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, which was built in 1974. In 2014, the General Services Administration (GSA) announced that a site in Springfield, Va. was one of three finalists for a consolidated HQ that would house all 11,000 area FBI employees, who are currently scattered across multiple sites in D.C., Virginia and Maryland. However, in July 2017, the Trump Administration abruptly backed away from more than five years of government preparations to relocate the FBI HQ, announcing instead in February 2018 plans to demolish the existing FBI headquarters in Washington and build a new facility in its place. The GSA has estimated that this new plan would cost $3.3 billion – including $1.9 billion in construction costs, added to the cost of temporarily relocating thousands of FBI employees while the existing structure is demolished and a new building constructed in its place.

 

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Washington, DC – Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) led 14 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees in asking leaders at the Department of Justice to detail the ethical agreements binding the newly confirmed head of the Department’s Criminal Division, Brian Benczkowski.  The information would shed light on whether Benczkowski—a nominee noted as uniquely underqualified, who served as an aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions and on the Trump transition team, and who represented a Russian bank some suspect may have served as a clandestine back channel between Russia and the Trump Organization—has done enough to insulate himself from potentially serious conflicts of interest, including those involving Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian attacks on the 2016 election.

Joining Whitehouse and Durbin in sending the letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General for Administration Lee Lofthus are Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA), and Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Jack Reed (D-RI).

Among the senators’ concerns is the potential for Benczkowski, now privy to details of a broad array of Justice Department investigations and prosecutions, to access information on the Special Counsel investigation.  They also raise Benczkowski’s commitment to recuse himself from matters related to the Russian bank linked to the Trump Organization, Alfa Bank—a recusal that does not encompass the bank’s parent company, Alfa Group Consortium.  Events of the past week illustrate several of the issues with Benczkowski’s past employment and current position, the senators point out, suggesting the only remedy is a blanket recusal.

Without recusal,” the senators write, “there is a risk that Mr. Benczkowski would have oversight of investigative steps such as the Special Counsel’s recent request for use immunity for five witnesses in the SCO’s prosecution of Paul Manafort.  Likewise, last Tuesday, the Department indicted a Russian national, Mariia Butina, for acting and conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government.  . . . Mr. Benczkowski’s involvement in these actions could, at a minimum, create the appearance of a conflict or undue influence over these decisions.”

The senators continue, “Given Mr. Benczkowski’s prior relationship with the Attorney General and his representation of Alfa Bank—particularly in connection to the Steele Dossier—we believe Mr. Benczkowski should be recused from all aspects of the Special Counsel investigation, as well as from all matters related to the Alfa Group Consortium and its principals.  A categorical recusal is the only way for the Department to ensure public confidence in those and any associated investigations.” 

The Criminal Division is responsible for overseeing a stable of over 700 criminal attorneys charged with overseeing and prosecuting high-profile federal cases nationwide.  Benczkowski has no prosecutorial experience and has spent virtually no time in a courtroom. 

Full text of the senators’ letter is below.  A PDF version is available here.    

 

 

July 24, 2018

 

 

The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein

Deputy Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

 

The Honorable Lee J. Lofthus

Assistant Attorney General for Administration

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

 

Dear Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Lofthus:

 

On Wednesday, July 11, 2018, the Senate confirmed Brian Benczkowski to be Assistant Attorney General (AAG) of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice (“Department”).  Today, we write for further information concerning Mr. Benczkowski’s ethics agreement with the Department, the scope of his recusals, any waivers he has been granted, and any other information relevant to the Department’s review of Mr. Benczkowski’s prior work at it relates to his compliance with the Ethics in Government Act, associated regulations, Department policy, and the Trump Ethics Pledge, Executive Order 13770. 

 

The context of Mr. Benczkowski’s selection to lead the Criminal Division raises concerns that must be addressed in your review.  With no prosecutorial experience and barely any time in a courtroom of any sort, Mr. Benczkowski appears to have been nominated at least in part as a result of his prior, political relationship with Attorney General Sessions.  With the Attorney General recused from the Department’s Russia investigation, President Trump repeatedly violating rules and norms designed to protect the independence of that investigation, and House Republicans engaged in an active campaign to discredit the Department and FBI and make confidential investigative materials public, the Department and its ethics officials should take the utmost precautions to prevent any backchannel, unauthorized disclosures of the Special Counsel’s work.  

 

The issues with Mr. Benczkowski extend to his experience, as well as his lack of experience.  During the course of his confirmation proceedings, it came to light that as a lawyer in private practice, Mr. Benczkowski recently represented the Russian Alfa Bank in connection with allegations that its servers had maintained a clandestine back channel to the Trump Organization.  Mr. Benczkowski’s representation of Alfa Bank also included a review of the so-called “Steele dossier,” the private intelligence report by Christopher Steele that bears on issues central to the ongoing Special Counsel investigation into Russian election interference and related matters.  

 

Before his confirmation, Mr. Benczkowski committed to recuse himself, if confirmed as AAG, from all matters related to Alfa Bank.[1]  He did not, however, commit to recuse himself from all matters related to the Alfa Group Consortium, the parent company of Alfa Bank, or individuals related to that entity.  He also did not commit to recuse himself from the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian election interference.  Three individuals with ownership interests in Alfa Group Consortium—Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven, and German Khan—have been identified to Congress by the United States Department of Treasury as among “senior foreign officials and oligarchs in the Russian Federation, as determined by their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth.”[2]  A son-in-law of Mr. Khan, Alex Van der Zwaan, pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators.[3] 

 

With respect to those matters, Mr. Benczkowski told the Senate Judiciary Committee:

 

Because I do not know the scope of [the Department’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election or Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation], I cannot commit to such a recusal at this time.  If I am confirmed and a matter comes before me in the Criminal Division where I believe recusal might be warranted, I will review the facts, consult with career ethics officials at the Department, and make a decision as warranted by the law and the facts.[4]

 

In prior correspondence with the Senate, the Department has confirmed that the Special Counsel’s Office (SCO) may need to “seek approvals from the Criminal Division as required by statute, regulation, or policy[.]”[5]  The Department has also committed that “if Mr. Benczkowski is confirmed as AAG, the Department will require his consultation with appropriate ethics experts within the Department prior to his participation in or supervision of the SCO’s interaction with the Criminal Division.”[6]

 

The significance of these determinations was underscored by two steps taken by the Department just last week.  For example, without recusal, there is a risk that Mr. Benczkowski would have oversight of investigative steps such as the Special Counsel’s recent request for use immunity for five witnesses in the SCO’s prosecution of Paul Manafort.  Likewise, last Tuesday, the Department indicted a Russian national, Mariia Butina, for acting and conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government.  The indictment was handed down by a grand jury in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and signed by the District’s United States Attorney, Jessie Liu.  Mr. Benczkowski’s involvement in these actions could, at a minimum, create the appearance of a conflict or undue influence over these decisions.

 

Given Mr. Benczkowski’s prior relationship with the Attorney General and his representation of Alfa Bank—particularly in connection to the Steele Dossier—we believe Mr. Benczkowski should be recused from all aspects of the Special Counsel investigation, as well as from all matters related to the Alfa Group Consortium and its principals.  A categorical recusal is the only way for the Department to ensure public confidence in those and any associated investigations.  To further understand the Department’s position and decisions related to Mr. Benczkowski’s conflicts of interest, we request that you provide the following documentation and, as applicable, address the following questions:

 

  • All ethics agreements, recusals, waivers, or other documentation pertaining to the scope of Mr. Benczkowski’s duties at the Department. 
  • All counseling notes, emails, and any other communication between Mr. Benczkowski, the Department’s Ethics Office, and the Office of Government Ethics.  
  • A copy of Mr. Benczkowski’s signed “Ethics Pledge.”
  • If Mr. Benczkowski has not been recused from all matters related to the Alfa Group Consortium, please explain why.
  • If Mr. Benczkowski has not been recused from all matters related to Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven, and/or German Khan, please explain why.
  • What was Mr. Benczkowski’s involvement, if any, in the Department’s request for use immunity for five witnesses in the SCO’s prosecution of Paul Manafort, and in the Department’s decision to charge Mariia Butina?
  • If Mr. Benczkowski has not been recused from all matters related to the Special Counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, or related investigations and prosecutions conducted by the Department or United States Attorneys’ offices, please explain why.

In Mr. Lofthus’s February 26, 2018, letter to Office of Government Ethics Acting Director David Apol, he stated that Mr. Benczkowski would meet with ethics officials during his first week of service and complete document compliance with his ethics agreement within 90 days of service.  The critical importance and pendency of matters before the Department demand assurances that Mr. Benczkowski will have no role, consultative or otherwise, in them until his ethics arrangements are complete.  Accordingly, we request a response to this letter no later than July 31, 2018.  

 

 

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[1] See Response from Brian Benczkowski to Question for the Record #2 from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, August 1, 2017 (“I have decided to recuse myself from any matter involving Alfa Bank for the duration of my service as the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, if I am confirmed.”).

[2] Report to Congress Pursuant to Section 241 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act of 2017 Regarding Senior Foreign Political Figures and Oligarchs in the Russian Federation and Russian Parastatal Entities, January 29, 2018. 

[3] The Special Counsel referenced Mr. Khan in his sentencing memorandum for Mr. Van der Zwaan: “Van der Zwaan is a person of ample financial means—both personally and through his father-in-law, a prominent Russian oligarch, who has paid substantial sums to the defendant and his wife.  He can pay any fine imposed.”  Government’s Sentencing Memorandum, Crim. No. 18-31 (D.D.C) filed Mar. 27, 2018.  

[4] Response from Brian Benczkowski to Question for the Record #3 from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, August 1, 2017. 

[5] Letter from Hon. Stephen Boyd to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Dec. 11, 2017.

[6] Id.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement after President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court:

“There is much at stake with President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacancy created by Justice Kennedy’s retirement. The next Supreme Court justice will determine whether women will maintain their constitutional right to reproductive health care; whether we will continue to protect people with pre-existing conditions from discrimination; whether we are a country that lives by our values when it comes to voting rights, women’s rights, workers' rights, and the rights of LGBT Americans. The stakes are made that much higher by an Administration that routinely violates longstanding norms and pushes ethical boundaries past the breaking point. We need a Supreme Court that can act as a check on the executive branch now more than ever. 

“Time and time again, President Trump has said that he will only nominate candidates who will vote to undermine those rights and who will work to overturn Roe v. Wade. That simple fact, and that this nominee comes from a list put together by ultra-conservative groups who do not support these core values, give me grave concerns that Judge Kavanaugh is not the right pick to serve on our nation’s highest court.

“I plan to carefully examine Judge Kavanaugh's record and judicial philosophy. I cannot and will not support a nominee who would take this country backwards by undermining our fundamental rights and American values.” 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy:

“I am grateful to Justice Kennedy for his many decades of service to our country, and wish him all the best in his retirement.

“In just four months, the American people will determine the makeup of the United States Senate. Given the precedent set by Leader McConnell in 2016, it is only appropriate that the Senate wait until the new Congress is seated to consider any nomination to the Supreme Court.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the following statement on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy:

“I am grateful to Justice Kennedy for his many decades of service to our country, and wish him all the best in his retirement.

“In just four months, the American people will determine the makeup of the United States Senate. Given the precedent set by Leader McConnell in 2016, it is only appropriate that the Senate wait until the new Congress is seated to consider any nomination to the Supreme Court.”

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the President’s travel ban: 

“The only thing the Supreme Court decided today was that the President’s actions were constitutional. While I disagree with the court, today’s decision does not make the President’s actions or statements related to the travel ban moral or just. We need to fight religious discrimination at every turn. Congress should take action to reverse the Trump travel ban.”

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement on the President’s nomination of Judge Rossie David Alston, Jr. to serve on the Eastern District Court of Virginia. If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Alston would be the only African American judge serving in the Alexandria Division:

“We are pleased that the President has nominated Judge Alston to the vacancy and are confident his experiences on the state bench will serve him well at the federal level. He fills large shoes in replacing Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, who served with great distinction, and we hope Judge Alston can proudly carry on his legacy. We urge the Department of Justice to send background materials to the Judiciary Committee as soon as possible so our colleagues can review his record and promptly advance his nomination.” 

In December, Warner and Kaine sent a letter to President Trump, recommending Judge Alston for the vacancy.

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner  and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) are now accepting applications for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia to succeed U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, who has announced he will take senior status on June 1, 2018. An independent panel of lawyers assembled by the Senators will review applications and interview qualified individuals. The Senators will then use those recommendations, as well as input from bar associations and experts, as they consider potential nominees to recommend to President Trump. The White House will then nominate an individual to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

 

Interested applicants should visit Senator Warner’s website for application instructions. The application period will close May 18, 2018.

 

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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) sponsored a set of bipartisan bills to help curb gun violence, including the Fix NICS Act, legislation which would ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This bill penalizes federal agencies who fail to properly report relevant records and incentivizes states to improve their overall reporting. In addition, it directs more federal funding to the accurate reporting of domestic violence records.

“Throughout my career, I’ve been a proud supporter of the Second Amendment and have always advocated for responsible gun ownership. My commitment to those principles remains, but it is also past time to put an end to these mass shootings,” said Sen. Warner. “While these commonsense reforms are not themselves enough, they will strengthen our background checks system and keep deadly weapons out of the hands of violent individuals and terrorists. No single law will end all gun violence, but we must begin attempting to address this crisis.”

The Fix NICS Act

  • Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to verify the accuracy of records.
  • Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees.  
  • Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans.
  • Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS.
  • Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law.

Sen. Warner is also a cosponsor of the Terrorist Firearms Prevention Act, bipartisan legislation to help keep guns from terrorist by preventing people who are on the “No Fly List” or the “Selectee List” from purchasing firearms.

 

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WASHINGTON –  U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released a statement on today’s White House nomination of Thomas T. Cullen to serve as United States Attorney for the Western District of Virginia:

“Tom Cullen is an experienced federal prosecutor who has practiced in North Carolina and Virginia. He will make an excellent U.S. Attorney, and we are proud to support his nomination to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Western District,” said the Senators. 

Cullen was one of two candidates recommended to the White House by Sens. Warner and Kaine in July. Cullen’s nomination was supported by a panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth selected by Sens. Warner and Kaine to interview all candidates who applied for the position.

Mr. Cullen is currently a Principal/Partner at Woods Rogers PLC in Roanoke, where his practice focuses on white-collar defense and government investigations. He entered the private sector following a career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District, where he served as Deputy Criminal Chief at the request of former U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy. Mr. Cullen previously served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, North Carolina. He also served as an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecutor during his time in Charlotte. Mr. Cullen began his legal career as a clerk for U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne in the Eastern District, followed by a clerkship with Circuit Judge Roger L. Gregory in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Mr. Cullen received his law degree from William and Mary School of Law in 2004 where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif and a B.A. cum laude from Furman University.

The Western District of Virginia has offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Abingdon, Lynchburg, Danville, Big Stone Gap and Harrisonburg.

 

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WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement on the Geneal Services Administration (GSA) report on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) consolidation plan:  

“This is a deeply disappointing decision that reverses years of consensus that a new FBI headquarters in the Washington region would be the most cost-effective option for taxpayers and what’s best for the agency's mission of protecting and defending the United States. It raises serious questions that GSA would ignore its previous careful consideration and forgo the millions of dollars already spent in the search to relocate the Bureau. I continue to believe that the identified site in Springfield, Virginia would provide the FBI with the best location to build a modern and secure facility that meets the needs of the FBI and its workforce. Congress should look closely into what led to this reversal and carefully reevaluate all of the options available for the construction of this new facility.”  

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), released the following statement after the Senate voted 65-34 to pass S. 139, the FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017, sending the measure to the President for his signature:

“Section 702 is among the most important of our intelligence programs, which is why the Senate voted along bipartisan lines to renew this authority for six years. This bill is not perfect, but it will provide our Intelligence Community with the legal authority to continue to collect vital foreign intelligence necessary to keep Americans and our allies safe, while incorporating provisions that strengthen the privacy and civil liberties of individuals.”

In a speech on the Senate floor Monday evening, Sen. Warner highlighted a declassified example of the key role Section 702 plays in ensuring our security at home and the globe: Hajji Iman was the second-in-command of ISIS based in Syria; the National Security Agency (NSA) used collection permitted and authorized under Section 702 to gather intelligence on the close associates and network supporting Hajji Iman, including their location in Syria.  After more than two years of searching, Hajji Iman was killed by U.S. forces on March 24, 2016 – just one of numerous examples in which the information obtained pursuant to Section 702 has proven critical to addressing threats to Americans both domestically and abroad.

 

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WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced their support for the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, a bicameral, bipartisan bill to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by violence against their pets. Multiple studies have shown that domestic abusers often seek to manipulate or intimidate their victims by threatening or harming their pets, but according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), only three percent of domestic violence shelters across the country accept pets.

“The PAWS Act helps domestic violence survivors flee their abusers, without having to fear for the safety of their family pets,” the Senators said. “The dilemma of choosing between your own safety and that of a beloved family pet is a serious but often overlooked problem that we must solve.”

The PAWS Act expands existing federal domestic violence protections to include threats or acts of violence against a victim’s pet, and provides grant funding to programs that offer shelter and housing assistance for domestic violence victims with pets. The bill also requires the full amount of the victim's losses for purposes of restitution in domestic violence and stalking offenses to include any costs incurred for veterinary services relating to physical care for the victim's pet. 

The ASPCA reported that a study in Wisconsin found 68 percent of domestic violence survivors reported their abusers were also violent towards their animals. A similar study found that as many as 25 percent of domestic violence survivors have returned to an abusive partner out of concern for their pet. A separate 2007 study found that as many as one-third of domestic abuse survivors reported they delayed leaving an abuser for an average of two years out of concern for the safety of their pet.

“The Action Alliance is pleased to see Senators Warner and Kaine supporting legislation that will help survivors of domestic violence get the resources they need without having to compromise between their safety and that of their pets,” said Kristi VanAudenhove, Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. “This effort to support survivors in their decision to leave dangerous situations is a welcome step in the right direction.”

“We, as a society, should help people—and the companion animals who share their lives—take steps to get away from their abusers. I heartily thank Senator Warner, who joins Senator Kaine, in helping to institute a new federal tool in the toolbox to fight the horrors of domestic violence,” said Rob Blizard, Executive Director of the Norfolk Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). “A state’s borders will never stop abusers who mean to threaten, hurt or kill—but the PAWS Act provides a needed federal approach to help victims escape the dangerous behavior of people who should instead be loving and protecting them.”

The PAWS Act is supported by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the Humane Society of the United States, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the National Link Coalition, the Sheltering Animals & Families Together (SAF-T) Program, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, the Animal Welfare Institute, RedRover, the National Animal Care & Control Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, YWCA USA, the American Kennel Club, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association.

Below is a list of Animal Welfare Institute “Safe Havens” in Virginia. These sheltering services currently assist the victims of domestic violence who would be aided by the PAWS Act, by placing their companion animals out of harm's way so that they may seek safety for themselves: 

  • Abingdon - People Incorporated Domestic Violence Program
  • Alexandria - Alexandria Domestic Violence Program & Animal Welfare League of Alexandria: Safekeeping Program
  • Alexandria - Fairfax Victim Assistance Network
  • Alexandria - North Virginia Family Services
  • Alexandria - Peaceful Families Project
  • Amherst - Amherst County Commission Against Domestic Violence
  • Arlington - Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Arlington - Doorways for Women & Families
  • Ashland - Hanover Safe Place
  • Bedford - Bedford Domestic Violence Coalition
  • Charlottesville - She: Shelter for Help in Emergency
  • Christiansburg - Petsafe of the New River Valley
  • Covington - Safehome Systems
  • Dumfries - Acts: Turning Points
  • Fairfax - Artemis House Shelter House
  • Fairfax - Fairfax County Animal Shelter / Fairfax County Police Department
  • Fredericksburg - Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence / Empowerhouse
  • Gate City - Hope House of Scott County
  • Glen Allen - Henrico County MHC-Domestic Violence Treatment
  • Gloucester - Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society
  • Gloucester - Laurel Shelter
  • Harrisonburg - Cat's Cradle of The Shenandoah Valley
  • Harrisonburg - First Step: A Response to Domestic Violence
  • Herndon - Fairfax County Women's Shelter: Artemis House
  • Leesburg - Loudon Abused Women's Shelter/emergency Shelter for Pets
  • Leesburg - Loudon County & Leesburg City Victims Witness Office
  • Lexington - Project Horizon
  • Marion - Southwest Virginia Legal Aid Society
  • Martinsville - Citizens Against Family Violence
  • New Kent - Project Hope at Quin Rivers Agency
  • Norfolk - YWCA Of South Hampton Roads - Women in Crisis
  • North Tazewell - Clinch Valley Community Action-Family Crisis Services
  • Norton - Family Crisis Support Services
  • Onancock - Eastern Shore Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Portsmouth - Family Violence Prevention
  • Portsmouth - Help and Emergency Response
  • Radford - Women's Resource Center of The New River Valley
  • Richmond - Domestic Violence Interventions
  • Richmond - Richmond SPCA/Sheltering Animals of Abused Families
  • Richmond - Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline
  • Richmond - YWCA - Women's Advocacy Program
  • Roanoke - Tap Domestic Violence Services
  • Roanoke - Turning Point - The Salvation Army
  • Rocky Mount - Franklin County Family Resource Center
  • Staunton - New Directions Center
  • Virginia Beach - Samaritan House
  • Virginia Beach - Virginia Beach SPCA: Temporary Foster Program Service
  • Williamsburg - Avalon Center
  • Winchester - The Laurel Center
  • Woodstock - Response, Inc.
  • Wytheville - Family Resource Center 

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WASHINGTON —Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) sent a letter to the White House recommending Patricia Tolliver Giles and Judge Rossie David Alston, Jr. to fill the vacancy on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District following the retirement of Judge Gerald Lee.

Giles and Alston both were recommended by an independent panel of attorneys from across the Commonwealth selected by Sens. Warner and Kaine to interview qualified applicants. Giles is currently an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, and Alston has served as a judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia since 2009.

“Under his tenure, Judge Lee served with great distinction on the bench and in the legal community. While presiding over a court with one of the busiest dockets in the country, Judge Lee tirelessly mentored youths in the community and fostered the careers of generations of lawyers from the minority Bar,” wrote the Senators. “Consistent with these values, we believe both Ms. Giles and Judge Alston would continue Judge Lee’s legacy…Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would serve in the judiciary with great distinction and we are honored to recommend them to you.”

The White House will now nominate one individual to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nomination is subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

The full text of today’s letter appears below.

 

The Honorable Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear Mr. President,

We are pleased to recommend Ms. Patricia Tolliver Giles and Judge Rossie David Alston, Jr. for the vacancy in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia left vacant by Judge Gerald Bruce Lee, who retired in September. Under his tenure, Judge Lee served with great distinction on the bench and in the legal community. While presiding over a court with one of the busiest dockets in the country, Judge Lee tirelessly mentored youths in the community and fostered the careers of generations of lawyers from the minority Bar.

Consistent with these values, we believe both Ms. Giles and Judge Alston would continue Judge Lee’s legacy. As Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, Ms. Giles serves on the Major Crimes Unit, where she has risen to prosecute some of the most serious cases in the office, including prosecution of MS-13 gang members for capital murder of a federal witness. Our advisory panel and various Bar Associations in the Commonwealth found her record most impressive.

Key members of the Virginia Bar also spoke highly of Judge Alston, who first joined the Commonwealth bench in 1998 and received an appointment to the Virginia Court of Appeals in 2009. He has also devoted significant time to the legal community, where he is an active member of various Bar associations, including the Old Dominion Bar. As a Distinguished Adjunct Professor at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University, he has taught courses in trial advocacy, criminal courts, and professional development. On Friday nights, Judge Alston changes his judicial robe for referee stripes to officiate Virginia high school football games. 

Ultimately, we believe either of these individuals would serve in the judiciary with great distinction and we are honored to recommend them to you.

Sincerely,

 

 

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the below statement on the Federal Communications Commission's plan to repeal net neutrality rules:

“The FCC Chairman has decided to move forward to repeal net neutrality rules without any plan in place to uphold longstanding open internet principles supported by both Democratic and Republican Administrations. I am deeply concerned that the FCC’s current plan would amount to a green light for potential anti-competitive practices by certain internet service providers, with the Chairman signaling the Commission’s unwillingness to protect consumers and small businesses from potential abuse.”

“U.S. Attorneys play an integral role in protecting a geographically diverse region on a wide range of issues – from human trafficking, narcotics, and gang violence to white collar crime and public corruption,” said the Senators. “We are grateful for Dana Boente’s public service, and look forward to reviewing qualified candidates and selecting the right individual for this significant role.”

WASHINGTON — Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined 30 of their Senate colleagues in writing to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requesting information on the impact of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act highlighted in a recent report from the Washington Post and “60 Minutes.” The Senators are working with the agencies to ensure they have the tools they need to fight the addiction epidemic.

“In light of these reports and as Congress evaluates this law taking into account the nation’s addiction epidemic, it is critical that we have all the information necessary to ensure the federal government is doing everything it can to help support our states and local communities in our collective fight against this epidemic,” wrote the Senators in the letter. “We want to ensure the Drug Enforcement Administration and other related agencies have all of the tools necessary to fight this epidemic.”

Current law requires the DEA Administrator to submit a report to Congress identifying any residual issues with diversion efforts, including information on whether coordination between the industry and law enforcement has helped with diversion. This report is past-due and the Senators want HHS and the DEA to provide the information so they can determine how the best action to take to ensure the DEA has the tools it needs to fight the opioid epidemic.

Full text of the letter is available below and here

Acting Secretary Eric Hargan

United States Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC 20201

 

Acting Administrator Robert Patterson

United States Drug Enforcement Administration

8701 Morrissette Dr. 

Springfield, VA 22152

 

Dear Acting Secretary Hargan and Acting Administrator Patterson:

This weekend’s Washington Post article entitled “The Drug Industry’s Triumph Over the DEA” and CBS’s related 60 Minutes expose on the opioid epidemic have raised significant questions regarding the impact of the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act (P.L. 114-145), which was signed into law in April of 2016. As members of Congress from states severely affected by the nation’s addiction epidemic, we are concerned by these recent news reports and the issues they raise, and we write to request that you immediately provide Congress with an update on the law’s impact on the war against addiction.

In light of these reports and as Congress evaluates this law taking into account the nation’s addiction epidemic, it is critical that we have all the information necessary to ensure the federal government is doing everything it can to help support our states and local communities in our collective fight against this epidemic. We want to ensure the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and other related agencies have all of the tools necessary to fight this epidemic, which is why we also request that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in coordination with DEA, immediately provide Congress with a status update on the Report to Congress required under Section 3 of the law.

As you are aware, Section 3 of P.L. 114-145 requires the Secretary of HHS, in coordination with the DEA Administrator and in consultation with other relevant executive offices, to submit a report to Congress identifying any residual issues with diversion of controlled substances. The law also requires the Administration’s Report to Congress to include a section detailing “how collaboration between Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the pharmaceutical industry can benefit patients and prevent diversion and abuse of controlled substances,” as well as a section with suggested “steps to improve reporting requirements so that the public and Congress have more information regarding prescription opioids.” 

This report was due to Congress on April 16, 2017. As of October 16, 2017 – exactly 6 months past the deadline for this information – no such report has been submitted to the relevant congressional committees. As Congress revisits the Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act and considers whether the DEA has all of the tools it needs to play an effective role in combatting this public health emergency, it is critical that we have the information necessary to evaluate this law. 

We urge HHS to act swiftly to provide the relevant committees with an update on the impact of P.L. 114-145 and a report on any challenges in diversion control that may have been exacerbated by the law’s passage by no later than October 30, 2017, as well as a complete Report to Congress as laid out in Section 3 of the law, as soon as possible. 

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WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence, and U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services today introduced the Honest Ads Act to help prevent foreign interference in future elections and improve the transparency of online political advertisements.

 “Online political advertising represents an enormous marketplace, and today there is almost no transparency. The Russians realized this, and took advantage in 2016 to spread disinformation and misinformation in an organized effort to divide and distract us,” Senator Warner said. “Our bipartisan Honest Ads Act extends transparency and disclosure to political ads in the digital space. At the end of the day, it is not too much to ask that our most innovative digital companies work with us by exercising additional judgment and providing some transparency.” 

 “First and foremost this is an issue of national security – Russia attacked us and will continue to use different tactics to undermine our democracy and divide our country, including by purchasing disruptive online political ads. We have to secure our election systems and we have to do it now – the next election is only 383 days away,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan legislation would help protect our democracy by updating our laws to ensure that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as TV or radio stations – and make them public so Americans can see who is trying to influence them.”

 “In the wake of Russia’s attack on the 2016 election, it is more important than ever to strengthen our defenses against foreign interference in our elections,” said Senator McCain.“Unfortunately, U.S. laws requiring transparency in political campaigns have not kept pace with rapid advances in technology, allowing our adversaries to take advantage of these loopholes to influence millions of American voters with impunity. Our bipartisan legislation would address this serious challenge by expanding landmark campaign finance law to apply to internet and digital communications platforms that command a significant audience. I have long fought to increase transparency and end the corrupting influence of special interests in political campaigns, and I am confident this legislation will modernize existing law to safeguard the integrity of our election system.”

Russia attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying and placing political ads on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google. The content and purchaser(s) of those online advertisements are a mystery to the public because of outdated laws that have failed to keep up with evolving technology. The Honest Ads Act would prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite.

The Honest Ads Act enhances the integrity of our democracy by improving disclosure requirements for online political advertisements by:

  • Amending the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002’s definition of electioneering communication to include paid Internet and digital advertisements.
  • Requiring digital platforms with at least 50,000,000 monthly viewers to maintain a public file of all electioneering communications purchased by a person or group who spends more than $500.00 total on ads published on their platform. The file would contain a digital copy of the advertisement, a description of the audience the advertisement targets, the number of views generated, the dates and times of publication, the rates charged, and the contact information of the purchaser.
  • Requiring online platforms to make all reasonable efforts to ensure that foreign individuals and entities are not purchasing political advertisements in order to influence the American electorate. 

Companion legislation to the Honest Ads Act is being introduced today in the House of Representatives by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Mike Coffman (R-CO).

“The 2016 elections exposed glaring holes in our ability to police foreign intervention in US elections, and this bill is an appropriate, bipartisan disclosure remedy,” said Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center (CLC), and a former Republican Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. “Voters have a right to be fully informed about who is trying to influence their vote, particularly foreign powers whose motives are contrary to American interests. The Honest Ads Act gives voters, journalists, and law enforcement officers important tools to help root out illegal foreign activity. The transparency this bill aims to provide in the 2018 elections and beyond will protect and enhance the integrity of our elections, which are the most fundamental component of American self-governance.”

“Ensuring transparency and accountability remain encoded into our democracy in the 21st century has taken on new importance and relevance in the wake of the 2016 election. We hope this bill, which merits serious consideration, catalyzes an overdue public debate and substantive action in Congress and the Federal Election Commission to create platform parity for political ad disclosure across TV, radio, print and Internet companies. Opacity by design is not an acceptable status quo for the technology giants that shape public knowledge and discourse with limited accountability,” said Alexander B. Howard, Deputy Director of the Sunlight Foundation.

“The bipartisan introduction of the Honest Ads Act is an important step toward bringing American campaign finance law into the internet age, by ensuring that online political advertisements are subject to the same kind of disclosure rules that already exist for ads on television and radio,” said Lawrence Norden, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “At a time when hostile foreign powers are trying to exploit loopholes in our campaign laws to manipulate American elections, it is especially important for Congress to come together across partisan lines to strengthen our democracy.  The Brennan Center applauds Senators Klobuchar, Warner and McCain for reaching across partisan lines to introduce this significant bill.”

“Americans have a right to know who is using political advertising to influence their votes and their views. As technology changes and political advertising shifts to online platforms, our transparency laws should keep pace. The recent revelations of Kremlin-connected influence operations on Facebook and Twitter underscore how important it is for Congress to take meaningful action. The HONEST Act is a critical step forward in enhancing the transparency of online political advertising. Common Cause commends Senators Klobuchar, Warner and McCain for their strong bipartisan leadership in introducing this important bill to bolster the integrity of our democracy,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause.

As Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with oversight jurisdiction over federal elections, Klobuchar has introduced legislation to improve the security of U.S. election systems and make commonsense improvements to election administration. She and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) introduced the bipartisan Stop Foreign Donations Affecting Our Elections Act to strengthen disclosure by requiring federal campaigns to use existing credit card verification protocols to help verify that online credit card donations come from U.S. sources. Klobuchar and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also introduced bipartisan legislation to help states block cyber-attacks, secure voter registration logs and voter data, upgrade election auditing procedures, and create secure and useful information sharing about threats. In June, Klobuchar introduced the Helping State and Local Governments Prevent Cyber Attacks Act to help combat foreign interference by providing state and local governments with the information and resources they need to keep our elections secure and improve voter confidence. 

As vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Warner has been at the forefront of the Committee’s ongoing bipartisan counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Warner also is the co-founder of the Senate’s bipartisan Cybersecurity Caucus. In addition, Sen. Warner is working to finalize bipartisan legislation to create a comprehensive, nationwide and uniform data breach standard, requiring timelier consumer notification for breaches of financial data and other sensitive information, and setting national data-protection standards for companies handling sensitive personal information.  

Senator McCain has been a champion of campaign finance reform for decades. As a lead author of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, he has long advocated of transparency in the American electoral process.  

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WASHINGTON – Congress today approved a bipartisan, bicameral resolution led by Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA)—prompted by the violence and domestic terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Va. last month—condemning white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups.  The joint resolution (S. J. Res. 49) also calls upon the Trump Administration to use all available resources to improve data collection on hate crimes and to work in a coordinated way to address the growing prevalence of hate groups. 

“Our nation’s elected leaders have a responsibility to stand up to forces of hatred and bigotry wherever they may be found. What happened in Charlottesville was domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists who tragically cut short the life of a young woman, Heather Heyer, and led to the deaths of two Virginia State Police troopers Berke Bates and Lt. Jay Cullen.  The United States Congress has spoken up with one voice to recognize the lives of those we lost, to unconditionally condemn racist speech and violence, and to denounce the white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other hate groups,” said the Senators. “We hope that President Trump will move quickly to sign this resolution and commit his Administration to address the rise of hate groups.”

The legislation was co-sponsored in the Senate by 57 bipartisan Senators, including Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

A companion version with identical language was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last week by Reps. Tom Garrett (R-VA-5) and Gerald Connolly (D-VA-11) with support from the entire Virginia House delegation. 

The joint resolution recognizes the death of Heather Heyer, 32, and the injuries suffered by many others after a car allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi slammed into a crowd of counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville. The resolution specifically describes that event as a “domestic terrorist attack.” The resolution also acknowledges the heroism and public service of Virginia State Police troopers Berke Bates and Lt. Jay Cullen, who died in the crash of their helicopter while monitoring the protests. Finally, it expresses support for the people of Charlottesville as that community heals “following these acts of violent bigotry.”   

The joint resolution also has the support of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. It now heads to President Trump for his signature. 

The text of the resolution is available here. More background on how a Joint Resolution works is available here

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Sens. Warner, Kaine, Gardner, Isakson Lead Bipartisan Resolution Condemning White Nationalists, Neo Nazis And Other Hate Groups

After Charlottesville, resolution urges Trump Administration to address threats posed by hate groups

Sep 06 2017

WASHINGTON – This morning, during the first full session of the Senate since the deadly violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va., on August 11 and 12, 2017, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) are introducing a bipartisan resolution condemning white nationalists, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and other hate groups. The joint resolution (S. J. Res.) also calls upon the Trump Administration to use all available resources to improve data collection on hate crimes and to work in a coordinated way to address the growing prevalence of hate groups.

The joint resolution recognizes the death of Heather Heyer, 32, and the injuries suffered by 19 other people after a car allegedly driven by a neo-Nazi slammed into a crowd of counter demonstrators in Charlottesville. The resolution specifically describes that event as a “domestic terrorist attack.” The resolution also acknowledges the heroism and public service of Virginia State Police troopers Berke Bates and Lt. Jay Cullen, who died in the crash of their helicopter while monitoring the protests. Finally, the resolution expresses support for the people of Charlottesville as that community heals “following these acts of violent bigotry.”   

The Senators hope for quick action by the Senate to pass the resolution, which has support from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Anti-Defamation League, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The text of the resolution is available here.

 

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