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Schiff Circulates Draft Bill To Establish 9/11 Style Coronavirus Commission

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff began circulating a draft bill on Friday to establish a 9/11-style commission to investigate the country’s response to the coronavirus, according to a press release from his office.

“After Pearl Harbor, September 11, and many momentous events in American history, independent, bipartisan commissions have been established to provide a complete accounting of what happened, what we did right and wrong, and what we can do to better protect the country in the future,” Schiff said in a statement.

He added, “Though we are still in the early days of the Coronavirus crisis, there is no doubt that such a comprehensive and authoritative review will be required. This is not an exercise in casting blame or scoring political points, but something that the American people should rightly expect from their government as an exercise in accountability. In designing such a commission, I believe that the 9/11 Commission provides an established and proven model, one which Congress should adapt to the purposes of the Coronavirus.”

The draft is being sent to “former commissioners from the 9/11 Commission, Members of Congress, Senators, and outside experts,” according to Schiff’s press release.

According to the draft, the Commission would:

  • Be composed of ten members, with the same partisan balance as the 9/11 commissioners and prohibited from being current federal officials, with a variety of backgrounds in relevant fields, including public health, epidemiology, emergency preparedness, armed services, and intelligence;
  • Provide a full accounting to the President, Congress, and the American people of the facts and circumstances related to the outbreak in the United States, including our preparedness, the intelligence and information we had available before the virus reached the United States, and how federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector, responded to the crisis;
  • Hold hearings and public events to obtain information and to educate the public, including subpoena power to compel cooperation by relevant witnesses;
  • Make specific recommendations to Congress and the Executive Branch on how to improve our preparedness for pandemic disease;
  • Have adequate staffing and resources to be able to complete the monumental task at hand expeditiously so we can be prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic to hit the nation;
  • And would not be established until February 2021, hopefully after the pandemic has been overcome and after the presidential election.

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WSJ: Corporate Dirty Pool in Washington’s Senate Race

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The Wall Street Journal’s,  Kimberly A. Strassel wrote a piece identifying how the Democrats are so worried about Washington Senator Patty Murray’s re-election “that Seattle’s corporate heavyweights are playing dirty pool on her behalf.”

Murray, a leftwing progressive, has faced little competition while in office; until now. Tiffany Smiley, a Republican nurse and entrepreneur “is pummeling Ms. Murray from every direction and laying out her own detailed reform agenda” adds the WSJ.

A RealClearPolitics average has Ms. Murray winning by 8 points. Another poll has Smiley within 2 points. Regardless, It’s close enough that “Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently transferred $500,000 of his own campaign cash to Ms. Murray’s campaign.”

Money from Schumer isn’t the only liberal panic dough. “Starbucks, the Seattle Times and the Seattle Seahawks—are actively attempting to sabotage the Smiley campaign, albeit in a distinctly underhanded fashion” writes the WSJ. “Their targets are two effective Smiley campaign ads.”

At the center of the fight are two of Smiley’s ads: “Game Day” and “Cup of Coffee.”

Strassel reports:

In “Game Day” the Republican is in a kitchen preparing to watch a football game, hitting Ms. Murray and Democrats for the spiraling cost of food. In “Cup of Coffee,” she stands in front of a derelict building. Barely visible at the top, and seen backward, is the store’s faded Starbucks sign. Ms. Smiley hits Ms. Murray for rising crime, while the ad flashes two Seattle Times headlines, one of which reads: “Starbucks to Close 5 Seattle Stores Over Safety Concerns.”

“Game Day” hit the airwaves Sept 1. Five days later, according to documents I obtained, the Smiley campaign received a terse email from the Seahawks claiming a trademark violation. The ad briefly shows Ms. Smiley’s husband, Scotty—a retired U.S. Army Ranger who was blinded by shrapnel in Iraq—expressing alarm that “even beer” prices are rising. You only see his shoulders above a tall couch—and if you get a magnifying glass you might make out a letter or two from the word “Seahawks.” The letter insisted the Smiley campaign “immediately cease” its “unauthorized commercial use.” Nothing like your local sports franchise dumping cease-and-desist orders on wounded veterans.

“Cup of Coffee” went live on Sept. 20. The next day, the Seattle Times sent an email to the “Jane Smiley” campaign—apparently without running it past its fact-checking desk—accusing it of “unauthorized use of The Seattle Times logo and two headlines” in violation of the paper’s “copyright and trademark.” It demanded the campaign remove any references to the paper not only in its own ad, but in an NBC News article about the ad’s launch.

Two days later, Starbucks sent a certified letter saying the campaign was appropriating its intellectual property, and complaining it might “create an unfounded association in the minds of consumers between Starbucks and your campaign.” It insisted the campaign either pull the ad or alter it to strip both the (barely visible, backward) sign and the Seattle Times headline referencing Starbucks.

One such letter may be the product of an overzealous lawyer, but three in a row looks like more than a coincidence. One might even wonder if some Murray staffer was putting bugs in Seattle business leaders’ ears. And while corporate political-action committees routinely play politics by making donations, it’s something else for individual companies to go to bat for a candidate via behind-the-scenes threats based on tenuous legal claims. These letters were bound to cost the Smiley campaign money and headaches and might have pushed it off the airwaves.

The campaign didn’t roll over. It made a painless accommodation to the “Game Day” ad, blurring the jersey colors to obscure anything distinct. In a legal letter sent Thursday to Starbucks, the campaign rebutted the company’s infringement claims, running through political speech protections and noting that no reasonable person would ever think a factual ad about shuttered Starbucks stores amounted to a coffee-chain endorsement. It suggested Starbucks focus on its own problems, like its recent union woes.

The Seattle Times also received a letter refuting its claims, but it got something in addition. The Smiley campaign on Thursday filed a Federal Election Commission complaint, charging the paper with providing the Murray campaign a prohibited in-kind contribution. It turns out that Ms. Murray has also used a Seattle Times headline in her ads. Her “First 2016 Ad” sports the newspaper’s logo under the headline: “Patty Murray’s and Paul Ryan’s Teamwork Is a Model for Congress.” It seems the Times has a different legal standard for candidates it endorses.

As the FEC complaint notes, the Smiley campaign would have to spend an estimated $5,000 to remove and update the ad—“costs that Patty Murray does not have to accrue.” It cites FEC regulations that provide “if a corporation makes its resources available for free, it must do so for all candidates.”

Don’t expect the Seattle corporate set to do anything on behalf of Ms. Smiley soon. But it shouldn’t be too much to ask that they do their politicking straight—and out in the open.

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