Friends, family and colleagues of British scientist Stephen Hawking will gather Saturday to pay their respects at his private funeral in Cambridge, where he spent most of his extraordinary life. Hawking, who died on March 14 at the age of 76, was famously an atheist but his children Lucy, Robert and Tim have chosen the town's university church, St Mary the Great, to say their farewell.
Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, a Republican with a well-known name in the Silver State, is already stoking fears of voter fraud and vowing to file lawsuits to "try to tighten up the election" — 14 months before any actual votes are cast.
Republican candidates around the country have ripped a page from Donald Trump's playbook, launching spurious claims of fraud about elections that haven't happened yet, in an apparent effort to blame potential defeats on unspecified and evidence-free claims of "irregularities." California Republican Larry Elder, who hoped to be elected governor after the recent recall election targeting Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, launched a website claiming voter fraud days before votes were even counted. (In the event, the vote against the recall was so overwhelming Elder has stopped talking about it.) But Laxalt, who was endorsed by Trump after filing multiple lawsuits contesting Joe Biden's narrow 2020 victory in Nevada, is breaking new ground by making such claims more than a year before a single vote is cast.
"With me at the top of the ticket, we're going to be able to get everybody at the table and come up with a full plan, do our best to try to secure this election, get as many observers as we can, and file lawsuits early, if there are lawsuits we can file to try to tighten up the election," Laxalt told radio host Wayne Allyn Root in an interview last month after Root claimed that "Trump won Nevada" and said the election had been "stolen." The comments were first flagged by Jon Ralston, editor of the Nevada Independent, and later reported by the Associated Press.
The comments set off alarm among some Nevada Republicans, according to Ralston, who drew a comparison to failed 2010 U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle. Angle held an early polling lead over then-incumbent Sen. Harry Reid, a Democrat, until she veered sharply to the right, alienating key conservatives in the state.
"She went on with friendly interviewers, got comfy and said damaging things," Ralston said on Twitter. "Laxalt will only do Newsmax, OAN, Joecks TV and will keep making mistakes. That's why GOPers here are worried."
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Laxalt is the grandson of Paul Laxalt, a Nevada Republican legend who served both as governor and in the U.S. Senate. His biological father, as he revealed less than 10 years ago, was former Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican and close ally of Ronald Reagan, who had an extramarital relationship with Laxalt's mother when she worked on Capitol Hill. Laxalt served one term as Nevada attorney general and ran for governor in 2018, losing to Democrat Steve Sisolak despite Trump's endorsement. He later served as co-chair of Trump's 2020 campaign.
"Adam Laxalt led Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and now he's running the same Big Lie playbook for his 2022 Senate campaign," said Andy Orellana, a spokesperson for Nevada Democratic Victory, which is working to re-elect Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, who would be Laxalt's opponent in the 2022 general election. "He knows he can't win on the issues, so Laxalt is pushing frivolous preemptive lawsuits in an effort to limit Nevadans' voting rights and potentially overturn the election when he loses."
Laxalt led multiple lawsuits on behalf of Trump's campaign, leading the Las Vegas Sun editorial board to dub him the "Nevada version of Rudy Giuliani."
Laxalt insisted in the interview with Root that the problem with those lawsuits was not that the campaign's failed to produce any evidence of fraud but only that that the suits were not filed in time.
"There's no question that, unfortunately, a lot of the lawsuits and a lot of the attention spent on Election Day operations just came too late," he said.
In fact, Laxalt filed his first failed challenge of the 2020 vote before Election Day, seeking to stop the count of mail-in ballots in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas and is home to three-quarters of Nevada's population. After Trump's defeat, Laxalt repeatedly pushed conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, without provide any actual evidence.
"I'm telling you, there are improper votes," he insisted at the time. "We don't know if it's 2,000, 10,000 or 40,000. I believe it is in the thousands."
Laxalt also pushed a claim that more than 3,000 non-residents had voted by mail in the 2020 Nevada election. Trump allies filed a lawsuit over the claim — but then dropped them after it became clear that many of the ballots Laxalt described were linked to military post office boxes overseas or locations around the country where military personnel are stationed, suggesting they were legally cast by troops and their family members.
Laxalt filed a post-election lawsuit alleging widespread voting irregularities and asking a court to overturn Biden's victory and declare Trump the winner. A judge in Carson City, the state capital, rejected the challenge, writing that the campaign's evidence had "little to no value" and "did not prove under any standard of proof that any illegal votes were cast and counted, or legal votes were not counted at all, for any other improper or illegal reason." Trump's campaign appealed the decision, arguing that the court did not take into account "expert" testimony provided by the campaign. The Nevada Supreme Court rejected that challenge, writing that the campaign failed to identify any "unsupported factual findings" in the earlier ruling.
"Last time Laxalt (and other anti-voter allies) pushed lies like this, they lost. Again and again," the States United Democracy Center, a nonpartisan group that supports fair and secure elections, said on Twitter in response to Laxalt's latest lawsuit threat. "The fight is so far from over. Lies about election integrity are spreading past the 2020 presidential election."
In fact, Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes — making Laxalt's unsupported claims about non-resident voting irrelevant — and the results were certified by the state Supreme Court. Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske launched an investigation into voter fraud allegations that found no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities.
"While the NVGOP raises policy concerns about the integrity of mail-in voting, automatic voter registration, and same-day voter registration, these concerns do not amount to evidentiary support for the contention that the 2020 general election was plagued by widespread voter fraud," she wrote in a letter to the state Republican Party in April — after the party censured her for refusing to support the false claims of election fraud that have seemingly become GOP doctrine.
But the absence of evidence has apparently done little to assuage Laxalt as the state's Republican Party continues to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from its baseless fraud claims. Laxalt's campaign did not respond to questions from Salon.
In a statement to the AP, Laxalt declined to specify what kind of lawsuits he believes woiuld "tighten up the election" or to say whether he would accept the election results if he loses. But criticized the Democratic-led state legislature for passing a bill to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter.
"Without a single Republican vote, Democrats radically changed the election rules in the final stretch of last year's campaign and many voters lost confidence in the system as a result," he told the outlet. "Their partisan transformation of Nevada's system handed election officials an untested process that generated over 750,000 mail-in votes, unclean voter rolls, loose ballots and virtually no signature verification. Nevadans have a right to more transparency and voters deserve confidence in the accuracy of election results, and I will proudly fight for them."
Asked about the former attorney general's argument, a spokesperson for Cegavske told Salon that the secretary of state is "not commenting on Mr. Laxalt's concerns beyond what she has been saying all along – that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election."
Laxalt later bragged on Twitter that his promise to attack the 2022 election in advance "seems to be triggering the media" after it was reported by Nevada outlets. "I stand by what I said on Wayne Allen Root's [sic] show," he said, insisting that he simply wants "free" and "secure" elections.
"In fact, Laxalt is the one threatening to undermine secure and fair elections," argued Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent. "Indeed, as this demonstrates, for Trumpist politicians, the refusal to commit to respecting legitimate election losses is now a badge of honor."
Laxalt expects to face off against Cortez Masto next November, though he still has to get past a Republican primary that is nine months away. Democrats have accused him of preemptively trying to undermine democracy.
"Laxalt knows he can't defend his record of pushing Trump's interests and those of his special interest donors over hardworking Nevadans, so 14 months before the election he's already plotting to revive the Trump playbook — threatening self-serving lawsuits in an effort to make it harder for Nevadans to vote," Jazmin Vargas, a spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a statement. "Nevadans see right through Laxalt's corrupt and dishonest tactics and will reject him again in 2022."
The Arkansas Department of Education just completed a six-figure deal to purchase new books for schools. However, the type of funding they are using and the founder of the book company appears to create a conflict of interest.
According to the Northwest Arkansas-Democrat Gazette, the department is set to spend $265,448 in books produced by the company, EverBright Media, founded by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R). In 2020, the company initially received $245,300 to produce and distribute a booklet for kids titled "The Kids Guide to Coronavirus."
At the time, Education Secretary Johnny Key announced the book at one of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's (R) daily COVID-19 briefings.
Now, the department is spending the $265,000 to produce a revised version of it for the 2021-2022 school year. Funding for the books reportedly came from the "Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act."
Huckabee's adviser Chad Gallagher issued a statement by email on behalf of EverBright and the former governor.
The publication reports: "Huckabee is the co-founder of the company with Brad Saft, who is the CEO who oversees and runs the company. Gallagher said he serves Huckabee, Saft and EverBright as clients of his firm, Legacy Consulting."
Kimberly Mundell, spokeswoman for the Arkansas Department of Education's Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, also noted that Key "was aware of the connection to Huckabee, who was the state's governor from 1996 to 2007."
Mundell also defended the deal in an emailed statement. "Secretary Key felt the resource guide was parent friendly and a good resource, so ADE pursued the purchase of the books," Mundell said in an email.
In this guide, you'll find answers to the following questions:
If you've ever applied to rent a home or apartment, you may have a tenant score. Tenant scores are different from your credit score. Tenant screening companies plug your personal details into secret algorithms and rate you as a potential tenant. These scores can have a huge impact on your life when you're trying to get approved for an apartment.
Unlike with credit scores, federal regulators do not review the tenant scoring models or algorithms. There is little guidance available on how to improve your score. It's not even easy to find out whether a company has given you a score.
My former apartment building used a tenant screening company called LeasingDesk, so I requested to see my file through LeasingDesk's website. Five days later, a one-page report showed up in my inbox. It contained a surprising amount of detail about me, with everything from my previous address at a house where I sublet a room one summer in college nearly 20 years ago to a $100 late fee I paid in 2018. I had no evictions or criminal history, but the report was full of information that could hurt my ability to negotiate a lower rent price if shared with future landlords. However, the report did not show my tenant score.
When I called LeasingDesk, a customer service representative told me the company deletes all scores 60 days after a screening.
But the consumer lawyers we spoke with for this project expressed doubts my score had been deleted, saying they had requested and seen much older tenant scores and reports during lawsuits against LeasingDesk's parent company, RealPage Inc. I decided to keep trying, and sent LeasingDesk another request for my score via a certified letter. In an Aug. 27 email, the company assigned my request a case number but gave no hints about when I might receive a response or whether it would include my score.
Tenant scores affect a lot of people, and that's why we are reporting on it. We would appreciate hearing about your experiences with these companies, too. Tell us about your tenant scores and how they compare to your credit scores below.
Maybe. Many tenants are unaware they have been rated by a tenant screening company.
Depending on the laws in your state, your landlord may not be required to share your score or your screening report with you unless you are denied housing. The best way to find out if you have a tenant score is to ask your landlord or property manager for the name of the tenant screening companies they used to screen you, according to San Francisco attorney Craig Davis.
Landlords may use tenant scores to decide whether to rent to you or how much to charge you for a security deposit. We have heard from tenants who say scores have impacted their ability to find housing. Other renters have reported being denied for apartments or asked to pay double in security deposits because of their tenant scores.
Where do I find my score?
Some tenants receive their scores in housing approval or denial letters. If you haven't, Davis recommends asking your landlord or property manager for your screening report. Davis said he's heard from some clients that property managers and landlords have pushed back against these requests, saying they can't release the reports to tenants directly. But Davis said you have the right to see your report. In fact, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires tenant screening companies to provide you with a report upon request listing all the information the company has on you.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends checking your report for any inaccurate information. You have the right to dispute any incorrect information and ask for the screening company to remove it from your file. You can use the same contact methods as below. If the company says it has received information from court records or credit agencies, you will need to fix your record with those agencies first.
Here's some advice from the CFPB:
- If you are applying as a tenant for a residential property, ask the management company for the names of all consumer reporting companies it will be using to screen you.
- Contact the tenant screening companies to fact-check your information and dispute any inaccuracies. A tenant screening report with negative information in it, such as prior housing evictions, could result in a rejected lease application, or it may get approved but with tough conditions inserted into the lease agreement such as requiring you to pay 12 months of rent in advance.
- If a landlord refuses to rent to you or charges you more because of something in a background check, be sure to know your rights and protections.
It's unclear how many tenant screening companies exist. There is no comprehensive list, so below we've compiled a list of a dozen of the more well-known tenant screening companies with directions on how to request your free report, which may contain your score.
Many of these screening companies allow you to request your report online, over the phone or by mail. But before they send you a report, you will often need to verify your identity by providing your Social Security number, date of birth and a photocopy of your driver's license. If you are wary about giving out this kind of personal information, ask if they can process your request using just your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- AmRent: You can call 888-898-6196 to request your file.
- AppFolio: You can fill out this online form with your name, address and date of birth.
- Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC): A customer service representative said the company only accepts requests in writing. There is an online form you can fill out, or you can email your request to Compliance@CICReports.com.
- Experian RentBureau: You can call 877-704-4519 to request your report. You can also mail your request.
- First Advantage Corporation Resident Solutions: You can call 800-845-6004 and ask for your tenant screening report. (The company also screens job applicants.)
- LeasingDesk: You can enter your name and email address in this online request form. The company will email you a link to the full request form. You will need to provide your name, your date of birth, your previous addresses and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- On-Site: You can make an online request by providing your name, your email address and the name of the rental building that screened you.
- RentGrow: You can request a copy of your tenant screening report online.
- RentPrep: You can fill out this form and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org or send it in by mail. Make sure to check the box stating "I would like to request a copy of my consumer report."
- SafeRent Solutions: You can fill out this form and email it to email@example.com.
- Screening Reports: You can call 866-389-4042 to request your report.
- TransUnion SmartMove: You can call 800-230-9376 and ask for your "ResidentScore." A customer service representative can look up your score if you have been screened in the past 60 days. You can also email your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next steps could include consulting a lawyer or sending a formal records request by mail. I mailed a certified letter to RealPage's corporate headquarters, asking for my full consumer file, including my tenant reports and scores and the dates those scores were calculated. I also asked them to provide a list of landlords or companies who had received information about me.
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