This Week in Statehouse Action: Fool Me Twice edition

Other depressing-but-extremely-not-shocking findings from this investigation include:

  • These model bills tend to have deceptive titles and descriptions that hide their true intent.
  • And many of the bills that override local governmental authority on issues like
    • raising the minimum wage,
    • implementing paid family or sick leave,
    • banning plastic bags, and
    • improving gun safety
  • … are cribbed from special interest group-created “model” legislation.

Fun fact! Pennsylvania Republican state Rep. Thomas Murt boasts the ignominious distinction of introducing the most copycat legislation of any lawmaker in the country!

  • Other right-wing legislation that’s been popping up all over the country in recent years based on model bills (some, but not all, from ALEC) include
    • “stand your ground” measures,
    • so-called “right to work” laws,
    • xenophobic proposals seeking to cure the absolutely nonexistent problem of applying Sharia law in U.S. courts,
    • North Carolina-style anti-LGBT “bathroom bills,” and
    • resolutions aimed at triggering an Article V convention to rewrite the U.S. Constitution.

So USA Today’s investigation of this whole phenomenon is extremely good and you should read it 

Ship of Fools: Two major state-level elections were held this past Tuesday, and the results were … mixed.

  • The good news is that Democrats celebrated their first red-to-blue flip of the 2019-2020 election cycle.
    • Pam Iovino gave Team Blue a 52-48 win in the special election in Pennsylvania SD-37—a seat that went for Trump 51-45.
  • Also this week, Democrats not only held two legislative seats in specials, but they also over-performed Hillary Clinton’s 2016 numbers in those districts.
    • In Saturday’s Louisiana HD-18 contest, the Democrat improved on Clinton’s performance by 55 points.
    • In Tuesday’s Maine HD-52 special, the Democrat out-performed Clinton by 8 points.

The bad news isn’t even a legislative race, but it’s a state-level downer nonetheless. 

  • Judge Lisa Neubauer, the choice of progressives, had generally looked favored to win the Wisconsin Supreme Court race on Tuesday.
    • Republicans’ own polling had her up 8 points over conservative anti-LGBT bigot Brian Hagedorn as the race entered its final week.
    • Pro-Neubauer spending had dramatically outstripped money spent in support of Hagedorn up to that point.
  • But then the RSLC’s grossly named Judicial Fairness Initiative swooped in with a $1.3 million targeted ad and mail buy in the final week of the race.

By the by, Democrats have no party-backed answer to the RSLC arm focused on judicial elections.

  • The GOP moneybomb did its job; Hagedorn went from 8 points down to eking out an apparent win over Neubauer by fewer than 6,000 votes, ensuring a conservative majority on Wisconsin Supreme Court through at least the beginning of the next decade—and effectively removing that body as a potential obstacle to another round of extreme Republican gerrymandering in the Badger State.

You Fool No One: It’s about ethics in Georgia journalism.

 or so some Republicans in that legislature would have you believe.

  • A cadre of GOP House members filed legislation this week to create a Journalism Ethics Board tasked with creating a “canon of ethics” for Georgia reporters, investigating violations of those canons, and sanctioning those found to be in violation of them.
    • The bill also requires journalists to hand over copies of photos and audio and video recordings taken during interviews at the request of interviewees, free of charge.

Fun fact! When the members of the public request records from the legislature via FIOA, they have to pay a fee.

  • You’ll be shocked to learn that the Republican author of this bill was inspired to pen this garbage measure after he felt he’d been subjected to “bias” by a reporter who had the temerity to asking him questions about legislation he’d proposed.

Oh, and if you think this is only a local story, remember who’s headquartered in Atlanta: CNN.

What a Fool Believes: Joe Morrissey believes he deserves to rejoin the Virginia General Assembly.

  • I wrote in this space several weeks ago that “Fighting Joe” was contemplating a political comeback, but I honestly didn’t think he’d follow through with it.

The lesson here: Never underestimate this man’s entitled narcissism.

  • I mean, we’re talking about the guy who resigned from the state House after being convicted of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” over an alleged sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl working as a receptionist in his law office and then ran in the special election to replace himself, FROM JAIL—and won.

But that’s not even a fraction of the Joe Morrissey saga.

Gather ‘round, folks. Have I got a story for you.


An attorney by trade, Morrissey began making a notorious name for himself in the 1990s, and he really hasn’t let off the gas since.

  • His notable misadventures include:
    • Going to jail for writing a threatening letter to a judge in 1991.
    • Getting in a fist fight with opposing counsel, also in 1991.
    • Settling a rape case without the consent of the victim in 1993.
    • Having his law license suspended for six months in 1993.
    • Going to jail for 90 days, followed by three years of probation, for violating a federal court rule prohibiting making public statements about witnesses in 1999.
    • Having his law license suspended for three years in 1999.
    • Violating that three-year probation in 2000 by attempting to lie about his community service hours (Habitat for Humanity!) and then lying to his probation officer about trying to lie.
    • Losing his Virginia law license entirely in 2003 (he’d already lost his license to practice in federal court in 2001).
    • Teaching trial advocacy and becoming a valued mentor to over 100 Crown prosecutors in Australia between 2003 and 2006—until the Australians realized he’d been deemed unfit to practice law in his home country.
    • Returning to the United States, getting elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2007, getting his Virginia law license back in 2012, and brandishing an AK-47 on the House floor in 2013.
    • Getting indicted for allegedly having sex with a minor, taking an Alford plea, going to jail, resigning his House seat, winning reelection to his House seat, and attending the legislative session under a work-release program accommodated by his jail sentence.
    • Instead of running for reelection to the House, he made a run for Dance’s Senate seat.
    • Running for Richmond mayor in a seven-way race that a leading candidate dropped out of for the express purpose of preventing Morrissey from winning by splitting the vote.
    • During the race, and while the former minor with whom he’d had sex and later married was pregnant, a client Morrissey represented alleged he’d sent her sexually suggestive texts and exposed himself to her in his office. (Morrissey copped to the “flirtatious” texts but denied showing her his junk.)
    • Getting his own goddamn radio talk show.
    • Having his law license, which the Virginia Supreme Court had restored while he was in the House of Delegates despite the recommendation of the Virginia State Bar, revoked yet again in 2018.

Runnin’ Out of Fools: Republicans are returning to their tired recall playbook, most recently used (and failed) in Nevada, in Colorado.

  • Driven to desperation by trifecta Democratic control of state government and the many progressive policy proposals—like oil and gas regulation, gun safety, and (for reals) sex ed—seeing the light of day as a result, the state Republican Party views special interest-funded, low-turnout recall elections as their only potential path back to power.
    • The first petition to recall a Democratic lawmaker (state Rep. Rochelle Galindo) has been approved. Her opponents must collect 5,696 signatures by June 3.
    • Of the many defeats Colorado Republicans suffered in November 2018, Galindo’s election was among the closest.

Welp, that’s all for this week. The weather’s just so nice that it’d be downright foolish for you to not call it a week, knock off early, enjoy a long spring weekend. And your workplace wouldn’t want to employ a fool, would it? (No, no, it would not.) Just print this out and show it to your boss, I’m sure she won’t mind.

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