Phoning It In

*Gasp* Pence used private email to discuss homeland security matters; beefing up protest laws; and more.


  • Trump watch: Remember when it was a big deal that a high government official used a private email account to discuss sensitive matters? Ah, good times. The Indianapolis Star’s Tony Cook reports that while governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence “routinely used a private email account to conduct public business…at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.” He also notes that Pence’s personal account was “was actually compromised last summer by a scammer who sent an email to his contacts claiming Pence and his wife were stranded in the Philippines and in urgent need of money.”

  • If you, like me, are a campaign finance hawk (that is, you can’t stand the corruption of democracy by big money), then don’t miss this blockbuster look by Shane Goldmacher, Kenneth Vogel, and Darren Samuelsohn into all the ways Donald Trump is now courting the fat cats he derided on the campaign trail. For example, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer wrote a million dollar check to Trump’s inaugural committee; weeks later he got invited into the Oval Office to listen to Trump prep for his first press conference. Another megadonor, Rebekah Mercer, not only has Trump’s personal cell phone number; Trump says she has called him in the middle of the night on it. Who needs to stay in the Lincoln Bedroom when you can just wake up the President whenever you feel like it?

  • Republican lawmakers in 16 states “have filed bills intended to make protests more orderly or to toughen penalties against ones that go awry,” report Mitch Smith and Michael Wines for The New York Times.

  • Opposition watch: Last night in Rhode Island, members of the state’s Working Families Party teamed up with their compatriots in Wisconsin to protest House Speaker Paul Ryan’s visit to the Year Up youth mentoring program office in Providence. Since Ryan has been refusing to hold a town-hall with own local constituents, the RI WFP decided to FaceTime members of the Wisconsin WFP into their rally, as Ximena Conde of Rhode Island Public Radio reports. It was called, “Paul Ryan, Phone Home,” and rally participants shouted the Wisconsinites FaceTime comments out to the crowd, reports Karen Lee Ziner and Katherine Gregg for the Providence Journal. About 50,000 people watched the rally on the WFP’s Facebook Live page. As far as I know, this is a first in tech-enabled organizing, one that can be easily replicated by groups teaming up to bird-dog their Members of Congress. (This especially could be a job for New Yorkers, because nearly every Member comes to the city to fundraise.)

  • Greenpeace’s Mobilization Lab, which has helped the group transition to be more networked and digital, is being spun off as an independent “global innovation, training and research hub,” its founder Michael Silberman (a longtime friend of Civic Hall’s) reports.

  • Teen Vogue’s Nicole Kobie tells her readers how to keep their messages secure, talking to experts like Zeynep Tufekci and Moxie Marlinspike.

  • If you thought the battle for net neutrality in 2014 was big—it generated four million comments on the FCC’s draft proposal—just watch what’s coming, writes The Nation’s John Nichols in a report on the media wars about to be unleashed by Ajit Pai, the agency’s new chair.

  • Good works: Self-described “drunken sailor” Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist (and longtime friend of Civic Hall) has donated $1 million to ProPublica in support of the investigative nonprofit’s ongoing work, Benjamin Mullin reports for Poynter.

  • Attend! AccessNow’s RightsCon Brussels 2017 is coming up March 29-31 and tickets are going fast.

  • Apply! Wellstone Action’s Digital Organizer School is taking applications for its June 5-9 training in Atlanta; the deadline is April 16.