Political Pulse is a weekly column with the goal of giving objective, to-the-point information to readers on current political events.
Rhetoric but no policy proposals follow mass shooting
A tragic mass shooting last Wednesday cut 17 lives short.
Plenty of politicians have taken the past week to make pronouncements about gun laws, but no specific policy proposals or bills have been put forward by either party.
The public discourse has followed the usual pattern of calls for stricter background checks or categorical bans. Gun rights advocates have pushed back.
Two recent events could lead to change of a troubling pattern in America.
The first is the outspoken role that many of the students who survived the shooting have taken. These young people have taken to social media and news broadcasts to lend their voices to the push for new laws.
While praising their courage, some critics have claimed the students are still too young to be shaping policy, but nonetheless their words have brought more eyes to the issue.
The second factor that casts the gun law debate in a new light is President Donald Trump’s support of bump stock bans and stricter background checks.
Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018
Trump, who also indicated Wednesday that he might support arming teachers and increasing the number of armed guards, is probably not the ally that gun law advocates wanted nor expected, but he is the symbolic head of the Republican Party and support from that position is important in this discussion.
Whether any new laws are passed is yet to be seen, but the discussion does not seem like it will go away as quickly as it has in the past.
Republican attorneys general under scrutiny
In a joint report by MapLight and The Intercept published Feb. 12, a secret online bulletin board used by Republican attorneys general was exposed that allows top donors to influence policy decisions.
Ohio is included in the list of states where the secret dropbox, dubbed the “Briefing Room,” is used. This is especially notable because Attorney General Mike DeWine is currently running for governor.
Files are uploaded to storage site box.com where, according to the report, “The Republican Attorneys General Association, or RAGA, frequently directs officials working for GOP attorneys general to review files posted on the file-sharing website before participating in conference calls hosted by RAGA’s nonprofit policy arm, the Rule of Law Defense Fund.”
A RAGA donor, Purdue Pharma, is being sued by Ohio — a lawsuit filed by DeWine — for downplaying the addiction risks posed by its opioid medication Oxytocin.
The offices of attorneys general who use the service did not comment on the report nor argue these files are not subject to public records request.
A spokesperson for RAGA denied the reporting that donors were allowed to post to the secretive bulletin board, but according to the report, an offer still stood for access to the “Briefing Rooms” for those donors who gave more than $25,000 annually.