Connecting state and local government leaders
Trump administration proposes $600 direct payments… Protests disrupt a vote on an Idaho mask mandate… Michigan undertakes an election audit.
More than 40 attorneys general joined the Federal Trade Commission Wednesday in filing wide-ranging antitrust litigation against Facebook to challenge the social media giant’s acquisition of photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp. In two lawsuits filed in federal court, state and federal prosecutors said those deals expanded Facebook’s expansive reach and gave the company the power to weaponize its data to ensure no competitor could catch up. Federal prosecutors accused Facebook of “illegal monopolization” and asked a federal judge to intervene in a way that could require the company to divest assets, including Instagram and WhatsApp. They are also seeking to bar Facebook from making any acquisitions worth more than $10 million while the case is pending. The lawsuits represent an unprecedented challenge to one of Silicon Valley's most powerful corporations. "For nearly a decade, Facebook has used its dominance and monopoly power to crush smaller rivals and snuff out competition," said New York Attorney General Letitia James said at a press conference Wednesday. "By using its vast troves of data and money, Facebook has squashed or hindered what the company perceived to be potential threats." Facebook General Counsel Jennifer Newstead called the litigation “revisionist history.” “Antitrust laws exist to protect consumers and promote innovation, not to punish successful businesses,” she said in a statement. Attorneys general from 46 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam joined the lawsuit. Attorneys general from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and South Dakota did not join. [CNBC, Washington Post, NPR]
COVID RELIEF | The Trump administration has proposed sending direct payments to most Americans rather than providing federal unemployment enhancements as part of the latest round of negotiations over a coronavirus relief package. The latest Trump administration proposal would cost about $916 billion and include $600 stimulus checks, a decrease from the $1,200 direct payments many Americans received this spring. The proposal would slash unemployment funding from $180 billion to $40 billion, eliminating a $300-per-week federal unemployment benefit that was included in a $908 billion proposal introduced by a bipartisan group of senators. [Associated Press]
IDAHO PROTESTS | Public health officials in Idaho canceled a meeting to consider a mask mandate for four counties after protests against the proposed ordinance grew so intense that police had to intervene. Protesters gathered outside both the Central District Health Board of Health meeting in Boise and several members’ homes Tuesday night. One health board member, Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, interrupted the online meeting in tears to say she needed to leave the meeting to go home, where protesters had gathered and frightened her 12-year-old son who was at the house by himself. Boise and Elmore counties have not had mask mandates previously. [Idaho Statesman, USA Today]
OFFICER AGE REQUIREMENT | A California lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would require police officers in the state to either obtain a bachelor’s degree or turn 25 years old before starting careers in law enforcement. The state currently requires that police officers must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or the equivalent. Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer said the measure was meant to help reduce the number of times that police shoot or hurt people. “These jobs are complex, they’re difficult, and we should not just hand them over to people who haven’t fully developed themselves,” he said. [Sacramento Bee]
MICHIGAN AUDIT | The Michigan Bureau of Elections will conduct its “most comprehensive post-election audits” in the state’s history as part of an effort to demonstrate "the integrity of our election,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. The audits will include reviews of 200 voting jurisdictions and a “complete zero-margin risk-limiting audit” of Antrim County, which has been a focus of the Trump campaign’s complaints about voter fraud. The county sent unofficial election results to the state on election night that made it appear that Democrat Joe Biden had received more votes, when Trump had won the country by nearly 4,000 votes. The errors were corrected and officials said they were merely a mistake. [Detroit News, Detroit Free Press]
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.