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Opinion: Why the push to legalize gambling on U.S. elections is so dangerous

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Opinion: Why the push to legalize gambling on U.S. elections is so dangerous

Free and fair elections, the foundation of our democracy, face an unprecedented array of threats as the next one approaches. While some of these threats are well-known, others go largely unnoticed, with potentially serious consequences. Among the latter is a dangerous attempt to persuade one of our financial regulators to essentially authorize gambling on election results.

You might expect such a question to be answered by the Federal Election Commission, the agency with the expertise, history and authority to regulate elections. But a financial services company in fact petitioned an obscure financial regulatory agency to allow betting on elections through the commodities market, a prospect that could unleash a torrent of misinformation and harm investors for no discernible purpose.

The company, Kalshi, asked the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to approve public trading of a so-called event contract that would allow investors to gamble up to $100 million on which party wins control of the U.S. House and Senate in November. The commission rightly rejected the proposal last fall, but the saga is hardly over. In keeping with the financial industry’s standard playbook, the company has sued the financial regulator, hoping a court will overturn the agency’s experts and allow it to open a virtual election casino.

The stakes of the case, which is expected to be argued in federal court in Washington this week, are high. First and foremost, the ability to “win” tens or hundreds of millions of dollars gambling on elections would create powerful new incentives for bad actors to influence voters and manipulate the results to favor their bets. Artificial intelligence “deepfakes” and other technological tools for doing so are readily available, increasingly inexpensive and primed for distribution via social media.

Just a few months ago, AI robocalls impersonating President Biden targeted New Hampshire primary voters in an effort to suppress turnout. We will undoubtedly see more such tactics before November, and enabling huge financial investments in the outcome would only supercharge them, with potentially dire consequences for our democracy.

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The idea of gambling on elections is not new. Ahead of the 2012 contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney, betting on the outcome through the Ireland-based Intrade site led many observers to believe the Republican challenger was favored to win. On closer examination, however, it turned out that a single bettor had wagered large sums of money to falsely prop up Romney.

Beyond the threat to democracy, election gambling has the potential to harm investors on a large scale. The rising prevalence of constant access to markets via game-like smartphone apps, advertising campaigns full of celebrity faces and deepfake misinformation will entice more Americans into risky bets. These technologies have the potential to generate speculative investment crazes that cost investors dearly, as we saw during the “meme stock” frenzy of 2021.

Increasing addiction to cryptocurrency trading and sports gambling shows the danger of expanding these kinds of activities. And the threat to investors would grow as betting options inevitably expand from congressional control to other federal, state and local races.

Election gambling contracts pose additional financial risks. Untethered to any fundamental values, these markets would be exceptionally easy to manipulate and hard to police, further endangering unwary investors. The information that determines the pricing of the contracts would be a hodgepodge of unregulated, opaque unscientific sources such as polls and media reports that vary widely in rigor and reliability. The “house” setting the odds and others bent on profit would likely be able to selectively compile, skew and deploy data to manipulate prices.

And all for what? These contracts would serve no useful purpose. The commodities markets, which were originally limited to trading futures contracts for traditional commodities such as crops, livestock and precious metals, have steadily grown to encompass more abstract “commodities” such as futures on stock market indices. Event contracts are the latest phase of this evolution, and while some of them serve a useful function in the markets, the political gambling contracts at issue in this case simply do not.

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The contracts are not reliable tools for hedging against price fluctuations or pricing the essential goods that Americans rely on, which is what the commodities commission is supposed to regulate. As the smallest and least-funded U.S. financial regulatory agency, the commission should remain focused on policing the multitrillion-dollar commodities and derivatives markets, not attempting to oversee the electoral process.

For more than 200 years, the courts have emphatically and consistently warned of the unique societal harm that could come with corruption of the electoral process through gambling. Congress has also recognized the extraordinary danger posed by this idea, which is no doubt why it authorized the commodities commission to prohibit such contracts. The commission was right to say no, and for the sake of our democracy, the federal courts should too.

Dennis Kelleher is a co-founder and the president and chief executive of Better Markets. Lisa Gilbert is the executive vice president of Public Citizen.

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Trump has 'sort of a pretty good idea' of VP pick, will probably announce during RNC convention

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Trump has 'sort of a pretty good idea' of VP pick, will probably announce during RNC convention

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Former President Trump said he has “sort of a pretty good idea” of who his vice presidential running mate will be but will probably announce his selection during this summer’s Republican National Convention. 

Trump spoke with Fox News’ Aishah Hasnie at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Republican National Committee on Thursday following meetings with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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He was asked if his pick was present at any of the meetings.

TRUMP RILES UP FIERY SWING STATE CROWD IN FIRST RALLY SINCE NEW YORK CONVICTION

Aishah Hasnie spoke with President Trump at the Republican National Convention headquarters in Washington, D.C., following his meetings at the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday. (Fox News)

“Probably. I don’t want to go, but I think (it) will probably get announced during the convention,” Trump said. “During the convention. There were some good people and, we have some very good people.”

The convention will be held from July 15-18 in Milwaukee. Trump said that Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, could be on the short list. 

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“And I think I could consider that,” he said. “Yes. I haven’t been asked that question, but he would be on that list.”

Hasnie also asked Trump about his thoughts on President Biden as a father following Hunter Biden’s conviction on federal gun charges. 

“Well, I think it’s a very serious thing,” Trump said. “I understand that whole subject. I understand it pretty well because I’ve had it with people who have it in their family,” referring to the younger Biden’s history of drug addiction. 

BIDEN CAMP JABS AT TRUMP’S ‘FAILED’ BUSINESS RECORD AS FORMER PRESIDENT LOOKS TO SWAY NATION’S TOP CEOS

President Biden says he won't pardon Hunter

President Biden, left, and his son Hunter Biden. (Getty Images)

“It’s a very tough thing. It’s a very tough situation for a father,” he added. “It’s a very tough situation for a brother or sister. And it goes on and it’s not stopping. Whether it’s alcohol or drugs or whatever it may be. It’s a tough thing. And so that’s a tough moment for the family. It’s a tough moment for any family involved in that.”

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Hunter Biden was convicted last week of three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018 when he lied on a federal gun-purchase form by saying he was not illegally using or addicted to drugs.

Biden has said he will not use his presidential powers to appeal his son’s conviction. He’s also said in the past that he was proud of his son and that he believes he did nothing wrong. 

Hogan Maryland

Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Nov. 18, 2022.  (AP Photo/John Locher)

“As I said last week, I am the President, but I am also a Dad. Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Biden said after the verdict. “So many families who have had loved ones battle addiction understand the feeling of pride seeing someone you love come out the other side and be so strong and resilient in recovery.”

Later in his interview, Trump said he hadn’t been asked to endorse former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, for the U.S. Senate. Hogan endorsed Nikki Haley over Trump and did not endorse him during the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections. 

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“Yeah, I’d like to see him win,” Trump said. “I think he has a good chance to win. I would like to see him win.”

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Opinion: What a relief. The Supreme Court did the right thing on mifepristone

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Opinion: What a relief. The Supreme Court did the right thing on mifepristone

The same Supreme Court that overruled Roe vs. Wade two years ago on Thursday followed well-established constitutional principles to dismiss a lawsuit that sought to restrict the availability of mifepristone, a drug used to medically induce abortions. The bottom line is that the decision upholds the Food and Drug Administration’s rules for mifepristone. This is crucial for reproductive rights; it is estimated that 63% of all U.S. abortions are now medically induced rather than being performed surgically.

The mifepristone case never should have gotten this far. The challenge to the drug should have been dismissed by lower courts, but the staunchly conservative judges on those courts, out of their desire to restrict abortions, ignored basic rules about who can sue in federal court. We should be thankful that the ultraconservative Supreme Court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. recognized the error made by the lower courts and unanimously dismissed the case because the plaintiffs had no standing to bring the suit.

The Food and Drug Administration approved mifepristone as part of a two-drug protocol to induce abortions in 2000. In 2016, the FDA made the drug more easily available, saying it could be used until the 10th week of pregnancy rather than just to the seventh week. The agency also reduced the number of required in-person clinical visits from three to one, and allowed nurse practitioners to prescribe and dispense mifepristone. Five years later, the FDA eliminated the requirement that mifepristone be administered in person; it had been the only drug with such a restriction.

In 2022, four antiabortion groups and several doctors who opposed abortion brought a lawsuit challenging the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. They filed their lawsuit in the Amarillo division of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas where there is only one federal judge. The filing was not accidental. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by President Trump, is a well-known foe of abortion rights. He wrote a stunning opinion overturning the FDA’s approval of mifepristone. It was the first time in history any judge had overturned the FDA’s approval of a drug.

A conservative panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said that Kacsmaryk erred in overturning the FDA’s 2000 approval of mifepristone, but it called the FDA’s actions making mifepristone more available “arbitrary and capricious.” If the Supreme Court had agreed, it would have been much more difficult for those wishing to terminate abortions to have access to mifepristone.

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What both the district court and the court of appeals ignored was the issue of standing. In order to sue in federal court, a plaintiff must show that he or she is personally injured by the action being challenged, as well as showing that the harm is caused by the defendant, and that a favorable federal court decision would remedy the injury. The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday exactly underlined that understanding of standing.

Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh wrote the opinion for the court, plainly declaring: “Under Article III of the Constitution, a plaintiff’s desire to make a drug less available for others does not establish standing to sue.”

At the oral arguments in the case in March, the attorney for the plaintiffs, Erin Hawley, suggested that doctors opposed to abortion could be harmed by the FDA’s mifepristone decisions because they might have to perform one if a woman who took the drug arrived in an emergency room with complications. The justices asked if that had ever happened. She couldn’t point to a single example. As Kavanaugh wrote in his opinion: “The FDA is not requiring [doctors] to do or refrain from doing anything.” Moreover, he noted that federal law protects doctors from having to perform procedures that violate their conscience. “Plaintiffs have not shown — and cannot show — that the FDA’s actions will cause them to suffer any conscience injury.”

The court’s decision is a relief for those who support abortion rights, but it does not change the reality that overruling Roe vs. Wade has led to laws severely restricting reproductive healthcare, including medically induced abortions, in two dozen states. And there is no doubt that antiabortion forces will continue to look for ways to try to restrict the availability of mifepristone, including in lawsuits brought by state governments that already are pending.

Erwin Chemerinsky is a contributing writer to Opinion and the dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law. His latest book is “Worse Than Nothing : The Dangerous Fallacy of Originalism.”

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Biden’s ’pre-9/11 posture’ to blame for ISIS migrants slipping through cracks: expert

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Biden’s ’pre-9/11 posture’ to blame for ISIS migrants slipping through cracks: expert

The Biden administration has put the country on a dangerous “pre-9/11” footing on terrorism, says one expert in the wake of the arrests of eight migrants with alleged ties to ISIS.

“The Biden Administration has done grave damage to information sharing among agencies, with state and local law enforcement, and enforcing travel and immigration consequences against foreign governments that refuse to share information with the U.S.,” Lora Ries, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Border Security and Immigration Center, told Fox News Digital.

The comments come after eight Tajikistan nationals were arrested in a joint operation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force earlier this week. 

While the arrests occurred in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, a federal source familiar with the sting told Fox News they had gained entry to the U.S. by crossing the southern border illegally.

AUTHORITIES NAB 8 SUSPECTED TERRORISTS WITH TIES TO ISIS IN MULTI-CITY STING OPERATION

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President Biden speaks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers as he visits the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas, on Jan. 8, 2023. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)

The source told Fox News the suspected terrorists were “fully vetted” and that nothing was flagged when the eight suspects originally crossed the border, but derogatory information with national security concerns was later flagged, including the individual’s suspected ties to ISIS.

According to a report from the New York Post, at least one of the individuals arrested in the sting had been caught on wiretap discussing how to make a bomb.

“Remember the Boston marathon [bombing]? I’m afraid something like that might happen again or worse,” a source familiar with the arrests told the New York Post.

The illegal entry of the individuals and subsequent release into the country highlighted growing fears about the threat of terrorism emanating from the southern border. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., has been sounding the alarm about such a threat for months, even going so far as to point to Central Asia, where Tajikistan is located, as a potential origin for terrorist attempting to slip into the U.S. during a February press conference.

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ARRESTS OF EIGHT ISIS-TIED MIGRANTS SHOULD BE WAKE-UP CALL FOR BIDEN ON BORDER CRISIS, SENATOR SAYS

During those February remarks, Daines noted that a “high-level individual” warned him that over 50,000 Central Asians had crossed into the U.S. illegally in 2023, with the senator expressing concerns that some of those people could be “part of sleeper cells for a possible terror attack on our soil.”

Daines doubled down on those concerns after the latest arrests, telling Fox News Digital he hopes the news serves as a “wake-up call” to President Biden.

“I’ve been sounding the alarm for months that Joe Biden’s wide-open southern border is leaving our homeland wide open to potential terrorists,” Daines said. “This news is not surprising – but if it’s not a wake-up call to Biden and the Democrats, I don’t know what will be.”

Those concerns have also been echoed by FBI Director Christopher Wray, who warned the Senate Appropriations subcommittee last week about the threat of a coordinated attack in the U.S. similar to the Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) attack at a Russian concert hall earlier this year.

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Ries believes some of that wake-up call should be to encourage better information sharing among agencies when it comes to vetting individuals crossing the border, arguing that some individuals like those arrested this week are able to slip through the cracks.

Christopher Wray testifying before Congress closeup shot

Christopher Wray, director of the FBI. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“A person can cross the border with a clean background or be from a country that doesn’t share criminal and terrorism information with our government,” Ries said. “That person can then subsequently come under U.S. investigation and trigger terrorism concerns.”

 That type of information sharing has yet to happen, Ries said, noting that such issues were also flagged as a reason the 9/11 attacks went on undetected.

“The 9/11 Commission called out some of these very same issues as reasons that led to the 9/11 terror attacks,” Ries said. “Biden has returned the U.S. to a pre-9/11 posture.”

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The White House did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.

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