“A Complete Sham”: The FBI’s Report on Brett Kavanaugh Sparks Feminist Outcry and Action

Feminist lawmakers and advocates issued a call for transparency after the White House last week authorized an FBI investigation into mounting sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Senate leaders like Dianne Feinstein and advocates like Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal also demanded that the process result in a comprehensive and exhaustive pursuit of any information pertaining to claims from multiple women that the Supreme Court nominee was involved in various acts of sexual violence in high school, college and adulthood.

Today, those same demands emerged after Senators gained access to the paltry results of an investigation many think was purposefully limited in scope and ultimately incomplete on the eve of a cloture vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, sparking outcry across the country.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who was the first of now five women to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the night she claims he and his friend at the time, Mark Judge, attempted to rape her in high school. The following day, the committee was scheduled to vote on whether or not to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor, despite protests from lawmakers in the body. Senator Jeff Flake Friday called for an FBI investigation as the committee gathered to vote—a demand that had been made for weeks by activists and the survivors coming forward themselves—and that same day, President Trump authorized an investigation, but reports claimed that he had limited the list of people to be questioned to four individuals.

In two separate letters, Feinstein and other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called for transparency and requested that the White House publicly release the instructions they had issued to the agency in order to ensure that the ensuing investigation would be fair and complete. Advocates urged constituents to ask the same of their Senators. No such action was ever taken; instead, the President publicly disparaged Blasey Ford at public events while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell disparaged Kavanaugh’s other accusers on the Senate floor.

On Wednesday night, prior to the release of the FBI’s report, McConnell scheduled a procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday, and a final confirmation vote for as soon as Saturday. The report, which will not be released publicly, was released several hours later. Despite this narrow timeline, Senators must read the report in shifts or send aides to later brief them on its contents, because only one copy is available. 

Democratic Senators, who have called the format “ridiculous,” spoke out today about the constraints placed on this process by leaders like Trump and McConnell. “Even before the Senate received the FBI report, McConnell scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh,” Senator Kamala Harris said on Twitter. “It’s absurd.” Senator Elizabeth Warren echoed the frustrations on her own timeline: “Not even a full week for an FBI investigation,” she wrote. “A single copy of the report given to the Senate. Less than an hour to review. This is a complete sham.” 

Without divulging the substance of the report, many Democrats have also made comments criticizing its limitations and failings. “I read the FBI report,” Senator Jeff Merkley wrote on Twitter. “This whole thing is a sham. This stunted, strangled investigation was designed to provide cover, not to provide the truth.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Feinstein, who is the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, both slammed the report in statements this morning when its release was first announced. Schumer also noted that claims by McConnell and other political leaders that morning that the report showed no evidence of sexual misconduct were misleading.

The Washington Post was able to confirm that the FBI interviewed six individuals for their investigation; White House spokesman Raj Shah said the agency had been able to interview nine. Dozens of Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh’s classmates were not sought out for questioning, despite being willing to speak to investigators. Although investigators spoke to Deborah Ramirez, who alleged Kavanaugh exposed himself to her without her consent when they attended Yale, they did not follow up with any of the witnesses she told them to reach out to for corroboration, some of whom attempted to directly contact agents to pursue such conversations. Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh themselves were not interviewed; neither was Julie Swetnick, Kavanaugh’s third accuser, who claimed in sworn testimony that he knowingly and willingly attended and participated in parties in which girls were gang-raped.

 An official briefed on the review reported that the FBI chose to focus on the events described by the first two accusers, and did not concentrate on any other accusations of sexual assault or more comprehensive questions about Kavanaugh’s drinking during high school which could possibly indict him of perjury based on his testimony last week. Kavanaugh’s former Yale roommate, James Roche, wrote a piece for Slate that asserts that Kavanaugh lied under oath about his excessive drinking, adding: “I believe Debbie.” He is just one of many former schoolmates of Blasey Ford, Ramirez and Kavanaugh who all claim to have witnessed Kavanaugh’s drinking habits.

“The most notable part of this report,”remarked Senator Dianne Feinstein, “is what’s not in it.” Her outrage is shared by many other feminists nationwide. Ultraviolet released a letter today signed by dozens of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors demanding Flake vote to reject Kavanaugh’s confirmation; protestors gathered in D.C. today to mark the week since Blasey Ford’s testimony and urge his colleagues to do the same and #CancelKavanaugh, and a People’s Fillibuster starting tonight will take place until the final floor vote on his confirmation.

“The White House and Senate majority are pointing to a rushed and limited FBI report as if it sheds any light on the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh,”Feminist Majority president Eleanor Smeal said in a statement. “It patently does not, because the investigation that produced it was purposely designed to give cover to nervous Senators who want to vote yes, not get to the truth.” Smeal added that the findings of the FBI investigation, however, still don’t permit Senators to overlook Kavanaugh’s temperament or what has been made clear about his behavior through the years.

“Senators don’t need an incomplete, partisan-controlled FBI report to tell them that Brett Kavanaugh should not sit on the Supreme Court,” she declared. “He has shown himself to be a right-wing operative who lies under oath with an unfit temperament and an originalist philosophy that is hostile to women’s rights. This behavior and history alone, without the sexual misconduct allegations, is disqualifying.”

Victoria Sheber is an editorial intern at Ms., a debate instructor at Windward School and a member of the JusticeCorps at the Los Angeles Superior Court. Victoria is currently a senior at UCLA studying American Literature & Culture and History; she is also the President of the American Association of University Women chapter on campus and Assistant Section Editor for Fem Newsmagazine. She loves to read and write about feminist literature. 

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The post “A Complete Sham”: The FBI’s Report on Brett Kavanaugh Sparks Feminist Outcry and Action appeared first on Ms. Magazine Blog.

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8 Class Action Lawsuits You May Be Eligible for This Fall

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P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei Call Recording

If you live in California and called a P.F. Chang’s or Pei Wei customer service number and the call was recorded without your permission, you could be eligible for a portion of a $ 2.7 million class-action settlement.

Recording a phone call without the consent of all parties on the line is a violation of California’s Invasion of Privacy Act.

Class members include those who made or received calls between March 1, 2016, and Sept. 20, 2017, and were not informed the call would be recorded.

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Volkswagen, Audi Timing Chains

Customers who owned or leased Volkswagen (VW) or Audi vehicles with model years between 2008 and 2014 could be eligible to receive up to $ 6,500. The class-action settlement resolves allegations related to a defect in the timing chain tension systems.

Class members include customers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico who owned or leased nearly 20 different models of VW and Audi vehicles.

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Don’t run out of time! File a claim by the Jan. 25, 2019, deadline.

Behr DeckOver Resurfacer

If you had barely done your deck over with Behr DeckOver resurfacer when the premium stain product began deteriorating, you could be eligible for a portion of a class-action settlement.

In the lawsuit, consumers said they paid more for Behr DeckOver because marketing materials promoted a longer-lasting product that required less upkeep compared to similar staining products.

Plaintiffs claim the resurfacer began to deteriorate just a few months after application.

Customers who bought or used the Behr DeckOver resurfacer stain between Sept. 1, 2012, and June 27, 2018, are eligible.

Behr admits no wrongdoing, but has agreed to pay class members who can provide proof of purchase. They will receive a refund for the DeckOver they purchased and for any repairs to the deck.

The amount per class member varies.

The deadline to file for a refund and any reimbursement for repairs is Feb. 27, 2019.

Taste of Nature Half-Empty Candy Boxes

Did you buy Cookie Dough Bites, Muddy Bears, Hello Kitty Treats or other packaged candy products from Taste of Nature Inc.? If so, you could be eligible for a portion of a slack-fill class-action settlement.

The lawsuit alleged some of the candy products were packaged in oversized cardboard containers that included an unlawful amount of empty space. Taste of Nature admitted no wrongdoing, but agreed to the settlement.

If you purchased any Taste of Nature candies stored in cardboard boxes between Jan. 1, 2013, and June 18, 2018, you could receive up to $ 12.50 per household.

Class members are divided into two tiers as follows:

Tier 1: Includes class members who do not have valid proof of purchase. Tier 1 class members are entitled to a payment of 25 cents per product purchased for a maximum of four products (up to $ 1).

Tier 2: Includes class members who provide valid proof of purchase with their claim form. Tier 2 class members are entitled to a payment of 25 cents per documented purchase for a maximum of 50 units (up to $ 12.50).

Click here to see a complete list of covered candies and to file a claim by the Dec. 24, 2018, deadline.

3 Day Blinds Marketing Texts

If you received unwanted text messages from 3 Day Blinds, you could receive an estimated $ 45 under the terms of a class-action settlement.

3 Day Blinds allegedly violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by sending unsolicited marketing texts to cell phones from Oct. 27, 2013, to July 13, 2018.

Although 3 Day Blinds admitted no wrongdoing, the company agreed to comply with TCPA regulations and settle the lawsuit.

Class members include those who “received at least one text message advertisement on their cellular phone from, on behalf of or promoting 3 Day Blinds or its merchandise and did not provide 3 Day Blinds their consent to receive such messages.”

Each eligible claimant will need to provide a claim ID number and PIN number from the notice or the number of the cell phone that received the message.

Claims must be filed by Oct. 9, 2018.

TransPerfect Employee Data Breach

Current and former TransPerfect employees may be eligible for free identity theft protection and reimbursement because of a class-action settlement resulting from an alleged data breach.

Class-action lawsuit plaintiffs claim that TransPerfect failed to protect payroll information and W-2 data during a breach in January 2017.

TransPerfect admitted no wrongdoing but agreed to provide reimbursement and identity theft protection services through Experian for three years to class members.

Class members include “all current and former TransPerfect employees in the United States whose Form W-2 data and/or payroll information was compromised as a result of the data breach.”

Class members can receive Experian’s three-bureau credit monitoring and up to $ 4,000 reimbursement for costs related to the data breach.

The deadline to file a claim for the identity theft protection is Dec. 5, 2018; for reimbursement, the deadline is Feb. 10, 2021.

For more information and to file a claim, click here.

American Airlines Checked-Bag Fee

If you flew American Airlines any time between July 13, 2013, and June 7, 2018, you could be eligible for a cash refund.

American Airlines travelers who were charged checked baggage fees at odds with their confirmation email or the company’s baggage fee policies at the time could receive a refund between $ 18.75 and $ 200 plus interest for each mischarged fee.

A 100% refund will go to those who paid fees inconsistent with American Airlines policies; a 75 %refund is available to those who paid fees inconsistent with their confirmation emails.

Claims will be accepted through the Oct. 19, 2018, deadline.

Trans-Pacific Airlines Price-Fixing

If you bought a plane ticket between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 1, 2016, for a flight that began in the U.S. and flew to Asia or Oceania, you could be eligible for a portion of a $ 50 million class-action settlement.

In 2015, eight airlines agreed to pay almost $ 40 million to settle the Transpacific Passenger Air Transportation antitrust class-action lawsuit, including Air France, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

More recently, Air New Zealand, China Airlines, EVA Air and Philippine Airlines have agreed to settle the class-action lawsuit.

These four airlines have agreed to pay $ 49.9 million, with EVA agreeing to pay $ 21 million and China Airlines paying $ 19.5 million to bring the litigation to a close.

(All Nippon Airways remains the sole airline that has not yet agreed to settle the suit.)

Defendants in the lawsuit allegedly conspired to increase the costs of airfare and surcharges, artificially inflating their profits.

Class members include those who purchased flights from Air New Zealand, China Airlines, EVA Air or Philippine Airlines from Jan. 1, 2000, to Dec. 1, 2016. The flights must have included a segment that originated in the U.S. and flew to Asia or Oceania.

Class members are eligible to collect $ 8.50 per eligible ticket claimed.

Click here for more information and to file a claim by the Dec. 31, 2018, deadline.

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