Yeah, this is the Ilhan vs. Antone race.
On the DFL side of the ballot (the race that actually matters):
Daniel Patrick McCarthy
This is a race between Ilhan Omar and Antone Melton-Meaux (which is pronounced Ann-tone Meltin Mewks. Pretend you’ve never heard of French and just read the name and you’ll probably get pretty close.) I’m sorry to say that I am really not happy with any of my options here.
When it comes to Ilhan Omar, there’s so much utter garbage out there it’s hard to tell the smoke that might be fire-related from the smoke that’s being belched out of smoke bombs hurled by the right so that they can scream “look at all that smoke! there’s DEFINITELY a fire there!”
First off: Antone has been complaining about her absenteeism. FYI, I dug up the “report card” that lists out the absence rate for all the congressional reps. I’d describe hers as not great but also not scandalous. I don’t know how many of her absences were because of this, but I do think it’s worth pointing out that her father died of COVID in June, and she’s a member of a religion where you don’t just get your major holy days off routinely.
Antone also suggests that she’s ineffective, and how you see that probably depends heavily on what you want from your representative. Here’s her overall report card, also from GovTrack. What it shows, overall, is that she has energetically introduced quite a lot of bills (some of which have bunches of cosponsors), none of which had a companion bill or made it out of committee. (A companion bill is a bill that’s introduced in the Senate. Since everything has to pass both places, if you don’t have a companion bill, this is probably not something that’s going anywhere.) You can see the full list of the bills she’s introduced here. I tend to prefer substance over symbolism, but “as one of the most left-wing members of congress, I’m going to dedicate myself to moving the Overton Window” is not the worst way to spend your time. But there’s absolutely a legitimate complaint here.
It’s hard to evaluate responsiveness. I will note that a friend of mine who is currently outside the US (but who votes absentee in Ilhan’s district) tried to reach Ilhan with a policy concern and ran into technical difficulties with her web page. She wrote in through the campaign address instead and got an extremely prompt and helpful response, apologizing for the technical problems, asking for a screen shot of the error message, and assuring her that the policy requests had been passed along. That was initially very frustrating to my friend but by the end of the interaction she felt like Ilhan cared a lot about hearing her voice as a constituent.
Here’s the stuff where I have real issues with Ilhan.
First: I was appalled by her “present” vote for the Armenian Genocide resolution. That was a symbolic vote but a huge WTF moment.
Second: the financial stuff.
Ilhan’s campaign employs her husband’s firm and paid them $500K last year, $300K in the first three months of this year. This is not illegal. I find it really ethically questionable, though, because it means that you can easily funnel campaign funds into your family’s pockets. Most people holding national public office do not do stuff like this because it raises questions you just don’t want people raising, and in Ilhan’s case, she got accused in the past of using campaign money to pay her divorce lawyer. There are accusations that get launched that are totally unfair and unjust but in this case, the lawyer she was paying is a family law attorney who specializes in divorce (and was handling Ilhan’s divorce). The lawyer said that no, the $2250 paid out of campaign funds was to handle a campaign matter. Which, okay, fine, but (a) it’s a really reasonable question to raise when a politician who’s getting a divorce and working with a divorce lawyer sends campaign fund money to that lawyer and (b) if you’ve run into this once, that really ought to be one of those things that makes you resolve to be more careful in the future about avoiding the stuff that looks bad to a reasonable person. And hiring your husband with campaign funds for almost a million dollars worth of work? Looks bad.
And honestly there’s kind of two layers of stuff here that bothers me. The first is the financial stuff itself. The second is the fact that she seems to brush off criticism of this sort of thing as just the result of people hating her, instead of taking it as an indication that maybe she should hire literally any other consulting firm than the one owned by her husband.
Third: the antisemitic stuff.
So I’m going to note before I dig into this: I am Jewish, and I hate discussing antisemitism, especially the creepy, dogwhistle-y bullshit. The only thing I hate discussing more than antisemitism is Israel. I would, in fact, rather have an in-depth conversation about the existence or nonexistence of Trump’s pee tape than discuss the Fucking State of Israel.As a specialist in local politics, it’s actually genuinely rare that either topic comes up at all, let alone turns into something I can’t just avoid. But if you’ve been wondering why it took me so long to write this, the fact that my novel is due back to my editor before the end of the month is one factor, the fact that I was going to have to talk about fucking Israel is the other.
Ilhan got criticized during her campaign in 2018 for stuff she’d tweeted or said in the past that hit antisemitic dogwhistles. My feeling in 2018 was that there are certain mistakes everyone should get to make once, and accidental dogwhistles are in that category. You don’t know what you don’t know; if you’re a politician, you may make some mistakes and get educated in public. But, she has kept right on making that particular mistake. This Vox article provides a decently balanced summary and explanation for why these various comments were problematic.
As a Jewish person on Twitter, let me just explain how this cycle has felt to me:
- Ilhan says something antisemitic
- The right wing comes down like a flock of completely disingenuous screaming harpies
- One of the many Jewish progressives in the state gently objects to whatever Ilhan said this time and as tactfully as possible explains why it’s problematic
- Ilhan grudgingly deletes/apologizes
- The rest of the left spends two weeks screaming at Minnesota’s Jewish progressives for saying anything at all / for not defending Ilhan against the right wing / DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT HOW MUCH WORSE THE RIGHT WING NAZIS ARE
Like, yes? we know that the actual literal fucking Nazis are a bigger deal than an ally who fucks up? that doesn’t mean we don’t get to talk about the ally fucking up? that doesn’t mean we don’t have the right to expect people on the side of decency and justice to try to do better? I don’t engage with Nazis, ever, by the way. (I tried once, in 1994, and it was unrewarding and not an experiment I’ve wanted to repeat.) People on my own side might be worth explaining this shit to but probably not, honestly, from what I’ve seen (repeatedly) over the last two years. I mean — part of the fall-out of Ilhan’s fuck-ups is getting to read people who are allegedly my political allies screaming at friends of mine who volunteered for the utterly demoralizing task of saying “hey, please don’t traffic in harmful stereotypes of my extremely small community that is being targeted for violence.” It’s fucking awesome.
And Ilhan has demonstrated by her apparently lack of interest in learning to do better that she does not give a shit. Like that brochure she put out this week that listed off Antone’s problematic donors, every single one of whom named in the flyer was Jewish. Raising concerns about billionaire hedge fund owners is super legit, but seriously, you couldn’t find a single shitty gentile person who sent a pile of money to Antone? For real, Ilhan?
But: Antone. Here’s what came by e-mail from Antone’s campaign on July 20th:
Q: Why do you have so much support from Jewish people/Pro-Israel community?
A: Unfortunately, Rep. Omar has said harmful and hurtful statements about our Jewish community. Her actions have caused many people to lose trust in her, including many who had supported her. In addition, I’ve spoken to many people who felt betrayed by Rep Omar’s inconsistent positions on sanctions and other issues related to Palestians and Israelis. Before winning the 2018 primary, Rep. Omar publicly stated she was opposed to BDS and supported a two-state solution. After winning the election, she reversed her position, leaving many people angry and confused, and their trust shaken. As a consequence of her actions, many people in the Jewish community are a part of the coalition of wide support we have. It’s also important to note that my positions on these issues are the same as the majority of progressives.
Q: Will the money you’ve received from the Jewish community influence your policy decisions?
A: No. I have been clear from the beginning of this campaign that I disagree with a number of Benjamin Netenyahu’s actions, including the unilateral annexation of Palestenian territory. I have also made it clear that I support more humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, and that I believe the U.S. must work towards strategic reforms of Israeli policy that will ease the pressure of the occupation on Palestinians. More importantly, I’ve always been clear that my policy decisions will always be based on what’s in the best interests of the people in our district.
(This was an e-mail to his mailing list; you can see screen shots courtesy of this person on Twitter.)
Things about this I really do not appreciate one bit:
- The little slash between “Jewish people” and “Pro-Israel community.” I am aware that Antone has support from a lot of the local Jewish community, regardless of their feelings about Israel, because of that utterly demoralizing cycle I discussed above. I am also aware that Antone has support from people who support Israel, which is not surprising, because Ilhan super duper doesn’t. I really strongly prefer that these two groups be treated as distinct! Or maybe as two circles of a Venn Diagram that overlap but do not form a circle! Not as a unit.
- The question, in a goddamn campaign FAQ, that goes, “Will the money you’ve received from the Jewish community influence your policy decisions?” I mean. I have no doubt that he’s gotten this question! (Frequently, even.) But I’ve written FAQs? And you are allowed to reframe the questions you get. You can rewrite them so that they’re not grossly offensive. Putting “so are you going to let the Jews and their money influence you” out there like this is not actually any better than that “all about the Benjamins” line! What the fuck.
- And then the answer to a question about Jewish money is about the State of Israel! For fuck’s sake. He could have re-written that question to read, “Will the money you’ve received from pro-Israel groups influence your policy making?” and kept the answer more or less the same and it would have been vastly less problematic.
(My apologies to the people at Circus Juventas who may have heard me yelling SO ANTONE, IS ALL THAT JEW MONEY YOU’RE GETTING GOING TO PUT YOU IN THE POCKETS OF BIG JEW as I was ranting about this to my 19-year-old while on a walk.)
Antone is not a secret Republican. He’s very definitely a Democrat. Most of his policies are less radical than Ilhan’s proposals but more radical than whatever’s going to get passed in the end anyway. Like, he does not support the Green New Deal but he wants to transition the electrical grid to carbon-neutral sources and he wants a carbon tax that funds investment in green energy. The Green New Deal theoretically includes free college, I think; he wants to expand K-12 to be K-14, basically, and cover the cost of the first two years of college, an associates degree, or two years of technical training. He supports a national wage theft law, union protections, more investment in public housing, gun control, abortion rights. His policy page emphasizes figuring out exactly how he’d pay for the things he’s proposing.
My biggest concern about Antone stems from the virtual town hall I attended; I don’t remember the exact question (it was something about middle east politics) but he launched into a whole thing about how untrustworthy Iran is, and how it’s a force for destabilization and chaos and trouble in its region (this is part of why he supports Israel, he sees them as a counter to Iran). I’m not a fan of the Iranian government but his response made me concerned he would lean hawkish.
US hawkishness toward Iran is one of those things that waxes and wanes, but ill-considered and unwinnable wars have relied heavily on hawkish Democrats to get started. A Democratic House rep from MN-05 can hold that seat for decades. There is a real possibility that sometime in the next 10-15 years there will be someone in the White House who thinks a war with Iran sounds like a terrific idea and wants congress to go along with it. I am more confident that Ilhan would hold the line against this than that Antone would.
Antone also made it really clear that while he disapproves of Netanyahu’s actions, he’s not willing to use US foreign aid for any sort of leverage to persuade Israel to not engage in completely horrifying acts.
There are three other candidates running. I think all you really need to know about Daniel McCarthy is that he wrote a rhyming poem to express his campaign platform. John Mason is married to someone who ran against Tina in 2018 (I wrote about Nick, who got endorsed by Our Revolution but somehow wasn’t able to translate that into any news coverage or attention whatsoever.) Les Lester is a journalist. I sat down to try to watch the campaign debate that didn’t include Ilhan because she had to go back to DC and the LWV refused to let her Zoom in (why are they doing in-person debates in the first place?) and I was unable to get through it; none of the minor candidates made me think “ah, I really wish this one could win! I’m going to endorse him because it would be so great if he did!”
If I lived in the 5th district, I think I would resentfully and angrily vote for Ilhan Omar, because political hawkishness feels more likely to result in worse outcomes for more people than casual antisemitism from someone who doesn’t hate Jewish people, but also doesn’t give enough of a shit about her Jewish friends and supporters to make any apparent effort not to kick off another exhausting round of “Ilhan Omar: antisemitic? SECRETLY A NAZI? let’s discuss this endlessly on Twitter!” This is a fucked-up calculation to have to make, and I’m furious that I have to make it. But that’s where I landed, after thinking about this a lot. There are still over two weeks until the election, though, so I might wait a bit longer to send my ballot back, just on the off chance there was another round of breaking news. (I mean, between the time when I started this and when I finished this, Ilhan’s flyer about Antone’s donors came out. Who even knows what’ll break tomorrow.)
I have friends who are not voting at all because they loathe their options here so much, and especially given that it’s a primary, that’s legit. If you decide to instead cross over and vote for Bob “Again” Carney in the Republican Senate primary in the hopes that he’ll beat Jason Lewis, there is in fact a Republican primary for this seat as well. Danielle Stella is the (alleged) shoplifter, Lacy Johnson is the person with the party endorsement, and Dalia al-Aqidi is an Iraqi immigrant who provides a bio but no issues statements and leaves out of her bio the fact that she only moved to Minnesota last fall.
One small point. I’m sure I got the Omar “pocket of Wall Street” flyer and did not read it cover to cover. The Vice story mentions two of the named donors to her main opponent: “billionaire Jonathan Gray, the head of Blackstone Group private equity firm; and Seth Klarman, a billionaire hedge fund owner who has donated in the past to the GOP.”
I’ve heard of Blackstone, but not the two named gentlemen.
From the Vice story:
Her advisers declined to discuss on-record whether she had personally approved of the mail piece or whether the campaign realized that only Jewish donors were quoted in the piece before it was sent out.
Also from Vice:
“It was sloppy work that staff allowed this to go out without any type of critical review,” said one progressive Jewish activist in the district who’s voting for Omar. “I don’t know if it’s intentional. But it’s like, ‘Hey you guys, you need to be double extra careful about this; there’s a magnifying glass on this issue.”
Joel Rubin, who served as Bernie Sanders’ Jewish outreach director and previously served in the State Department under President Obama, said the kerfuffle was much ado about nothing.
“I’ve never met a Democratic candidate in the progressive space who hasn’t railed against Wall Street, the GOP and pharma,” he said, pointing out that the quotes were all from news stories and that it used every named quote from Buzzfeed.
“Antone puts out emails equating Jewish donations to questions about Israel. Apparently that’s OK. ‘You Jews love Israel; that’s what you care about.’ That’s kosher? It feeds into this issue of dual loyalty that is deeply problematic,” he said.
“I’m sorry to say that I am really not happy with any of my options here.”
Respect you and your analyses a lot, Naomi. I always read them and thank you for your service! I thought this one was thoughtful (as usual) but I thought the conclusion was odd. I thought there were a lot of “what ifs” about AMM’s potential position on Iran. I also think what we know if his seems to pretty in line with Joe Biden’s / DFL platform. Iran is a huge proliferator of terrorism in the Middle East and engages in state sponsored terrorism and human rights violations against its own population. Finally, I think the potential harm of having a rep that tends to traffic in antisemitic Tropes and not want to change or listen (in a district with the largest jewish population in the state), is worse than someone who is potentially too hawkish – but that is my own value judgment. As such, I have proudly voted for Antone, but again, appreciate your honest analysis here. Thank you.
A few things (I’ll admit upfront I’m a huge fan of Ilhan’s and have been for years): my understanding is that she hired a firm and then fell in love w the guy who ended up being her husband. That’s different from hiring your husband’s firm, though the point stands and, based on my limited info., it seems it would have been better to cut ties w the firm once you started having a personal relationship w the person. On the anti-semitism issue: I just fail to see that Ilhan has given any reason to think she’s anti-Semitic. She’s made a few comments that people feel fall into anti-Semitic tropes. I’m not gonna say that’s no big deal, but it is very different from making anti-Semitic comments, which (to my knowledge) she’s never done. I DO think that some of the policing of her language has the goal of getting her to stop talking about Middle Eastern policy, and I think it’s to her credit that she has not. That would be the easier path and, unfortunately, it’s the path so many politicians take, and the reason why we have a bipartisan tradition of backing up extreme right-wing Israeli policies over and over again. Some of these issues are delicate– I’m not sure how one talks about the influence of right wing pro-Israel PAC money in American politics without being accused of anti-Semitism, for example (and let’s be clear that pro-Israel groups have deliberately tried to equate opposition to Israeli policy and anti-Semitism). I guess my armchair analysis is that Ilhan knows she’s not anti-Semitic (and I think those who know her, both Jewish and not, know that too) so she doesn’t feel she needs to tiptoe around these things. The rampant anti-Semitism of pro-Israeli politicians in the US bothers me much more, but I concede my bias on that…. anyway, Ilhan is not perfect, but I appreciate her boldness and refusal to stop talking about important stuff. I hope she trounces AMM and gets even better at her job in her 2nd and future terms.
I got my back up against Antone early on because the plethora of his campaign mailings made me feel like he was trying to stuff it (the campaign) down my throat.
I only need one copy of his expensively four-color printed (both sides) oversize mailer to see what’s on it. If I’m getting a dozen copies spread out over a few weeks, I don’t like what that tells me about how he’d spend his constituents’ money. If he’s got that much extra to spend, contribute it to a good cause.
~ Laramie Sasseville
Thank you for this. You have helped out words to how muddled I feel about this race.
I voted for Ilhan, but with reservations. I do think that the way she drives the racist right insane by existing is both a plus and part of why she isn’t as sensitive as she should be.
I looked at both and besides, as someone mentioned, the fact that AMM has sent me enough mailers to paper my bathroom, his stance on disability issues left me very uncomfortable. On his website, when he talks about disability issues, he has four paragraphs on disabled people working before he touches on any other issue impacting the community. The disability community is wide and faces many issues. Spending four paragraphs on “Let’s remove barriers to disabled people working” feels very much like “Your worth is based on your ability to produce!” and like some disabled people are more worth his time than others.
A lot of ‘Vote for Antone’ or ‘Ilhan is Bad’ mailers we get are from Americans for Tomorrow’s Future, the so-called Republican PAC that’s spending a ton of money supporting him. I’m not surprised at all that right-wing pro-Israel groups are working against Omar.
Thanks for your great posts every election season.
Remember those group projects you had to do in high school or college, where it felt like you could have done a much better job by yourself, but that was impossible and you had to work with other people to get the assignment done and even if it went well you had regrets?
That’s what going to Congress is like, and Ilhan Omar has been the group project member who has no interest in helping the group, only in promoting her own brand and interests. CD5 might be one of the most important political jobs in the state because it is so safe and it allows the person who captures it to pretty easily rise up the ranks of committees and get real stuff done for Minnesota and the nation.
Yes, working with Democratic leadership in Congress can be distasteful and sometimes the outcome has the mediocre compromise quality of a group project but it’s the only way to get things done. Ilhan Omar has kind of the the opposite, not only does she antagonize the people she doesn’t like, she antagonizes the people who can help her rise in the House. And for what? I’m pretty sure by herself she’s not altering the course of Israel/Palestine, removing Donald Trump or anything else, but it too often this looks like what she thinks she’s been tasked with.
I’m voting against her not for any specific policy reason. Although I do find the too-often-to-be-a-coincidence Antisemitism to be offensive, not for what she said so much as the reflexive defense of Ilhan and nobody acknowledging that maybe she’s got some confirmation bias from her upbringing.
I’m not crazy about Anton, but he at least seems to have his act together, and like the project partners of yore, can be counted on to contribute to the group effort versus just the narrow thing he’s personally interested in.
Thanks a lot for your research and thoughts–particularly since you don’t even live in the 5th! I’m unhappy with the options and will likely be holding my nose in any event.
On a side issue, I have to say, I study geopolitics. While Iran’s government is deeply shitty to its own people, in *international politics* it has actually consistently been a *stabilizing force*; statements to the contrary are simply incorrect propaganda. This shouldn’t be surprising if you remember that’s it’s Persia. The governments which spread hostility about Iran — generally Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel, in that order — are destabilizing forces, consistently. This has been true since the 1980s. The US and the Saudis destabilize countries in the region, Iran reacts by restabilizing its neighbors (like any sane government would).
So anyone who claims that Iran has been destabilizing simply doesn’t understand Middle East politics. Though this is common among Congresspeople, I don’t want to encourage it, because it’s tied to the anti-Iranian-people, pro-Saudi-monarchy, pro-Likud policies which have destroyed the US reputation and destroyed US soft power in the Middle East while destabilizing the region.
Which is why if I were in the district I’d vote for Omar, though I’d prefer a better candidate; her foreign policy is in practical matters more or less right, and Anton’s is essentially wrong.
If the US government establishment would get over its hatred of Iran, which seems to be rooted in “Why didn’t Iran roll over and accept it when the US overthrew their elected government by coup in 1953 and why weren’t they happy when the US backed murderous secret police, how dare they”, the US would find that the correct realpolitik partners in the region are Iran and Turkey. Definitely not absolute-monarchy/theocracy Saudi Arabia or apartheid Israel, both of which alienate everyone in the region including their own people. The Iranian government’s worst elements rely on US opposition to stay in power, anyway, so US friendliness would empower the reform elements.
FYI, BDS is not extreme at ALL; it’s exactly what we did with apartheid South Africa, and it convinced Afrikaaners to *actually change their policies*, peacefully. It’s moderate. The extremists called for much more radical and violent approaches to ending apartheid. Reagan and the Reaganites, while pretending to be opponents of apartheid, actually supported apartheid, and they called BDS extreme, of course. At this point I think of the opponents of BDS as the equivalent of the pro-apartheid Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa; I can’t see any difference.
In the case of South Africa it worked because the Afrikaaner leadership cared more about being allowed to go to international sports events and sell diamonds than they did about apartheid. One hopes that something similar will hold for the Likudnik leadership in Israel, but as long as they face no international sanctions, they’ll just keep right on with the apartheid.
“Of all the countries who are incredibly bad actors, Israel wouldn’t even be in the top 50 of the bad list. One has to ask: Why all the anti-Israel sentiment?”
I can’t speak for anyone else but as far as I know none of those other bad actors are supported by $3B a year and unquestioning veto protection at the UNSC by my government. Deterring bad action by foreign governments is a sticky topic with no easy answers but *not* lending massive support is a no brainer. Accomplishing that, however, requires saying some bad things about Israel given that it currently has enough support for the last *Democratic* presidential nominee to claim there should be “no daylight” between the US and the current far right nationalist Israeli government (never mind the Republicans, who that far right government is pretty explicitly allied with).
But I realize practically nobody in the US votes based on foreign policy so :shrug: maybe Antone is better on domestic policy, IDK
I was on the fence until I received a really shady push poll that was clearly pro-Antone. A vague sounding polling firm, and all the questions were things like, “If you heard that Antone was a skilled community mediator and excelled at bringing people together, would you be more likely to vote for him?” “If you knew Ilhan corruptly diverted campaign funds, would you be less likely to vote for her?” All the Antone questions were very positive and all the Ilhan ones very negative. Disguising a campaign pitch as a poll is shady AF to me and if that’s how he chooses to use all his money, I don’t want that. This even though that Armenian Genocide vote infuriated me.
I listened to the debate on WCCO this afternoon with Antone, Ilhan, and John Mason. They stayed on domestic issues and local media access. I think Naomi’s analysis was a really effective frame for the debate, and it helped me recognize what the script was for each candidate. Ilhan and Antone both provided some ‘meh’ answers but Antone really came off as condescending to her in one of the exchanges in a way that made me very uncomfortable.
It’s hard that you share very little Ilhan is actually for and only the things that make you uncomfortable. Antone is a centrist, Ilhan is more radical and on the left. Those two key points seem to be totally missing from your analysis. Antone has a career working for a union busting law firm and defending corporations against sexual harassment cases. His actions speak far louder than any platform he puts out, no matter how “liberal.”
And again, it is good to point out how Ilhan’s comments about Israel have fallen into anti-Semitic tropes in the past. But also I think you must engage with the content of what she is saying as well, ie. her unapologetic support of Palestinians and her effort to disrupt the bipartisan support of Israel in our government.
This article offers a helpful perspective on the difference between these candidates: https://rlmartstudio.wordpress.com/2020/08/05/ilhan-antone-and-the-price-of-inclusion/
Hey, if you want to know more about what Ilhan is for, I gave you a LINK to her WEBSITE. This is my website, and I approved your post, but you walked right up to the “too annoying to approve” line, just as an FYI.
Also, I am really unimpressed by arguments that essentially boil down to, “this person who is a lawyer with a lawyering job works works at a firm with clients I dislike.” I didn’t talk about it because I have seen nothing to persuade me that it is not the equivalent of coming after someone who works in criminal defense because they defend child molesters and spousal abusers.
The blog link that Elly supplied did provide a thought-provoking parallel: “While Vietnam was the political loyalty test during [ML] King’s time, today it is Palestine.” With some news I had not seen elsewhere: “A week ago Israeli government soldiers leveled a coronavirus testing center at the entrance to Hebron, the epicenter of the pandemic on the West Bank just as it was nearing completion. It had been intended to ease the pressure on overburdened hospitals struggling with a second wave of infections. The day before they demolished a covid testing station in Jenin.”
Since Omar’s opponent(s) have made this a primary part of this primary, it’s worth passing this on.
One might draw a distinction between a criminal defense lawyer and a civil lawyer, who often has more leeway about clients he wishes to represent, without implicating constitutional rights to counsel. The blog describes Melton-Meaux’s clients thus: “he defended large corporations against worker claims of racial and sex discrimination, harassment, hostile work environments, wage theft and illegal firing. As a corporate lawyer he argued for non-disclosure agreements in sexual misconduct cases. As a candidate he opposes them.”