TIME Hillary Clinton

State Department Releases Hillary Clinton’s Emails on Benghazi

Hillary Clinton Campigns In Iowa, Meeting With Small Business Owners
Scott Olson—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosts a small business forum with members of the business and lending communities at the Bike Tech bicycle shop on May 19, 2015 in Cedar Falls, IA.

The State Department released hundreds of emails Friday that were stored on Hillary Clinton’s private server during her time as Secretary of State.

The emails, which pertain to the Benghazi terror attacks in September 2012, do not change the official assessment of the incident in which a U.S. ambassador was killed, the State Department said. “The emails we release today do not change the essential facts or our understanding of the events before, during, or after the attacks, which have been known since the independent Accountability Review Board report on the Benghazi attacks was released almost two and a half years ago,” wrote spokeswoman Marie Harf.

Clinton, who wants to avoid the controversy over her emails and Benghazi stretching into the primary and general election next year, told reporters in Hampton, N.H. on Friday that the released emails had previously been sent to the committee investigating the Benghazi attack in 2012. “I’m glad that the emails are starting to come out. It is something that I’ve asked to be done, as you know, for a long time. Those releases are beginning,” Clinton said.

But the release further complicates Clinton’s unusual set-up of using a personal email server for official use. Sensitive information and email addresses in dozens of emails have been redacted under privacy and exemptions to the Freedom of Information Act protecting internal agency deliberations.

According to a senior State Department official, 23 words in a single email were classified Friday at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The email was unclassified while it resided on Clinton’s server and when it was sent to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The official said the retroactive classification does not mean Clinton did anything improper at the time, adding “this happens several times a month” when FOIA reports are prepared for the public.

“I’m aware that the FBI has asked that a portion of one email be held back. That happens in this process,” Clinton said on Friday. “That doesn’t change the fact that all of the information in the emails was handled appropriately.”

The email in question is in reference to reports that Libyan police arrested several individuals believed to have been involved in the Benghazi attack, and the classified portion appears to refer the details of the local regional security officer’s report on the arrests. State Department Office of Maghreb Affairs Director William V. Roebuck sent the note to Acting Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East Beth Jones, who forwarded it to top Clinton aide Jake Sullivan, who forwarded it to Clinton at her personal address.

Those 23 words will be classified through November 18, 2032—twenty years after the email was first sent.

Clinton has asked that the State Department speed up the release of her work emails. “I’ve said from the very beginning that I want them to release all of them as soon as possible. They are in the process of doing that. I understand that there is a certain protocol that has to be followed,” Clinton said. “It’s beginning. I would like to see them expedited to get more of them out, more quickly.”

The emails provide insight into Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, and Clinton herself has said she wants the public to learn more about her role as the country’s chief diplomat.

With reporting by Phil Elliott

TIME Hillary Clinton

Why Hillary Clinton Prefers to Talk About Community Banks

Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a meeting with parents and child care workers at the Center for New Horizons in Chicago on May 20, 2015.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives for a meeting with parents and child care workers at the Center for New Horizons in Chicago on May 20, 2015.

Like many Democrats, Hillary Clinton has talked tough about reining in mega banks. But as her presidential campaign has gotten underway, she’s focused on the homier side of the financial industry: community banks.

At a roundtable in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Clinton spoke on Tuesday less about tightening oversight on Wall Street and more about loosening regulations for banks on Main Street. She argued that red tape and paperwork for small banks across the country are holding back small businesses by making it harder to get much-needed loans.

At times, listeners might have even mistaken Clinton for a moderate Republican.

“Today,” Clinton said, “local banks are being squeezed by regulations that don’t make sense for their size and mission—like endless examinations and paperwork designed for banks that measure their assets in the many billions.”

“And when it gets harder for small banks to do their jobs, it gets harder for small businesses to get their loans,” she said. “Our goal should be helping community banks serve their neighbors and customers the way they always have.”

Community banks tend have less than $1 billion in assets, are usually based in rural or suburban communities and are the kind of place your uncle in Idaho might go for money to open an antique shop. Touting small businesses is a tried-and-true trope for candidates on both sides of the aisle. For office-seekers from Barack Obama to Marco Rubio, the subject is as noncontroversial and all-American as crabgrass.

The difference, then, comes at how politicians want to handle bigger banks. Congress right now is debating how far to exempt banks from certain regulations. Democratic lawmakers generally want to reduce them only for smaller banks; some Republicans want to exempt all banks, an approach Clinton criticized.

Big banks in the United States have become increasingly large and powerful in the seven years since the financial crisis. Of the 6,000-odd banks in the United States, the five largest control nearly half of the country’s banking wealth, according to a December study. In 1990, the five biggest banks controlled just 10% of the industry’s assets.

Small banks complain that federal regulation in the aftermath of the Dodd-Frank legislation is contributing to a decline in their numbers. Annual examinations at a community banks, for instance, require staff to walk regulators through paperwork. Filling out paperwork and paying for compliance lawyers to deal with new Dodd-Frank stipulations are burdensome extra costs, banks say. And new rules can impose high damages on lenders who do make unsafe loans.

“There’s an inherent advantage in scale,” said Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, pointing out that small banks often have more trouble paying for regulation compliance. “Community banks, being smaller, have less business to spread the cost of regulations over.”

It’s an issue that resonates with Iowa bankers, says John Sorensen, president and CEO of the Iowa Bankers Association. “A lot of the banks we have across Iowa are small businesses with 10 to 30 employees that have been interrupted in their ability to serve their customers through a good part of Dodd-Frank,” he said.

But some say the discussion about scrapping community bank regulations as Clinton suggests is a distraction. Small banks were in steady decline for many years before Dodd-Frank, and they are protected from liability on certain loans that big banks are not. And regulators argue that preventing risky mortgages of the kind that brought on the financial crisis is a good thing.

Much of the push to deregulate community banks comes from bigger institutions who want exemptions from regulation themselves. “If you were able to somehow magically trace who is whipping up frenzy about regulator burden on small banks, you’d find its trade associations at the behest of bigger banks,” said Julia Gordon of the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank that has supplied some top officials in the Clinton campaign.

During the roundtable, Donna Sorensen, chair of the board of Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust and a participant on Tuesday, suggested to Clinton that more U.S. Small Business Administration-supported loans come with no fees. Clinton took notes and nodded in assent.

“If we really wanted to jumpstart more community bank lending, part of what we would do is exactly that—raise the limits to avoid the upfront fee” for businesses that need loans, Clinton said.

Clinton did not say specifically what regulations she would remove if she were elected president, but locals in Independence, Iowa, where Clinton stopped by for a visit after her small business roundtables, asked her to hold true to her sentiments. Terry Tekippe, whose family owns an independent hardware store, walked onto the street as Clinton walked by. “Keep us in focus,” Tekippe said.

“I want to be a small business president, so I am,” Clinton called back as she continued down the street.

TIME Environment

California Governor Declares State of Emergency After Santa Barbara Oil Spill

As many as 105,000 gallons of crude might have spilled

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Santa Barbara County on Wednesday as cleanup teams sought to limit the environmental impact from a ruptured underground pipeline that might have spilled as many as 105,000 gallons of crude oil.

More than 20,000 gallons are estimated to have spilled into the ocean, seeping through the ground into a culvert and flowing into the ocean near Refugio State Beach, the Los Angeles Times reports. Oil slicks across a combined nine miles have stretched along the coastline.

The owner of the pipeline that ruptured Tuesday afternoon is Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline, which last saw results for an inspection in 2012. The line, which can pump as many as 6.3 million gallons a day, averages a flow rate of some 50,400 gallons per hour.

“We’re sorry this accident has happened and we’re sorry for the inconvenience to the community,” said Darren Palmer, district manager for Plains All American, told reporters.

There’s no estimate yet on the harm to local natural life, but officials estimate it will take at least three days—likely many more—to clean up the spill before the damage can be assessed.

TIME Television

Watch David Letterman’s Final Late Show Entrance

His final episode as host airs Wednesday night

David Letterman’s band staged an extra warm welcome for his last Late Show entrance on Wednesday.

The legendary host entered the stage of his show for the final time to a thunderous chorus of notes. After running from one side of the stage to the other, Letterman delayed his entrance to the stage for an anticipation-building 15 seconds and was greeted by a seemingly endless note held by his band.

Forty-three seconds, to be exact, an amount of time that will push even the most capacious musical lungs to the limit.

Read next: Everything You Need to Know About David Letterman’s Final Show

TIME celebrities

Watch Vin Diesel Sing ‘Habits’ in Honor of Paul Walker

As a tribute to Walker, who died in November 2013

Vin Diesel can count singing tributes among his talents.

In a Wednesday post on Facebook, the Fast & Furious star sings over Tove Lo’s “Habits (Stay High)” in an honor of late actor Paul Walker, who died in car crash in November 2013. Diesel was close friends with Walker, and much of the recent Furious 7 film is a tribute in memory of the fellow star.

In the background of the video, footage and photos of him Walker are projected on a screen.

TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Faces the Limits of the Controlled Campaign

Hillary Clinton Campigns In Iowa, Meeting With Small Business Owners
Scott Olson—Getty Images Democratic presidential hopeful and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton hosts a small business forum with members of the business and lending communities at the Bike Tech bicycle shop on May 19, 2015 in Cedar Falls, IA.

The local bike shop where Hillary Clinton hosted a roundtable on small business and the economy on Tuesday morning was chosen as carefully as any other theatrical backdrop of her campaign.

Behind the five-week-old candidate’s seat at the table, grease-smeared tools pointed to the hard, dirty work done in the shop. Bicycle wheels suspended from the ceiling framed her, and a squeaky, new-finished wood floor provided ample space for the gathered press. When Clinton said Tuesday, “I want to be a small business president,” all she had to do was point at the props.

But, as in live theater, things can always go a little off script, and on her second tour through Iowa, Clinton experienced that firsthand.

Outside the bike shop, a small group of progressive Iowa activists held up signs, protesting Clinton’s carefully worded neutrality on the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal—the first time the left has organized a notable protest against Clinton at a public event. Inside, one of the handpicked participants in a roundtable discussion asked Clinton surprisingly pointed questions. And facing a restive press that called out in the middle of the roundtable, Clinton broke her four-week media silence and answered a handful of questions.

These unrelated moments at the Bike Tech store in Cedar Falls, Iowa, showed the limits of Clinton’s carefully managed campaign. Holding a sizable lead over her Democratic primary competitors, the former Secretary of State has kept reporters at arms’ length, using controlled events to discuss the issues with voters and trying to avoid some contentious topics like the possible trade deal, which many liberals dislike.

It was one of those voters who broke through the most.

“What’s your stand?” asked roundtable participant Denita Gadson about the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the event. “And what do we need to do to ensure jobs are staying here?”

Gadson’s question, had in fact, been planted by activists affiliated with the Americans for Democratic Action who believe Clinton hasn’t done enough to take questions from the press or from progressives on her policy positions.

The hiccups at Clinton’s event Tuesday morning showed some of the problems Clinton faces with the grassroots, activist-driven campaign she’s chosen to run so far: she is a candidate, but she is waiting to clarify many of her policy positions until likely next month. She aims to do the handshaking and cheek-smooching that Iowans expect, but her campaign’s sheer size can get in the way. She has a larger entourage of press, security, and staff than any other announced candidate, and spontaneity doesn’t always come easy. That’s made some in Iowa who long for a more face-to-face interactions restless.

“She’s sticking with small meetings that are totally controlled,” said ADA Iowa Organizer Chris Schwartz, who led the separate press conference outside Clinton’s event. “We think she needs to start holding town hall meetings and taking questions from more everyday Iowans.”

Despite Tuesday’s vocal media gaggle and contentious progressives, Clinton’s planned trips across the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada have mostly gone smoothly. She has impressed many progressives with a solidly liberal platform. Participants in roundtable events have largely left enthusiastic about the frontrunner, who in small groups laughs easily and listens intently.

Many on the left have expressed early satisfaction with Clinton’s campaign rollout, as she talks about addressing income inequality and repeatedly mentions an economy “stacked in favor of those at the top.” She has sounded a strong note on criminal justice reform, and members of her campaign have notably talked about making college more affordable. “In the 2014 elections, who was talking about a national goal of debt-free college?” Adam Green, cofounder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said earlier this month. “This is a new high-water mark on this issue.”

During the roundtable, Gadson asked Clinton if she would push for ways to make it easier for people with criminal records to get loans. “Will you change the language and the laws that prohibit people with a criminal background the ability to access these funds?” she asked. Clinton answered the question in stride, without committing to any policy. “I think that’s a very fair question,” she said. “In a lot of communities, there are resources but they can’t be put to good use because too many people can’t get access.”

After reporters called on Clinton to answer questions in Bike Tech, Clinton accepted. “Yes, maybe when I’m done talking with the people here, how’s that?” she said. “If I can learn something, I might go over and say a few words with the press.” When she took questions, one reporter repeated at a yell, “Why did you use your own email server? Why did you use your own email server?” It broke much of the atmosphere of the cozy campaign.

Clinton’s sparring with the press on Tuesday revealed some of the difficulties of her small-bore campaign. Before Tuesday, she had not taken questions from reporters for four weeks, avoiding eager journalists with waves and smiles. When she answered questions in Keene, New Hampshire, about allegations surrounding the Clinton Foundation, she brushed off criticism and left before she could face a long line of questioning.

And after her roundtable on Tuesday, Clinton stopped at a coffee shop in Independence, Iowa, a small town with about a half-dozen stop lights, a Dairy Queen and a Casey’s General Store and gas station. Clinton was followed by an entourage of reporters that overwhelmed the two businesses she visited.

Clinton entered Em’s Coffee Shop to buy an espresso, and the store’s owner, Emilea Hillman, looked at the press scrum nervously. “I get worried about all these people, too,” Clinton joked.

As her aides jockeyed with the press horde, Clinton managed to chat with a few more local residents. Then she got back into her van, due in Chicago the next day for another campaign stop.

TIME rick perry

Rick Perry Cites His Eagle Scout Rank on Campaign Trail

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a meet and greet event at Pizza Ranch in Sioux Center, Iowa
Nati Harnik—AP Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry speaks during a meet and greet event at Pizza Ranch in Sioux Center, Iowa, on May 18, 2015.

Rick Perry has been studying oratory with a former Shakespeare actor, and it showed on Monday, when the former Texas governor paced around a small gathering in a two-stoplight-town farming village in Iowa.

Perry stretched his hands apart like a huge balloon when he talked about Texas’ job growth. He dramatically swung two fingers in a general southerly direction when he recalled his tough border policies in 2014. But it was the subtler speaker’s trick that may have won Perry’s listeners over: know your audience.

“When I look at a resume and I see ‘Eagle Scout,’ I can take that out and put it in a special pile,” Perry told a crowd with plenty of Boy Scouts of America members and U.S. military veterans.

“I may be applying for a job in the future,” Perry continued, “so I want them to know I was an Eagle Scout.”

The former 14-year Texas governor and Eagle Scout has been on a multi-day tour of Iowa, speaking at town hall meetings and restaurants across the state, revving up for what is likely to be the launch of his candidacy on June 4 in Texas.

With the Republican field getting crowded, likely candidates are looking for ways to set them apart as they roam the early primary states. In his pitch Monday in Holstein, northwestern Iowa, Perry spent a full 10 minutes—one-third of his prepared remarks—talking about his military experience and the leadership skills he learned in the Boy Scouts.

For Scouts, it’s a familiar sales pitch. The typical script for an Eagle Scout court of honor includes a shout-out to the presidents (John Kennedy, Gerald Ford) and members of Congress who earned Scouting’s highest rank. (And lawmakers love to return the favor.)

Still, in such a crowded Republican field, Perry faces competition even on this front from Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who prominently notes that he reached Eagle in the third sentence of his official bio and once responded to a question about sending troops into combat by citing his time in the Scouts. Even former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who attended the kickoff for a Scouting alternative that refuses to admit gay and transgendered boys, had a Scout troop hoist the flag at his campaign launch.

Perry, who is 65, spoke of Scouting in more personal terms, arguing that the trail to Eagle was not unlike the campaign trail.

“Because I know something about that young person right off the bat: that at a young age, they started a major project, that had a long process to come to its fruition,” he said. “I know they started a major project and they followed a guide book to its conclusion. And with that discipline, that focus as a 12- to 17-year-old, they most likely have those same characteristics as a 25 or 35 or 45-year-old—or 65-year old individual.”

As for his service in the Air Force as a pilot: “I don’t think there’s a greater way to serve your country than to wear the uniform of your country,” he said to enthusiastic applause.

The Republican presidential contest is turning into a chaotic contest that is increasingly being defined by candidates’ foreign policy credentials. Former Gov. Jeb Bush stumbled last week when he was unable to clarify whether he would have chosen to invade Iraq. Scott Walker in poor taste compared defeating 100,000 union protesters in his own state to fighting the Islamic State. Sen. Rand Paul has recast himself as less of a foreign policy dove over the past year, but many conservatives are unconvinced.

Perry, meanwhile, is reminding all who will listen that he was a veteran and that he has the kind of leadership experience to be a tough foreign policy player. (Perry never saw combat during his service, as Democratic presidential hopeful Jim Webb did in Vietnam.) Perry opposes any deal with Iran on the grounds that the Islamic Republic cannot be trusted (“there ain’t going to be a good deal with Iran, because I don’t think you can trust them”) and wants to increase the United States’ military capacity (the military is at its smallest since 1940, Perry reminded his audience). Earlier on Monday, he said he would not have invaded Iraq knowing what he knows now, but lambasted President Obama for pulling out of Iraq early, CNN reported.

In Holstein, Perry chose as good a place as any to talk about uniformed service. The one-commercial street town, which has at its center a large granary and is in the heart of biofuel country, is predominantly traditional and in Iowa’s conservative West. There are more than 200 Eagle Scouts in the county of 7,000 people, and when Perry thanked “the mothers and fathers” of Eagle Scouts, there was wild applause.

Eagle Scouts and Scoutmasters dressed in full garb gathered after the town hall meeting was over and praised Perry’s time in the BSA.

“It would throw some weight with me,” said Jody Fraser, a Scoutmaster, said of Perry’s Eagle Scout rank.

“I think it does mean a lot in terms of character,” said Harry Oakley, a Marine Corps veteran and Eagle Scout who wore a felt blazer and jeans. “I’m glad that isn’t lost on Governor Perry.”

TIME Hillary Clinton

Clintons Earned $25 Million From Paid Speeches Since 2014

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 29: Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech during the David Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University in Manhattan, NY April 29, 2015.  (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)
Kevin Hagen—2015 Getty Images Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech during the David Dinkins Leadership and Public Policy Forum at Columbia University in Manhattan, NY April 29, 2015.

Hillary and Bill Clinton have earned a combined $25 million giving paid speeches since January 2014, a massive income boost ahead of Hillary’s candidacy for president.

In addition, Hillary Clinton earned at least $5 million in income from her memoir Hard Choices, published in June. A senior campaign official confirmed the details of a financial disclosure form filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

The couple’s earnings over the last year puts them among the country’s very wealthiest earners, and among the wealthiest candidates for president in 2016. Their effective federal income tax for 2014 was more than 30%, the campaign official said.

The couple has an awkward history of talking about their wealth. Justifying her speaking fees last year, Hillary said the family was “dead broke” when they left the White House. In an interview this month with NBC, Bill said he had to give paid speeches because “I gotta pay our bills.”

Bill and Hillary combined have given more than 100 paid speeches since last January. Hillary has entertained clients from a camps convention to an auto dealers association.

With reporting by Philip Elliott

TIME

Martin O’Malley Prepares to Launch Campaign

Possible Presidential Candidates Attend South Carolina Democratic Convention
Win McNamee—Getty Images Potential Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley delivers remarks at the South Carolinna Democratic Party state convention April 25, 2015 in Columbia, South Carolina.

He will almost certainly announce in 15 days

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is ramping up his all-but-certain presidential campaign, leasing office space in in Baltimore for a campaign headquarters and asking donors and bundlers to begin serious fundraising.

Both those moves start the 15-day clock for O’Malley to officially announce his candidacy on May 30.

O’Malley has laid the groundwork for a presidential bid in Iowa and New Hampshire in recent months, leaning on his liberal record as governor, where he supported gay marriage, gun control and an end to the death penalty. He has emerged as a progressive challenger to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, differing with her stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her past platform.

Now, O’Malley is making his strongest indications yet that he plans to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In a series of conference calls on Thursday night, he rallied his supporters and reiterated what has long been a message for the candidate-in-waiting: that the country needs new, forward-looking leadership with progressive values.

In the about half-dozen separate calls over the course of the night, O’Malley spoke with alums of the 1984 and 1987 Gary Hart presidential campaigns, fundraisers and bundlers, former staffers, and connections in key states throughout the country, people on the calls said.

Read more: What Martin O’Malley Hopes to Learn From Gary Hart

“He made it very clear that he is more inclined than ever to do it,” said one person. “This was the last box to check in his process.”

On Friday morning, O’Malley supporters began calling a network of donors around the country to support his likely campaign.

Presidential candidates have 15 days from the start of official candidacy activities—like raising and spending sums of money north of $5,000, or making statements that refer to themselves as a candidate—before they must announce.

O’Malley leased 7200 square feet of office space in downtown Baltimore on Friday and is preparing to move 40 employees from his PAC to what is likely to be his new campaign headquarters. The Baltimore Sun first reported the move, and an O’Malley aide confirmed it to TIME.

In his Thursday calls with supporters, O’Malley said he would announce his decision whether to run for president on May 30 in Baltimore. A registration page to attend his likely launch at omalleyannouncement.com says “Paid for by O’Malley for President” at the bottom.

O’Malley’s decision to set his likely campaign launch and headquarters in Baltimore indicates just how willing he is to attach his political fate to the restive city where he served as mayor from 1999 through 2006. He has consistently pointed to his accomplishments as the city’s administrator and the reduction in crime, but critics say his aggressive police policies worsened police relations with the black community.

A round of staff hiring in the last few weeks has increased speculation about O’Malley’s announcement, with the former governor bringing on more press staff and a national political director, Obama alum Karine Jean-Pierre, last week.

For the next 15 days before his Baltimore announcement, O’Malley will be rallying his network.

“He’s assessed the state of the nation as he sees it and the need for new leadership options,” said another person who was on the calls. “I think he’s ready to go.”

TIME Voting

Democrats Play Hardball on Voting Laws Ahead of 2016

This Oct. 2, 2012 file photo shows voters waiting in line to pick up their ballots inside the Hamilton County Board of Elections after it opened for early voting, in Cincinnati.
Al Behrman—AP This Oct. 2, 2012 file photo shows voters waiting in line to pick up their ballots inside the Hamilton County Board of Elections after it opened for early voting, in Cincinnati.

An Ohio lawsuit is a harbinger of things to come

There was a rare détente in the fight over early voting in Ohio last month. The ACLU and the NAACP came to a compromise with the Republican Secretary of State. Early voting days would be reduced from 35 to 28 days, but early voting hours were extended to include Sundays and after work on some weekdays.

“We have an incredibly robust system of early voting thanks to this settlement,” said Freda Levenson, executive director of the state’s ACLU chapter. Secretary of State Jon Husted likewise called it a victory for Ohio voters.

But for Democrats looking ahead to 2016, that wasn’t enough. Just two weeks after the settlement was reached, a team of Democratic-aligned lawyers filed another lawsuit, claiming that Ohio’s voting laws still make it too difficult blacks, Hispanics and young people to vote. The most prominent attorney behind the new challenge? Marc Elias, the go-to lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s emerging campaign.

Clinton’s campaign told TIME it is not behind the lawsuit, and Elias said the litigation had been in the works for some time. But there is no denying the lawsuit’s Democratic stamp. The attorneys on the case have longstanding ties to the Democratic party: Donald McTigue was general counsel for Obama’s reelection campaign in the state, and five of the seven lawyers on the case (including Elias) are from the left-leaning firm Perkins Coie. The plaintiff, the Ohio Organizing Collaborative, is nonpartisan but supports progressive efforts in the Midwest.

The current legal challenge in Ohio is an early glimpse into some of the Democratic-led fights that will unfold over the next 18 months before the general election, as attorneys begin to aggressively challenge restrictive voting laws enacted and implemented predominantly by Republicans.

“You’re going to see an increase in the number of lawsuits challenging restrictive voting laws because there is a concerted effort by some on the right to make it harder to vote,” Elias, Clinton’s campaign lawyer who filed the case, told TIME. “You will see more lawsuits because there are more bad laws.”

Ohio is a conspicuous battleground for the first voting rights challenge of the 2016 election cycle. It is a swing state, one that the Democratic presidential nominee will likely need to win to prevail in the general election. The new, Democrat-backed lawsuit retreads some of the same ground as the nonpartisan settlement. And compared with other states, Ohio already has a relatively open voting process.

The lawsuit is part of a widening debate that has increasingly fallen along partisan lines, even as both sides insist they only seek to uphold the Constitution.

“Both parties over time have been guilty of using their power to enact legislation to affect elections and keep themselves in power,” said Levenson of the ACLU. “Republicans and Democrats have done that, and continue to do that.”

Recent battles over voting laws can be traced to the aftermath of Obama’s decisive 2008 electoral victory, which was due in part to high turnout among young people and minorities. Republicans in many states began enacting laws that required voters to bring state-issued identification cards, cut back on early voting hours or tightened the requirements for provisional ballots.

Nonpartisan groups as well as Democrats said that the laws disproportionately affected minorities and fought back in the courts. There was no evidence, they said, of voter fraud that could justify the new Republican laws, arguing that the restrictions violate voters’ constitutional rights.

President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 was marked by Democratic challenges to restrictive state voting laws in an effort to open up the voter pool in battleground states. Obama for America brought a case in Ohio with McTigue McGinnis & Colombo LLC, one of the firms that is bringing this month’s case.

Today, there are challenges in the courts over laws in Texas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee and others, as well as Ohio. The volume of lawsuits is likely to increase in the 18 months before the 2016 election. The Democratic National Committee is preparing for a hard-fought 50-state effort to expand voting, partly through litigation, with a special focus on battleground states. Nonpartisan civil rights groups are gearing up, too.

“We are working with partners daily in a number of states with an eye towards 2016 in order to prepare for those elections,” said Chris Fields, manager of legal mobilization at the nonpartisan Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “If a law is going to make it more onerous for voters to participate, that’s where you’ll see the challenges.”

In cases like the one in Ohio, Democrats may be prepared to go farther then nonpartisan civil rights groups.

While Ohioans in 2004 and 2008 faced notorious obstacles to vote, it today has one of the more open voting systems in the country, with 28 days of early voting, polls open for 13 hours on Election Day and one-third of voters in the state voting by mail. The average wait time to vote in Ohio compares favorably to other states, according to research by Pew which found that Ohio voters waited on average 11 minutes to vote in 2012, compared with 25 minutes in South Carolina and 45 minutes in Florida the same year.

Other solid blue states may have more obstacles to voting than Ohio. New York has no early voting at all. California residents cast error-prone provisional ballots—which are disproportionately used by minorities and are rejected at high rates—much more than Ohioans.

Critics say that it’s no coincidence the first lawsuit of the 2016 cycle was filed in Ohio, and not elsewhere. Husted, the Secretary of State, said that a Democratic lawsuit so close on the heels of the earlier settlement is an attempt on the part of “legal lapdogs” to “interject chaos in the system.”

“We already settled all these issues,” Husted, a defendant in both cases, told TIME. “Less than two weeks later, the lawyer for the next presidential campaign files a lawsuit, and I think that Ohioans are growing pretty tired of the outside meddling in our election system.”

The new Democratic Ohio lawsuit challenges a number of state provisions, including the use of just one polling place in each county for early voting, the reduction of some electronic voting machines, and Ohio’s elimination of one week of early voting, among other measures. Some of the measures are recent directives of Republican Gov. John Kasich’s administration.

The lawyers say in the new complaint that Ohio’s voting measures, many introduced by a Republican gubernatorial administration, “disproportionately burden specific populations, including African Americans, Latinos and young people—each of which are, not coincidentally, core Democratic constituencies.”

Democrats’ focus on a battleground state like Ohio is a harbinger of efforts to come.

“What we see right now is an election war being fought within legislatures and within courts,” said Pratt Wiley, national director of voter protection at the DNC. “We really do view this as way to help us win elections as well as it being the right thing to do.”

Elias, Clinton’s lawyer, is a longtime Democratic player who has represented the DNC and many of the party’s dignitaries.

Last year, Elias represented Virginia voters in a lawsuit that accused the state’s General Assembly of racially discriminatory gerrymandering, and he helped write a federal law that increased the amount of money rich donors can give to the Democratic and Republican parties. He was the top lawyer on John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.

Elias said he did not coordinate with Clinton campaign in the Ohio suit, and he pointed to a history of voting issues in the state. “We’re trying to fight efforts that make it harder to vote,” Elias said. “Why Ohio? For the same reason as in any state that cuts back and makes it harder to vote.”

Still, the Clinton campaign will likely keep an eye on the lawsuit as it progresses.

“This lawsuit was not filed on behalf of the campaign,” said a Clinton spokesperson. “However, the campaign shares the concern about undue burdens being placed on the right to vote in states across the country, including Ohio.”

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