Bonus Quote of the Day

“I have proposed a new rule to allow school districts to install deep fat fryers and sell beverages like diet soda. I believe each school district – not the state or federal government – should decide what foods are offered to students… If a school district doesn’t agree with any of these changes, then the district doesn’t have to implement them. That’s the beauty here. It’s not about French fries; it’s about freedom.”

— Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, in a letter to the Houston Chronicle.

Senate Staffer Admits Drugs-for-Sex Scheme

A staffer for Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) imported drugs from China in a plan to exchange them for sexual favors, the Washington City Paper reports.

“Fred W. Pagan… first came on law enforcement’s radar on April 9, when customs agents found a Chinese package addressed to him in Ohio that held more than a kilo of GBL, a controlled drug akin to ‘date rape drug’ GHB. After the search, Pagan allegedly told investigators that he had received three other GBL packages. According to the court filing, Pagan said that he handed out the GBL and meth ‘in exchange for sexual favors.'”

Most Don’t Want ‘Religious Freedom’ Laws

“One of the apparent side effects of the religious freedom controversies in Indiana and (to a lesser extent) Arkansas: More Americans now oppose such laws than before,” the Washington Post reports.

“While a Pew Research Center poll conducted in September showed Americans were split on whether businesses with religious objections should be able to refuse service to a gay wedding (with 47 percent in favor), and a January AP-GfK poll showed a clear majority (57 percent) thought they should be able to, a new CNN/Opinion Research poll suggests increasing skepticism of religious freedom laws. The new poll shows just 41 percent think businesses should be able to refuse service to gay weddings, while 57 percent disagree.”

Why Political Parties Don’t Try to Inspire Voters

A new research paper by Alan Abramowitz and Steven Webster looked at a variety of political characteristics to see what best predicts party loyalty.

The key determinant was fear of the other party: “Regardless of the strength of their attachment to their own party, the more voters dislike the opposing party, the greater the probability that they will vote consistently for their own party’s candidates.”

Ezra Klein: “It’s worth saying that a bit more clearly: you’re more likely to vote Democratic if you hate Republicans than if you love Democrats, and vice versa. What parties need to do to keep you loyal isn’t make you inspired. Rather, they need to make you scared.”

Why Marco Rubio Is a Strong Candidate

Harry Enten: “What makes Rubio strong isn’t his polling surge, but that he is well-liked across the party apparatus. He pulls in conservatives with his voting record and moderates with his impressive 2010 Senate victory in Florida, a crucial battleground state… When voters actually start tuning into the race, Rubio will be in a good position to win over Republicans who are currently undecided or tentatively supporting another candidate. (That’s not to say he’ll actually win them over; he’ll just be in a good position to.)”

“Rubio’s current polling uptick may or may not last. But few other candidates look as strong in the underlying data that will ultimately dictate the direction that the 2016 Republican primary takes.”

Foreign Money May Flow to Ballot Measure Elections

Rick Hasen points us to a Bloomberg BNA report:

“The Federal Election Commission has dismissed—on a deadlocked party-line vote—charges that Manwin International, a foreign company producing online pornography, violated the law by bankrolling a campaign committee opposed to a Los Angeles ballot measure requiring the use of condoms in video sex scenes. According to documents released April 23, the FEC’s three Republican commissioners voted to dismiss the case, supporting recommendations from the agency general counsel’s office. An FEC counsel’s report concluded that a broad federal ban on foreign contributions in U.S. elections didn’t apply to ballot measure elections.”

Gun Control Advocates Energized by Clinton Bid

“Gun control advocates have high hopes for Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, viewing her as an ally who can finish the push for tightened background checks that has stalled in President Obama’s second term,” The Hill reports.

“Clinton has been a staunch advocate of gun-control proposals such as expanding background checks and banning assault weapons. Last summer, she ripped groups that oppose those ideas as out of step with public opinion.”

Wonk Wire: Guns make us less safe. That’s a fact.

GOP Candidates Silent on Drone Deaths

“Republican presidential hopefuls, including two prominent critics of the Obama administration’s drone program, held their fire on Thursday after the White House disclosed strikes in which American citizens were killed, instead offering condolences and focusing on the continued threat posed by terror groups,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

First Read: “If you’ve been following American politics over the last six years, President Obama could sneeze, and it would produce a flurry of negative statements and reactions from his political opponents. That’s what makes yesterday’s silence — or backtracking — from Republican 2016 presidential candidates regarding the accidental drone killing of two hostages so striking.”

Nerd Prom

This is a highly-recommended new documentary: Nerd Prom.

“A reporter quits his job covering the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner to lift the lid on what really goes on behind the scenes during the biggest week in the world’s most important city.”

Bush Said He Wouldn’t Make Same Mistakes as Romney

Jeb Bush said he “would not make the same mistakes as Mitt Romney during a private event in New York on Thursday, saying the 2012 Republican nominee was unable to connect with voters in a genuine way,” the Washington Free Beacon reports.

Said Bush: “He made it about a referendum on the president’s policies rather than about himself. He didn’t show his heart. He didn’t send a signal that he cared about people, when he did.”

Shuster Pushed Bill for Lobbyist Girlfriend

A transportation bill had gone nowhere but once Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) became chairman of the Transportation Committee, “it moved at lightning speed: He introduced a revised version of the bill in March of last year, the same day he met with an airline industry group that supported it. A month later, Shuster shepherded the measure through his transportation panel in roughly 10 minutes. It sailed through the full House three months later without a roll call vote,” Politico reports.

“The legislation wasn’t only a priority for Shuster: It was a top issue for Airlines for America, and for Shuster’s girlfriend, Shelley Rubino, the organization’s vice president and a top airline lobbyist… Rubino herself lobbied for the legislation, according to disclosure forms.”