December, 2014

Boehner Backs Scalise Amid Scandal

Speaker John Boehner expressed “full confidence” in Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the No. 3 Republican leader in the House, “as he sought to quell a racially charged controversy shaking the party after Mr. Scalise confirmed that he had addressed a white supremacist group a dozen years ago,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Boehner’s statement of support was his first public comment since the news broke on Monday night, a period filled with calls from some Republican and conservative commentators, as well as Democrats, for Republican leaders to shove Mr. Scalise from the leadership post. The flap roiled Republicans just as they were poised for a celebratory takeover of Congress when the new session opens next week.”

Congress Avoids Being Least Productive in History

Pew Research: “With the 113th Congress now in the history books, we conducted a final tally of our nation’s legislative productivity — in terms of both total laws passed and of substance. Our calculation finds that the 113th just barely avoided the dubious title of ‘least productive Congress in modern history.’ But that’s only because of an exceptionally active lame duck session.”

House GOP Leader Spoke to White Supremacists

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the No. 3 Republican in the House, addressed a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in 2002, the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Scalise made his remarks to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, which was founded two years earlier by David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana politician… It was unclear what the revelation means for Mr. Scalise’s future in the House leadership. Speaker John A. Boehner declined to comment on the reports.”

Washington Post: “The news could complicate Republican efforts to project the sense of a fresh start for a resurgent, diversifying party as the new session of Congress opens next week.”

Webb PAC Funneled Money to Family Members

Jim Webb (D), who launched a 2016 presidential exploratory committee last month, paid nearly $100,000 to his wife and daughter through his “Born Fighting PAC”, according to Business Insider.

“Records show his committee essentially ceased political activities once Webb revealed his decision to depart Congress. However, Born Fighting PAC continued to contribute to Webb’s family long after it stopped giving to the candidates and groups it was ostensibly established to support… The majority of the money Webb’s wife and daughter received from the committee came after it stopped giving money to politicians and political groups.”

Grimm Will Resign from Congress

Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) will resign on Tuesday or Wednesday, a week after he pleaded guilty to felony tax fraud, the New York Daily News reports.

Grimm spoke with House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) by phone Monday, according to Republicans familiar with the exchange.

Politico: “Boehner aides would not comment on their discussion, calling it a private talk between members.”

Documents Reveal Details of Ensign Investigation

Three years after the fall of former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV), “thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents reveal new details about the evidence the F.B.I. gathered against Mr. Ensign,” the New York Times reports.

“Although the broad outlines of the case against Mr. Ensign have been made public, the documents disclose for the first time how much Mr. Ensign strong-armed political donors and business associates in 2008 to find lobbying work for Douglas Hampton, a top aide and close friend. Mr. Ensign was seeking the work in an attempt to placate Mr. Hampton because Mr. Ensign had an affair with Mr. Hampton’s wife, Cynthia Hampton, a campaign aide.”

“But the records indicate that the investigation took a sharp turn as prosecutors ultimately decided not to charge Mr. Ensign, even though his colleagues on the Senate Ethics Committee, in a rare step, urged the Justice Department to consider seeking criminal charges.”

Couple Forced to Move Wedding So Obama Could Play Golf

“A couple getting married near President Obama’s vacation spot in Hawaii learned the hard way that the big day rarely goes exactly as planned,” the AP reports.

“The bride and groom — both U.S. Army captains — were scheduled to tie the knot Sunday at Kaneohe Klipper Golf Course, a military course with ocean views near Obama’s rented vacation home in Kailua. But on Saturday, they were told they’d have to move their wedding away from the 16th hole because Obama and his friends planned to golf.”

CNN reports Obama called the couple to apologize.

5 Ways Obama Can Mess with Republicans in 2015

President Obama “knows how to get under Republicans’ skin (in so many ways, but in this case we’re talking about going around Congress to get things done), and he ended 2014 with a bang: A climate deal with China. Executive action on immigration. A move to normalize relations with Cuba,” Bloomberg reports.

“As he makes his New Year’s resolutions, the liberated, second-term, post-midterm president’s list may well include some new maneuvers to enrage the opposition party. Here are five ways he could do it again in 2015.”

Bush Jumps to Top of GOP Field

A new CNN/ORC poll finds Jeb Bush with the support of 23% of Republicans, 10 points higher than his nearest rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Cristie.

Byron York: “But amid all those names — 14 in all — CNN left one off: Mitt Romney. The 2012 Republican nominee has been leading the GOP field in surveys that include his name — indeed, he led CNN’s November poll, with 20 percent to Bush’s 9 percent. Did Romney’s support disappear in the space of a month, even as Bush announced he is ‘actively exploring’ a presidential run?”

Graham Says Immigration Is Key to 2016 GOP Hopes

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN that the Republican Party’s chances of winning the White House in 2016 will be “almost non-existent” if it does not take a step toward immigration reform.

Said Graham: “If we don’t at least make a down payment on solving the problem and rationally dealing with the 11 million, if we become the party of self-deportation in 2015 and 2016, then the chance of winning the White House I think is almost non-existent.”

Quote of the Day

“The mayor is not in any way to be treated with people turning their backs. It doesn’t matter whether you like the mayor or you don’t like the mayor, you have to respect the mayor’s position.”

— Rudy Giuliani, quoted by Newsday, after New York City police turned their backs to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) speaking at a police officer’s funeral.

Senate Republicans Move to Defense in 2016

“A cursory glance at the 2016 Senate map shows a slew of endangered Republicans up in two years — with few opportunities for offense as in 2014, when the GOP won nine Democratic-held seats to grab control of the chamber,” Politico reports.

“But a closer look at some of 2016’s most intriguing and competitive races suggests that the battle for Senate control is more complicated than it seems. In states like Pennsylvania and Illinois, for example, Democrats aren’t convinced they have candidates that are both willing to run and packing enough star wattage and talent to topple first-term incumbents. And in others — like Kansas, Iowa and North Carolina, where Democrats thought they had a fighting chance in 2014 — Republican incumbents up in 2016 seem better positioned to win another six years.”

“The GOP also enters the new election cycle with a four- or five-seat cushion, depending on which party wins the presidency. And Republicans are crowing that, so far, all of their incumbents seem primed to run for reelection. Democrats lost three of the four open-seat races prompted by their party’s retirements in 2014.”

The Hill: 10 Senators who could lose in 2016

Obama’s Big Glaring Failure

The Atlantic: “If a few things break Barack Obama’s way, history may well judge his presidency quite successful. As presidencies recede, we tend to focus on a few big achievements or failures, and Obama might eventually be seen to have staved off a depression; to have established a national health-care safety net; to have patiently set relations with China and Iran on a sounder footing. Yet there’s one area where Obama has clearly failed so far: he’s done next to nothing to build confidence in government itself. His lack of obvious interest in doing so has been baffling.”