April, 2015

Ex-Christie Aide Will Plead Guilty in Bridge Scandal

David Wildstein, “a former ally of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) who ordered intentional traffic jams near the George Washington Bridge, is scheduled to plead guilty to criminal charges on Thursday,” Bloomberg reports.

“Wildstein is set to appear in federal court in Newark, where grand jurors have heard testimony in secret for months about gridlock over four mornings in Fort Lee, New Jersey, according to the person, who requested anonymity because the matter isn’t public. He would plead guilty to a charging document known as a criminal information, the person said. It was unclear what the specific charges would be.”

Clinton Worried About Bush Fundraising

Hillary Clinton “had once planned to wait until May to hold her first fund-raising events. But in the last two weeks, she has moved up her schedule, primarily out of concern about Jeb Bush’s extensive super PAC fundraising,” the New York Times reports.

“The move to make a quicker dash for campaign funds, according to people close to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, was driven by the Democratic candidate’s concern about the amount of money that Jeb Bush had been raising for his super PAC.”

Walker Has Strong Ties to Top GOP Donors

“Scott Walker enters the Republican presidential race with far stronger ties to the party’s biggest fund-raisers than any other candidate besides Jeb Bush,” The Upshot reports.

“Roughly half of the nation’s top 250 Republican donors have given money to Mr. Walker in his campaigns for Wisconsin governor, according to an Upshot analysis of Federal Election Commission records and state records. By comparison, 30 percent have given to Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, 20 percent to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and 10 percent to Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.”

U.S. Military Quietly Expands Role in Afghanistan

“Months after President Obama formally declared that the United States’ long war against the Taliban was over in Afghanistan, the American military is regularly conducting airstrikes against low-level insurgent forces and sending Special Operations troops directly into harm’s way under the guise of ‘training and advising,'” the New York Times reports.

“In public, officials have emphasized that the Taliban are not being targeted unless it is for ‘force protection’ — where the insurgents were immediately threatening American forces. But interviews with American and Western officials in Kabul and Washington offer a picture of a more aggressive range of military operations against the Taliban in recent months, as the insurgents have continued to make gains against struggling government forces.”

What Bernie Sanders Means to Hillary Clinton

Rick Klein: “Bernie Sanders has almost no realistic chance of becoming the Democratic nominee for president. But that’s not the most effective way to think about his candidacy. His presence in the race ensures that Hillary Clinton will be pressed continually and consistently from the left — and now potentially from across the debate stage. Interest in Sanders will be driven by many of the same activists and other Democratic faithful who wanted so desperately to see Elizabeth Warren in the race. And Sanders’ timing could hardly be better: the left is growing anxious over President Obama’s agenda and nervous that Hillary Clinton might be tempted to provide minimal amounts of daylight between her policy positions and his.”

181 Clinton Foundation Donors Lobbied State Department

“The size and scope of the symbiotic relationship between the Clintons and their donors is striking. At least 181 companies, individuals, and foreign governments that have given to the Clinton Foundation also lobbied the State Department when Hillary Clinton ran the place,” according to a Vox analysis of foundation records and federal lobbying disclosures.

First Read: “Folks, this is after the safeguards/disclosures put in place after Clinton became Obama’s secretary of state to avoid conflicts of interest. This should be the question for Hillary going forward: If you become president, how do you create safeguards that you won’t be influenced by those who have given money to the Clinton Foundation or Bill Clinton (through his speaking fees)?”

O’Malley Heckled as He Walks Streets of Baltimore

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley (D) “was heckled on a packed street corner in West Baltimore Tuesday, after he cut short a trip to Europe to return to the city he led as mayor for seven years,” the Washington Post reports.

“O’Malley, who is preparing to launch a White House bid, waded into a crowd near the burned-out shell of a CVS pharmacy that was destroyed and looted Monday night. He was confronted by two men on motorcycles who shouted expletives and blamed the recent violence in the city on O’Malley’s tough-on-crime policies from 1999 to 2007.”

Wonk Wire: Inequality in Baltimore mapped

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Judicial Candidates Soliciting Donations

Rick Hasen: “In a surprise and very important development, the Supreme Court has rejected a First Amendment challenge to Florida’s ban on the personal solicitation of campaign contributions by judicial candidates. Even more surprising, the Court’s opinion (a plurality in part) is authored by Chief Justice Roberts, who usually sides with First Amendment challengers in these election/campaign cases. This is a case which makes it much more likely that limits on money and speech in judicial elections will be upheld, and it seems to offer some broader important nuances on the scope of narrow tailoring in analyzing First Amendment challenges under the First Amendment.”

“This is a HUGE win for those who support reasonable limits on judicial elections—and getting Roberts on this side of the issue is surprising, welcome, and momentous.”

Clinton Could Make History In Another Way

Politico: “If elected, Hillary Clinton would make history as the first woman to occupy the Oval Office. There is, however, another historical precedent she might set. If Clinton wins the presidency, and the Republicans retain the Senate and the House of Representatives, it will be the first time in the history of the Democratic party—going back 188 years—that a Democrat will be elected president with the opposition party controlling both chambers of congress.”

“Only three times in the history of the office has a newly-elected president been faced with the opposition party controlling both houses—Zachary Taylor in 1848, Richard Nixon in 1968 and George H. W. Bush in 1988.”

Justice Scalia’s Shameful Joke

Jeffrey Toobin: “There was a shocking, ugly moment during the argument of Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case, in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Right after Mary Bonauto, the lawyer challenging marriage bans in several states, completed her argument, a spectator rose from a back row and started screaming, ‘If you support gay marriage, you will burn in Hell!’ As the man yelled, ‘It’s an abomination!,’ guards carried him from the courtroom.”

“That wasn’t the ugly part, though. In the quiet moment after the man was removed, as his shouts vanished into the hallway, Justice Antonin Scalia filled the silence with a quip. ‘It was rather refreshing, actually,’ he said.”

Most Republicans Would Attend a Gay Wedding

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds a majority of Republicans would attend the same-sex wedding of a loved one, highlighting the political risks for Republican presidential candidates who stake out positions against gay marriage.

“The poll showed 56% of Republicans would attend the gay wedding of a loved one if invited. That compares with 80% of Democrats and 70% of independents, who said they would go. Overall, 68% of Americans would attend, the poll showed, while 19% would not and 13% were unsure.”

Washington Post: “As the gay marriage debate plays out on the national stage, it is also playing out in the Republican primary. And while at first glance the candidates seemed to be mostly aligned, some differences have emerged that could help or hurt them in the primary.”