February, 2018

GOP Lawmaker Charged with Extorting Page for Sex

A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday accuses Rhode Island state Sen. Nicholas Kettle (R) of extorting sex from a page in the Senate’s page program, the AP reports.

Providence Journal: “The alleged victim was a legislative page in 2011 and 2012, when he was 16 or 17 years old. Legislative pages range in age from 15 to college-age, and run errands for the lawmakers in the State House, including shuttling paperwork and bringing water.”

Fox News Plans Streaming Service for ‘Superfans’

New York Times: “On Tuesday, Fox News is set to announce Fox Nation, a stand-alone subscription service available without a cable package. The streaming service, expected to start by the end of the year, would focus primarily on right-leaning commentary, with original shows and cameos by popular personalities like Sean Hannity.”

Said Fox executive John Finley: “Fox Nation is designed to appeal to the Fox superfan. These are the folks who watch Fox News every night for hours at a time, the dedicated audience that really wants more of what we have to offer.”

New Pennsylvania Map Is a Win for Democrats

Nate Cohn: “Perhaps no event will do more to reshape the fight for control of the House than the new congressional map just released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.”

“Democrats couldn’t have asked for much more from the new map. It’s arguably even better for them than the maps they proposed themselves. Over all, a half-dozen competitive Republican-held congressional districts move to the left, endangering several incumbent Republicans, one of whom may now be all but doomed to defeat, and improving Democratic standing in two open races.”

Said GOP consultant Christopher Nicholas to Politico: “This is pretty close to a Democratic wet dream.”

Rooney Says He Won’t Run Again

Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) announced “he will not seek reelection, making him the latest in a growing list of incumbent Republicans who are not going to compete for their House seat,” Politico reports.

He did not cite a specific reason for not running for reelection, but only said he was looking forward to “serving Florida again in the future.”

Donald Trump won the district by 27 points in 2016.

Mueller’s Interest In Kushner Grows

“Special counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in Jared Kushner has expanded beyond his contacts with Russia and now includes his efforts to secure financing for his company from foreign investors during the presidential transition,” CNN reports.

“This is the first indication that Mueller is exploring Kushner’s discussions with potential non-Russian foreign investors, including in China.”

“Mueller’s investigators have been asking questions, including during interviews in January and February, about Kushner’s conversations during the transition to shore up financing for 666 Fifth Avenue, a Kushner Companies-backed New York City office building reeling from financial troubles.”

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White House Official Says Shooting Was a ‘Reprieve’

A White House official told the Washington Post that the mass shooting as a Florida school last week gave a White House struggling with a domestic abuse scandal a break.

Said the official: “For everyone, it was a distraction or a reprieve. A lot of people here felt like it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled… But as we all know, sadly, when the coverage dies down a little bit, we’ll be back through the chaos.”

New Pennsylvania Map Should Help Democrats

“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Monday released a new congressional district map to be used for the 2018 elections for U.S. House seats,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

“Its plan splits only 13 counties. Of those, four counties are split into three districts and nine are split into two districts. By contrast the most recent map, enacted in 2011, split 28 counties… Many of the changes seem generally favorable for Democrats.”

Rick Hasen: “The early indications are that this is a much more competitive map which will help the Democrats compared to the gerrymandered maps drawn by the Republican legislature. Given Nate Persily’s general reputation for fairness, I expect that these maps will be fair and comply with the requirements set out by the state Supreme Court.”

Can Beto O’Rourke Be a Giant Killer?

New York Times: “It has been so bleak for Democrats in Texas that they define victory in terms of the size of their losses. A running joke in Mr. O’Rourke’s speeches is that he has almost convinced his mother, Melissa, a Republican, to vote for him.”

“But there is power in the giant-killer narrative and signs that his anti-campaign playbook campaign is working. He raised $2.4 million in the last quarter, and gets applause when he notes that was $500,000 more than Mr. Cruz took in.”

“He has a restless energy that has put him in 217 of Texas 254 counties, driving tens of thousands of miles, fueled by bad coffee and Hostess cupcakes that supporters bring him.”