Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) “hopes to turn the state’s ethics panel into a truth squad that checks the veracity of claims made by politicians, but the bill’s prospects of becoming law appeared dim Wednesday as opponents warned it could violate the First Amendment’s protection of free speech,” the AP reports.
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Nature: “The Solar System just got a lot more far-flung. Astronomers have discovered1 a probable dwarf planet that orbits the Sun far beyond Pluto, in the most distant trajectory known… The newfound object’s official name is 2012 VP113, but the discovery team calls it VP for short, or just ‘Biden’ — after US Vice-President Joe Biden.”
A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds Gov. Jerry Brown (D) leading the race for governor with 47%, followed by Tim Donnelly (R) at 10% and Neel Kashkari (R) and Andrew Blount (R) at just 2%.
First Read: “Right now, Republicans’ strategy for the midterm elections is simple: Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare. And the strategy makes sense given the law’s overall unpopularity and the largely red-state playing field in the midterms. But is there a point at which the Obamacare-all-the-time playbook yields diminishing returns? According to a health-care tracking poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 53% of all respondents — including 51% of independents and even 47% of Republicans — said they are tired about hearing the debate over the health-care law and think the country should focus on other issues.”
“It will be interesting to track similar polling over the next few months. Still, the law remains pretty unpopular; the same poll shows 46% holding an unfavorable view of it, versus 38% with a favorable view (but that’s an improvement from January, when it was 50% unfavorable, 34% favorable).”
In a new campaign video, Alabama congressional candidate Will Brooke (R) “sits on the tailgate of a pickup beside a foot-high stack of printer paper, a wooden box, and a scoped rifle,” the Birmingham News reports.
Said Brooke: “We’re down here to have a little fun today, and talk about two serious subjects: The Second Amendment, and let’s see how much damage we can do to this copy of Obamacare.”
Watch the ad to see what happens next.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says undergoing stomach banding surgery more than a year ago was a “life-changing decision,” the AP reports.
“Christie says he works out four days a week and has achieved better health. The 51-year-old governor hasn’t said how many pounds he’s shed, but he has become noticeably thinner since secretly undergoing the surgery last February.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) campaign paid his granddaughter at least $31,000, Jon Ralston reports.
Reid’s response: “My granddaughter has been the target of harassing phone calls, strangers tracking her down and knocking on her door and negative, unwanted attention on the internet. This has gone too far and it needs to stop now. I deeply regret any role I had in creating this situation but now, as a grandparent, I say enough is enough.”
Though he’s playing the role of “aggrieved grandfather,” Reid has promised to reimburse his campaign.
Rick Santorum said that he “wasn’t ripped off in Iowa,” even though he was told on the night of the 2012 GOP caucuses that he’d lost by eight votes only to learn 10 days later that he’d actually won by 34 votes, the Des Moines Register reports.
Said Santorum: “I don’t think there’s anything for Iowa to apologize for… People say, you really got ripped off in Iowa and I say, ‘No, I didn’t.'”
He added that the 42-vote differential “in this case turned out to be the difference between who won and who lost” but “in most cases that would be ‘who cares.'”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) “has become the first Republican to assemble a network in all 50 states as a precursor to a 2016 presidential run, the latest sign that he is looking to build a more mainstream coalition than the largely ad hoc one that backed his father’s unsuccessful campaigns,” the Washington Post reports.
“Paul’s move, which comes nearly two years before the 2016 primaries, also signals an effort to win the confidence of skeptical members of the Republican establishment, many of whom doubt that his appeal will translate beyond the libertarian base that was attracted to Ron Paul, the former Texas congressman.”
A new Quinnipiac poll in Virginia finds Sen. Mark Warner (D) leading Ed Gillespie (R) for U.S. Senate by double-digits, 46% to 31%, with Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis at 6%.
“An internal investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures conducted by lawyers hired by the Christie administration is expected to absolve additional members of Gov. Chris Christie’s senior staff from being involved in the matter,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The review narrows responsibility for planning the disruptive lane closures to those who have already been named: Bridget Kelly, Mr. Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, and former Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official David Wildstein, according to a person familiar with the findings.”
“No other Christie administration members were involved in planning the closures or seeking to cover them up after, the person said. The report is also expected to find that Mr. Christie didn’t have any involvement in the lane closures.”
“As the U.S. Secret Service arrived in the Netherlands last weekend for a presidential trip, managers were already on high alert to avoid any further embarrassing incidents involving agents,” the Washington Post reports.
“The agency’s director had admonished supervisors after two counter-sniper officers suspected of drinking were involved in a March 7 car accident during a presidential visit to Miami, according to several people with knowledge of the incident. The driver passed a field sobriety test and was not arrested.”
A new Marquette Law School Poll in Wisconsin finds Gov. Scott Walker (R) leading challenger Mary Burke (D) in the race for governor, 48% to 41%.
Key finding: 47% of respondents approve of the job Walker is doing as governor while an equal 47% disapprove.
NBC News: “As Republicans complain about the Obama administration’s latest deadline extension for Americans to purchase health insurance, Democrats are countering with this reminder: The Bush administration did something similar in 2006.”
“Back then, as it was implementing the Medicare prescription-drug benefit Bush had signed into law, the GOP presidential administration announced it was waiving penalties for low-income seniors and those with disabilities who signed up late.”
“Men in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un,” the BBC reports.
“The state-sanctioned guidelines were introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, media reports say. They are now being rolled out across the country — although some people have reservations about getting the look.”
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon (D) was arrested on federal public corruption laws, the Charlotte Observer reports.
“Cannon solicited and accepted money bribes and things of value from undercover FBI agents, who were posing as commercial real estate developers and investors wishing to do business in Charlotte.”
The complaint is pretty stunning.
California state Sen. Leland Yee (D) “was taken into San Francisco’s Federal Building wearing handcuffs after he was detained Wednesday morning in connection with a political corruption probe,” KTVU-TV reported.