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GOP Watch Keeping an Eye on Republicans for You - Page 5

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.” ― Theodore Roosevelt Welcome to GOP Watch keeping an eye on Republicans for you. The Republican Party is using lies, hate, fear, alterative facts and whataboutism to stay in power and protect a comprised and corrupt Donald J. Trump, the Republican Party and Putin. The GOP is a danger to America and Americans.

Story by Brad Reed

Several members of the Kansas Republican Party are up in arms over a new plan by some officials to remove its own minority, women's and youth groups from positions of party leadership. The Wichita Eagle reports that the plan to remove the groups from the state party's executive board "would enhance the power of chairman Mike Brown, who won his position by just two votes earlier this year."

The plan's supporters, however, argue that the move is not a power grab but is rather a way to remodel the state party to be more like the Republican National Committee that features "only... members elected by county precinct committee people." However, representatives from the groups that could be excluded are not happy about the proposal in the slightest.

Opinion by Kali Holloway

For four decades, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has extolled the importance of “personal responsibility.” He has chastised those who “make excuses for black Americans” and argued there is a need to “emphasize black self-help.” He has denigrated affirmative action programs on the grounds that they “create a narcotic of dependency” where there should be “an ethic of responsibility and independence.” He bemoans the “ideology of victimhood” that allows the marginalized to “make demands on society for reparations and recompense.”

In light of recent revelations that Thomas has been showered by billionaire Harlan Crow with over two decades’ worth of getaways on superyachts and private jets and various other gifts, none of which he ever reported, the jurist’s long con of principled advocacy for Black self-reliance and opposition to white largesse has finally run its course. Turns out, Thomas was never against reparations—he just wanted them for himself. He is and always has been precisely what he wrongly accuses Black folks of being.

It’s been a con run by a self-serving fabulist all along. In 1980, Thomas caught the attention of the incoming president, Ronald Reagan, with a speech in which he used the “welfare queen” stereotype against his own sister. “She gets mad when the mailman is late with her welfare check. That is how dependent she is,” Thomas told an audience of fellow Black Republicans. “What’s worse is that now her kids feel entitled to the check too. They have no motivation for doing better or getting out of that situation.” A 1991 Los Angeles Times investigation found Thomas’s sister was, in fact, an underpaid single mother who used the social safety net during a brief rough patch; her children weren’t the entitled layabouts depicted by Thomas, either.

Story by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

In Republican Governor Ron DeSantis‘ “Free State of Florida,” as of July 1 it will be illegal for physicians and other medical professionals to refuse to treat unvaccinated patients. It will be illegal to mandate vaccines. It will be illegal to mandate the wearing of masks. It will be illegal to require a “vaccine passport.”

But, also in Ron DeSantis’ “Free State of Florida,” it will be legal for a physician or other medical professional to refuse to treat a patient who is LGBTQ for a “specific health care service” if it violates their “conscience.” And legal for insurance companies to refuse to cover patients who are LGBTQ for a “specific health care service” again, if it violates their “conscience.”

“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies will now be enshrined in state law as the Governor signed bills that will make permanent bans on vaccine and mask mandates as well as give a shield to doctors who deviate from other medical professionals,” Florida Politics reports.

Story by LGBTQNation

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has signed the “Protections of Medical Conscience Act,” a law that allows healthcare providers or payors to deny service on the basis of “a conscience-based objection,” including any ethical, moral, or religious beliefs. The bill provides no definition for what constitutes a “moral” or “ethical” belief.

The law seeks to protect health care providers and payers from the “threat of discrimination for providing conscience-based health care.” However, advocates worry it’ll be used to deny LGBTQ+ people gender-affirming care, HIV-prevention medication, and other essential and life-saving care.

Story by Sky Palma

Two new Holocaust-themed textbooks have been rejected by Florida’s state education department and another book was forced to change a passage about the Hebrew Bible in order to be approved by the state, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.

As JTA points out, the rejection of the books comes as Florida cracks down on "woke indoctrination" in a campaign against materials of a certain ideological origin that deal with race and gender -- now the policy is affecting Jewish topics as well.

One of the rejected Holocaust textbooks was called “Modern Genocides,” and the other was an online learning course titled “History of the Holocaust" intended for high school students.

Story by Gideon Rubin

House Oversight Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) during a news conference Wednesday morning touted the findings of a congressional probe linking President Joe Biden to millions of dollars in payments from China and Romania to members of his family.

But despite his proclamations to the contrary, Comer didn’t produce any damaging evidence against the president, and he heard about it during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” Thursday.

“You don’t actually have any facts to that point,” host Steve Doocy told the far-right congressman.

“And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn’t profit is — there’s no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally.”

Story by Tatyana Tandanpolie

Fox News host Steve Doocy shot down Rep. James Comer's, R-Ky., claims that President Joe Biden and his family conducted an "influence peddling scheme" Thursday morning.

During an interview with the GOP House Oversight chairman on "Fox & Friends," Doocy broke down Comer's alleged evidence of Biden's wrongdoing.

"I know the Republicans said that the smoking gun were these financial records that you were able to subpoena and got your hands on," Doocy told the representative. "And your party, the Republican investigators, say that that's proof of influence peddling by Hunter and James [Biden]."

"But that's just your suggestion. You don't actually have any facts to that point. You've got some circumstantial evidence," Doocy continued, adding "And the other thing is, of all those names, the one person who didn't profit is — there's no evidence that Joe Biden did anything illegally."

David Edwards

'I didn't say that!' Jim Jordan clashes with Dem after he's accused of wanting to defund FBI
David Edwards

At a House Judiciary Committee hearing about the POLICE Act, which cracks down on crimes by immigrants, Dean said the committee should also be focused on recent mass shootings.

"House Republicans have set their sights on defunding and abolishing federal law enforcement agencies," she asserted. "This is a hypocrisy. It's an oxymoron, what we're participating here."

"Remember, Chairman Jordan has said he wants to use the power of the majority to cut funding for the DOJ and the FBI," Dean remarked. "Matt Gaetz, Mr. Gaetz, the gentleman from Florida, wants to abolish the ATF."

Story by rcohen@insider.com (Rebecca Cohen,Madison Hall)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — who accepted lavish gifts and luxury vacations from a billionaire for years — signed off on a Supreme Court opinion Thursday arguing that a law prohibiting taking bribes is too vague to be fairly enforced.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a concurring opinion — on which Thomas signed off — that a federal anti-bribery law wasn't clear enough.

The case involved Joseph Percoco, a former aide of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who was accused of taking money from a local developer and convicted in 2018 of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud.

Story by klong@insider.com (Katherine Long)

The Republican pollster Ryan Tyson, who is expected to be the political director of Gov. Ron DeSantis' presumptive presidential bid, was deeply enmeshed in a major Florida political-corruption scandal that has resulted in criminal charges for five people, two of whom have been convicted.

At the center of the scandal are "ghost candidates" — those drafted to run purely to siphon votes from an opposing party in close races.

After receiving money from a nonprofit affiliated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tyson funneled $600,000 to a dark-money group, Grow United, that supported three ghost candidates running for Florida's Senate, according to court records. The candidates had no political experience and did not campaign. One candidate was paid $44,000 to run.

Story by Dasha Burns and Jonathan Allen

CINCINNATI — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that he and then-President Donald Trump "could have done a better job" keeping the federal debt in check.

"The trillions of dollars that we appropriated for families and businesses and health care in this country during Covid — it's what government's for during a time of national emergency," Pence said. "But let me stipulate ... we could have done a better job of controlling spending under our administration."

His assessment, delivered in an exclusive interview, came at the same time President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., clashed in face-to-face negotiations over how to avoid a federal default.

Much as Pence acknowledged the Trump administration's role in accumulating debt, he criticized Biden for "runaway federal spending" in his two-plus years in office and said it is up to the president to strike a deal that averts an economic crisis.

Story by Matthew Chapman

AHouse Republican investigation led by Oversight Chair James Comer (R-KY) has been trying to link President Joe Biden and his family to accusations of essentially accepting bribes from foreign countries. But Politico reports they have yet to deliver the goods — and are under pressure to do so, at the risk of their probe losing steam and legitimacy.

"The Oversight Committee chair’s pivotal moment comes in the form of a long-planned press conference on his panel’s investigation into President Joe Biden, his son Hunter who’s already facing a federal investigation, and other family members. Comer’s move follows weeks of dou

Story by Ken Meyer

The regional director of the Texas Department of Safety poked a huge hole in claims put forth by right-wingers who have doubted the reported neo-Nazi affiliations of the Allen Premium Outlets shooter.

Hank Sibley held a press conference on Tuesday to give an update into the ongoing investigation of Mauricio Garcia, the deceased 33-year-old former security guard who carried out the massacre. After addressing Garcia’s expulsion from the military over mental health concerns and the investigation into his weapons, the Texas DPS official said “we don’t know” what was the motive behind the shooting.

“We do know that he had Neo-Nazi ideation,” Sibley added. “He had patches, he had tattoos, even his signature verified that. That’s one thing we do know. We’re trying to get into his computer and on social media and find out whether he had anything that he publicized.”

Opinion by Law Ware

Another day, another ethics complaint against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

In 1991, when President George H. W. Bush nominated Thomas to succeed retiring Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, we learned during the confirmation hearings about the alleged sexual harassment that Anita Hill endured while they both worked at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The evidence against him was overwhelming and persuasive, but despite very convincing testimony given by Hill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was still appointed to the Supreme Court by a vote of 52-48, what was then considered the narrowest of margins. That is damning. But seeing how Brett Kavanaugh was appointed on a vote of 50-48, an even narrower margin in 2018, despite clear evidence of sexual harassment, it seems to be par for the course.

Story by Devlin Barrett, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Shayna Jacobs, Perry Stein

Rep. George Santos, the freshman Republican congressman whose myriad falsehoods became both a scandal and a national punchline, was charged with a host of financial crimes in court papers unsealed Wednesday.

Santos, 34, surrendered to federal authorities in the morning and is expected to appear in a federal courthouse in Central Islip, on Long Island, later Wednesday. Officials said he has been charged with fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and false statements. The congressman and his lawyer did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Santos stands accused of defrauding prospective donors to his campaign and the state of New York, as well as making false statements to the House Committee on Ethics. He faces seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of lying to the House of Representatives on financial forms.

Story by Julia Rock

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas has abandoned his own stated principles and changed his position on one of America’s most significant regulatory doctrines. Why? A dark money network of conservative billionaires is making his family rich.

Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas changed his position on one of America’s most significant regulatory doctrines after his wife reportedly accepted secret payments from a shadowy conservative network pushing for the change. Thomas’s shift also came while he was receiving lavish gifts from a billionaire linked to other groups criticizing the same doctrine — which is now headed back to the high court.

Beware of false prophets

Opinion by Matthew Chapman

Far-right Christians are turning their backs on Biblical teachings, instead embracing near-totally areligious figures like Tucker Carlson in their war for political supremacy, New York Times columnist David French wrote Monday.

"On April 25, the far-right network Newsmax hosted a fascinating and revealing conversation about Tucker Carlson with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, one of America’s leading Christian conservative advocacy organizations," wrote French.

Perkins, whose organization is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, lamented the firing of Carlson and Bill O'Reilly by Fox News as a betrayal of conservatives.

But "what was missing from the conversation? Any mention of the profound moral failings that cost O’Reilly his job, including at least six settlements — five for sexual harassment and one for verbal abuse — totaling approximately $45 million. Or any mention of Carlson’s own serious problems, including his serial dishonesty, his vile racism and his gross personal insult directed against a senior Fox executive."

Story by Andrew Stanton

Republican mayors rejected progressive criminal justice reforms embraced by their Democratic counterparts, but factors such as inequality and guns are still driving crime in larger conservative cities, experts told Newsweek.

The GOP has seized on Democrats' support for criminal justice reform in recent election cycles, arguing these policies lead to higher crime rates in large cities. Instead, Republicans have offered "tough on crime" and pro-police positions that have proved salient, helping them secure control of Congress during the 2022 midterm elections.

However, a city's partisan lean generally does not necessarily correlate with its crime rate, according to data compiled by Newsweek. While cities like Chicago and Philadelphia indeed have higher crime rates than other cities, places like New York City or Los Angeles, frequently cast as crime-ridden by Republicans, have crime rates on par or lower than many cities led by Republicans.

New York City has particularly faced scrutiny following former President Donald Trump's indictment in April. Republicans have sought to accuse Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg of ignoring crime in the city while engaging in a politically motivated prosecution. However, conservative cities like Jacksonville, Florida; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Miami all reported higher crime rates in 2021.

Story by Tom Boggioni

Appearing on MSNBC the day after yet another mass shooting claimed eight lives in Allen, Texas, a former gun industry executive who walked away torched Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for paving the way for high-powered weapons to be readily available to almost anyone who wants one.

Speaking with fill-in host Michael Steele, Ryan Busse said what happened at the mall late Saturday is another example of the insanity that has gripped the country and then singled out the Texas Republican for his part in kowtowing to gun rights extremists.

"Here we are again," the author of 'Gunfight: My Battle Against the Industry that Radicalized America' began. "This terror that we're living in our country is really a byproduct of as Jim, our ATF friend mentioned. It's a byproduct of an all-or-nothing authoritarian NRA governance that has been adopted by the GOP."

Story by Tom Boggioni

Avery emotional Joe Scarborough dropped the hammer on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) over comments he made following yet another mass shooting in Texas where he ducked saying anything about dealing with his state's gun problem.

Monday's "Morning Joe" kicked off with a clip of a survivor -- a former police officer \-- of the Allen shooting that took eight lives claiming the problem is not mental health, it's too many guns.

After showing Abbott's response on Fox News, the MSNBC host went on an extensive attack on the Texas governor for his continual boosting of putting more guns on the streets.

Story by Amanda Marcotte

Late last month, a bill that would have banned nearly all abortion (and likely would have been used to restrict hormonal birth control as well) was defeated in the South Carolina state senate, despite it being one of the most conservative legislatures in the country. The defeat drew national headines in no small part because of how it went down: The only five women in the Senate, three of whom are Republicans, filibustered the bill into oblivion. At times, the Republican women sounded downright, well, feminist. "Once a woman became pregnant for any reason, she would now become the property of the state of South Carolina," state senator Katrina Shealy declared angrily during debate.

South Carolina is not some outlier state where the rare bird of the pro-choice Republican flourishes, to be clear. In the same speech denouncing abortion bans, Shealy insisted she is still "pro-life." It's just that these women are learning a hard lesson, as are many other Republican women, both leaders and voters. It was easy enough to be "pro-life" when Roe v. Wade was the law of the land. That meant you could sit in judgment of other women, without ever worrying that you or your loved ones would lose access. Indeed, it was easy enough to pass restrictions that made it harder for poor women or young women to get abortions, so long as Republican women could be assured their privilege would smooth the way for their abortions.

Opinion by Luke Wachob

Critics of Justice Clarence Thomas are working overtime to cancel him. That’s no surprise. A longtime thorn in the side of liberal causes, Thomas has evoked a particular hatred from the proponents of cancel culture since he put them on notice over a decade ago.

Thomas not only blasted their unseemly tactics, but he tried to do something about them. In a concurring opinion in the 2010 case Citizens United v. FEC, Thomas called for stronger privacy protections to fight this toxic trend.

Story by Tommy Christopher

CNN’s Chris Wallace stuck to his guns after GOP Senator Bill Cassidy bristled at his description of the “Trump tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations.”

This week’s episodes of Wallace’s HBO Max/CNN series Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace featured an interview with country superstar Miranda Lambert and a new format for the show: a dual interview with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy and Democratic Senator Ben Cardin pegged to the roiling debt limit snafu.

At one point in the joint interview, Cassidy objected to Wallace’s citation of the Trump tax cuts, and Wallace gave an immediate rejoinder:

Story by Virginia Chamlee

Republican Mark Robinson, a current candidate for governor, once called school shooting survivors "spoiled little b-----ds" in a Facebook post and justified the shooting of protestors on a podcast.

North Carolina Republican Mark Robinson — the state's lieutenant governor and a contender for governor in 2024 — once called school shooting survivors "spoiled little b-----ds" and justified the shooting of protestors, according to old social media posts and a 2018 podcast unearthed by CNN’s KFile.

Following the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Robinson took to Facebook to lambast the teenaged survivors who were advocating for stricter gun control policies, calling them "spoiled, angry, know it all CHILDREN,” “spoiled little b-----ds,” and “media prosti-tots," CNN reports.

Story by Meaghan Ellis

One senator recently explained all of the possible violations U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas could face over payments made to him and his wife, Ginni Thomas.

On Friday, May 5, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) appeared on MSNBC's "All In with Chris Hayes" where he weighed in with his take on the questionable payments. According to Whitehouse, the payments may ultimately lead to potential tax violations and even fraud.

“Do you think the notion that Roberts and the chief justice of the court should police itself over this is sufficient?” Hayes asked. “No,” Whitehouse stated as he noted that there have been ethical concerns within the high court although no actions have been implemented to increase accountability.

Story by Kaila Philo

As Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) readies his impending presidential run, he’s built a brand largely off of former president Donald Trump’s: appearing “tough on crime” and making noise about election security.

Florida’s Office of Election Crimes and Security (OECS) is at the nexus of those issues. Launched last year, DeSantis has said the new police force will investigate fraud allegations throughout the state in order to find violations of election law. But state Democrats and activists alike see it as a political stunt designed to be “splattered across front pages,” as DeSantis tries to court Trump supporters and Big Lie believers ahead of his expected 2024 run.

Story by Matthew Chapman

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is effectively able to "launder money" through his wife, argued Gabe Roth of the watchdog group Fix the Court on MSNBC Friday.

This comes amid new reporting that right-wing judicial activist Leonard Leo and eventual Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway arranged a secret payment to Virginia "Ginni" Thomas through an organization that successfully lobbied the Supreme Court to undermine the Voting Rights Act in a landmark 2013 decision — and further reporting on the gifts Thomas himself received from billionaire benefactor Harlan Crow.

"What appears to be happening in this great careful document sourced reporting in The Washington Post and the ProPublica reporting is that every document reveals that Clarence Thomas isn't abiding by the court's own disclosure laws," said anchor Nicolle Wallace. "Is that a fair assessment of where we are?"

Story by Tom Boggioni

Reacting to new reporting that Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, was getting money from a conservative activist secretly funneled to her by former Trump White House official Kellyanne Conway, CNN's Supreme Court correspondent Joan Biskupic predicted the latest scandal will be hard for the court to ignore.

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Ginni Thomas, already under a cloud for her attempts to help aides to Trump overturn the 2020 presidential election results, was on the receiving end of payments from activist Leonard Leo, according to documents the newspaper had seen.

The Post report stated, "Leo, a key figure in a network of nonprofits that has worked to support the nominations of conservative judges, told Conwaythat he wanted her to 'give' Ginni Thomas 'another $25K,' the documents show. He emphasized that the paperwork should have 'No mention of Ginni, of course,'" before adding, "Conway’s firm, the Polling Company, sent the Judicial Education Project a $25,000 bill that day. Per Leo’s instructions, it listed the purpose as 'Supplement for Constitution Polling and Opinion Consulting,' the documents show."

Story by Milla

The override of Governor Laura Kelly’s veto of a transgender student-athlete ban led to more burning questions. Kansas lawmakers, led by Kansas House Speaker Daniel Hawkins, are accused of passing more than an anti-LGBTQ bill. The viral response The bill bans transgender girls from participating in women’s sports from kindergarten through college. Even more disturbingly, ...

Story by Zoe Tillman

(Bloomberg) -- More than a decade ago, a member of the US court system’s leadership body raised red flags about its handling of public allegations of wrongdoing against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Those concerns spurred internal process changes, but no additional probe of the justice’s conduct. Now, under renewed pressure following reports about the justice’s relationship with a GOP megadonor, the judiciary’s governance arm is again being asked to investigate one of its most powerful colleagues.

US District Judge Mark Wolf’s 2012 protest, which hasn’t been previously reported, sheds new light on long-running concerns that the federal judiciary’s process for enforcing financial reporting rules is inadequate. This system, designed to serve as a check on corruption, is under a microscope amid a barrage of new information about Thomas’s undisclosed financial ties to Texas billionaire Harlan Crow.

Story by Michael Luciano

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis boasted during an interview that The Walt Disney Company has stopped publicly opposing policies he supports since he began waging war against it last year.

DeSantis targeted Disney after company executives spoke out against the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill he signed into law last year. The legislation banned discussion of sexuality in classrooms from kindergarten through third grade, and it has since been extended through the twelfth grade.

The governor sought – and got – the revocation of Disney’s special self-governing status last year. On Friday, he signed a bill allowing a governing board to void development agreements the company had approved. Disney is suing Florida over what it says is a “targeted campaign of government retaliation.”

Story by Gideon Rubin

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ performative ongoing feud with Disney reflects the breach of an “uneasy truce” between politicians and corporations that served a purpose, Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle contends.

“Sure, if politicians threatened a firm’s bottom line, the business would fight back. But there were limits: Companies tended to conduct these battles politely, for fear of offending regulators who held a great deal of power over them, or customers who might disagree with them,” McArdle writes.

“And they did not pick fights on matters that didn’t directly affect their profits.”

The truce started crumbling around a decade ago, McCardle writes, noting Florida's dispute with Disney over culture issues follows a corporate boycott of Indiana over a religious freedom law that LGBTQ+ advocates argued was discriminatory, and Delta’s withdrawal of group discounts to the NRA and CEO’s signing open letters in protest of new laws imperiling reproductive rights, among other disagreements between business and political leaders.

Story by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Mississippi’s Republican Governor Tate Reeves, who has the highest firearm mortality rate in the entire country, this week launched his re-election campaign with a video depicting him as Clint Eastwood shooting people of color. Although the video (below) was released Tuesday, few seemed to notice until a Talking Points Memo article was published Friday afternoon.

“Reeves’ face is superimposed on Eastwood’s in clips from the classic Dollars trilogy movies. He’s seen cosplaying the white anti-hero, the Man with No Name, shooting at Mexican bandits with a Colt revolver and puffing on a cigarillo,” TPM’s Emine Yücel writes.

In addition to the inherent racism and violence in the video, there is no policy discussed, and not even any bragging about Reeves’ record. There may be a reason for that. Governor Reeves almost from the start of the coronavirus pandemic – due to policy choices he made – has one of the absolute worst records on COVID in the country.

Story by Harrison Kass

ProPublica, who broke the Clarence Thomas - Harlan Crow relationship, has a new scoop in the unfolding ethics scandal. Apparently, Harlan Crow covered the tuition for Justice Thomas’s grandnephew (Mark Martin, who Thomas was raising “as a son”) to attend Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school in northern Georgia.

“Tuition at the boarding school ran more than $6,000 a month,” ProPublica reported. “But Thomas did not cover the bill. A bank statement for the school from July 2009 buried in unrelated court filings, shows the source of Martin’s tuition payment for that month: the company of billionaire real estate magnate Harlan Crow.”

by Julia Shapero

Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo urged that there be “no mention of Ginni” Thomas in an arranged payment to the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, The Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Leo told Kellyanne Conway, a GOP pollster who would later serve as an aide to former President Trump, to “give” Virginia Thomas “another $25K” in January 2012 but emphasized that there be “no mention of Ginni, of course” in the paperwork, according to documents viewed by the Post.

That day, Conway’s Polling Company sent the nonprofit, then known as the Judicial Education Project, a bill for $25,000 for “Supplement for Constitution Polling and Opinion Consulting.”

Later that year, the Judicial Education Project submitted an amicus brief in a case before the Supreme Court that would ultimately overturn portions of the Voting Rights Act.

Story by Gideon Rubin

Two days after hurling incendiary allegations at President Joe Biden, Sen. Chuck Grassley admitted his assertion may have been false.

The Iowa Republican on Wednesday issued a joint statement with Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) alleging Biden was involved in a “criminal scheme” when he served as vice president that involved a foreign national. The two Republican lawmakers called on the Justice Department to release a 2020 document them claim alleges Biden’s involvement in the scheme.

“We believe the FBI possesses an unclassified internal document that includes very serious and detailed allegations implicating the current President of the United States," Grassley said in a statement.

"The FBI’s recent history of botching politically charged investigations demands close congressional oversight.”

Opinion by James Downie

The proverbial faucet of ethics scandals around Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas continues to drip. The Washington Post reported Thursday that conservative activist Leonard Leo, a key architect of the right’s takeover of the court, arranged in 2012 for Thomas’ wife, Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work. And he specifically requested that the billing paperwork have “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

Story by Colby Hall

Joe Scarborough didn’t quite equate past congressional grift scandals to recent reports of Justice Clarence Thomas and his superwealthy benefactor Harlan Crow, but he came close. At issue is a new Washington Post report that details $80,000 in consulting fees paid to Thomas’s wife, Ginni Thomas, by conservative legal activist Leonard Leo who used Kellyanne Conway’s polling company to funnel the money to the wife of the Supreme Court Justice, according to documents review by the reporters.

The Post reported that Leo instructed Conway, a pollster who later became an adviser to former President Donald Trump and now a Fox News contributor, to pay Ginni Thomas but added, “No mention of Ginni.” This comes a day after it was revealed that Crow paid for the private school tuition of Thomas’s grand nephew and previous reporting of numerous luxury vacations Thomas enjoyed at the generosity of his friend.

“We’re going to hear B.S. from the usual defenders of Clarence Thomas,” Scarborough said before adding his preemptive mimicry. “‘Oh, they’re just picking on him because he’s a conservative and they hate black conservatives, this challenge is the…you know blah, blah, blah,’ all of this other nonsense.”

By Joseph Ax and Brad Brooks

(Reuters) - Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill into law that gives a new board he controls the power to void development agreements its predecessor body signed with Disney - the latest episode in a feud between the conservative governor and the entertainment giant.

Under the bill, which passed the Republican-controlled legislature largely along party lines, the Central Tourism Oversight District Board - whose members are appointed by DeSantis - can cancel any deals signed up to three months before the board's creation.

The legislature formed the board in February to replace the Disney-controlled Reedy Creek Improvement District to oversee development in the 25,000 acres (10,120 hectares) surrounding Walt Disney World, effectively wresting control from the company and handing it to DeSantis.

Story by John Wagner, Matthew Brown

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) is poised to sign legislation as early as Friday that would create a commission with the power to remove local prosecutors from office, a move Democrats in the state have decried as a power grab that usurps the will of local voters.

Atlanta-area prosecutor Fani Willis, who is considering bringing charges against former president Donald Trump and his allies over 2020 election interference, has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the legislation, suggesting she is among those being targeted by its Republican sponsors.

Story by Jessica Washington

The tangled web of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ relationship with Republican mega-donor Harlan Crow keeps getting messier. It was bad enough when ProPublica revealed that Crow had lavished the Supreme Court Justice with fancy vacations, but things have taken a much more bizarre turn.

Now, ProPublica is reporting that Crow also paid for a relative of Thomas’ to go to private school. And not just any relative; Thomas told C-Span back in 2007 that he was raising him “as a son.” Based on everything else we know about this evolving scandal, it probably won’t shock you to learn that Thomas allegedly didn’t report the tuition payments.

According to ProPublica’s reporting, bank statements from the school show that Crow paid the $6,000 a month private school tuition for Thomas’ relative. A former school administrator, Christopher Grimwood, also confirmed to the news outlet that Crow was paying the tuition. “Harlan picked up the tab,” Grimwood told ProPublica.

The reporting from ProPublica takes the scandal to all new heights. It’s one thing for a Republican mega-donor with a thing for Nazi memorabilia to take you on a trip. It’s a whole other story when he’s reportedly paying for your son’s private school tuition.

Story by James Bickerton

Arow has broken out in Florida over proposed legislation that would ban Chinese citizens from owning land or property in the state, unless they are also a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The priority bill has the backing of Governor Ron DeSantis, along with Republican and some Democratic legislators, who argue it is needed to ensure national security. However critics argue it is discriminatory, and could violate the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

Polling indicates DeSantis is Republican voters' second most popular choice to be the party's 2024 presidential nominee, following former President Donald Trump, though he has yet to officially enter the race. Thus any dispute involving DeSantis could have national political implications, either undermining the Florida Republican or strengthening his "anti-woke" credentials.

The legislation, titled "SB 264: Interests of Foreign Countries," was approved by the Florida House this week by 95-17 and will now head back to the Senate, which voted for a previous version unanimously. It also prohibits citizens of Russia, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and Syria from buying land within a mile of a military base or piece of critical infrastructure, though only Chinese nationals face a statewide ban.

AP News

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican megadonor paid two years of private school tuition for a child raised by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who did not disclose the payments, a lawyer who has represented Thomas and his wife acknowledged Thursday.

The revelation of tuition payments made by Dallas billionaire Harlan Crow is the latest example of Crow’s generosity to Thomas and his family that has raised questions about Thomas’ ethics and disclosure requirements more generally. The payments, along with the earlier examples of Crow’s financial ties to Thomas, were first reported by the nonprofit investigative journalism site ProPublica.


Clarence Thomas ethics scandal grows with new bombshell revelations. A new report from ProRepublica revealing billionaire Harlan Crow paid $6,000 monthly for private school tuition for a relative of Thomas. It comes after revelations that Crow paid for Thomas to take private jets to exclusive vacations on yachts around the world. MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber on the bombshell revelations.

Story by Claude Wooten

In slamming the Supreme Court’s alleged ethics problems, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse laid out a deliberate series of accusations that one Twitter user called “one of the most on point performances I’ve seen by a Senator.”

Notably, Whitehouse’s skewering came even before the latest SCOTUS bombshell revealed that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas also allowed his grand-nephew’s tuition to be paid for by his generous benefactor, billionaire Harlan Crow.

Background: Thomas has been given a lot of things by his good friend Crow, a fact which is not in dispute. Thomas’s mother lives in a house Crow owns (and purchased from Thomas) and Crow has spent lavishly over decades providing for Thomas family vacations. Justice Thomas doesn’t deny these things.

Thomas’s defense — as mounted for him by others, like Sen. Ted Cruz — is that 1) these gifts don’t violate his ethical obligations and 2) everybody does it.

Story by Sarah K. Burris

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) has been accused of "illegally spending $60,000 on campaign calls and texts in the run-up to November's midterm election," according to a new report from Newsweek.

A complaint has been filed by End Citizens United against Boebert with the Federal Elections Commission, which is tasked with regulating spending on political campaigns.

The group alleges that Boebert spent tens of thousands of dollars on so-called "get out the vote" contact calls and texts.

The voter outreach efforts are considered in-kind independent expenditures, but that wasn't how she reported them, the group said.

Story by Leigh Ann Caldwell, Theodoric Meyer, Tobi Raji

In 2008, Thomas decided to send his teenage grandnephew, Mark Martin, who lived with him and his wife in the Washington suburbs, to Hidden Lake Academy, a private boarding school where tuition ran more than $6,000 a month. “A bank statement for the school from July 2009, buried in unrelated court filings, shows that Crow’s company paid the July bill.”

“The payments extended beyond that month, according to Christopher Grimwood, a former administrator at the school. Crow paid Martin’s tuition the entire time he was a student there, which was about a year, Grimwood told ProPublica.”

“’Harlan picked up the tab,’ said Grimwood, who got to know Crow and the Thomases and had access to school financial information through his work as an administrator.” “Before and after his time at Hidden Lake, Martin attended a second boarding school, Randolph-Macon Academy in Virginia. ‘Harlan said he was paying for the tuition at Randolph-Macon Academy as well,’ Grimwood said, recalling a conversation he had with Crow during a visit to the billionaire’s Adirondacks estate.”

Story by Maya Boddie

Florida GOP lawmakers have officially passed legislation that will restrict voter registration groups from assisting voters, CNN reports.

Per CNN, the 96-page proposal mostly centers around prohibiting "third-party voter registration groups" from doing their jobs, which will disproportionately impact voters of color.

Earlier this month, Miami Herald reported the proposed legislation package would include:

・Preventing people who are not U.S. citizens from collecting or handling voter-registration applications for the third-party registration groups. Also barred would be people who have been convicted of certain felonies, such as violations of the state elections code.

・Shortening a time frame from 14 days to 10 days for voter-registration groups to deliver registration applications to supervisors of elections. Also, the bill would increase fines for missing the deadline or not turning in applications.

・Requiring that voter-registration groups provide receipts when they collect applications from people. Requiring voter-registration groups to re-register with the state after every general election.

Story by By KEVIN FREKING, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats promised Tuesday to pursue stronger ethics rules for the Supreme Court in the wake of reports that Justice Clarence Thomas participated in luxury vacations and a real estate deal with a top GOP donor. Republicans made clear they strongly oppose the effort.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said lax ethical standards have created a lack of public confidence in the nation's highest court.

“The Supreme Court could step up and fix this themselves,” Durbin said as he opened the hearing. “For years, they have refused, and because the court will not act, Congress must.”

Republicans, however, criticized the hearing as an effort to destroy the reputation of Thomas, one of the staunchest conservative voices on the court. Their comments showed how unlikely it is that Congress will pass legislation on the matter, with the parties worlds apart when it comes to the credibility of the Supreme Court, particularly after the seismic decision last June that overturned abortion rights.

Story by Sarah K. Burris

On Monday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow recalled a 2009 story about Republican lawmakers who went to Uganda, pretending to be experts in sexual orientation. At the time, they encouraged the country to have zero tolerance for homosexuality in their country and said it was what was a problem in the United States.

So, Uganda drafted what became known as the "Kill the Gays" bill, which would require all homosexual people to be hanged. The backlash was so huge that the Republicans claimed that they had nothing to do with that and that they would never have suggested something so extreme.

But Maddow recalled speaking to those on the ground in Uganda who made it clear that those Republicans and conservatives were the ones that inspired the "Kill the Gays" bill. Now, that policy is mainstream in the GOP in the United States, she explained with a slew of headlines splashed on the screen. And a conservative Arizona group is pushing the same law again.

Story by lloydlee@insider.com (Lloyd Lee)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is getting criticized for identifying the victims of a Friday mass shooting in Cleveland, Texas, as "illegal immigrants" in the same statement in which he offered condolences to their loved ones.

On Friday evening, a drunk man shot and killed five people, including an 8-year-old boy, after the neighbors asked the man to stop firing his AR-15-style weapon in the air, according to San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers.

Abbott released a statement on Sunday offering a $50,000 reward for information regarding the shooter, who authorities say "could be anywhere" by now. The governor also offered condolences to the families, but not before the statement identified the victims as "illegal immigrants."

Police identified the victims as Sonia Argentina Guzman, 25; Diana Velazquez Alvarado, 21; Julisa Molina Rivera, 31; Jose Jonathan Casarez, 18; and Daniel Enrique Laso, 8. Authorities have not publicly disclosed the victims' citizenship status.

No free speech in DeSantis's Florida

Story by kniemeyer@insider.com (Kenneth Niemeyer)

Florida is threatening to remove an elected school superintendent who has been critical of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna publicly criticized DeSantis for the governor's ban on mask mandates at schools during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

And at the beginning of the fall semester, Hanna sent an email to school staff telling them to ignore political pressure in the state and "continue to teach the standards just as you have always done." Now Hanna may be facing retribution. The state education department gave Hanna an ultimatum in early April to either attend a hearing or risk being fined, put on probation, or even having his teaching license revoked, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

Marjorie Taylor Greene tells GOP donors: 'We are the Americans... and we need to throw out the trash'
Story by David Edwards

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) told a group of Republican donors over the weekend that Americans need to "throw out the trash" when securing the border. While speaking at a Reagan dinner in Ohio, Greene said that her generation had a responsibility to the country.

Marjorie Taylor Greene spent more than $65,000 in campaign funds on home fence
David McAfee

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) spent more than $65,000 on fencing for her home this year using campaign funds, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

Story by Brandon Gage

United States Representative Joe Neguse (D-Colorado) on Sunday tore into House Republicans for their brinksmanship regarding raising the Treasury Department's borrowing limit under the leadership of Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California).

McCarthy's proposal to increase the debt ceiling by $1.4 trillion, which passed the House last week, contains substantial cuts to social programs that benefit the most vulnerable members of the American population. Neguse, echoing other Democrats' critiques of McCarthy's legislation, explained the dangers that the GOP's latest stunt poses to the fiscal health of the country.

"Raising the debt ceiling is supposed to be a rudimentary process, but the, the effects of the cuts in this bill could force families into and the whole economy into a depression. What's at stake if Congress and the president don't come to some agreement on this?" MSNBC host Jonathan Capehart asked.

Opinion by Conor Friedersdorf

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has long presented himself as a principled champion of “freedom.” In Congress, he was a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. He refers to himself as “governor of the free state of Florida.” And while laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run, he is promoting a book on his approach that he titled The Courage to Be Free.

On Wednesday, Florida’s biggest employer, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, filed a lawsuit alleging that DeSantis is violating its First Amendment right to freedom of speech. According to the complaint, “a targeted campaign of government retaliation—orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech—now threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

The case will subject DeSantis’s understanding of freedom and what protecting it requires to the crucible of constitutional law. And his position is likelier to shatter than to withstand the heat.

Story by David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

AFlorida county schools superintendent targeted by Ron DeSantis could lose his job and even his teaching license over his criticism of the Republican governor, after the head of a radical parents group who appeared in a political advertisement with DeSantis asked the governor to fire him. Supporters of the superintendent are speaking out, accusing DeSantis of “1950s McCarthyism” and “retaliatory bullying.”

The issue echoes Governor DeSantis’ attacks on entertainment giant Disney, who DeSantis has repeatedly targeted for exercising its constitutional rights. Disney sued DeSantis in a First Amendment lawsuit this week. Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Díaz, Jr., an anti-vaxxer who last year ordered schools to ignore the Biden administration’s guidance on LGBTQ students, sent a letter to Leon County Superintendent of Schools Rocky Hanna notifying him the state is moving forward.

The letter claims the DOE has probable cause to “justify sanctions against your Florida educator certificate,” the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The DOE claims it has been investigating if Hanna’s “personal views” have had an impact on how he runs the district.

Story by David McAfee

Aprosecutor in Florida didn't hold back in a letter sent to the press Friday about Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), in which she accused the state executive of trying "to exploit his political agenda against" her based on her differences of opinion.

State Attorney Monique Worrell wrote the letter in response to a request her office reportedly got from State Committeewoman Debbie Galvin, who requested information on two separate cases in which Worrell had allegedly failed to prosecute cases to get justice for victims of human trafficking crimes. Worrell said the request purported to come at the request of DeSantis' office, but did not come through the appropriate government channels, according to the letter published by Orlando Weekly.

The request claimed that “this is happening all over the country where these prosecutors are not following the law,” according to Worrell.

Republicans are banning books and attacking libraries and librarians

Story by Barbara VanDenburgh, USA TODAY

Banned books are not new, but they have gained new relevance in an escalating culture war that puts books centering racism, sexuality and gender identity at risk in public schools and libraries. A dramatic uptick in challenged books over the past few years, an escalation of censorship tactics, and the coordinated harassment of teachers and librarians has regularly put book banning efforts in news headlines.

Would-be book banners argue that readers can still purchase books they can no longer access through public libraries, but that is only true for those with the financial resources to do so. For many, particularly children and young adults, schools and public libraries are the only means to access literature.

Story by Richard Rubin

WASHINGTON—Republicans finally found a tax increase they can support. The party, united for decades around the view that net tax increases are unacceptable, on Wednesday advanced debt-ceiling legislation that would raise taxes by more than $300 billion over a decade, according to official congressional estimates.

The bill, which passed in the GOP-controlled House and won’t survive the Democratic-led Senate, would repeal clean-energy tax credits that Congress created last year. The changes would shrink breaks for wind energy, solar power, hydrogen and electric vehicles, effectively raising taxes on some manufacturers, car buyers and others.

Top Republicans see such clean-energy subsidies as more like spending rather than tax reductions, and they say their debt-ceiling bill would end such inefficient, expensive programs created by Democrats. They also promised that any final bill wouldn’t include net tax increases. Republicans continue to oppose tax hikes President Biden has proposed for high-income households and corporations, and they are proposing further tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

Still, their willingness to advance a bill that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says would raise tax revenue shows Republicans are less focused on official tax tallies and more determined to reverse Mr. Biden’s agenda.

Story by Josh Fiallo

The list of school officials targeted by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis appears to be growing longer, with Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna revealing this week that he’s the subject of a “meritless” probe to possibly strip him of his teaching certificate after he criticized the governor. Hanna claims the state isn’t even trying to spin why they’re investigating him, saying plainly that he’s under-the-gun in part for sharing his “political views,” according to a Florida Department of Education complaint.

The superintendent, which oversees public schools in the state capital where DeSantis lives, said in a statement to The Daily Beast that he believes the probe stems from a letter sent to DeSantis last year from a right-wing Moms For Liberty executive who begged the governor to oust Hanna.

That letter, penned by a Brandi Andrews and stamped with an all-caps “Let’s Go Brandon” on the bottom, dissects an email Hanna sent to teachers at the start of the school year. In that email, Hanna said to ignore the increasing political pressure in the state, telling his instructors “you do you” and “to continue to teach the standards just as you have always done”—something Andrews took issue with.

Story by Matt Shuham

During a podcast with former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon and failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani admitted to using a “dirty trick” that aimed to suppress Hispanic voters in New York City during his 1993 mayoral campaign. Bannon and Lake laughed along awkwardly as Giuliani described the tactic, which he said spurred a Justice Department investigation and would likely be subject to prosecution today.

The discussion occurred on Giuliani’s “America’s Mayor Live” program on Tuesday night. (Video below.) After complaining, as he has for years, that he’d been “cheated” when he lost New York City’s 1989 mayoral race, Giuliani recalled spending $2 million on a “Voter Integrity Committee” for his next campaign in 1993. He ultimately beat then-incumbent Mayor David Dinkins by around 53,000 votes. When Giuliani first raised the scheme, Bannon sarcastically replied, “A dirty trick in New York City? I’m so shocked.”

Giuliani enthusiastically cut him off. “No, played by Republicans!” he said before explaining more. “Republicans don’t do dirty tricks,” Bannon protested before Giuliani continued, “Well, how about this one?” “So they went through East Harlem, which is all Hispanic, and they gave out little cards, and the card said, ‘If you come to vote, make sure you have your green card because INS are picking up illegals.’ So they spread it all over the Hispanic...” Giuliani trailed off after Lake exclaimed, “Oh my gosh.”

Barred by Republican lawmakers from participating in the legislative session on the House floor, Representative Zooey Zephyr reported for work on a hallway bench.
By Jim Robbins, Mike Baker and Jacey Fortin | New York Times

HELENA, Mont. — As Montana lawmakers entered the critical final days of their legislative session on Thursday, one of the state’s only transgender lawmakers, Zooey Zephyr, was left exiled from the House chamber, monitoring the debate and casting votes on a laptop as she sat on a hallway bench near a bustling snack stand.

Even as her Republican peers sought to isolate her in the wake of her impassioned comments against a proposed ban on what doctors call gender-affirming medical care for children, Ms. Zephyr said she would not remain idle. She spent much of the day on the bench, working with headphones in her ears to block the sound of chattering lobbyists, the hiss of a milk foamer and the voices of lawmakers ordering coffee. “I am here working on behalf of my constituents as best I can given the undemocratic circumstances,” Ms. Zephyr said on Twitter.

Democratic Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota discusses what's next for McCarthy's Debt Ceiling Bill after the Biden Administration stated they will not negotiate over the debt ceiling. Senator Tina Smith also talks about the upcoming Federal Reserve report on Silicon Valley Bank. She speaks with Annmarie Hordern and Joe Mathieu on Bloomberg's "Balance of Power."

Story by Gideon Rubin

House Republicans on Wednesday showed themselves to be unserious about resolving the debt ceiling crisis, and now they’re offering up two plans, both of which risk plunging the global economy into catastrophe, MSNBC Opinion Writer/Editor Hayes Brown writes. Brown notes that the budget House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) pushed across the finish line Wednesday by the narrowest of margins calls for a $1.5 trillion debt ceiling raise that wouldn’t even pay the nation’s bills for a full year, meaning lawmakers would be relitigating the same problem that they are today.

But the budget plan Republicans passed is all but certainly going nowhere with Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House. Brown believes that Congress should eliminate the debt ceiling. “Instead,” Brown writes, “the GOP seems to be pursuing one of two strategies these days, neither of them sensible.” The first strategy is to play a game of political chicken, hoping Democrats capitulate and accept the terms of the Republican budget plan. “No, these antics won’t balance the budget or anything, but if this current hostage-taking works, it will set a precedent for further spending cuts next year once the ceiling is hit again,” Brown writes.

Story by Alex Henderson

Throughout his 32 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas, now 74, has been controversial. Thomas, a George H.W. Bush appointee, was confirmed to the High Court after a contentious U.S. Senate battle in which attorney Anita Hill alleged that he had sexually harassed her — an allegation Thomas vehemently denied. And during the 1990s and 2000s, the far-right justice often butted heads with the late liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as well as with Justice Anthony Kennedy (a right-wing libertarian and Ronald Reagan appointee who was replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh after his retirement in 2018) on issues like abortion and gay rights.

Story by Alison Durkee, Forbes Staff

The board overseeing Walt Disney World’s special district, made up of officials appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), voted Wednesday to revoke a controversial development agreement Disney made before their appointment that takes away much of the board’s power, paving the way for a legal battle over the agreement and escalating DeSantis and his allies’ war with Disney.

Key Facts
The board voted unanimously at a public meeting to declare the development agreement “void and unenforceable,” directing the special district’s attorneys to “commence litigation” that would complete the process of nullifying the agreement and prohibit its enforcement.

Story by Adam Nichols

Aone-of-its-kind art installation featuring four centuries of literary text is slated for destruction – and protesters claim the "cultural vandalism" is because it could trigger “snowflakes” at next year’s Republican National Convention, the Bulwark reports.

Marty Brooks, the president of the Wisconsin Center District which runs a publicly-funded convention center in Milwaukee, plans to tear down the permanent art display – ostensibly as part of a $456 million expansion before the GOP arrives.

The art, created by sculptor Jill Sebastian when the convention center was built in 1998 and called “Portals and Writings Celebrating Wisconsin Authors,” features work from 48 Wisconsinites and includes work by indigenous and diverse writers, the Bulwark's article entitled "Tearing down art to spare Republican snowflakes' feelings?" says.

Ron DeSantis Seeks to Control Disney World , With State Oversight Powers. Associated Press reports that on April 17, Florida announced legislation that will allow the state to oversee rides and the monorail at Disney World. The upcoming bill would remove an exemption Disney has pertaining to ride inspections conducted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Currently, Disney does its own safety inspections. Disney and other experts say that their inspectors are some of the best in the industry. Inspections for the kind of rides at Disney go well beyond county fairs.

Story by Brandon Gage

Earlier this month, right-wing Daily Wire commentator Charlie Kirk proclaimed that the United States was founded as a "Christian country" right before expressing his aversion to democracy. But on Saturday, Senator Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) – a potential 2024 presidential contender – took an even greater leap than Kirk during a conversation with Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann.

"What should the, what should the next president do? What is the most immediate actions that the next president can do to stand for religious liberty?" Kaufmann asked Scott. "We must tell the story of our Constitution that the First Amendment was written to protect the church from the state, not the state, from the church," Scott replied.

Story by Adam Mintzer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — In the final hours of the 113th General Assembly, Tennessee Republicans passed two bills that target the transgender community and put the state at risk of losing billions in federal funding.

One of the bills would allow teachers and public school employees to not use a student’s preferred pronouns, which could violate the U.S. Department of Education’s 2022 rules on gender identity, sexuality and sex-based discrimination. The other bill would define the word “sex” in Tennessee Code as, “a person’s immutable biological sex as determined by anatomy and genetics existing at the time of birth.”

According to the fiscal notes provided by the Tennessee General Assembly Fiscal Review Committee, the state could lose more than $2 billion in federal funding this upcoming fiscal year as a result of the bills being in violation of federal requirements.

Opinion by Mary Anne Franks

Stalking is so closely correlated with lethal violence that experts refer to it as “slow motion homicide”: More than half of all female homicide victims in the U.S. were stalked before they were killed. Despite the terrifying and dangerous consequences, many victims of stalking do not report the abuse to law enforcement for fear they will not be taken seriously.

The reasonableness of that fear was vividly illustrated by the Supreme Court oral arguments in Counterman v. Colorado on Wednesday morning, as members of the highest court of the land joked about messages sent by a stalker to his victim, bemoaned the increasing “hypersensitivity” of society, and brushed aside consideration of the actual harm of stalking to focus on the potential harm of stalking laws.

In a Beat exclusive, MSNBC Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber reports on a secret recording of Senator Ted Cruz talking with Fox host Maria Bartiromo from November 2020. In this never-before-heard tape Cruz privately doubts Trump on election lies and warns Fox about needing “actual facts” amidst coup talk. It comes as Bloomberg reports the Fox whistelblower’s secret records helped Dominion win a record-breaking penalty.

Story by Tatyana Tandanpolie

Republican Rep. Scotty Campbell of Tennessee, was recently found guilty of sexually harassing at least one legislative intern by a Tennessee House ethics subcommittee, according to a report from NewsChannel5 Nashville. The GOP leader resigned from the Tennessee General Assembly on Thursday around 6 hours after the local news organization questioned him about the sexual harassment allegations.

"I had consensual, adult conversations with two adults off-property," Campbell said, referencing a previously unknown second intern who filed a complaint against the representative. "I think conversations are consensual once that is verbally agreed to. If I choose to talk to any intern in the future, it will be recorded," he added.

The subcommitee, comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, however, found that "Representative Campbell violated the Policy" against workplace harassment and discrimination, according to a March 29 memorandum sent to House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

Republicans are blackmailers and extortionist

Story by Kate Riga

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) unveiled his long-previewed ransom note to free the debt ceiling hostage Wednesday, a maximal list of far-right proposals that he knows are nonstarters with Democrats. His aim in cobbling together a 320-page packet of Republicans’ darkest impulses is obvious: He gets to say, and many news outlets will faithfully repeat, that now Republicans’ refusal to help raise or suspend the debt ceiling is President Joe Biden’s fault for not giving them what they want in return. McCarthy has been trying to make this argument without actually naming the concessions he wants from the administration for months, due to his intensely fractured caucus and small margins.

Biden would have to dismantle some of his signature legislation and executive actions, stomach punitive cuts to programs that help low-income people, sign off on a boondoggle for fossil fuel companies and hobble his agencies — but hey, in return, he’d get a debt ceiling lift or suspension for … less than one year from now! And it’s set to expire just as the 2024 presidential campaign is heating up, all the better for Republicans to demand more concessions then. We now have the document that represents the heart and soul of the House Republican caucus. Here’s what made their fantasy football checklist.

Story by By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' appointees on Wednesday began trying to reshape Disney World's governing body with proposals to eliminate a planning board and prohibit mask mandates and COVID-19 vaccine requirements in an evolving showdown between the Republican governor and the world's best-known entertainment company.

The five new board members of the governing body, which had been controlled by Disney up until February, had on their meeting agenda rules prohibiting anyone from being barred from its offices for not wearing a face mask or not having the COVID-19 vaccine. Also, the agenda includes a resolution asserting the board's “superior authority” over the district that covers Disney World's 27,000 acres (10,926 hectares), including two miniscule cities.

Story by Brad Reed

Police late last week were called in after a physical fight broke out among attendees at the Michigan Republican Party's new state central committee meeting. Bridge MI reports that a fight erupted on Friday night at the Doherty Hotel in Clare, Michigan between allies of current Michigan GOP Chairman Kristina Karamo and ally-turned-rival Matthew DePerno.

"A video recording obtained by Bridge Michigan shows a confrontation between Kalamazoo Republican Party Chair Kelly Sackett and Macomb County GOP Secretary Melissa Pehlis," the publication writes. "After they exchanged words, Sackett appeared to knock a cigarette and phone from the hand of Pehlis, who responded by thrusting an open hand at Sackett's head."

In an interview with Bridge MI, Sackett revealed that she filed a police complaint against Pehlis over the incident, which was apparently a dispute about DePerno's moves to purportedly purge people loyal to Karamo from the Kalamazoo Republican Party.

Story by David McAfee

Allegations that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated federal ethics laws in his dealings with Republican donor and Dallas business executive Harlan Crow have been sent to a judicial committee, according to the Washington Post.

The Post reported that the Judicial Conference of the U.S., a committee of federal judges responsible for “addressing allegations of errors or omissions in the filing of financial disclosure reports,” had received requests to investigate by Democrats. The news comes after columnist Jamelle Bouie for The New York Times said the scandal proved that the law was just a suggestion for certain people.

Following ethics complaints by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (D-GA), the judicial committee gave a short nod that didn't go into the details or acknowledge whether the committee will proceed:

Story by Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, saying he doesn’t think the Florida leader is a conservative in light of his ongoing conflict with Disney.

“I’m a conservative, and I believe as a conservative, the job of government is...to stay out of the business of business. I don’t think we should be heavily regulating business. I don’t think we should be telling business what to do, what to say, how to think,” Christie told Semafor on Tuesday.

“I don’t think Ron DeSantis is a conservative based on his actions towards Disney,” he added.

Washington DC - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was hit with new financial disclosure allegations as reports Monday said he plans to resubmit previous forms that omitted property sales to a GOP mega donor. In the latest ethics blow for the conservative jurist, Thomas reportedly has claimed that he was paid between $50,000 and $100,000 annually by a Nebraska real estate company set up by his controversial wife, Ginni Thomas.

But the company went out of business in 2006, the Washington Post reported. It was replaced by a new company that took over its land-leasing business, but Clarence Thomas continued to report income from the previous company. The new allegation came as Thomas reportedly has told associates he will file amended disclosure forms to cover blockbuster revelations in recent days about his financial ties to billionaire Republican mega donor Harlan Crow, CNN reported Monday.

Thomas failed to report sales of three properties, including his elderly mother's home in Savannah, Georgia, to Crow a decade ago. As previously revealed, the judge also failed to report that Crow paid for the Thomases' lavish vacations, including a $500,000 private plane-and-yacht junket to Indonesia.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is escalating his feud with Disney after floating the idea of building a state prison next to Disney World. NBC’s Gabe Gutierrez reports for TODAY

Story by Gideon Rubin

The expected pardon of a man convicted in the 2020 fatal shooting of a Black Lives Matters protester has confounded several Texas legal experts, ABC News reports. Gov. Greg Abbott has already announced that he will pardon Daniel Perry once a request from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles approves the request. The Board, which Abbott appointed, is expected to approve the request.

Perry was convicted of murder in the shooting death of 28-year-old Garrett Foster, who was legally carrying an AK-47 during an Austin BLM protest. Abbott announced that he would pardon Perry under pressure from right-wing media. Former Travis County Criminal Court Judge David Wahlberg called notion of the governor reversing a jury’s verdict in a murder case “outrageous.”

By Robin Abcarian

I am shocked, shocked to find that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ commitment to originalism — that is, the belief that legal texts should be interpreted as they were understood when they were adopted — comes to a screeching halt the minute he slides off the bench.

When Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act in 1978, which requires government officials to report gifts, I’m pretty sure legislators had in mind exactly the sort of relationship Thomas has with the Republican megadonor and Nazi memorabilia collector Harlan Crow.

I mean, maybe nothing can stop a venal Supreme Court justice from being lavished with gifts by a conservative billionaire (the rules are lax compared to other public servants), but Congress most certainly requires the grabby justice to disclose the billionaire’s generosity.

Thanks to spectacular reporting last week by the nonprofit investigative outfit ProPublica, we now know that for at least two decades, Crow has served as Clarence and Ginni Thomas’ patron, benefactor, sponsor and, let’s face it, fairy godfather. He has showered them with gifts, trips and all sorts of unseemly favors.

Story by Lindsay Kornick • 3h ago

MSNBC personality and Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart suggested that the Declaration of Independence "rings hollow" in the wake of Republican legislation against the will of the people. Capehart introduced "The Saturday Show" by quoting the founding document and contrasting it with the actions of the GOP.

"’We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ The Declaration of Independence certainly rings hollow today as the Republican Party continues to push legislation that is not only wildly unpopular and dangerous, but also strips these unalienable rights from Americans," Capehart said.

Although his claim was about the Republican Party, Capehart initially began this attack by focusing on the Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling regarding access to mifepristone.

Story by Shiyin Chen

(Bloomberg) -- Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas reported income from a real estate firm founded by his wife and her family, even after the company ceased to exist, the Washington Post said. The Nebraska real estate firm, Ginger Ltd. Partnership, was founded in the 1980s and was shut down in 2006, the newspaper reported, citing state incorporation records. A separate firm, Ginger Holdings LLC, was created to assume control of the shuttered company’s land-leasing business, according to the report.

Thomas has continued to report income from the defunct company without mentioning the newer firm on forms, including between $50,000 and $100,000 annually in recent years, the Post said. The misstatement follows reports by ProPublica this month that Thomas and his wife, Virginia, accepted vacations and flights for years from Harlan Crow, a wealthy real estate developer and Republican donor. The media outlet also reported that the justice and his relatives sold three Georgia properties that include Thomas’s boyhood home to Crow in 2014.

Story by Peter Wade

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has for more than a decade claimed on mandatory financial disclosure forms that he received significant income from a defunct real estate firm, Ginger, Ltd., Partnership, that has been shuttered since 2006.

This news comes only 10 days after ProPublica reported that the justice has received — but failed to disclose — hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifted vacations from conservative billionaire and Nazi enthusiast Harlan Crow. The billionaire also owns the home where Thomas’ mother lives, which Crow purchased from Thomas and members of his family before embarking on major renovations to the property. Thomas failed to disclose the sale of the home on financial forms, leaving blank the field for reporting the identity of a buyer in any private transactions above $1,000, including real estate. The revelations have led some to question whether Thomas was intentionally hiding his financial relationship with Crow.

On Sunday, The Washington Post revealed that in addition to not disclosing luxurious vacations and the real estate deal involving Crow, Thomas also erroneously reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in rental income from property that his wife Ginni Thomas’ parents developed in Nebraska. In financial disclosures, Thomas reported the rental income as coming from a real estate firm called “Ginger, Ltd., Partnership.” But that firm has not existed since March 2006 when it was dissolved and its leases for upwards of 200 residential lots were transferred to Ginger Holdings, LLC. Ginni Thomas’ sister, Joanne K. Elliot, is listed as manager of the Ginger Holdings, LLC, but Ginni is not listed in the LLC’s state incorporation records.

Opinion by Robin Abcarian

Iam shocked, shocked to find that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ commitment to originalism — that is, the belief that legal texts should be interpreted as they were understood when they were adopted — comes to a screeching halt the minute he slides off the bench. When Congress passed the Ethics in Government Act in 1978, which requires government officials to report gifts, I’m pretty sure legislators had in mind exactly the sort of relationship Thomas has with the Republican megadonor and Nazi memorabilia collector Harlan Crow.

I mean, maybe nothing can stop a venal Supreme Court justice from being lavished with gifts by a conservative billionaire (the rules are lax compared to other public servants), but Congress most certainly requires the grabby justice to disclose the billionaire’s generosity. Thanks to spectacular reporting last week by the nonprofit investigative outfit ProPublica, we now know that for at least two decades, Crow has served as Clarence and Ginni Thomas’ patron, benefactor, sponsor and, let’s face it, fairy godfather. He has showered them with gifts, trips and all sorts of unseemly favors.

And on Thursday, came a second damning ProPublica investigation: In 2014, one of Crow’s companies purchased a home owned by Thomas and his relatives in Savannah, Ga., and immediately began thousands of dollars of upgrades. The home is the longtime residence of Thomas’ mother. “The transaction marks the first known instance of money flowing from the Republican megadonor to the Supreme Court justice,” reported ProPublica. Thomas did not report the real estate transaction, as required by federal disclosure law.

Story by By JESSE BEDAYN, Associated Press/Report for America

DENVER (AP) — Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis is scheduled to sign a set of health care bills Friday afternoon to enshrine access to abortion and gender-affirming procedures and medications, as the Democrat-led state tries to make itself a safe haven for its neighbors, whose Republican leaders are restricting care.

The goal of the legislation is to ensure people in surrounding states and beyond can go to Colorado to have an abortion, begin puberty blockers or receive gender-affirming surgery. Bordering states of Wyoming and Oklahoma have passed abortion bans and Utah has prohibited transgender care for minors.

With the new laws, Colorado joins Illinois as a progressive bastion for reproductive rights surrounded mostly by conservatives states. Illinois abortion clinics now serve people living in a 1800-mile (2900-kilometer) stretch of 11 Southern states that have largely banned abortion. California and New York are considering similar bills after the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down Roe. v. Wade, putting abortion laws in the hands of state legislatures.

Opinion by Ed Kilgore

For a while now, many political observers have had April 14 circled on their calendars as the day when Florida governor and proto-presidential candidate Ron DeSantis would be speaking at Liberty University. The huge school in Lynchburg, Virginia, is associated with the late Jerry Falwell Sr., who turned the small Baptist college into a conservative Evangelical powerhouse. For decades, Republican politicians (and a few Democrats) have shown the flag at the school’s regular student assemblies (known as Convocations) to indicate their understanding of — and in many cases their solidarity with — the agenda of the Christian right.

Story by Kalyn Womack

A Travis County judge unsealed court documents that revealed a series of racist social posts and messages shared by Daniel Perry, the man convicted in fatally shooting a Black Lives Matter protester, according to Austin American-Statesman. Perry’s conviction was recently challenged by Gov. Greg Abbott who sought to pardon him.

Perry issued a number of anti-BLM messages ahead of the shooting that seem to support his guilty conviction way more than the governor’s notion that he killed the demonstrator in simple self-defense. “Black Lives Matter is racist to white people...It is official I am racist because I do not agree with people acting like monkeys,” he wrote in one post.

In other posts, he slammed the BLM movement for promoting a “victim mentality,” he argued that George Floyd wasn’t a martyr and made threats against BLM demonstrators believing they’d attack him because he is Jewish. He even made a post saying if people believe the Confederate flag represents racism, then so does the NAACP logo. Yes, you read that correctly. All these red flags and desperate attempts to justify his own racism sound more like he was looking for a problem July 26, 2020.

Story by Sam Courtney-Guy

A Republican politician has said he wants to ‘erase’ the LGBTQ+ community in a tirade accusing it of ‘targeting children’. Randy Fine, a lawmaker for the state of Florida, is spearheading a bill which activists say is a thinly-veiled crackdown on drag shows and pride events. Fine, 48, insists his bill is for ‘the protection of children’ from ‘adult live performances’, pointing out that it doesn’t explicitly mention drag.

The Democrats’ Senator Tina Polsky argues the bill is ‘purposely vague’ in order to create an ‘administrative nightmare’ in which public venues are too afraid to host performances featuring drag artists. Urging his colleagues to back the bill Wednesday, Fine doubled down on his claim that the new law isn’t aimed at LGBTQ+ people while at the same time suggesting they are ‘determined to push’ sexualised performances on kids.

Former Rep. Cheney criticized Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for her tweets defending the alleged leaker of hundreds of pages of classified U.S. intelligence.
By Rose Horowitch

Former Rep. Liz Cheney said Thursday that GOP firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene should not have a security clearance after Greene defended the Air National Guardsman suspected of leaking a trove of classified documents.

Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming who has come out against the Trump-aligned wing of the party, said Greene's comments made clear that she "cannot be trusted" with national security information.

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