2017 Republican Party

Dec 20, 2017
Washington Post

Virginia court tosses out one-vote victory that briefly ended GOP majority in House


Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds (Julia Rendleman/For The Washington Post)

December 20 at 3:36 PM

NEWPORT NEWS – A three- judge panel declined to certify the recount of a key House race today, saying that a questionable ballot should be counted in favor of the Republican and tying a race that Democrats had thought they had won by a single vote.“The court declares there is no winner in this election,” said Newport News Circuit Court Judge Bryant L. Sugg, after the judges deliberated for more than two hours.He said the ballot in question contained a mark for Democrat Shelly Simonds as well as a mark for Republican Del. David Yancey but that the voter had made another mark to strike out Simonds’ name.Election officials presiding over the five-hour recount on Tuesday had discarded that ballot. But Republicans challenged that decision in court Wednesday, saying the voter had selected every other Republican on the ballot and intended to vote for Yancey.

This is the ballot that was scrutinized in the race for the Virginia House of Delegates 94th District in Newport News, Va. (City of Newport News, Virginia)

The court’s decision leaves the race for the 94th District tied at 11,608 votes each for Yancey and Simonds.

And it leaves the balance of power in the state legislature at 50-49, in favor of Republicans – at least for now.

In the case of a tie in a House race, state law says the winner is chosen by lot – essentially, a coin toss.

James Alcorn, the chairman of the state board of elections, said the winner will likely be chosen by drawing a name out of a glass bowl. He said he is conferring with staff to figure out the date and method.

But it doesn’t end there. If the loser of the coin toss is unhappy with that result, he or she can seek a second recount.

News of the court decision pulsed through political circles that, just a day before, had been roiled by the notion that Simonds had taken the seat from Yancey by a single vote in the recount, ending 17 years of Republican control of the lower chamber.

Democrats challenged the results of three races Republicans narrowly won on Nov. 7 in the state legislature. This is what you need to know.

Democrats are challenging the results of three races Republicans narrowly won on Nov. 7 in the state legislature. This is what you need to know. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

As he was leaving the courthouse Wednesday, Yancey said “the ruling today makes certain every vote in this historic election was counted.”

Republican leaders said they became aware of the suspect ballot after the recount had been completed Tuesday – and after both Republican and Democratic observers signed off on the process, and Republicans congratulated Simonds.

“During the recount, election officials were presented with an overvote,” said a statement from House GOP leaders Kirk Cox, Tim Hugo and Nick Rush. “One Republican official, and a recount observer, believed at the time the ballot was a clear vote for Delegate David Yancey. However, a Democratic official persuaded the Republican official to not count the ballot. This morning, the Republican official wrote a letter to the recount court explaining that he made the wrong decision yesterday, and that he believes the ballot should count for Delegate Yancey.”

“We asked the recount Court to consider this ballot,” they said. “After review, the recount court agreed to count the ballot for Delegate Yancey. The Court has confirmed the election result as a tie vote.”

“While it appeared yesterday that Shelly Simonds was elected, it’s obvious now that the result will remain unclear for a while longer,” they said.

Simonds, who appeared on national television as recently as Wednesday morning as the surprise victor of a tense recount that reset state politics, could not immediately be reached for comment.

It is not clear whether a final decision in the Simonds-Yancey matchup will settle control of the House of Delegates.

Even as the court was considering whether to certify Tuesday’s recount in the 94th House District, two other recounts are taking place this week – at least one of which may further reshuffle politics in Richmond.

On Wednesday, officials were recounting ballots cast in Richmond’s District 68, where the Democrat leads by 336 votes. And a recount is set for Thursday in Fredericksburg’s District 28, where the Republican leads by 82 votes. Democrats have challenged that race in federal court, where they are seeking a new election because more than 100 voters were mistakenly given ballots for the wrong legislative district.

This is a breaking news story that will be updated   Source

Dec 14, 2017
The Verge
The FCC just killed net neutrality

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Net neutrality is dead — at least for now. In a 3-2 vote today, the Federal Communications Commission approved a measure to remove the tough net neutrality rules it put in place just two years ago. Those rules prevented internet providers from blocking and throttling traffic and offering paid fast lanes. They also classified internet providers as Title II common carriers in order to give the measure strong legal backing.

Today’s vote undoes all of that. It removes the Title II designation, preventing the FCC from putting tough net neutrality rules in place even if it wanted to. And, it turns out, the Republicans now in charge of the FCC really don’t want to. The new rules largely don’t prevent internet providers from doing anything. They can block, throttle, and prioritize content if they wish to. The only real rule is that they have to publicly state that they’re going to do it.

Opponents of net neutrality argue that the rules were never needed in the first place, because the internet has been doing just fine. “The internet wasn’t broken in 2015. We were not living in some digital dystopia,” commission chairman Ajit Pai said today. “The main problem consumers have with the internet is not and has never been that their internet provider is blocking access to content. It’s been that they don’t have access at all.”

While that may broadly be true, it’s false to say that all of the harms these rules were preventing are imagined: even with the rules in place, we saw companies block their customers from accessing competing apps, and we saw companies implement policies that clearly advantage some internet services over others. Without any rules in place, they’ll have free rein to do that to an even greater extent.

READ THE DISSENTING STATEMENTS OF THE DEMOCRATIC FCC COMMISSIONERS

Supporters of net neutrality have long argued that, without these rules, internet providers will be able to control traffic in all kinds of anti-competitive ways. Many internet providers now own content companies (see Comcast and NBCUniversal), and they may seek to advantage their own content in order to get more eyes on it, ultimately making it more valuable. Meanwhile, existing behaviors like zero-rating (where certain services don’t count toward your data cap) already encourage usage of some programs over others. If during the early days of Netflix, you were free to stream your phone carrier’s movie service instead, we might not have the transformational TV and movie company it’s turned into today.

One of the two Democrats on the commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, called today’s vote a “rash decision” that puts the FCC “on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of the law, and the wrong side of the American public.” This vote, Rosenworcel says, gives internet providers the “green light to go ahead” and “discriminate and manipulate your internet traffic,” something she says they have a business incentive to do.

“​This is not good,” Rosenworcel says. “Not good for consumers. Not good for businesses. Not good for anyone who connects and creates online.”

Commissioner Clyburn, the other Democrat, said the implications of today’s vote are “particularly damning … for marginalized groups, like communities of color, that rely on platforms like the internet to communicate.” No one will be able to stop internet providers if they allow the social media services these groups rely on to slow down, blocking the dissemination of information, Clyburn said.

WHAT PUBLIC LIBRARIES WILL LOSE WITHOUT NET NEUTRALITY

Both Rosenworcel and Clyburn also criticized the FCC’s handling of the public comment period that proceeded this vote, saying that the administration acted inappropriately in ignoring millions of voices in support of net neutrality. “It is abundantly clear why we see so much bad process with this item: because the fix was already in,” Clyburn said. Rosenworcel said the commission showed a “cavalier disregard” for the public and a “contempt” for citizens speaking up.

The vote comes after a contentious and messy public comment period. After opening the proposal up for feedback earlier this year, the commission received a record-breaking 22 million comments. But many of those comments were spam — 7.5 million, according to the commission — and the FCC has refused to help investigations into what happened. The commission was also quiet about website problems that caused its comment form to crash briefly in May.

Those comments are likely to play a role in whatever lawsuit hits following this vote. Net neutrality supporters are almost certain to sue the commission in an attempt to invalidate this proceeding and restore the 2015 net neutrality rules. While the commission is allowed to change its mind, it isn’t allowed to change rules for “arbitrary and capricious” reasons. In court, the FCC will have to prove that enough has changed since 2015, and that there’s enough evidence in the record of comments, to back up the conclusion that it ought to revoke net neutrality.

NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS FCC’S NET NEUTRALITY VOTE WOULD COME AFTER A “CORRUPTED” COMMENTS PROCESS

Since the beginning of this proceeding, the commission has made it very clear that it isn’t really interested in most public comments either, despite a requirement to accept and consider them. The commission has stated time and again that it only values legal arguments, so we may see complaints that millions of consumer comments were ignored. Even if they don’t include the spam, the net neutrality proceeding was still the most commented ever at the commission.

This is the first time in more than a decade that the FCC has actually been opposed to net neutrality. The FCC has been promoting open internet rules since the mid-2000s, though it wasn’t until 2010 that they were turned into formal regulations. In 2014, those were overturned in court after the FCC was sued by Verizon. The court said that the FCC could try again using Title II, and so it did that in 2015. Those rules, which have been in place for two years, are the ones getting overturned today.

The vote ran over over an hour, with extensive speeches from the five commissioners, particularly from the two dissenting Democrats. In an highly unusual moment, the commission’s meeting room was evacuated briefly “on advice of security.” Cameras that remained on and streaming showed dogs being brought in to search the room.

Now that the vote is over, the commission will take a few weeks to make final adjustments to the rules. They’ll then be filed with the Federal Register and appear there in a few months. At that point, net neutrality will officially be off the books, and these new rules (or really, the absence of any) will take effect.

So what can you expect to change now that net neutrality is over? Not all that much — not overnight, at least. Rather than large swaths of the internet suddenly becoming unavailable or only offered for a fee, internet providers will likely continue to explore subtler methods of advantaging themselves and their partners, like offering data to use certain services for free or speeding up delivery of their own content.

These are things that may initially sound good. But in the long run, they disadvantage upstarts that don’t have the money to pay up. The problem is that, eventually, we may not know what products and services we missed out on because they never made it through the mess.
Source

Dec 13, 2017
Motherboard
And how much money they’ve taken from the telecom industry

Wednesday afternoon, 107 Republican members of Congress sent Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai a letter supporting his plan to repeal net neutrality protections ahead of the commission’s Thursday vote.

“The record is exhaustive, every viewpoint is well represented, and the time has come for the Commission to act,” the letter says. The current regulations, of course, are widely popular with the American people, and there have been widespread public protests urging the FCC to keep the protections in place.

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology released the letter, and it is signed by 107 lawmakers. Many of their signatures are illegible, and the committee did not release a typed list of the members who signed it. A call to the committee was not immediately returned.

Motherboard staff has attempted to compile a list of names on the letter. The full letter is embedded below. So far, we have been able to read 84 names; if you can read any that we have missed please tweet at us or email us (jason.koebler@vice.com). We will be updating this list throughout the night.

We have also listed the amount of money they have received in donations from the telecom industry since 1989, as compiled by The Center for Responsive Politics and The Verge.

If net neutrality is an issue that is important to you and the name of your representative is on this list, you may want to consider whether they should continue serving you the next time they are up for reelection. Read more and view list here

 

Dec 13, 2017
cnn.com
Exclusive: Ex-Farenthold aide shares new details of vulgar and abusive behavior

(CNN) A former senior aide to Rep. Blake Farenthold has approached the House Ethics Committee to share a damning account of working for the Texas Republican, with the intent of describing the congressman as verbally abusive and sexually demeaning — and his congressional office as an intensely hostile environment that drove the aide to physical and emotional distress.

Michael Rekola, who was Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, described in an interview with CNN new details of the congressman’s abusive behavior. It ranged from making sexually graphic jokes to berating aides — bullying that Rekola says led him to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily.
One comment from the congressman was especially personal. Rekola was about to leave town to get married in July 2015, when, he said, Farenthold, standing within earshot of other staffers in his Capitol Hill office, said to the groom-to-be: “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.” He then proceeded to joke about whether Rekola’s now-wife could wear white on her wedding day — a clear reference, Rekola said, to whether she had had premarital sex.

“I was disgusted and I left. I walked out,” Rekola said. Almost immediately after returning from his wedding, he gave his two-weeks notice.

Those crude remarks in the summer of 2015 marked just one of many instances in which Farenthold made sexually charged comments to or in the presence of aides, Rekola said. During the nine months that he worked for the congressman, Rekola said, he was also subject to a stream of angry behavior not sexual in nature — screaming fits of rage, slamming fists on desks and castigating aides, including regularly calling them “f**ktards.”

Elizabeth Peace was hired to help with Farenthold’s communications efforts in May 2015 when Rekola was sometimes out of the office to deal with his stomach ailment. Peace, who eventually became a full-time communications director, confirmed in an interview that Farenthold regularly called aides “f**ktards.” She also said she was present when Farenthold made the oral sex comment about Rekola’s then-fiancée.

“Every staffer in that area heard it,” Peace said. “It was the most shocking thing I’d heard him say at that point.”
Read more

Dec 8, 2017
Phillyrecord.com
ELEPHANT CORNER on the PA Society

The 119th annual Pennsylvania Society Dinner was held last weekend at the New York Hilton in New York City. For decades, this event was held at the Waldorf Astoria; however, that hotel is undergoing extensive renovations. The event sold out despite its $500-per-person sticker price. Since the dinner’s new venue is smaller than the Waldorf, the event had only 800 people, unlike the Waldorf ballroom, which held 1,200.

At the dinner, the society gave its annual gold medal award to the Sheetz family. Sheetzes own a large chain of gas stations and convenience stores throughout Western Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia.

The Pennsylvania Society is a nonprofit, charitable organization with over 2,000 members. It is not affiliated with any political party. Its purpose is to honor achievement, to reward excellence and to celebrate service to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

There have been a number of changes in the Pennsylvania Society’s management. ROGER RICHARDSbecame the 44th president of the Society. He replaced NICK DeBENEDICTIS, Republican activist and former CEO of Aqua America. Richards is the founder and president of Richards & Associates, P.C., a firm, which specializes in corporate and municipal finance and commercial banking.

Publicist JULIEN SCRANTON has succeeded longtime EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR CAROL FITZGERALD.Scranton is the granddaughter of GOV. WILLIAM SCRANTON and daughter of LT. GOV. WILLIAM SCRANTON. No, the Scrantons did not take their name from the Northeast Pennsylvania city, but rather the city gets its name from the coal and steel business founded by Julien’s ancestors.

For the GOP crowd, the weekend started Thursday night at Republican National COMMITTEEWOMAN CHRISTINE TORETTI’S party at Club Macanudo. The event is almost impossible to obtain an invitation to. The event was packed, but this year one could actually get through the crowd without stepping on someone as in the past. Many of the attendees from this event wandered over to Connolly’s Pub for a party sponsored by the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus Committee.

Friday, the Commonwealth Club hosted its annual luncheon at the Rainbow Room. This is a fundraising group for the Pennsylvania Republican Party.

The scheduled keynote speaker was VP MIKE PENCE. Owing to the Senate debate and vote on the new tax bill last weekend, Pence could not make the event. PAGOP pulled a rabbit out of the hat by finding a high-profile speaker at the last minute: RONA ROMNEY MCDANIEL, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee. McDaniel is the niece of former Massachusetts governor and 2012 presidential candidate MITT ROMNEY.

Following the luncheon, there was an event at 40/40 Club for State Senate MAJORITY LEADER JAKE CORMAN. After Corman’s event, there was a reception at the New York offices of Washington, D.C.-based law firm Arent Fox. The host of the party was former CONGRESSMAN PHIL ENGLISH. English heads Arent Fox’s government-affairs department. In the past, the event honored the Pennsylvania legislative delegation to Washington. However, as members of the House of Representatives and Senate were in D.C. to work on the tax-reform bill, English decided to honor Roger Richards, the new president of the Pennsylvania Society, who lives in English’s former district.

Gubernatorial hopeful Republican STATE SEN. SCOTT WAGNER held a reception at the New York Hilton. On the floor below, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE MIKE TURZAI, a recent entrant to the gubernatorial race, held an event at the same time. Many attendees of these events wandered over to Blank Rome’s annual reception at the East Side Marriott. The Blank Rome event is nonpartisan and invitations are hard to come by.

Saturday began for a number of Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania’s breakfast at the Penn Club. Many attendees wandered uptown for the PMA’s annual policy briefing and luncheon at the Metropolitan Club. The PMA speaker list usually includes Keystone State senators and the governor. However, this year, U.S. SENS. PAT TOOMEY and BOB CASEY were in Washington.

This year, PMA CHAIRMAN FRED ANTON, the host and master of ceremonies in the past, was with us as he passed away recently.

Republican gubernatorial hopeful PAUL MANGO had a lunchtime reception at the Starlight Room. Mango is a former consultant with McKinsey. Many his attendees strolled around the corner to Maggie’s Pub for the Bravo Group’s annual event. Bravo Group founder and CEO CHRIS BRAVACOS was a Republican political operative. However, like most lobbying groups, it does also work for Democrats.  Source

 

Dec 8, 2017
The Inquirer
Inside the gerrymandering data top Pa. Republicans fought to keep private

featured-image-Turzai-data

Maps generated using data turned over by House Speaker Mike Turzai during federal gerrymandering trial Agre v. Wolf.

Lawyers for House Speaker Mike Turzai and Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati had fought to keep private a trove of documents as they prepared for the trial, which began Monday in Philadelphia. They also sought to block the documents in a separate, state gerrymandering trial that begins next week in Harrisburg.

Among them are maps that contain detailed data on partisanship across the state, which experts said appear to confirm widespread suspicion that Republicans had intentionally drawn the map to favor their party. One map’s database contains details for each of the more than 9,000 voting districts in the state, including the races and ethnicities of voters and results from state and national elections from 2004 through 2010. Also included are metrics that appear to rate each voting district’s level of partisanship.

After the judges ordered the documents turned over, lawyers for the Republicans asked that anything not used as evidence in the trial — the data were not introduced, although analysis of it was — be destroyed within 24 hours of the trial’s conclusion.

A spokesman for Turzai dismissed any suggestion that they were trying to conceal the dataset, which he said contained no proof of intent to gerrymander.

But similar datasets have become key pieces of evidence in other gerrymandering challenges across the country, including in North Carolina and in a case out of Wisconsin now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

 STAFF GRAPHIC

The current congressional map, established in 2011.

Pennsylvania’s map is considered one of the most extreme congressional gerrymanders in the country. Since the map’s creation in 2011, Republicans have consistently won 13 of 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, even as votes across the state have generally split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

Republicans attempted to hide the data because it “undercuts their story in a big way,”said Michael Li, an expert on redistricting at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “Why do you have all this data, right? ‘I wasn’t trying to flee the country, but I had $10,000 and my passport in a canvas bag.’ ”

GOP efforts to keep data private

Lawyers for Turzai and Scarnati attempted multiple times to block production of documents, to avoid depositions, to keep logs of documents confidential, and to keep testimony under seal. The judges rejected the bulk of those requests.

Among the documents turned over in the case, Agre v. Wolf, was the spreadsheet containing partisanship data at the precinct level, along with map files containing partisanship data at the county, town, and voting district level.

Steve Miskin, a spokesman for Turzai, said the data in question wasn’t exclusively Turzai’s by any means.

“There’s a big fallacy about this data: Everybody used the same data,” Miskin said. “There was no one caucus’ data or one person’s data. We all agreed on the data.”

Lawyers at the Philadelphia-based Public Interest Law Center, which is bringing a state lawsuit against the congressional map, had also attempted to obtain documents from Turzai, but state judges blocked those attempts.

After the center’s lawyers evidently were able to obtain a copy of the data and maps from the federal case, according to an expert report they filed, lawyers for the Republicans tried to block the data from being used in the state case.

Miskin said Turzai was not specifically attempting to keep the dataset and maps from being handed over but was trying to uphold the doctrine of legislative privilege, meant to protect legislators’ ability to freely deliberate as they make law.

The Inquirer and Daily News obtained the data and are making it publicly available here.

In testimony read aloud in court Wednesday from deposition transcripts, a Republican staffer involved in the redistricting process, William Schaller, said mapmakers had election results data from a nonpartisan legislative agency that compiled information from the Pennsylvania Department of State. He confirmed that the data used included election results at the county, town, and precinct levels.

What’s in those spreadsheet and maps

 JARED WHALEN

Examples of maps created using the data provided by Turzai. Clockwise from top left: Residential blocks; water features; homes of then-incumbent U.S. Representatives; major roads and railroads.

The documents obtained by The Inquirer and Daily News consist of files for 13 maps, each with a dataset attached. Some of those contain generally available data, such as major roads or bodies of water. Another shows the home addresses of the then-incumbent U.S. Representatives; courts have ruled that protecting incumbents is an acceptable principle for redistricting.

Three map datasets contain partisanship data at varying geographies.

 JARED WHALEN

Examples of maps drawn using the partisanship data at the county and town levels.

The map with the most detailed data contains information on each of the more than 9,000 voting districts in the state, with information such as racial and ethnic breakdown and election results for races from 2004 through 2010. Also included are the two partisanship scores that, while unclear how they were calculated, appear to measure how Republican or Democratic a precinct votes. The higher a positive value, the greater the margin by which Republicans won in those precincts; the lower a negative value, the stronger the Democratic advantage.

With that precinct-level data, maps can be drawn to precise partisan specifications.

What the experts say it means

Told of the data and what it includes, four experts — Li; Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles; James A. Gardner, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law; and Nicholas Stephanopoulos, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School —said that the collection of partisanship data itself isn’t unusual or telling, but since the outcome of the mapping heavily favored Republicans, the data suggests an attempt to gerrymander.

“Given a congressional map that appears to seriously lock in members of the Republican Party, it’s a little less benign,” Levitt said.

Such data are actually required in some states, they said, for a positive purpose: To create competitive or politically neutral maps. That’s not what happened here, they said.

Even before knowing for sure Pennsylvania lawmakers had the partisanship data, Stephanopoulos said, he was confident they had it.

“It’s completely unsurprising they would have done it. If you’re trying to draw a gerrymander, if you’re trying to draw a map for partisan advantage, you need to have good partisan data,” Stephanopoulos said. “This evidence is confirmation they were thinking about partisanship when they were drawing districts.”

In response to the “so-called experts,” Miskin, the spokesman for Turzai said: “Clearly, by experts using the term ‘gerrymandering,’ and claiming that it’s gerrymandered, they are biased.”

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the number of voting districts statewide.
Source

Dec 5, 2017
Penn Live
Pa. lawmaker to colleague: ‘I’m a heterosexual … stop touching me all the time’

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County, took issue with Democrat Matt Bradford after the latter touched his arm while addressing him. Metcalfe affirmed he was a heterosexual.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Republican from Butler County, took issue with Democrat Matt Bradford after the latter touched his arm while addressing him. Metcalfe affirmed he was a heterosexual.(PennLive File)

A conservative state lawmaker on Tuesday affirmed he was a heterosexual as he took issue with being touched in the arm by a male colleague.

Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, chairman of the state House State Government Committee, during a meeting castigated ranking Democrat Matt Bradford after the latter touched his arm while addressing him.

In a terse tone, Metcalfe, a Butler County Republican, interrupted Bradford, who was sitting to his left at a conference table, immediately after the seemingly innocent gesture to say:

“I’m a heterosexual. I have a wife. I love my wife. I  don’t like men as you might so stop touching me all the time. Keep your hands to yourself. If you want to touch somebody, you have people on your side of the aisle that might like it. I don’t.”

A befuddled Bradford chuckled as he said: “We are officially off the rails.”

Other lawmakers can be seen grimacing on a video posted on the state House’s YouTube channel.

Ryan W Briggs, a political reporter for @cityandstatepa, in a tweet of the video noted: “Metcalfe also once invited a white nationalist to testify in favor of a bill to make English PA’s “official language”.

Metcalfe historically has pushed back against LGBT rights and anti-discrimination legislation.

Bradford, a Montgomery County Democrat, explained that his intent was “to beg for your permission for about 30 seconds.”

“Then beg. Don’t touch,” Metcalfe responded tersely to him.

Bradford, who had been trying to make a point about a land-use bill, motioned to postpone until the next meeting. He noted that it would be “wise to keep” to the topic of land-lock easements and roads.|

“I’m pretty much without any further comment that could be constructive at this time,” Bradford added.  Source

Dec 1, 2017
Business Insider
Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold paid $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim

Rep. Blake Farenthold spent $84,000 in taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former communications director in 2014, Politico reported on Friday.

Farenthold, of Texas, is the only known sitting member of Congress to have used taxpayer funds to settle a sexual harassment complaint.

Lauren Greene, Farenthold’s former spokesperson, sued her boss in federal court in Washington, DC in December 2014, alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and a hostile work environment.

In her lawsuit, Greene alleged that one of the congressman’s aides told her the lawmaker had “sexual fantasies” and “wet dreams” about her. Greene also claimed that Farenthold told her that he was “estranged from his wife and had not had sex with her in years.”

The lawsuit was dropped after the two reached an out-of-court settlement.

“While I 100% support more transparency with respect to claims against members of Congress, I can neither confirm nor deny that settlement involved my office as the Congressional Accountability Act prohibits me from answering that question,” Farenthold said in a Friday statement.

Greene accused both the congressman and his top aide, Bob Haueter, of sexually harassing her. She alleges that after she complained about the behavior directly to Farenthold, she was “marginalized and undermined” by the congressman and then fired several weeks later.

“Farenthold regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red head patrol to keep him out of trouble,'” Greene wrote in her complaint. “On one occasion, prior to February 2014, during a staff meeting at which [Greene] was in attendance, Farenthold disclosed that a female lobbyist had propositioned him for a ‘threesome.'”

While the Office of Congressional Ethics conducted an investigation into Greene’s allegations, it ultimately did not find “substantial reason to believe that Representative Farenthold sexually harassed or discriminated against” Greene, or that he retaliated against her following her complaints.

Since 1997, the House has spent more than $17 million in taxpayer funds to settle workplace disputes, including sexual harassment complaints.  Source

Dec 4, 2017
The Hill
RNC reinstates support for Moore after Trump endorsement

The Republican National Committee is reinstating its support of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore after initially cutting ties over allegations of sexual misconduct, two sources confirmed to The Hill Monday.

Breitbart News first reported that the RNC had decided to step back into the race just hours after President Trump fully endorsed the controversial candidate.

“We can confirm our involvement in the Alabama Senate race,” an RNC official told The Hill.

A second source close to the RNC told The Hill that “the Breitbart story is real.”

Trump endorsed Moore in a tweet to his millions of followers, as well as in a follow-up call aboard Air Force One, in which the president said, “Go get ’em, Roy.”

The RNC’s change of heart comes after it and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the party’s Senate campaign arm, announced last month that they would not support Moore even after Trump stood by him.

The two GOP campaign groups cut ties with Moore in October, halting their financial and field support for his bid as a chorus of Republican lawmakers called on him to step aside.

Their decision to break ties with Moore came after a handful of women alleged that he made unwanted sexual advances while they were underaged and he was in his 30’s.

The youngest of the women says she was just 14 at the time.

Early Monday, Trump backed Moore, saying his vote is needed to push the Republican agenda in narrowly GOP-controlled Senate.

“The President had a positive call with Judge Roy Moore during which they discussed the state of the Alabama Senate race and the President endorsed Judge Moore’s campaign,” said White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah.

While Moore has repeatedly denied the allegations of wrongdoing, he faces an uncertain path even if he emerges victorious in the race for Attorney General Jeff Sessions‘s old Senate seat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last month warned that Moore will immediately face a Senate Ethics Committee investigation if he wins the special election on Dec. 12. And NRSC Chairman Cory Gardner(R-Colo.) called for Moore to be expelled from the Senate.

The NRSC did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment on Monday evening.

Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Monday issued a severe rebuke of Moore shortly after Trump’s endorsement, saying the candidate’s victory would be “a stain on the GOP and on the nation.”

“Roy Moore in the US Senate would be a stain on the GOP and on the nation. Leigh Corfman and other victims are courageous heroes. No vote, no majority is worth losing our honor, our integrity,” Romney tweeted, positioning himself to be diametrically opposed to both the president and the RNC.

His Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, appears to be reaping the financial surplus from the fallout. Jones’s campaign raised more than $10 million in donations between Oct. 1 and Nov. 22, USA Today reported on Friday.

Moore leads Jones by an average of approximately 3 points in Alabama polling, according to RealClearPolitics.   Source and video here

Inside Story recaps N.J. and PA election results

VIDEO: Inside Story Part 1 of ’17 Election results

View all 3 videos here

Terry Madonna
Val DiGeorgio
Jim Eisenhower

Breaking down the local elections

VIDEO: Inside Story Part 2 of '17 Election results

 

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