The House Ethics Committee on Monday announced it will further investigate separate matters involving Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and freshman Rep. Markwayne Mullin.
The allegations involving McMorris Rodgers, of Washington, involve claims by her former press secretary that she violated an obscure House rule against comingling campaign and taxpayer resources in her race for conference chair in late 2012.
The matter involving Mullin, an Oklahoma Republican, seeks to resolve whether he violated House rules and received outside compensation in his first year in Congress as an officer or representative of Mullin Plumbing and affiliates.
The announcements from Ethics Chairman Michael Conaway of Texas and Ranking Democrat Linda Sanchez of California came with reports from the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent watchdog that referred the matters to the committee after doing initial reviews of both cases.
The committee could have dropped the cases, but instead chose to continue its review.
In a prepared statement, McMorris Rodgers’s attorney, Elliot Berke, downplayed the news, saying the Ethics Committee simply needed more time to sift through the facts.
“We recognize the institutional constraints the Ethics Committee is under and understand it was unable to conduct a full review during this 90-day period. We remain confident that, in time, the committee will dismiss the complaint which was based on frivolous allegations from a single source — a former employee who then discredited himself by admitting to his own improper conduct,” Berke said.
“Neither Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers nor any other staff members were aware of this conduct and countered all of the allegations with the facts: At no time did they improperly mix official and campaign resources,” he added.
Mullin’s office responded with an aggressive statement.
“This review — based on an anonymous complaint — is referring to whether we want citizen legislators or just professional politicians making laws that impact our jobs, our families, and our communities,” Mullin said.
“The politicians said Dr. Tom Coburn couldn’t deliver babies when he got elected to the U.S. Senate,” he added. “Now they are trying to say that I shouldn’t be involved in the family plumbing business that my wife and I have spent the last 17 years building.
“Apparently it’s acceptable for members of Congress to own stock in companies we regulate in Congress, but somehow our plumbing company crosses some line. This is more of the kind of thing that leaves people scratching their heads and saying, ‘Only in the government,’ ” Mullin said.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”