The National Democratic Redistricting Committee last week “made its first campaign donation: $500,000 to the Democratic Party of Virginia to help elect” Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D). “Kelly Ward, NDRC’s executive director, said the organization was monitoring the race and may send more cash if necessary.”
ED-UCATION. Former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (R) “on Wednesday called for criminal justice reform that goes beyond what the GOP-controlled state legislature has so far been willing to embrace, including raising the state’s felony threshold to $500 from $200 and softening marijuana enforcement. … Gillespie also cast his proposals in economic terms, pointing out that the state spends more than $1 billion a year on incarceration.
“While he said he opposes decriminalizing marijuana because it ‘sends the wrong signal’ to young people, Gillespie said he would favor a three-strikes approach for simple possession: The first two arrests would not carry criminal charges, but a third would. … Gillespie also said he supports “limited, tightly regulated” use of marijuana for treatment of some medical conditions. …
“Gillespie also said he would support finding ways to ‘functionally end’ the practice of suspending driver’s licenses when someone fails to pay court costs and legal fees. … He also proposed banning state government from asking job applicants to check a box indicating whether they’ve ever been convicted of a felony but would not move to require the same of private employers.” (Washington Post)
SUNSHINE, BUT NO DAYLIGHT. “[T]here wasn’t much daylight Wednesday between … Gillespie and … Northam … at a downtown forum organized by the James River Association and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The candidates, taking the stage separately at The National theater in staggered sessions … covered sea-level rise, a pair of controversial pipeline projects planned to carve through Virginia, how best to clean up the millions of tons of coal from power generation that sit next to waterways across the state, and their level of commitment to continue cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, among other topics.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
2016 REDUX. Khizr Khan, whose late son was a Gold Star recipient, endorsed Northam. (Blue Virginia)
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"The Justice Department on Friday charged a Russian woman for her alleged role in a conspiracy to interfere with the 2018 U.S. election, marking the first criminal case prosecutors have brought against a foreign national for interfering in the upcoming midterms. Elena Khusyaynova, 44, was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prosecutors said she managed the finances of 'Project Lakhta,' a foreign influence operation they said was designed 'to sow discord in the U.S. political system' by pushing arguments and misinformation online about a host of divisive political issues, including immigration, the Confederate flag, gun control and the National Football League national-anthem protests."
The United States and South Korea have suspended "another major joint military exercise to give the diplomatic process with North Korea 'every opportunity to continue.'" Exercise Vigilant Ace, which last year "involved 12,000 US troops and some 230 military aircraft from the US and South Korea," was due to take place in December. Trump has canceled other operations in the past, which Gen. Robert Abrams said "had resulted in a 'slight degradation' to the readiness of US and Korean troops," but were a "prudent risk" to improve improve relations with Pyongyang.
"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has decided to take part in an anti-terror finance meeting with Saudi security officials and their Middle Eastern counterparts in Riyadh later this month, opting to attend despite growing global outrage over the suspected murder of a U.S.-based journalist at the hands of Saudi operatives, according to three people familiar with his travel plans. The security gathering next week is separate from a Riyadh financial summit that Mnuchin announced on Thursday he would not attend."
"Steve Penny, the former president and CEO of USA Gymnastics, has been indicted on a felony count of tampering with evidence" in the sexual assault case against disgraced USA gymnastics physician Larry Nassar. Nassar was found guilty in January of sexually abusing dozens of young gymnasts, and was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Penny, who was arrested on Wednesday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, "is accused of ordering the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch in Texas," where much of Nassar's abuse occurred.
Defense attorneys involved in the Mueller probe say the public "shouldn’t expect a comprehensive and presidency-wrecking account of Kremlin meddling and alleged obstruction of justice by Trump — not to mention an explanation of the myriad subplots that have bedeviled lawmakers, journalists and amateur Mueller sleuths. ... Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller’s findings may never even see the light of day."