CA GOV: The California Secretary of State’s office said businessman John Cox’s (R) ballot proposal “to overhaul California’s Legislature by adding thousands of elected officials … he failed to collect enough signatures. … Cox said it was ‘too early’ to draw any conclusions, adding that his team planned to go into some of the counties and review the signatures that were rejected.” (Sacramento Bee)
“The three top Republican candidates shared a debate stage for the first time Tuesday and spent more time shredding each other personally than taking stands on policy.” Former Rep. Doug Ose (R): “I haven’t spent six years in the Legislature doing nothing, and didn’t move here from Illinois without knowledge of California.” State Assemblyman Travis Allen: “I have never lost an election. … These candidates here are both three-time losers.” Cox: “We’re not going to change California with more politicians.” (San Francisco Chronicle) The Republicans for the first time also assailed Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) “as immoral philanderers in a debate Tuesday, pillorying the rivals over their past affairs.” (Sacramento Bee)
GA GOV: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) “collected about $1.2 million this fundraising period, amassing roughly $2.9 million from 2,400 donors since he jumped in the race last year. He reported Wednesday he has $2.1 million of that cash haul on hand.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Former state Sen. Hunter Hill (R) “will report Wednesday that he raised $1.1 million this period and has amassed about $2.2 million since he jumped in the race in April. He’s got … about $1.5 million … on hand.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) advisers said they “worry that if the primary runs its full course, it will get harder for the campaign to go into a potential general election at full strength. That’s in part because of a big gamble by Abrams: running an expensive, aggressive field campaign almost from the very start.” (BuzzFeed)
ID GOV: State Rep. Paulette Jordan (D) “is giving up her seat in the Idaho Statehouse to focus on her run for governor.” (KIVI)
NY GOV: America Rising PAC “on Tuesday unveiled a Web site attacking” Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) “over the ‘pay-to-play’ allegations against Joseph Percoco, who’s accused of pocketing more than $300,000 in bribes from companies doing business with the state.” The site, thirdcuomoson.com is “in reference to Cuomo’s likening of Percoco to a brother during his 2015 eulogy for … the late Gov. Mario Cuomo (D).”
TX GOV: “Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is spending about $1 million a month on his re-election. … [N]early 96 percent of Abbott’s new contributions came from Texas. The average donation was $390, he said.” (Dallas Morning News)
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Greitens "was indicted by an St. Louis grand jury...The indictment stems from allegations he threatened to release a naked photo of a woman he was having an affair with if she revealed their relationship."
Robert Mueller announced new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort advisor Rick Gates. "The new indictment contains 32 counts, including tax charges." The pair had been indicted on 12 charges in October. Since then, Gates's attorneys have asked to be excused from the case.
"The House is shortening its Feb. 26 work week, canceling votes that Wednesday and Thursday, for the late Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda." The Senate still plans on voting all week.
"A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a Florida eye doctor linked to Sen. Bob Menendez to 17 years in prison for stealing $73 million in one of history's largest Medicare frauds. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra sentenced Dr. Salomon Melgen for 67 crimes, including health-care fraud, submitting false claims and falsifying records in patients' files." In a related case, Menendez was tried for taking bribes from Melgen, but the trial ended in a hung jury.
"As questions about the official travel habits of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt mount, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is demanding documents and other information on his first-class flights, as it looks into whether federal laws were broken."