Supreme Court green-lights order requiring ‘dark money’ groups to name political donors

Supreme Court green-lights order requiring ‘dark money’ groups to name political donors

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court allowed a lower-court ruling to take effect that will require nonprofit advocacy groups to disclose the names of political donors at least through the 2018 midterm elections, handing a win to campaign finance reformers and a loss to Crossroads GPS and other nonprofits that specialize in using secret “dark money” donations to influence political campaigns.

Last month, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., had sided with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against Crossroads GPS, an influential conservative group, and threw out a decades-old Federal Elections Commission (FEC) rule shielding donors to political nonprofits. With the Supreme Court denying Crossroads GPS’s request for a stay, “we’re about to know a lot more about who is funding our elections,” said CREW executive director Noah Bookbinder.

“With less than 50 days before this fall’s congressional elections, the ruling has far-reaching consequences that could curtail the ability of major political players to raise money and force the disclosure of some of the country’s wealthiest donors,” The Washington Post reports. “The change could affect heavyweight groups across the political spectrum, including the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity on the right and the League of Conservation Voters on the left.” Conservatives were the ones complaining on Tuesday, characterizing Howell’s ruling as an ill-timed incursion on free speech.

Starting Wednesday, the nonprofit advocacy groups will have to release the names of donors who contribute more than $200 annually for the purpose of influencing a federal election. Crossroads GPS will likely appeal the ruling, and the FEC will write a new rule for nonprofits, but neither of those will be in effect before the 2018 elections. The Supreme Court said Chief Justice John Roberts had referred the request for a stay to the court, which is divided 4-4 along ideological lines. The statement did not elaborate. You can read more at The Washington Post.

Click here to see original article

College students in D.C. grow vegetables to feed the homeless in their neighborhood

College students in D.C. grow vegetables to feed the homeless in their neighborhood

In the middle of a busy Washington, D.C. neighborhood, a garden is growing.

The GroW Garden was launched by George Washington University students in 2009, and in recent years, most of the produce has been donated to Miriam’s Kitchen, an organization that aims to end homelessness. Depending on the time of year, the garden is overflowing with tomatoes, zucchini, squash, Swiss chard, and various herbs. Every week, a vegetable delivery — sometimes as much as 40 pounds — is brought straight from the garden to Miriam’s Kitchen, where the produce is then given to people living in permanent supportive housing. The rest is prepared for homeless people who eat at a nearby church.

Recently, the students switched things up, and started growing vegetables based on what Miriam’s Kitchen specifically needs. Anything that doesn’t go to Miriam’s Kitchen is donated to George Washington University’s on-campus food pantry. Senior Isabelle Moody told WTOP-FM the garden helps students understand the issue of food insecurity and “think about what exists beyond GW’s bubble.” The garden is “really special,” senior Elizabeth Ferrante added, due to the way “that it connects people.”

Click here to see original article

Surgeon who appeared on Bravo reality show accused of drugging and raping women

Surgeon who appeared on Bravo reality show accused of drugging and raping women

A Southern California surgeon who appeared on Bravo’s 2014 reality show Online Dating Rituals of the American Male and was once named Orange County’s Most Eligible Bachelor stands accused of drugging and raping two women, with prosecutors saying there are likely other victims out there.

On Tuesday, prosecutors alleged that Dr. Grant William Robicheaux, 38, of Newport Beach and his girlfriend, Cerissa Laura Riley, 31, drugged and raped two women in 2016. Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas described Robicheaux and Riley as being “clean-cut, good-looking people,” and said they went looking for women at bars and festivals. One of the victims contacted police in April 2016 after she was allegedly raped, and on Oct. 2, 2016, one of Robicheaux’s neighbors called police when he heard a different woman screaming for help from inside his house.

The Los Angeles Times reports that during subsequent search warrants, police found cocaine, MDMA, GBH, and illegal unregistered weapons inside Robicheaux’s house, as well as several videos, including one showing sex acts with a victim. The investigation was turned over to prosecutors from Newport Beach police on Sept. 6, charges were filed Sept. 11, and Robicheaux and Riley were arrested Sept. 12; both are now free on $100,000 bail. They face multiple felony counts, including rape by drugs and oral copulation by anesthesia. The Times asked a Newport Beach police spokesperson why it took so long for the arrests to be made, and was told the “evidence initially did not meet the standard to make an arrest.”

Click here to see original article

CNN’s Chris Cuomo games out the messy and likely options with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford

CNN’s Chris Cuomo games out the messy and likely options with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford

Are you confused about what’s going on with the proposed Senate testimony of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says Kavanaugh tried to rape her in the early 1980s? It is a complicated and fluid situation, but CNN’s Chris Cuomo broke out the whiteboard on Tuesday night to outline the facts and game out the possible outcomes. For starters, Cuomo said, he doesn’t see Kavanaugh and Ford testifying about the alleged incident on Monday, as Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) proposed.

“This is about politics,” Cuomo said. The FBI can — if President Trump allows it — and should investigate Ford’s allegations, and Kavanaugh should want the feds to clear his name, Cuomo said. An FBI probe would bring a delay, and “if it doesn’t happen, if there is no FBI, if the president doesn’t allow it, Monday goes away and this is a done deal,” he predicted. Why? Republican voters and Trump’s base showed in 2016 they were willing to overlook or discount credible sexual assault accusations by several women against Trump, Cuomo said, and given the choice between “a generation of jurisprudence and having the rules of society reflect what they like, versus this woman and her accusation — if they swallowed so many like a bowl of ice cream, what do you think they’ll do with just one?” Trump, for what it’s worth, seems to agree with Cuomo’s assessment.

Click here to see original article

South Korea’s Moon says North Korea has agreed to denuclearization measures

South Korea’s Moon says North Korea has agreed to denuclearization measures

In a joint statement released Wednesday after their two-day meeting in Pyongyang, South Korean President Kim Jong Un and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to establish buffer zones along land and sea borders and create a joint military committee that will work to ease tensions and prevent any accidental clashes.

Moon said Kim agreed to let international experts watch as North Korea permanently dismantles a missile engine test site and launch pad, and said if the United States takes corresponding measures, he will take additional steps toward denuclearization, including shutting down North Korea’s main nuclear complex.

The two Koreas have also agreed to cooperate in sports events, like the 2020 Summer Olympics, and will try to get the rights to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics. Kim vowed to visit Seoul “in the near future,” and if he does make the trip, he will become the first North Korean leader to visit since the division of the Korean peninsula in 1945, The Associated Press reports.

Click here to see original article

Texas GOP flips state Senate seat held by Democrats for 139 years

Texas GOP flips state Senate seat held by Democrats for 139 years

Texas Republicans got a big boost on Tuesday as retired game warden Pete Flores beat former U.S. Rep. Pete Gallego (D) in a special state Senate election in a San Antonio district that last elected a Republican in the the 1870s. Flores will serve out the rest of the term of former state Sen. Carlos Uresti (D), until 2021, giving Texas Republicans 21 seats in the Senate and virtually ensuring a 19-seat supermajority in the next legislative session. Uresti resigned in June after being convicted of 11 felonies related to a business venture. Gallego conceded at 9 p.m., when unofficial results had him losing by 6 percentage points, 53 percent to 47 percent.

Flores was boosted by strong support from all top Texas GOP elected officials and Republican enthusiasm. Turnout was low, but not for a special election, the San Antonio Express-News reports. The last Republican to represent Texas’ Senate District 19 was Andrew Phelps McCormick, who left office in 1879. Flores will be the first Hispanic Republican ever to serve in the state Senate.

Click here to see original article

Grassley says there’s ‘no reason for any further delay’ on Kavanaugh hearing

Grassley says there’s ‘no reason for any further delay’ on Kavanaugh hearing

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) responded Tuesday night to a letter sent earlier in the day from lawyers representing Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers.

On Monday, the committee invited Ford to testify next Monday in front of the panel regarding the alleged assault. The letter from Ford’s lawyers demanded an FBI investigation into Kavanaugh before Ford will talk to the committee, and revealed that she has received death threats and had to leave her house. “Nobody should be subject to threats and intimidation, and Dr. Ford is no exception,” Grassley said. “These are serious allegations and Dr. Ford deserves to be heard.”

Grassley said as soon as Ford revealed her identity in The Washington Post on Sunday, “committee staff started working to gather facts related to her claims.” She has been invited to attend a public or private hearing Monday with the committee “as well as staff-led interviews, whichever makes her most comfortable,” he said, and the offer “still stands.” Ford’s testimony would only reflect her “personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Grassley also stated that the committee never planned on having Ford and Kavanaugh on a panel together, and that they gave “Dr. Ford multiple dates” for a hearing. Grassley did not explain why, if Ford was given several dates and her lawyers did not respond to the invitation until Tuesday, he announced on Monday that the hearing would take place next Monday.

Click here to see original article

Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say she is receiving death threats as part of a ‘vicious harassment’ campaign

Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers say she is receiving death threats as part of a ‘vicious harassment’ campaign

Since coming forward with her allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Christine Blasey Ford has been “the target of vicious harassment and even death threats,” her lawyers said Tuesday, forcing her and her family to leave their home.

Ford’s legal team revealed this in a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday. CNN obtained a copy of the letter, which demanded the FBI launch an investigation into Kavanaugh before Ford agrees to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in order to “ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”

Ford sent a confidential letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in July “so that lawmakers would have a fuller understanding of Brett Kavanaugh’s character and history,” the lawyers said, and she only came forward publicly after details of her letter were revealed. Since Sunday, Ford “has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country,” the lawyers said, but also “vicious harassment.” In addition to receiving death threats, Ford’s email has been hacked and people are pretending to be her online.

Ford, a professor, wants to cooperate with the committee and law enforcement, her lawyers said, but at the same time must take care of “her own health and security.” Read the full letter — which includes a dig at senators like Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, who called Ford “mixed up” — at CNN.

Click here to see original article

Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford asks for FBI investigation before Senate hearing

Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford asks for FBI investigation before Senate hearing

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, said on Tuesday that she wants the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee announced on Monday it would be holding a public hearing next Monday, giving senators a chance to hear from Kavanaugh and Ford and ask them questions. Ford’s lawyers said the “first step” before having her go “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident” would be an FBI investigation, but did not entirely rule out an appearance should an investigation not take place.

It is highly unlikely Republicans will agree to change the date, and they could still hold the hearing on Monday without Ford. The Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh for this Thursday, but delayed it for Monday’s hearing. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Tuesday evening if Ford “does not come on Monday, we are going to move on and vote on Wednesday.” Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Click here to see original article

Kavanaugh accuser asks for FBI investigation before Senate hearing

Kavanaugh accuser asks for FBI investigation before Senate hearing

Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, said on Tuesday that she wants the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee announced on Monday it would be holding a public hearing next Monday, giving senators a chance to hear from Kavanaugh and Ford and ask them questions. Ford’s lawyers said the “first step” before having her go “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident” would be an FBI investigation, but did not entirely rule out an appearance should an investigation not take place.

It is highly unlikely Republicans will agree to change the date, and they could still hold the hearing on Monday without Ford. The Senate Judiciary Committee had scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh for this Thursday, but delayed it for Monday’s hearing. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told Fox News on Tuesday evening if Ford “does not come on Monday, we are going to move on and vote on Wednesday.” Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Click here to see original article