Archives for News

Questions over secret emails of Obama’s team

Some of President Barack Obama’s political appointees, including the Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, are using secret government email accounts they say are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages, according to a review by The Associated Press. The scope of using the secret accounts across government remains a mystery: Most U.S. agencies have failed to turn over lists of political appointees’ email addresses, which the AP sought under the Freedom of Information Act more than three months ago. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million
Read More

Tough choice for Christie in New Jersey Senate selection

In filling a vacant Senate seat, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie faces a significant choice fraught with political implications for his re-election campaign and, perhaps, a future presidential run. Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg‘s death Monday presents the state’s popular Republican governor with a series of decisions that carry consequences beyond who will serve as New Jersey’s next U.S. senator. While Republicans and Democrats alike will be watching Christie’s next moves closely, there’s no telling what the governor — who has staked out a reputation for going his own way — will do. “I give him praise on a life well-lived,”
Read More

Bribe-taking Congressman at end of long prison term

  Randy “Duke” Cunningham, whose feats as a Navy flying ace during the Vietnam War catapulted him to a U.S House career that ended in disgrace when he was convicted of accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, is completing one of the longest prison sentence ever given to a member of Congress. Cunningham, 71, is due to be released Tuesday. He told a federal judge last year that he planned to live near his mother and brother in a remote part of Arkansas, writing books in a small cabin. But in a brief interview with The Associated Press
Read More

Sexual assaults force military justice changes

Determined to stop sexual assault in the military, Congress is spelling out for the services how far lawmakers are willing to go in changing the decades-old military justice system. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and officers heading each branch of the military were to testify Tuesday on Capitol Hill, but it will be members of the Senate who will provide clues as to whether Congress embraces a far-reaching approach to limit the authority that commanders have to discipline the forces they lead. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., is a proponent of ambitious legislation that would
Read More

IRS victims testify before Congress

Conservative groups who were targeted by the Internal Revenue Service are getting their say on Capitol Hill just as the details of another IRS controversy are being made public. The leaders of six conservative groups were scheduled to tell lawmakers Tuesday about their mistreatment at the hands of IRS agents. Several of the groups say their applications for tax-exempt status were delayed while agents asked intrusive questions that the IRS has since acknowledged were inappropriate. One group, the National Organization for Marriage, says the IRS publicly disclosed confidential information about donors. Leaders of the groups were scheduled to testify before
Read More

IRS scandal puts Issa at center stage

What began as a bipartisan congressional probe into Internal Revenue Service practices is quickly turning into a verbal brawl with U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, no stranger to controversy, under attack from Democrats and even some of his fellow Republicans. Issa, the California congressman who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Sunday said in a CNN interview that the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status was “directly being ordered from Washington.” In the same interview he accused White House spokesman Jay Carney of being a “paid liar” in his comments about the IRS and said U.S.
Read More

More problems for the IRS

The Internal Revenue Service, already under fire after officials disclosed that the agency targeted conservative groups, faces increased scrutiny because of an inspector general’s report that it spent about $50 million to hold at least 220 conferences for employees between 2010 and 2012. The report by the Treasury Department’s inspector general about conference spending is set to be released Tuesday. The department issued a statement Sunday saying the administration “has already taken aggressive and dramatic action to reduce conference spending.” The White House and the agency were on the defensive before the report on conference spending. Agency officials and the
Read More

Immigration bill expected to pass Senate by July 4

A lawmaker who helped negotiate a bipartisan bill to overhaul immigration predicted on Sunday that comprehensive legislation would overwhelmingly pass the Senate by July 4 while House Republicans cautioned that they would write their own version, one piece at a time. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he anticipates as many as 70 of the 100 senators will vote for the measure heading to the full Senate on June 10. Even if it passes there, the proposal faces tough prospects in the Republican-led House, where lawmakers are at work on their own piecemeal approach that could stall a pathway to citizenship
Read More

Obama, actors work to reduce stigma of mental illness

Actors Bradley Cooper and Glenn Close are among those gathering Monday at the White House for a conference on mental health, organized as part of President Barack Obama’s response to last year’s shooting massacre at a Connecticut elementary school. Although the one-day conference was a response to gun violence, its agenda is much broader and includes discussion of insurance coverage for mental health care and substance abuse, recognizing the signs of mental illness in young people and improved access to services for veterans. The overall goal is reducing the stigma of mental health problems and encouraging those who are struggling
Read More

Political passion takes a holiday

Four years after the summer of rage that fueled the tea party movement, the political circuit is much quieter — even in Republican bastions like this. It’s not clear whether conservatives who rallied against President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul during raucous town hall-style meetings are tired, wary, complacent or simply saving their strength for a big push in next year’s elections. Whatever the reason, the more muted tone was palpable as conservative lawmakers in South Carolina fanned out across their state to meet with constituents this week during the first congressional break since the disclosure that the Internal Revenue
Read More