The Cover-Up, the Shake Up and Trump Gets Caught Calling White House a ‘Real Dump’
Special Counsel Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury in Washington, D.C., allowing his team to issue subpoenas in its Russia probe. The White House said Thursday that it was unaware of the development – then stepped up efforts to find the leaks.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is trying to ID leakers, following the publication of transcripts of President Trump’s private phone calls with leaders of Mexico and Australia. The transcripts are embarrassing.
After a recent report showed that President Trump instructed Donald Trump Jr. to issue a misleading statement about his Russia meeting, a Vox reporter asked twelve law professors about the potential legal implications of the cover-up.
Can’t keep up with who’s in and who’s out at the White House? Find an up-to-date list here. Mooch, we hardly knew ya.
Another report this week said that Trump prefers staying at his own properties around the country because the White House is “a real dump.” Also this week, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller suggested that the Statue of Liberty is a not actually a symbol welcoming immigrants. And Stephen Colbert created his own poem in response.
And there’s this:
Ohio GOP Hammered For Putting Gun Rights Ahead of Property Rights
A cleveland.com editorial slammed Ohio House Republicans for passing House Bill 233, which would effectively yank the right of private property owners to prohibit those with concealed-handgun licenses from carrying concealed weapons onto their premises.
Growing Chorus Wants To Know Who Cleared Supreme Court Justice and Why
A recent Columbus Dispatch editorial questioned why Supreme Court Judges aren’t held more publicly accountable:
“Judges aren’t snowflakes; they are accustomed to controversial decisions. They take heat with grace. Why can’t the public know which panel of three judges cleared Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy, who to many ordinary citizens — but apparently not to a trained legal eye — appears to have crossed an ethical line?”
The scandal centers on Justice Kennedy’s decision to headline a March fundraiser for Greater Toledo Right to Life, an anti-abortion group. Her speech came two days after the state’s high court agreed to hear a case that could shutter Toledo’s last abortion clinic, Capital Care Network
ProgressOhio, along with 51 other groups and individuals, filed a disciplinary complaint against Kennedy, which was dismissed by a panel of three appellate judges. The public does not know the identity of the judges or the reason for the dismissal.
“This dismissal shows that Ohio’s most powerful state court is also its least accountable,” ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis said.
ECOT Owner’s Manta: ‘It’s Not About the (expletive) Kids, It’s About the Money’
Broke, dejected, but with an eye toward the future, Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow (ECOT) founder William Lager wrote out his plan to fleece taxpayers on the back of a napkin at an area diner.
Read the birth of a scandal here.
As ECOT’s State Money Decreases, ECOT’s Campaign Donations Rise Higher
State funding for ECOT will be cut by 12 percent for the upcoming school year because of ongoing attendance concerns, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria told cleveland.com. This is in addition to the $2.5 million monthly deductions the state is already taking from the school to cover overpayments tied to attendance padding.
While pleading poverty, ECOT leaders still managed to contribute $122,000 to GOP leaders. Pay attention folks: ECOT gets the money from your school system, uses it to short-change kids, inadequately educates kids, has worst four-year graduation rate in the country, uses your tax money to file lawsuits to keep getting more money, and when that doesn’t work uses your money to place ads touting its (fake) success. Then the people who personally profit give the money back to GOP candidates and elected officials.
After Ohio reporters pointed all of this out, the Ohio Republican Party decided to RETURN contributions from ECOT founder Bill Lager, reports WCBE radio. This is a first.
And Larry Householder, former Speaker of the Ohio and aggressive fundraiser, may have to return more campaign cash that violates contribution limits.
Once on Life Supports, Obamacare Getting Much-Needed Improvements
This week, an agreement was made with the Ohio Department of Insurance ensuring that 87 of Ohio’s 88 counties will have at least one insurer in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual market next year. The fear that 20 counties would lack that option is no more. Coincidentally, this occurred once Mary Taylor stepped down to run for governor.
The continued uncertainty over the fate and structure of healthcare are expected to drive premiums higher, reports The Plain Dealer’s Steve Koff.
Federally, Republicans reached out to Democrats for a “joint if modest” effort to buttress health insurance markets, four days after the GOP effort to unilaterally uproot and reshape the Obama health care law crumpled in the Senate, according to The Vindicator.
As Stock Market Hits Record High, Sen. Sherrod Brown Offers Plan to Raise Workers’ Pay
Democratic lawmakers, including Ohio U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, introduced legislation Tuesday to stiffen the penalties for employers who fail to pay overtime to workers.
Good timing, as indicators show the economy improving. The Dow Jones industrial average broke 22,000 for the first time. Yet Americans haven’t seen an increase in the federal minimum wage in nearly a decade.
To help working people share in prosperity and make ends meet, Democrats introduced the Raise the Wage Act. The Act would increase the federal minimum wage to $15/hour. It’s about time working people got a raise.
GOP Goes after Top Consumer Watchdog amid Study Showing CFPB’s Benefits to Consumers
Republicans across the nation and right here in Ohio are looking for ways to oust Richard Cordray from his post as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). When you have a full-time watch dog for consumers, it makes big banks, payday lenders and other large corporations a bit uneasy when he stands up for consumers.
The CFPB has an astonishing success rate. Read more here.
Corey Lewandowski, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, took to the talk show circuit to call for Cordray to be canned. And that prompted The New York Times to report that Ohio-based Community Choice Financial – a payday loan service that could be affected by Cordray’s firing – was among Lewandowski’s clients at his current consulting business.
During a speech at the always-enlightening Cleveland City Club, Lewandowski sidestepped a question from an audience member about his association with the payday lender.
If You Agree the Cleveland Clinic Should Not Host a Fundraiser at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago. Sign this Petition:
On February 25th, 2017, despite vehement patient and physician outcry from the local community and on the national stage, the Cleveland Clinic held their annual fundraiser at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Holding a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago is unacceptable because it symbolically and financially supports a politician actively working to decrease access to healthcare and cut billions of dollars in research funding from the National Institutes of Health budget. This undermines the Cleveland Clinic’s mission, ethics and reputation. Help stop the Clinic from holding their 2018 fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago.
Ohio Leads the Nation in Student Debt
In addition to leading America in infant mortality for black infants and opioid overdose deaths, Ohio now leads in student loan debt. The average Ohio student is $30,239 in debt and more than two-thirds have debt, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Ohio’s unemployment rate for 25- to 34-year-olds is 6 percent – well above the national average.
Next Year’s Statewide Races Heating Up
The first major campaign finance deadline and informal litmus test for 2018 occurred this week, with a few notable mentions:
Congressman Jim Renacci loaned $4 million to his own gubernatorial campaign. And the Renacci campaign is denying doing anything improper, but transferred funds from a federal campaign account to the gubernatorial one.
Attorney General Mike DeWine, also running for GOP nomination for governor, lent his campaign $1 million.
The Renacci and DeWine loans are destined to inspire journalists to scour their contributor lists to see who is giving to them – so they can repay themselves.
DeWine donated handsomely to his run for Attorney General, and DeWine and his son, Pat DeWine received sizeable contributions from lawyers and firms that do special counsel work for the AG, according to a past analysis by the Dayton Daily News.
Of the 27 law firms AG DeWine assigned to the cases that pay on contingency, 19 served on his advisory panel. Most of them also contributed via PACs or employees to the Ohio GOP, Mike DeWine and/or Pat DeWine.
Speaking of Mike DeWine, he praised Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this week in Columbus.
DeWine then publicly backed out of a GOP debate being sponsored by the alt-right Americans for Prosperity, saying the Sept. 5 debate is “too early in the election calendar.”
In the race for U.S. Senate, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel – who wants the GOP nod – got a zinger from columnist Brent Larkin who called Mandel a bottom feeder:
“Ohio politics has never seen a bottom feeder quite like Josh Mandel. For the two-term state treasurer, no gutter is too deep, no shot too cheap.” Describing Josh Mandel via his interviews with area leaders as “one of the worst things that ever happened to Lyndhurst,” and also “inadequate as a human being.”
But as the Beachwood Republican pursues his second bid to oust two-term U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown in next year’s election, Larkin wants voters to know this: Mandel may be the most singularly unfit contender for high office from Ohio during the lifetime of anyone reading this column.
Read the full column here.
The race for Ohio attorney general between Democrat Steve Dettelbach and Republican Dave Yost is shaping up to be an expensive one. Dettelbach, a former U.S. attorney and a first-time political candidate, raised $630,514 between Feb. 1 and July 31 of 2017, according to campaign manager Ian Moskowitz. That’s nearly $200,000 more than the $442,712 Yost’s campaign reported taking in during roughly the same time period.
However, Yost, Ohio’s state auditor, reported having an impressive $1.45 million in his campaign bank account, double the $732,524 that Dettelbach’s campaign has on hand. Read more here.
In the contest for state auditor, state Rep. Keith Faber, a Republican from Mercer County, announced a run for state auditor in January. The former Ohio Senate president raised $192,005 between Dec. 19 and July 31. His campaign spent $47,424 and had $789,645 cash on hand.
Zack Space, a 56-year-old Democrat from Dover, raised $100,343 between June 27 and July 31. His campaign spent $8,699 and had $91,643 cash on hand. Read more here.
Republican state treasurer candidate Robert Sprague ended July with a campaign treasury more than three times as large as primary rival Clarence Mingo, according to newly filed campaign-finance reports. Cincinnati’s Rob Richardson Jr., is the newly announced Democrat in the race.
For Secretary of State, State Sen. Frank LaRose raised the most, collecting $455,040 between Jan. 26 and July 31. His campaign spent $82,930 and has $555,717 cash on hand.
Democratic State Rep. Kathleen Clyde, a prominent advocate for voting rights from Kent, raised $342,580 and had $425,576 cash on hand.
Also seeking the GOP nomination for the job is Dorothy Pelanda
Republican Dorothy Pelanda, a state representative from Central Ohio. She raised about $130,268 and reported $93,054 cash on hand.