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An organization that supports Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad paid Dennis Kucinich $20,000 to speak to their organization last year.
The payment came out as part of the Democrat's financial disclosures since he is running for governor of Ohio. Originally, Kucinich did not list the source of the payments and referred to them as speaking fees without specifying who they came from, the Columbus Dispatch reports. The three speaking fees came to a total of $33,000.
The $20,000 payment came from the Association for Investment in Popular Action Committees, in El Cerrito, California. The speech was at the European Centre for the Study of Extremism in Cambridge, England. Kucinich's travel costs were also handled.
Kucinich has been to Syria several times before and has met Assad. Kucinich is against most military actions the U.S. could be involved in and repeatedly attempted to impeach former President George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq.
Kucinich is in an uphill battle to claim the Democratic nomination for governor. Former CFPB head Richard Cordray is the favorite to lock down the Democratic nomination.
The organization that backed Kucinich's travel and speech called on the U.S. to pay reparations after recent missile strikes on Syrian military targets and have praised Vladimir Putin for his actions in Syria.
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Phil Bredesen, a Tennessee Democratic Senate candidate, echoed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D., Calif.) and Sen. Cory Booker's (D., N.J.) talking points during a recent interview by saying the Republican tax reform law is providing "crumbs" to the middle class.
Bredesen, who previously served as Nashville's mayor and later the governor of Tennessee, told the New York Times he couldn't have "swallowed morally" the Republican tax reform law that was signed by President Donald Trump back in December.
"I think they did something which was clever politically, but I couldn’t have swallowed morally, which is I think they threw a few crumbs to the middle class to give these huge breaks to wealthier people and corporations and so on," Bredesen said. "And I think I would have called that out as strongly as I possibly could have."
Bredesen's position on the tax cuts contrasts with the position of Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.), who is running for the Republican nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat.
"What we need in the U.S. Senate is a senator who is going to stand with President Donald Trump," Blackburn said earlier in the month at a county Republican Party dinner in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
As of March 30, Bredesen's disclosures show he has between $88.9 million and $358 million in total investment assets between January 2017 and February, according to the Tennessean:
During that same time period, the Nashville Democrat also had between $3.3 million and $20.1 million in income.
The disclosure, which is required of all Senate candidates, is the first such reporting Bredesen has had to file since entering the race late last year and gives an inside view of his finances since his departure from the governor's office in 2011.
But the disclosure does not encompass the entirety of Bredesen's personal wealth. Federal disclosures do not require candidates to disclose the value of their personal residence or its contents, and vehicles, including cars and planes.
Like Bredesen, Pelosi is worth tens of millions of dollars and has been one of the most vocal critics of tax reform, calling the wage increases and $1,000 bonuses as a result "crumbs" and "so pathetic." Booker echoed Pelosi last week during a town hall by calling tax reform "crumbs."
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A New Jersey Democrat running for Congress told local reporters he isn't in favor of a fast repeal of President Donald Trump's tax reform law, but his website says otherwise as he calls for voters to take action against the tax reform law.
Andy Kim, who is running to unseat Rep. Tom MacArthur (R., N.J.) in the state's Third Congressional District, said he is not staunchly in favor of a fast repeal of the law if Democrats take back control of Congress during the midterm elections later this year, according to the Burlington County Times.
"We need to make sure that this is a process that brings in the American people and brings in experts and is done in a very deliberative, strategic way," Kim said Tuesday following a roundtable meeting with residents and business owners.
"It needs to be done in a broader way. There’s not going to be any silver bullet to this," added Kim, saying that he wouldn't support rushing changes. "It would be irresponsible for us to think there’s a simple solution to these issues."
Kim's most recent position differs from his campaign website, which calls for voters to "take action to repeal the Trump tax" and then hits his Republican opponent for voting three times for tax reform. Kim has also slammed the tax reform law on Twitter several times, calling it "disastrous," "terrible," and quoting Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell (N.J.) by calling it a "big wet kiss to corporate donors and a deliberate slap in the face to New Jersey."
"MacArthur once again stood against his state, his constituents, and even his fellow New Jersey Republicans, to vote for the disastrous Trump tax plan. Check out the coverage to see exactly why I'm running to replace MacArthur in 2018, then join me!" Kim tweeted.
/1 MacArthur once again stood against his state, his constituents, and even his fellow New Jersey republicans, to vote for the disastrous Trump tax plan. Check out the coverage to see exactly why I'm running to replace MacArthur in 2018, then join me! https://t.co/R1Z9NiIYTS pic.twitter.com/pT4LqTPUon
— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) December 20, 2017
"Terrible tax bill is hurting NJ more than any other state in the country and @RepMacArthur was the only one in NJ to vote Yes. Help me replace him," Kim tweeted.
— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) March 29, 2018
"We must remind people every day that Tom MacArthur was only NJ member of Congress to vote Yes on the Tax Bill. Thank you @BillPascrell for reminding us that tax bill "is a big wet kiss to corporate donors and a deliberate slap in the face to New Jersey," Kim tweeted.
We must remind people every day that Tom MacArthur was only NJ member of Congress to vote Yes on the Tax Bill. Thank you @BillPascrell for reminding us that tax bill "is a big wet kiss to corporate donors and a deliberate slap in the face to New Jersey." https://t.co/83OBUKCvd0
— Andy Kim (@AndyKimNJ) March 2, 2018
Kim, a former diplomat and Rhodes Scholar who advised President Barack Obama on the Islamic State, has not only flip-flopped on repealing tax reform, but he has been facing scrutiny for claiming a special property tax break on his Washington, D.C. condo, worth nearly $1 million, after he had already announced he was running for the House seat in New Jersey and had registered to vote in the district:
Kim received the tax break when he paid his bill in September 2017, even after he announced he was running for the 3rd District seat in Congress and was registered to vote as a New Jersey resident, where he was renting.
Kim’s campaign has said the tax break was automatically renewed and that Kim canceled it and refunded the $687 in benefits he received before MacArthur’s campaign highlighted the oversight.
"Andy Kim either lied to get himself a special tax break, or he lied about his New Jersey residence to vote in the primary," said National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Martin. "Either way, Andy Kim launched his campaign by attempting to deceive the people of South Jersey."
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Wednesday spoke to theU.N. Security Council following the release of a report on the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, United Kingdom, calling on members to condemn the use of a Russian nerve agent on British soil.
Haley thanked the U.K. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Karen Pierce for her update on events in Salisbury before discussing the broader danger of chemical weapons attacks of its nature and calling on the international community to take a firm stand against the use of chemical weapons.
"None of us will be immune from this threat unless we immediately start rebuilding our consensus against chemical weapons," Haley said.
Later in her remarks, warned against the danger of the use of weapons of mass destruction becoming "routine."
"There is nothing more troubling than the idea that the use of a weapon of mass destruction becomes routine," Haley said. "Last year it was Malaysia and Khan Shaykhun. Last month it was Salisbury. Last week it was Douma."
Haley also called out Russia specifically, referring to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons's (OPCW) independent report that confirmed the U.K.'s lab analysis that the agent used in the Salisbury attack originated in Russia.
"As we have stated previously, the United States agrees with the U.K.'s assessment that Russia is responsible for the chemical weapons in Salisbury. Whether that is in their direct act, or irresponsibly losing control of the agent, which could be worse, our support for our British friends and colleagues is unwavering," Haley said.
"We hope our colleagues on this council will join us, as they have before, in delivering a clear condemnation of the use of a Russian nerve agent on another member's soil," Haley added.
Haley warned her fellow ambassadors that the next such attack could take place closer to their own home and said it was a matter of "morality" to prevent such attacks form happening.
"This is a matter of basic morality. We cannot in good conscious allow this to continue," Haley concluded.
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Secretary of Defense James Mattis dismissed rumors Wednesday that he disagreed with President Donald Trump on the administration's decision to launch airstrikes on Syria.
Mattis pushed back on a story that appeared in the New York Times earlier this week claiming the secretary advocated Trump get congressional approval before launching air strikes against targets tied to Bashar al-Assad's chemical weapons program, according to AFP.
"I have no idea where that story came from," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
The Times article claimed Mattis pushed the president to seek congressional authorization for the strikes, underscoring the importance of building public support.
The secretary further added the article did not include anything that reflected the actual occurrences leading up to the strikes.
"I found nothing in it that I could recall from my own last week's activities," he said.
On Friday, the Trump administration coordinated air strikes with Britain and France in a concerted effort to remove three targets purportedly vital to Syria's chemical weapons infrastructure.
The response came after the United States and its allies said the Assad regime carried out a chemical weapons attack last week on a rebel-held stronghold in Damascus. The attack killed dozens in the region and elicited rebuke and consternation from the international community.
The strikes have reignited a debate in the United States over the president's authority to use military force, with some lawmakers calling for Congress to pass an updated authority. U.S. forces under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Trump have largely operated under an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) passed by Congress in 2001 and another passed in 2002.
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Three gun-rights organizations filed suit against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services over its requirement that bans home day-care operators from keeping guns in their home.
The Second Amendment Foundation, Illinois State Rifle Association, and Illinois Carry filed suit against the state in support of Jennifer and Darin Miller. The couple has a home day-care license and would like to keep guns in their home for self-defense. The state, however, won't allow them to do so despite the fact that both of them have Illinois firearms owner identification cards and concealed-carry permits.
The complaint said the couple fears losing their home day care license if they were to keep a gun in their home.
"The Millers would possess and carry loaded and functional handguns for self-defense and defense of family, but refrain from doing so because they fear Jennifer’s day care home license being taken away from them by the State, and/or being prohibited from maintaining a day care home license in the future, all due to the Illinois statutes and IDCFS rules complained-of herein," the complaint reads.
It said that the Millers were willing to comply with the requirement in the state's concealed-carry law that those with home day cares could keep guns in their home so long as they're stored in a locked container while the kids they are watching are present but that they don't want to have to give up their guns to keep their business.
"However, notwithstanding the Millers' stated willingness to comply with the requirements of 430 ILCS 66/65(a)(2), the Millers are nonetheless required to abide by the requirement that they remove any and all handguns from their home in order to receive/maintain Jennifer's day care home license, regardless of Darin's and Jennifer's valid FOID cards and CCLs," the complaint said.
Alan Gottlieb, the founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said Illinois is violating the Millers' constitutional rights by making them choose between owning firearms and operating a home day care.
"IDCFS substantially prohibits day care home licensees, and those who would be day care home licensees, from the possession of firearms for the purpose of self-defense, which violates their constitutional rights under the Second Amendment," Gottlieb said in a statement. "It was our lawsuit against Chicago's handgun ban that incorporated the Second Amendment to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment. It was another of our lawsuits that forced the State Legislature to adopt a concealed carry statute in Illinois. Now we're in court to make sure that the state cannot discriminate against day care operators who merely wish to exercise the rights we’ve restored in Illinois."
The Millers' lawsuit is the second recent team up between the Second Amendment Foundation and Illinois State Rifle Association to challenge an Illinois regulation in the past month. On April 5, the two groups filed suit against a new ban on most semi-automatic rifles in Deerfield, Illinois.
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The widening chasm between progressive and establishment Democrats in California was exemplified this week by an endorsement from liberal billionaire and environmentalist Tom Steyer.
Steyer waded into California Senate race Wednesday to endorse Kevin de León, the primary challenger to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), according to the Los Angeles Times.
The race between de León, seen as the most viable challenger, and the long-serving Feinstein has intensified in recent weeks. The two have openly sparred over universal health care and how California's elected officials should respond to President Donald Trump.
In his endorsement, the environmentalist billionaire applauded the 51-year-old de León as a strong progressive who emulated California, more so than the 84-year-old Feinstein.
"I think he’s the kind of young progressive that reflects California and would be a very strong advocate for our state nationally," Steyer said.
Steyer further elaborated on his decision for backing de León in a statement received by Politico.
"I have known Sen. de León for years and have fought alongside him on immigrant rights, expanding health care, and climate change," Steyer said. "Our work together on behalf of all Californians has assured me that he would be a champion of California's priorities and values."
The endorsement is the latest snub Feinstein has encountered from the left as she attempts to secure a full fifth term in the U.S. Senate. This is also not the first time Steyer has publicly castigated the senator.
One day after Feinstein announced her reelection bid, Steyer sent a letter to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee urging candidates up and down the ballot to support impeaching the president. Steyer, who at the time was mulling his own challenge to Feinstein, wrote there was "no time for ‘patience'" and that it was "clear for all to see that there is zero reason to believe ‘he can be a good president.'" The letter was a direct rebuke of comments Feinstein made in August of 2017, where the senator suggested Trump was capable of being "a good president."
In his endorsement, Steyer praised Feinstein as "an outstanding public servant" but said de León was the "true progressive" in the race.
"Sen. Feinstein has been an outstanding public servant who has dedicated the bulk of her adult life to the service of our state and the country," Steyer said. "I just believe Kevin is the true progressive and he reflects something we need representing California going forward."
"I have nothing bad to say about Dianne Feinstein," Steyer added. "I have a lot of good to say about Kevin de León."
The endorsement, if followed by outside financial support, could prove consequential for de León to overcome Feinstein in the June 5 primary. The incumbent has so far led de León in name recognition and fundraising. When asked if Steyer would underwrite de León's campaign, the billionaire demurred, according to the Times.
"I don’t have any concrete plans for that," Steyer said.
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While President Donald Trump hasn't actually fired special counsel Robert Mueller, Pittsburgh cops are already preparing for riots in case he does.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Commander Victor Joseph drafted a memo to all its officers warning that they had received intelligence indicating that in the case of a Mueller firing, there could be "a potential large scale protest in the Central Business District."
Joseph was apparently worried about the possibility of violence, telling officers that moving forward they would have to bring riot gear to work, according to the memo obtained by local CBS station KDKA.
"Beginning Thursday, all Major Crimes detectives are required to bring a full uniform and any issued protective equipment (riot gear) with them to work until further notice," Joseph wrote.
Trump has often denied he plans to fire Mueller, who is investigating allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016, while simultaneously appearing to entertain the idea.
"Why don't I just fire Mueller? Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on," he asked aloud while talking to reporters at the White House following a raid on the offices of Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Days later, Trump said rumors that he was planning to fire Mueller were "Fake News."
"If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him. Just more Fake News from a biased newspaper!" Trump tweeted on April 12.
In response to potential backlash against the special counsel, Democrats and moderate Republicans in the Senate introduced a bill that would make it harder for Trump to fire Mueller. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has said he will not bring the bill to the floor, calling it very unlikely Trump would fire Mueller.
"I don't think he should fire Mueller and I don't think he's going to," McConnell said in the interview with Fox News. "So this is a piece of legislation that isn't necessary in my judgment."
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Rep. Jim Himes (D., Conn.) said Wednesday that if he were a senator, he would be inclined to vote to confirm CIA Director Mike Pompeo as President Donald Trump's next secretary of state.
MSNBC's Katy Tur, in the wake of many Senate Democrats expressing opposition to Pompeo, asked Himes if Pompeo should be confirmed as secretary of state. The congressman first reminded Tur that he is a member of the House of Representatives and since he is not a member of the Senate, has no vote in Pompeo's confirmation. He went on, however, to speak of personal experience that has given him insight into what makes Pompeo qualified for the job.
"I know Mike personally and have traveled with him a lot and as I said, he's a conservative right-winger from Kansas and I'm a Democrat from Connecticut, so we see everything pretty differently," Himes said. "But I will tell you this, he served his country with distinction in the military, he's a very smart guy, and he's a very pragmatic guy."
"So yeah, you know what, if I were in the Senate, my guess is that I would probably be inclined to vote to confirm him," Himes said.
Himes is a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which Pompeo was also a member of during his time in Congress.
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The investment firm of JB Pritzker, the Democratic nominee for governor of Illinois, purchased a company that eventually settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Labor for failing to fully pay employees their wages and overtime pay.
The same company, Apollo Industries, is also believed to be under investigation for a major chemical spill in the Chattahoochee River in north Georgia.
According to court filings, the allegations of wage theft by Apollo Industries (since renamed Plaze) date back to 2012.
A company already owned by Pritzker took over Apollo Industries in November of 2015. The Labor Department filed suit against the company in February 2016, accusing it of "failing to pay employees for some hours worked in some work weeks and failing to compensate some employees at a rate of at least $7.25 per hour," and "failing to pay additional compensation to employees when they worked more than 40 hours in a work week."
Over 190 employees were listed in the court file seeking back pay.
While still under Pritzker's control, the company initially disputed the charges but then agreed to a judgment by the court in March of 2017 and was ordered to pay more than $110,000 in back wages and damages. Other court documents show that about two dozen of the workers received more than $1,000 at the conclusion of the case.
Pritzker's website, under "issues," offers the following summary of Pritzker's stance on wage theft:
[Illinois Governor Bruce] Rauner wants to help business at the expense of workers. Governor Rauner’s extreme "turnaround agenda" fails to acknowledge the enforcement and investigative work that must be done to protect workers.
JB understands that worker misclassification and wage theft hurt workers and business. JB supports full enforcement of the 2010 Illinois Wage Theft Enforcement Act, which strengthens worker protections, and improving accountability measures for employers that improperly pay their employees. JB will appoint a Director of the Department of Labor who will relentlessly enforce all laws and direct the Joint Misclassification Enforcement Task Force to actively investigate and penalize employers who are in violation of the law.
The Pritzker campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Apollo Industries again earned headlines after a chemical spill in the Chattahoochee River was traced back to an Apollo plant in Smyrna, Georgia, in August 2016.
According to Fox 5 in Atlanta, "[t]he company confirmed that an estimated 2,300 gallons of carburetor cleaner leaked from its tank, out of the building and into a creek," which then fed into the Chattahoochee River.
Numerous media outlets in Georgia reported that the EPA had begun a criminal investigation into the spill, and the company suspended parts of its operations for a time while investigating the cause but also working with the EPA on a cleanup.
Emails to the company requesting comment were not returned.
Pritzker won the Democratic nomination for governor on March 20. The Illinois businessman comes from one of the wealthiest families in America, and his own net worth is valued at approximately $3.5 billion, according to Forbes.
Pritzker's critics suggested that the party establishment unfairly tipped the scales in his favor.
"An inevitable candidate. Accusations of a rigged primary. Early commitments from organized labor," Politico reported in December. "The Illinois Democratic primary for governor sounds a lot like Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential primary campaign — which didn't end up well for the party."
Governor Rauner (R.) was more direct.
"He [Pritzker] has rigged his Democratic primary. He has rigged it, ladies and gentlemen. If you guys won’t report it, shame on you," Rauner told a group of reporters at the time. "He has rigged the system; he controls it. It's a Mafia protection racket."
Because both Rauner and Pritzker are wealthy businessmen who can contribute heavily to their own campaigns, the Illinois governor's race is expected to be one of the most expensive contests in the country this year.
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