Groups Targeted by I.R.S. Tested Rules on Politics

When CVFC, a conservative veterans’ group in California, applied for tax-exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service, its biggest expenditure that year was several thousand dollars in radio ads backing a Republican candidate for Congress.

The Wetumpka Tea Party, from Alabama, sponsored training for a get-out-the-vote initiative dedicated to the “defeat of President Barack Obama” while the I.R.S. was weighing its application.

West Fertilizer Co.'s Insurance Policy Was Just $1 Million Before Deadly Plant Explosion

The Texas fertilizer plant that exploded last month, killing 14 people, injuring more than 200 others and causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to the surrounding area had only $1 million in liability coverage, lawyers said Saturday.

Tyler lawyer Randy C. Roberts said he and other attorneys who have filed lawsuits against West Fertilizer's owners were told Thursday that the plant carried only $1 million in liability insurance. Brook Laskey, an attorney hired by the plant's insurer to represent West Fertilizer Co., confirmed the amount Saturday in an email to The Associated Press, after the Dallas Morning News first reported it.

"The bottom line is, this lack of insurance coverage is just consistent with the overall lack of responsibility we've seen from the fertilizer plant, starting from the fact that from day one they have yet to acknowledge responsibility," Roberts said.

Roberts said he expects the plant's owner to ask a judge to divide the $1 million in insurance money among the plaintiffs, several of whom he represents, and then file for bankruptcy.

He said he wasn't surprised that the plant was carrying such a small policy.

Move Over, Koch Brothers: A Bigger, Darker Rightwing Funder Is Out to Destroy Public Education

It's "the most powerful organization in America that no one seems to know about."

That's how Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive think tank One Wisconsin Institute, describes the Bradley Foundation.

The Bradley Foundation, headed by Governor Scott Walker's campaign co-chair Michael Grebe, has underwritten a massive, pro-privatization propaganda campaign, including "a systematic and relentless campaign to turn public opinion against the public school system."

Unlike David Koch of the Koch Brothers, whose cover was blown when a gonzo blogger named Ian Murphy (editor of the Buffalo Beast and a frequent contributor to The Progressive), impersonated him ina prank call to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Donors Trust: The ATM for Climate Denial

 

According to Mother Jones and The Guardian newspaper, over the past decade, a little-known group called Donors Trust has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars from wealthy contributors to a host of right-wing organizations, advocacy groups and think tanks. MJ‘s Andy Kroll dubs it the “dark-money ATM of the right” because of all the conservative campaigns the group had bankrolled. He writes:

Antonin Scalia: State Of The Union Is A 'Childish Spectacle'

WASHINGTON -- While his colleagues got ready to go to the Capitol, Justice Antonin Scalia sat on a stage across town and held forth about why, for the 16th consecutive year, he would not be joining them for the State of the Union.

He doesn't go when a Democrat is president. He stays away when the president is Republican.

"It has turned into a childish spectacle. I don't want to be there to lend dignity to it," Scalia said, with a certain amount of mischief.

The 76-year-old justice has previously made clear his disdain for the event, but Tuesday may have been the first time he did so at nearly the same time as the speech.

The occasion was a talk sponsored by the Smithsonian Associates and moderated by National Public Radio's Nina Totenberg, one of many public appearances by the justices during their winter recess. They will meet in private on Friday and return to the bench on Tuesday.

Lest anyone think the timing of his talk was anything other than a coincidence, Scalia tried to put those thoughts to rest.

"I didn't set this up tonight just to upstage the president," he said. "The State of the Union is not something I mark on my calendar, like Easter or Yom Kippur."

Obama Presidential Voting Commission To Be Announced (UPDATE)

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama will announce a bipartisan presidential voting commission to focus on improving the Election Day experience, The Huffington Post has learned from two sources outside the White House with knowledge of the plans.

The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.

The White House announced Tuesday that 102-year-old Miami resident Desiline Victor will be a guest of first lady Michelle Obama during the president's State of the Union address on Tuesday night, during which Obama is expected to discuss voting reforms. Victor is a naturalized U.S. citizen who stood in line for three hours at a local library on the first Sunday of early voting until workers told her to come back later that evening. A crowd of thousands of people erupted in applause when she emerged with an "I Voted" sticker, the White House said.

NY Fracking Scandal: Seven Groups Demand Conflict of Interest Investigation of Cuomo Administration

New York could soon become the newest state in the union to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technique used to enable shale oil and gas extraction. The green light from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could transpire in as little as "a couple of weeks," according to journalist and author Tom Wilber.  

That timeline, of course, assumes things don't take any crazy twists or turns. 

Seniors and Vets to Crash ‘Fix the Debt’ Party Hosted by Honeywell CEO

Seniors and disabled veterans are planning today to crash a “Fix the Debt” party in New Hampshire hosted by Honeywell CEO David Cote. Fix the Debt, an organization comprised of many of the country’s richest and most powerful CEOs, pushes the case for cutting Social Security and Medicare as well as lowering the corporate income tax rate.

As such, the organization—and subsequent party—caught the eye of the anti–corporate tax-dodging group US Uncut and the new group Flip the Debt.

“We wouldn’t have to make these cuts, and we could invest in putting America back to work, if only [corporations] pay their fair share. So we say, rather than ‘fix the debt,’ let’s ‘flip the debt’ and put responsibility where it belongs. Hey 1%! Pay your damn taxes,” Flip the Debt states on its website.

Study Confirms Tea Party Was Created by Big Tobacco and Billionaires

A new academic study confirms that front groups with longstanding ties to the tobacco industry and the billionaire Koch brothers planned the formation of the Tea Party movement more than a decade before it exploded onto the U.S. political scene.

Far from a genuine grassroots uprising, this astroturf effort was curated by wealthy industrialists years in advance. Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry's role in driving climate disruption.

The study, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health, traces the roots of the Tea Party's anti-tax movement back to the early 1980s when tobacco companies began to invest in third party groups to fight excise taxes on cigarettes, as well as health studies finding a link between cancer and secondhand cigarette smoke.

Cops Blame James O'Keefe for Sinking Their Investigation into His Voter Fraud Sting

 

There's no publicity in the follow-up. Conservative activist James O'Keefe earned praise for secretly taping Virginia Rep. Jim Moran's son Patrick seemingly giving advice on how to commit voter fraud in October, but three months later law enforcement has closed their investigation because, they say, O'Keefe wouldn't cooperate.

RELATED: Believe It or Not, People Are Praising James O'Keefe's Latest Scheme

Federal Judge Approves Minnesota Law Banning Campaign Lies

Minnesota’s law prohibiting lying in political campaigns has been upheld by a federal judge.

 

The Minnesota Fair Campaign Practices Act made it a gross misdemeanor for someone to intentionally prepare, disseminate, or broadcast political advertising or campaign material “that is designed or tends to elect, injure, promote, or defeat a candidate for nomination or election to a public office or to promote or defeat a ballot question, that is false, and that the person knows is false.”

 

The statute was challenged five years ago by the 281 CARE Committee and the Citizens for Quality Education, which campaign against ballot initiatives that raise taxes or fees for school district funding.

 

The plaintiffs claimed the law violated their free-speech rights and restricted their ability to participate in political debate. They lost their first trial before a federal judge in Minneapolis. But the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling in May 2011.

 

That sent the matter to U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery, who ruled in favor of the defendants, two county attorneys and the state attorney general.

 

OFA demands the firing of U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz

The top Republican and top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee sent a joint letter late Monday to Attorney General Eric Holder posing pointed questions about the prosecution of Internet pioneer and political activist Aaron Swartz.

Swartz committed suicide this month after fighting federal hacking charges for two years. The letter from Issa and Cummings is the first clear bipartisan response to Swartz's prosecution, heavily criticized by computer and criminal justice experts as unwarranted and excessive. Swartz would have faced up to 35 years in prison if convicted of hacking charges stemming from mass downloads of academic journal articles from the online database JSTOR. Although Swartz had legal access to all of the articles, he was accused of violating the database terms of service by downloading so many at once. JSTOR had opposed his prosecution.

Businessman Tied To Dark Money Group Elected Arizona GOP Chair

 

An Arizona businessman tied to a dark money group that tangled with California's campaign finance watchdog last year has been picked to be the next chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, according to the Associated Press.

Robert Graham had picked up a number of key endorsements from state Republicans, and received 1,000 votes to beat out Doug Little, who received 430. 

Secret Donors Finance Fight Against Hagel

A brand new conservative group calling itself Americans for a Strong Defense and financed by anonymous donors is running advertisements urging Democratic senators in five states to vote against Chuck HagelPresident Obama’s nominee to be secretary of defense, saying he would make the United States “a weaker country.”

 

Another freshly minted and anonymously backed organization, Use Your Mandate, which presents itself as a liberal gay rights group but purchases its television time through a prominent Republican firm, is attacking Mr. Hagel as “anti-Gay,” “anti-woman” and “anti-Israel” in ads and mailers.

Search