A handful of super wealthy donors spent billions to support the Republicans in the last election, and they got little to show for their money, at least on the national level. That's led some billionaires, like David and Charles Koch's Americans for Prosperity, to shift their spending to state (or even local) races. Others, "like Paul Singer, the billionaire Republican investor, have expanded their in-house political shops, building teams of loyal advisers and researchers to guide and coordinate their giving," says Nicholas Confessore in The New York Times:
The Republican donors who have financed the party's vast outside-spending machine are turning against the consultants and political strategists they once lavished with hundreds of millions of dollars.... "The Karl Rove thing is out," said one donor, who asked for anonymity because he did not want to offend Mr. Rove. "The Koch thing is in." [New York Times]
An Ohio-based coal company and its CEO are suing Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, HBO, and Time Warner for defamation, claiming on his June 18 show, Oliver executed a "maliciously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of Robert Murray and Murray Energy.
In a suit filed Wednesday in West Virginia, the company accused Oliver and HBO of a "callous, vicious, and false" attack on the coal industry as part of their "most recent attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump administration." During the segment, Oliver discussed ways "people conflate coal, coal miners, and coal companies and imply that when you help one, you help them all. But they are not all in the same boat." Oliver mentioned Murray and his company fighting against safety regulations in the coal industry, and at one point called Murray a "geriatric Dr. Evil."
The suit says Murray, 77, needs a lung transplant, thinks he won't live long enough to see this case reach a conclusion, and believes the segment incited people to "do harm to Mr. Murray and his companies." He is asking for financial damages and a court order preventing the segment from being aired ever again. During the segment, Oliver noted that when the show contacted Murray Energy for comment, they responded with a letter threatening legal action if Last Week Tonight did not "cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy." A representative for HBO told USA Today the company has "confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight" and doesn't believe "anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray or Murray energy's rights." Watch the segment causing all of this hullabaloo below. Catherine Garcia
The Philadelphia 76ers selected University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz as the first overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. The Sixers traded with the Boston Celtics to get the top spot. UCLA's Lonzo Ball was chosen second by the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Celtics, drafting third, picked Duke's Jayson Tatum. The draft is taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn; follow along live on ESPN. Catherine Garcia
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn't bothered by some members of her party criticizing her, following Jon Ossoff's loss Tuesday in Georgia's 6th Congressional district special election.
His opponent, Karen Handel, ran more of an anti-Ossoff campaign than pro-Handel, and ran ads linking Ossoff to Pelosi, a liberal from California. This isn't a new GOP tactic, Pelosi said during a press conference Thursday, "and usually, they go after the most effective leader." Two-thirds of the caucus backed Pelosi last year when she was challenged by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and she feels "very confident" about the support she has. "I think I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly," she said. "I love the fray." She didn't hesitate to stand up for herself, saying, "You want me to sing my praises? Well, I'm a master legislator. I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country, and that is why I'm able to attract the support that I do."
Pelosi said the party is "paving a way for a new generation of leadership, and I respect any opinion that my my members have," but the "decision about how long I stay is not up to them." Looking ahead to 2018, "history is on our side," she added, as the president typically loses House seats during their first midterm election. Catherine Garcia
Senate Republicans unveiled their health-care proposal Thursday, the upper chamber's version of the GOP-backed American Health Care Act that passed the House early last month. The Senate bill, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," allows states to apply for waivers to certain insurance regulations intended to protect the sick and the poor, proposes steep and lasting cuts to Medicaid, and rolls back taxes and subsidies levied under the Affordable Care Act.
Former President Barack Obama, of course, signed the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. ObamaCare into law just over seven years ago. On Thursday, he took to his Facebook page to offer his thoughts on the Senate's proposed replacement for his signature legislative achievement, slamming the bill's "fundamental meanness":
The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health-care bill. It's a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. [...]
Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family — this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation. [Barack Obama]
An unintentional loophole in a New Hampshire law would have allowed pregnant women to murder people without consequence
An awkward linguistic loophole in a Republican bill in the New Hampshire state Senate would have, in theory, allowed pregnant women to legally get away with committing murder, Slate reports. Senate Bill 66 defined fetuses past 20 weeks old as "people" for cases of murder or manslaughter, such as when unborn babies are killed in reckless driving accidents. But in order to avoid convicting pregnant mothers of murder if they sought abortions, the bill included an unintentionally hilarious work-around:
The bill's original language stated that "any act committed by the pregnant woman" or a doctor acting in his professional capacity wouldn't apply in cases of second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. Unfortunately, "any act" implied, well, any act. The bill "allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences," Republican representative J.R. Hoell told the Concord Monitor. "Although that was never the intent, that is the clear reading of the language." *blooper sound effect* [Slate]
The bill initalliy passed both the state's House and Senate without lawmakers realizing the loophole, Slate adds. But unfortunately for anyone with Purge-esque visions of bloodthirty mothers-to-be, the House passed an amendment Thursday "to make sure pregnant women don't go around killing people." Read the full details of the case at Slate. Jeva Lange
Carrier braces for 600-person layoff just 6 months after Trump touted the company as a job policy victory
From the get-go, President Trump's so-called "Carrier deal" has not lived up to its expectations. In December, the then-president-elect promised to save 1,100 jobs at the air conditioner and furnace manufacturing plant that had been slated to go to Mexico in return for $7 million in state financial incentives.
In reality, only 730 union jobs were preserved. Fast-forward a few months, and now more than 600 employees at the Carrier plant are anticipating being laid off next month. "The jobs are still leaving," the president of United Steelworkers Local 1999, Robert James, told CNBC. "Nothing has stopped."
"To me this was just political, to make it a victory within Trump's campaign, in his eyes, that he did something great," added T.J. Bray, who has worked at Carrier for 15 years and whose seniority saved him from layoffs. "I'm very grateful that I get to keep my job, and many others, but I'm still disappointed that we're losing a lot."
In addition to the $7 million in incentives Carrier received for agreeing to employ at least 1,069 people at the plant for the next 10 years, the company vowed to invest $16 million into the Indiana-based facility. But "as for Trump's claim that the $16 million investment in the plant would add jobs, United Technologies CEO Greg Hayes told CNBC in December that the money would go toward more automation in the factory and ultimately would result in fewer jobs," CNBC reports.
Indiana Economic Development Corp. president Elaine Bedel added that all of Trump's promises "really [haven't] changed anything."
"We have been doing this since 2005," she said. Jeva Lange
Conservative health-care wonk Avik Roy says the Senate health-care bill could be 'the greatest policy achievement' by a GOP Congress in his lifetime
As the Senate Republicans' ObamaCare replacement was sending ripples of alarm and anger through the Democratic ranks — and some of the GOP ones, too — conservative health-care wonk Avik Roy was reading. And reading. And reading.
After finishing the 142 pages of the "Better Care" act, Roy — who served as Mitt Romney's health-care policy adviser during his 2012 campaign — reached this conclusion:
Finished reading the Senate HC bill. Put simply: If it passes, it’ll be the greatest policy achievement by a GOP Congress in my lifetime.
— Avik Roy (@Avik) June 22, 2017