We all thought Rick Perry was drunk and high when he gave that weird speech in New Hampshire, but it turns out he was just providing John Kasich a little inspiration. John Edwards believes in two Americas: the elite one that funded his working-class campaigns, and the other one that he's ripping off for $2.1 million. And one Oklahoma lawmaker insists that life doesn't begin at birth or conception -- it begins shortly after you turn off your Google SafeSearch filter. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, February 8th, 2012:
HuffPost Hill is screening a video at the Washington Press Club Foundation congressional dinner tonight... for some reason.
ROMNEY RAISES LOBBYIST MONEY - According to campaign documents, several checks made out to Romney for President have probably been stained by salad dressing at Equinox (poached quince, obvi). Paul Blumenthal: "Even while decrying both his opponents' work as consultants or lobbyists, Romney has pulled in more money from Washington lobbyists than any other candidate in the race for the Republican nomination. The Romney campaign received $554,044 from 325 lobbyists and the political action committees of 38 lobbying firms that collectively represent more than 1,400 clients, according to The Huffington Post's analysis of contribution disclosure forms filed with the Secretary of the Senate. These contributions may undermine part of Romney's message that he is, in his own words, 'from outside Washington, outside K Street.'...A sampling of the most notable clients includes Goldman Sachs, General Motors, JPMorgan Chase, The Blackstone Group, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Atria, Pfizer, the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, AT&T, Citigroup, Elliott Management, Comcast, Google, Koch Industries, the Managed Funds Association, Verizon, Visa and Walmart." [HuffPost]
Want more o' them there campaign finance scoops? Try on Blumenthal's Fundrace, an evening newsletter with facts in it.
Like a phoenix from the ashes ... that has been indicted by a federal grand jury and is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on airfare and hotels, John Edwards' campaign is still spending money. AP: " Federal election officials say John Edwards owes taxpayers more than $2.1 million in public matching funds improperly received after he dropped his 2008 run for the White House, yet disclosure reports show his failed campaign is still spending freely. Edwards' hopes for the Democratic presidential nomination imploded in a sex scandal four years ago that left him facing criminal charges. But reports filed last week show his 2008 primary campaign spent $836,712 in 2011 on airfare, hotel rooms, cell phones and other expenses. The campaign reported $2.1 million in cash remaining as of Dec. 31, a figure close to what the Federal Election Commission says the former North Carolina senator still owes the U.S. Treasury. Patricia A. Fiori, one of four lawyers working for Edwards in the FEC case, said this week she could not comment, referring questions to the campaign. Attempts by The Associated Press to find anyone who could comment for the campaign were unsuccessful. A phone number Fiori provided to contact the campaign rang busy for days, even at midnight." [AP]
2014 WILL BE TOUGH FOR DEMOCRATS -- THAT IS TO SAY, IT WILL BE A YEAR - Running in tomorrow's Roll Call from Kyle Trygstad: "An early scan of next cycle's Senate landscape paints a favorable picture for the GOP, which will defend 13 seats to Democrats' 20. There is a noticeable dearth of competitive Republican seats, while several Democrats will be automatic targets based on geography...Seven first-term Democrats up for re-election in 2014 won their first races in a uniquely positive climate for the party, with President Barack Obama helping candidates on his coattails across the country. In turn, the waves of 2006 and 2008 have now led to difficult situations for Democrats in a far less favorable environment for the party."
BORED LAZY OVERPAID BUREAUCRAT FINDS SOLACE IN PROJECTILE FOWL - HuffPost Hill's in-house liberal stereotype (who is a real person, we hate to say), the Bored Lazy Overpaid Bureaucrat (BLOB), has been hanging in there. "Spent the entire day debating titles of an upcoming report no one is going to read, with people who have nothing to do with the subject matter but still somehow believe their opinions should trump the experts'," writes BLOB. "I feel like I get much more accomplished when I spend the day playing Angry Birds." Hang in there, BLOB!
HuffPost Haircut: Josh Hersh
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - It seems unemployment insurance may actually be a sticking point in negotiations over the payroll tax cut, though it's hard to say who's holding out for what. Democrats have signaled they want to push the max duration of benefits back up to 99 weeks. Tough sell. And Republicans have suggested they're serious about drug testing and denying benefits to people who don't have high school diplomas. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) in conference committee negotiations: "I hear an excuse as to why not to do it, rather than the fundamental philosophy of trying to re-arm people with an education so that when they go into the workforce, they have an additional tool to be re-employed." [National Coalition for Literacy]
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BILL LIMITING CORRUPTION MAKES ITS WAY TO THE HOUSE, GOP PROMPTLY DISASSEMBLES IT - Maybe they're just warming up for some kind of "Recognizing The Awesomeness Of The Euthanizing Scene In Marley & Me" resolution. Mike McAuliff: "Key provisions of the STOCK Act, the bill to bar insider trading by lawmakers, were removed in the latest version unveiled Wednesday in the House by Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The overall bill mandates that members of Congress, staffers and the administration be subject to insider trading laws just like anyone else who profits from inside information, and requires the monthly reporting of significant financial transactions. But provisions that were added by bipartisan votes to the Senate version last week are missing. Perhaps the most significant was a provision authored by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that would require people who trade on so-called political intelligence -- a rapidly growing practice in Washington -- to register as political intelligence consultants, just like lobbyists. Political intelligence is insider information gleaned from officials writing laws or rules that can affect businesses, and that is then used to play the market. It's estimated to be at least a $100 million-a-year industry." Cantor didn't wanna criminalize folks who just talk to their congressperson once. So, um, set a threshold. Why do we have to do your jobs for you? [HuffPost]
GOP UPSET CATHOLICS TIMETABLING THEIR PROCREATING - Seeing as how most of the GOP debates are platforms for candidates to brag about how many time's they've reproduced and/or reared children, this isn't surprising. Sam Stein and Laura Bassett: "In a rare floor speech Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) demanded that the Obama administration reverse its new rule requiring most employers' insurance plans to cover birth control with no co-pay for employees. Boehner pledged to take legislative action if the administration refuses to reverse. Echoing the argument of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, one of the most powerful lobbying groups on the issue of birth control, Boehner called the coverage mandate 'an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country' because it includes religiously affiliated organizations, such as schools and hospitals...Boehner said the House Energy and Commerce Committee is taking the lead on the matter 'through appropriate legislative channels.'" [HuffPost]
Every sperm is sacred.
AMERICA REELING FROM RICK SANTORUM'S STUNNING CONFIRMATION OF THINGS WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY - Mark Blumenthal: "Although we have only five states to examine so far, the network exit and entrance polls so far support the notion that the caucus states draw more conservative electorates. The percentage of very conservative voters was much greater in the Iowa (47 percent) and Nevada caucuses (49 percent) than in the three early primaries (ranging between 21 and 36 percent). The exit polls also confirm that Romney has a consistent problem with the most conservative Republicans, regardless of their share of the electorate. As the chart below shows, Romney's support in the first five states is consistently lower among those who describe themselves as very conservative than among those who say they are somewhat conservative, moderate or liberal." [HuffPost]
SUPER PACS A PATHWAY FOR SECRET DONATIONS, HUFFPOST HILL SOMETIMES SENT LATE - Roll Call: "Six of the top 10 super PACs active in the 2012 elections have received money from untraceable sources, including nonprofits and shell corporations, according to a report released today by two progressive advocacy groups. 'Super PACs provide an avenue for secret money to influence elections,' states the report, titled 'Auctioning Democracy,' released by Demos and the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. Since 2010, 6.4 percent of the itemized contributions underwriting super PACs could not be traced to their original source, the report found. The sources of untraceable money going to super PACs included 501(c)(4) social welfare groups, which face no disclosure requirements, and shell corporations, which appear to 'exist not to conduct regular business but rather simply to necessitate an extra layer of research to discover the true source of contributed funds,' according to the report." [Roll Call]
Speaking of money and politics, Sheldon Adelson is the guy who fuels Newt Gingrich's V8 grump engine. Adelson, one of the richest men in the world, threw the race into chaos by injecting $5 million into a super PAC backing Newt Gingrich. Mitt Romney appeared to have clinched a cakewalk to the GOP nomination with a strong finish in the Iowa caucuses and a resounding win in New Hampshire. But the Adelson-funded PAC blasted away at Romney in South Carolina, where Gingrich vaulted from behind to secure a surprise victory. Adelson's wife, Miriam Ochsorn, followed her husband's donation with a $6 million infusion, keeping Gingrich going through Florida, Nevada and beyond. In 2011 alone, Adelson made $7 billion, according to Forbes. That translates to about $134.6 million a week, or $19.2 million a day, assuming a 7-day work week. Assuming a 40-hour work week, Adelson reaped $3.3 million an hour. At that rate, it would take him less than two hours to make the $5 million needed to alter the race. [With HuffPost's Zach Carter]
Forty-eight percent of 2011 donations to the Obama campaign came form $200-or-less donations
HOW NOT TO EXPRESS YOUR MICHAEL J. FOX FANDOM - John Celock: "Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) does not generally script his speeches, preferring to form his remarks off-the-cuff based on notes. In the case of his State of the State address on Tuesday, that approach appears to have come back to bite the first-term chief executive, as he issued a rambling 100-minute speech that featured a series of bizarre -- and potentially offensive -- statements and actions. During the address, Kasich imitated a Parkinson's patient, cried, insulted the people of California, praised his 'hot wife,' gave 14 shout-outs to the same person and played an awards show host while tearfully channeling a famously emotional fellow Ohio Republican, House Speaker John Boehner." [HuffPost]
"Life begins at conception" is just a gateway position to "life begins at ejaculation."
SENATORS DESTROY WORKING RELATIONSHIP OVER RIGHT TO LOSE TO TEXAS EVERY YEAR - Politico: "On paper, Sen. Joe Manchin would seem to be Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's ideal ally: He's a red-state Democrat who is distancing himself from President Barack Obama just as the GOP leader is trying to derail the White House's agenda. But some things are bigger than politics -- like college football. McConnell now has a bitterly tense relationship with the freshman, fallout from a lobbying battle over the senators' two alma maters -- the University of Louisville and West Virginia University -- and the final open spot in the prestigious Big 12 Conference...Things are so bad that Manchin and others in West Virginia suspect the GOP leader worked largely out of spite when he aggressively lobbied Republican John Raese to jump into the race for his Senate seat." [Politico]
POLICE STOP CAR WITH KENNEL ON ROOF - Police in Littleton, Colo., on Monday pulled over a motorist who was protesting the way Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney transported his dog on a family vacation three decades ago. "Our 911 center received a call from a motorist who saw the car in the photo drive past, and she said the door to the animal carrier was open and a large white dog was in it," Littleton city spokeswoman Kelli Narde said in an interview. A police dispatcher radioed nearby officers, who spotted the car and pulled it over. Fortunately, no dog was harmed: "There was in fact a stuffed animal in the cage," Narde said. "We respect anyone's right to support or oppose anyone's candidate but when you pull a stunt like that and lead passersby to think there's a live animal in there, it's probably taking it too far." Heh. Mitt Romney. [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - All of Harry Potter in 60 seconds.
DC UPDATE: VINCE GRAY LIKES TALKING... MEN OF HARVARD WOULD RATHER THE MEN OF CAMEROON GO SOMEWHERE ELSE - On HuffPost DC: "Digest the mayor's 5,600-plus word "State of the District" address in one easy slideshow.".. AND ... "Trustees of the Ivy League institution want the African nation evicted from a building in Georgetown."
- How to use Photoshop when your boss is Dear Leader. [http://bit.ly/xHeoys]
- Trailer for "The Bourne Legacy," coming to theaters August 3. Snap judgment: needs more Norton. [http://bit.ly/wbqp5c]
- In zero gravity, water droplets orbit charged things. [http://bit.ly/A59WrU]
- Speaking of orbits, here's a beautiful LEO view of auroras. [http://bit.ly/A7HwGu]
- Athletic Challenge: Jimmy Fallon vs. Michelle Obama. [http://bit.ly/z1U8q9]
- Brief documentary on the 1936 All-American Soap Box Derby. [http://bit.ly/zo0cta]
- Know Your Enemy: Bro or Hipster? [http://bit.ly/yIFxOP]
- DARPA tests creepy robot pack animal thing. [http://bit.ly/ADosUE]
@delrayser: Hey, remember GOP mocking Stephanopoulos for asking about contraception at a debate? Hahaha! Like that'd ever be an issue in this campaign!
@WeeLaura: Is that Andrew Breitbart or Hipster George Washington on Piers Morgan right now?
@brianbeutler: Awaiting conservative reminder about how Obama's comandeering religious job creators.
6:00pm - 7:30pm: Bud Light, Tabasco and a bunch of oyster companies host a oyster tasting reception and you won't notice how gross Bud Light and Tabasco are with oysters. [Acadiana, 901 New York Ave. NW]
6:30 pm: The Washington Press Club Foundation's 68th Annual Congressional Dinner features Washington's power players ... and HuffPost reporters. [Mandarin-Oriental].
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