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HUFFPOST HILL - Unions Push Change.org To Remain Progressive

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Sonia Sotomayor is moving to U Street, increasing both property values and conservatives' fear of the Green Line. A cat has served as mayor of an Alaskan town for the past 15 years, making it the second-least effective mayor in that state's history. And a vicious new ad from the Romney campaign teases President Obama's singing. We can only imagine the vitriol that will be unleashed when it takes on the the president's step-and-snap dad dancing. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, July 16th, 2012

UNIONS PRESSURING CHANGE.ORG - The fight over the soul of Change.org is ongoing in the wake of its decision to drop Michelle Rhee under pressure from organized labor. AFT, the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, CWA, IBEW and the Steelworkers sent a letter last week to the progressive for-profit company noting that they are "very concerned that you have not yet defined a clear policy regarding prospective clients who have a history of attacking workers and supporting the dismantling of public services...We ask that you issue a response clarifying your position so that we can use your platform again and in good conscience recommend it to our brothers and sisters in labor and in the wider progressive community." That's not exactly threatening a boycott, but consider Change warned. Spokesman Benjamin Joffe-Walt replies: "As we've noted, Change.org is undertaking a company-wide process to evaluate and clarify our client policy. As part of this process, we are reaching out to thousands stakeholders across the Change.org community through surveys and in-person meetings, including with the organizations represented in this letter. We are eager to engage with the millions of people who interact with Change.org every day, and we we will continue to actively seek input from this diverse community as part of this process."

UPDATE: Joffe-Walt takes issue with the description of Change.org as a "progressive for-profit," noting that many of those who start a petition are not themselves progressive, and so the organization shouldn't be described as such. And Change is a Certified B Corporation, which is distinct from a pure for-profit company in that it re-invests profits back into the company itself, rather than divvying them out to shareholders or other owners.

ROMNEY OVERSAW TROUBLED COMPANIES FROM 1999-2002 - Sorry, Mitt. You're stuck with it. Sam Stein with one: "Romney and Bain invested more than $45 million into [printed circuit board manufacturer DDi Corp] in the late 1990s, taking over controlling interest. Profitable years ensued. When the economy turned sour, so too did the company's fortunes -- but not without Bain taking its cut of the pie. According to the Orange County Register -- the California-based company's hometown paper -- Bain raised $39 million in October 2000 by selling DDi shares. In February 2001, Bain raised $54 million by selling more shares. Bain also received $10 million in management fees. Romney, who as part of common industry practice had bought personal stock in the company, sold his DDi shares for $4.1 million in May 2000. According to an August 2003 Boston Globe article, Romney 'remained well in 2001 as a general partner in three of the four Bain funds involved in the DDi transactions.'" [HuffPost]

Back in the day, George Romney officially and cleanly ended his role as American Motors Corporation's chief executive. The Nation.: "The Wall Street Journal, on Monday, February 12, reported that at 9:00 am, George planned to attend a company board meeting so that he could officially request a leave of absence as chairman and president of American Motors Corporation. It was 'inconsistent with my principles that I become a candidate for public office and maintain my business responsibilities,' said George, as he explained why he planned to forgo his salary and bonus. George, however, changed his mind and decided it would be prudent to officially resign as CEO. Before the end of the day, George had set up a management transition team. Roy Abernethy, the company's executive vice president, would be promoted as president and chief operating officer, along with Cross, who would serve as AMC's chairman. The board elected George as vice chairman, but granted him an indefinite leave of absence without pay. He even had time left over to attend a political meeting in Lansing that same day. In November, after he won his election, George stepped down from his largely ceremonial role." [The Nation]

STEVE SCHMIDT: ROMNEY'S TAX RETURNS AN ISSUE IN '08 - What he told Andrea Stone: "Sen. McCain got caught flat-footed answering a question about how many houses he owned. In fact, they were Cindy McCain's properties but that distinction was lost in the political optics and we knew it would be a big liability that the presidential and the vice presidential candidates together owned more than a dozen homes. It was like something out of a 'Saturday Night Live' skit. I mean, come on." [HuffPost]

ANOTHER RETROACTIVE OWN GOAL FOR ROMNEY - Sabrina Siddiqui: "Mitt Romney was noticeably unwilling on Friday to engage in a controversy around the manufacturing of U.S. Olympic uniforms in China, despite it being a layup issue that has evoked criticism from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike. For the presumptive Republican nominee, who has repeatedly promised on the trail to 'get tough' on China, opposition seemed like a fairly easy stance to assume. Or at least it would have been, if Romney hadn't outsourced the production of torchbearer uniforms to Burma while at the helm of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City....According to reports in 2002, the decision to outsource the torchbearer uniforms to Burma caused an uproar among human rights advocates and trade groups. It even prompted the head of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) to write a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), stating that 'No responsible organization or body should make use of products originating in Burma.' … Perhaps most embarrassing for Romney is that after receiving emailed protests from over 1,000 activists, his media relations department at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee confused Burma and Myanmar as two separate countries. 'The torch relay clothes were NOT made in Burma. They were manufactured in Myanmar,' they responded. 'In fact they were made in the exact same factory that produces clothes for GAP, North Face and other major clothing labels.'"

As Niels Lesniewski notes in tomorrow's Roll Call the Olympics uniform "controversy" comes at an opportune time for Senate Democrats: "The outrage over the Olympic uniforms could make a perfect segue to the Senate Democrats legislative priority for the week, which is a tax bill to provide incentives to bring jobs back from overseas. And it's already helping Democrats up for re-election this year -- such as Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) -- highlight their insourcing initiatives. Stabenow is the lead sponsor of the bill to give tax incentives for companies to move jobs to the United States, while punishing outsourcing. And the measure gives Democrats another chance to criticize Romney's business record at Bain Capital. Brown, who faces a tough race, has been promoting an assortment of populist trade legislation, in addition to an Olympic uniform measure being led by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)."

HARRY REID STAFFERS COMING TO NRC CHAIRMAN'S DEFENSE - Former top Reid aides Susan McCue, Karen Wayland, Jimmy Ryan, Dayle Cristinzio and Kai Anderson are hosting Reid and Ed Markey at an event to thank the outgoing Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, Gregory Jaczko, a gathering related to a fundraising effort to pay down his legal bills. Marvin Fertel and Alex Flint, Big Nuke big wigs, will be on hand, which we suppose is appropriate since they more or less pushed him out. Background on all that here.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - An unemployed person writes the following: "Being unemployed is the hardest job I've ever had, and I do not get paid for it. I work all day desperately searching for someone to hire me, applying to hundreds of positions, but there is too much competition. That's what unemployment benefits are for -- so that you at least can make half of what you used to make while you are working twice as hard." [Hang in there!]

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PATTY MURRAY: OH WE'LL DO IT, I SWEAR TO GOD WE'LL DO IT - At a Brookings discussion today, the Washington senator today insisted that her caucus will allow the government to go over the "fiscal cliff"/enter "taxmageddon" (rejected title "dutypocalypse" -- and not because it typically refers to trade) on January 1 if Republicans continue to keeping tax rates on the wealthiest Americans as they are. "If we can't get a good deal, a balanced deal, that calls on the wealthy to pay their fair share, then I will absolutely continue this debate into 2013, rather than lock in a long-term deal this year that throws middle class families under the bus," she said. [Yahoo News]

REPORT: ROMNEY SETTLED ON A RUNNING MATE, ANNOUNCEMENT NEAR - According to a report in the Times today, Mitt Romney is "on the cusp of announcing his vice-presidential selection. Mr. Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week... The vetting of possible vice-presidential candidates is approaching an end. It has been a deeply secretive process, but several Republicans close to the campaign believe Mr. Pawlenty and Mr. Portman stand out among those being considered." Eric Fehrnstrom denied the report today during an appearance with journalists, although doing otherwise would've been the political equivalent of lighting a $100 bill on fire. [NYT]

An unnamed aide says the announcement could come as soon as this week. AP: "The announcement, if it happens according to the adviser's timetable, would come several weeks before presidential candidates traditionally reveal their picks for the second slot on the ticket. It would also come as Romney's campaign seeks to deflect intensifying criticism from President Barack Obama, other Democrats and some Republicans over Romney's business record and refusal to release years of personal income tax filings." [AP]

The Hill reports that John Thune was added to the VP shortlist. It would certainly be a physically striking ticket, but people might confuse their campaign posters with ads for a 1-800 law firm. The Hill: "In an interview with The Hill, Thune acknowledged he's been to Boston to meet Romney's senior advisers and has met Beth Myers, who is leading the search for the vice presidential nominee...Thune will no longer say whether he is being vetted, a telling distinction from a month ago when he freely admitted to The Hill that no one from Romney's vetting team had contacted him." [The Hill]

@PhilipRucker: Romney at $50,000/plate lunch in Louisiana: "I want to see some of these shrimp being eaten here. Are those shrimp? Yeah those are shrimp."

DETAILS OF SHELDON ADELSON INVESTIGATION DISCLOSED - A report in ProPublica sheds new light on possible shady business dealings by the casino mogul in China -- an incident we're from here on out calling The Macau Affair because it evokes scenes of retro Maseratis, tense games of baccarat and Monica Bellucci slowly descending an ornate staircase in an evening gown -- and not a disgusting Vegas sleaze. ProPublica: "Internal email and company documents, disclosed here for the first time, show that Adelson instructed a top executive to pay about $700,000 in legal fees to Leonel Alves, a Macau legislator whose firm was serving as an outside counsel to Las Vegas Sands. The company's general counsel and an outside law firm warned that the arrangement could violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. It is unknown whether Adelson was aware of these warnings. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act bars American companies from paying foreign officials to 'affect or influence any act or decision' for business gain. Federal investigators are looking at whether the payments violate the statute because of Alves' government and political roles in Macau, people familiar with the inquiry said. Investigators were also said to be separately examining whether the company made any other payments to officials." [ProPublica]

VETERAN REPUBLICANS FLIP-FLOP ON DISCLOSE ACT - Dan Froomkin: "Back when Democrats were pushing for limits on campaign spending, the Republican Party line was that full, immediate disclosure of political donations and expenditures was a better way to avoid corruption. In fact, in 2000, Senate Republicans joined Democrats in overwhelmingly passing a bill, 92 to 6, that required a growing number of secretive tax-exempt groups to reveal their donors and spending... Today, with the Supreme Court having essentially outlawed limits on political spending, Republicans have made a complete about-face on the issue. All of a sudden, they vehemently oppose disclosure... Of today's Republican senators, 14 were there in 2000 and voted in favor of disclosure." [HuffPost]

PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN DEVOLVES INTO CATTY DEBATE ABOUT SINGING - Two days ago the Obama campaign released a TV ad documenting Bain-originated offshoring set to Mitt Romney's off-key rendition of "America the Beautiful." The warbling, echo-laden singing coupled with images of abandoned factories made the whole thing feel like a trailer for some kind of economic version of Resident Evil. The Romney campaign responded in kind today with lampooning President Obama's performance of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." As the president croons the first drawn-out line from the song, text is splashed on the screen accusing him of rewarding contributors with jobs and federal funding. The slow build of the ad, with its ominous music and increasingly dire pronouncements, had us half expecting to see Voldemort belting out some classic R&B. [HuffPost]

ANTHONY WEINER MULLING COMEBACK, PEOPLE SOMEHOW SURPRISED - If there's one thing America doesn't do, it's give public figures defamed by sex scandal a second shot at life in the spotlight. No sir. Especially not New York, where Bill Clinton and Woody Allen famously don't work. New York Post: "The disgraced former congressman -- who's sitting on a $4.5 million campaign war chest -- is mulling a bid for citywide office next year and 'seriously considering' a mayoral run, multiple sources told The Post. The cocky pol is also open to the post of public advocate as a backup plan, said sources, who described the Queens Democrat as “desperate” to get back into politics... And he wants to run soon because the public match on his campaign funds are due to expire after the 2013 election." [NY Post]

Sonia Sotomayor is moving to U Street. Seriously, if she wanted to be inundated by pulsating techno music, muscle cars and vomit, she could've just stayed at the Supreme Court. Washington Business Journal: "The justice paid $660,000 June 19 for a two-bedroom condominium in the neighborhood, according to D.C. property tax records. Sotomayor paid about $136,000 more than the unit's current property tax assessment, but the condo does qualify for a $67,500 homestead credit." [Washington Business Journal]

DENNIS KUCINICH FORMS PAC - The outgoing Ohio congressman announced via a video posted YouTube the formation of "Kucinich Action," an organization dedicated to advancing the agenda of pint-sized gentleman who date way out of their league supporting local-level activism and supporting the candidacies of "bold, independent-minded leaders." As vague as that sounds, it's nowhere near as fuzzy as the video itself, which features a very gauzy-looking Kucinich. Luckily, Kucinich provided some clarity to Amanda Terkel: "Kucinich said his PAC will look to support candidates who share his anti-war stance and his views on the other major issues he has worked on while in the House, including monetary policy, health care and the environment." [HuffPost]

Microsoft and NBC are parting ways. After Microsoft sells its holdings in MSNBC.com, NBC News will make NBCNews.com their main web portal and Microsoft will go back to its primary function of producing software that is essentiall the pleated pants of the tech world. [AP]

You're next, Go.com...

BARNEY FRANK'S TWO PROUDEST MOMENTS AT WAR WITH EACH OTHER - The Examiner reports that obscure section of the Dodd-Frank financial services reform bill may have been violated by his recently acquired Tungsten wedding ring. Examiner: "But some Tungsten is also illegal to use, especially if from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and surrounding countries in Central Africa... The Dodd-Frank financial services bill, co-written by the newlywed, who this year is retiring from his Massachusetts House seat. What's more, Frank co-authored the U.S. Conflict Minerals Act in Section 1502 of Dodd-Frank with requires public companies including jewelers to disclose the use of "conflict minerals" such as tungsten from the war-torn areas. Frank joined a group of lawmakers outraged that the nations were enslaving their citizens for militias, often using rape as a weapon. But Frank's office isn't talking about the issue, refusing to say if the tungsten used is legal or not." [Examiner]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - This agoraphobic dog must realize there's so much to enjoy outside of its doggie bed.

Shrinking the size of government, starting with its employees: "The mayor of a sleepy Alaska town is feline fine. The part-Manx cat clawed his way onto the political scene of Talkeetna, Alaska, through a write-in campaign shortly after he was born 15 years ago. KTUU-TV reported Friday that residents didn't like the mayoral candidates years ago, so they encouraged enough people to elect Stubbs as a write-in candidate. The town has nearly 900 residents." [AP]

THE NEWEST HIP NEW YORK SUBURB: D.C. - HuffPost DC: "A D.C.-based company wants to build a high-tech maglev train line that will cut travel times between D.C. and New York to 30 minutes." [HuffPost]

COMFORT FOOD
By @bradjshannon!

- Here's a new weekly video series reporting on the internet to the internet. [http://chzb.gr/NzkJGu]

- Eight-minute vacation: a short film about cyclists riding around the Indonesian island of Java. [http://bit.ly/LJqkpx]

- How many rubber bands does it take to make a watermelon implode? [http://bit.ly/NzkeMK]

- When he was 18, James dean visited a photo booth. Not nearly as much brooding as you'd expect -- a lot more earnest grinning. Adorable. [http://bit.ly/MyWAdz]

- Sarah Silverman makes a raunchy sorta-NSFW offer to Sheldon Adelson. [http://bit.ly/SCsRWA]

- How fat are you, fatty? Find out what country averages out to your level of girth. [http://bbc.in/Nzjuad]

- A program from the 1927 film classic Metropolis ("The Creation of the Artificial Human Being" and so on). [http://bit.ly/MyJVay]

TWITTERAMA

@indecision: I don't want to start any rumors but I hear Tim Pawlenty is about to become the Fifty Shades of Grey audio book narrator.

@daveweigel: Why is Yahoo trying to distract from Obama's poor economic record

@FakeJimVandeHei: TOMORROW ON POLITICO: The Mittney Lions: 7 non-disclosure lessons Romney should learn from Penn State

ON TAP

TONIGHT

8:00 pm: It's time at last for Screen on the Green!!! The first installment of the outdoor movie series will feature a screening of the Robert Redford/Paul Newman classic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Also get ready to dance during the throwback HBO bumper in the beginning. [National Mall]

TOMORROW

5:30 pm - 7:00 pm: Bill Pascrell hosts what might be the least-appetizing fundraiser around, his "Taste of Paterson" reception. [203 C Street SE]

6:00 pm: NRSC Chairman John Cornyn is from Texas so naturally the NRSC is holding a fundraiser at the beef BBQ-centric Hill Country. The brisket is phenomenal. [Hill Country BBQ, 410 7th Street NW]

6:30 pm: Ka-ching: John Thune leverages some of that renewed VP buzz into campaign cash at a fundraiser for his Heartland Values PAC. Representatives for AT&T and Dow Chemical will be there... expressing their heartland values and what not. [330 Maryland Avenue NE]

7:00 pm: Pete Stark might not be the most well-liked guy in Congress, but a not insignificant number of his colleagues will convene to sing the praises of the unapologetically atheist lawmaker. [WAshington Court Hotel, 525 New Jersey Ave NW]

8:00 pm: A local revival of the wildly popular "The Agony of Steve Jobs" debuts at the Woolly Mammoth. Topical, yes? [Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D Street NW]

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