Jealous that Scott Walker got himself a Chris Christie-type scandal, Christie went and got a himself Bob McDonnell-type scandal. Steve King isn't runing away from his racist comments about immigrants, probably he doesn't have the calves for it. And we weren't sure what, if anything would bring down the Keystone Pipeline, but given Twitter's reaction to America's olympic hockey loss to Canada, we now have a better idea. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Friday, February 21st, 2014:
CHRIS CHRISTIE USED MANSION FUND TO... CHRIS CHRISTIE - Christina Wilkie: "In January 2010, as newly elected New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) took office, there was a major change at the top of the Drumthwacket Foundation, a nonprofit that has restored and helps maintain the majestic, white-columned governor's mansion in Princeton, N.J. John Strangfeld, the chairman of insurance giant Prudential, and his wife, Mary Kay Strangfeld, volunteered to serve in the top two positions on the foundation's board. They were elected chairman and vice chairman, respectively, by the rest of the board that same month. The posts may have appeared largely ceremonial. But within the Christie universe, they were significant. The governor and his family don't live at the mansion, but the first couple is invested in its restoration and upkeep. In 2012, Chris and Mary Pat Christie hosted 72 events there, or about one every five days. The governor is the honorary chairman of the Drumthwacket Foundation. His wife is the president. The Strangfelds, in turn, played the role of fundraiser. Behind the scenes, they helped raise money from other donors to ensure the foundation's success, and they were good at it. Prudential itself has given gifts totaling at least $150,000 over the last several years." [HuffPost]
HOUSE DEM RIFT - Samantha Lachman: "Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) broke with his party's political establishment Friday, and announced his endorsement of attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, who is running in a competitive primary to represent California's 31st District. The endorsement by Becerra, who is chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, could serve as a powerful boost to Reyes as she takes on former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Calif.) and Pete Aguilar, the Democratic mayor of Redlands, Calif. 'Eloise is a proven leader who will get the job done in Washington for families in the Inland Empire,' Becerra said in a press release sent Friday after an event outside the San Bernardino, Calif. City Hall…. Becerra's endorsement highlights a rift in the House's Democratic leadership team over which candidate would best serve the district, as Aguilar has the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee." [HuffPost]
But will Joe Baca refer to Reyes as "some bimbo"?
UAW SAYS CORKER RUINED ELECTION - Dave Jamieson: "After a narrow and devastating loss at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant last week, the United Auto Workers union has asked the federal labor board to set aside the election results because of 'a firestorm of interference' from outside groups and politicians, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn). The union submitted its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, according to a UAW press release. Labor board officials will now have to consider whether the statements by lawmakers interfered enough to potentially sway votes and taint the election. The board could essentially order a do-over. In its 13-page appeal, the UAW said that 'threats' made by Tennessee lawmakers were 'clearly designed to influence the votes' of Volkswagen workers, who eventually voted 712-to-626 against UAW representation last week. The appeal cites Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), state Senate Speaker Bo Watson (R) and Corker, among others. 'The campaign included publicly-announced and widely disseminated threats by elected officials that state-financed incentives would be withheld if workers exercised their protected right to form a union,' the union said in a statement." [HuffPost]
CORKER DOES IT AGAIN! Formally accused of spoiling a union election by promising jobs if the vote failed, Bob Corker is sorry that people will lose jobs because of the accusation. "Unfortunately, I have to assume that today's action may slow down Volkswagen’s final discussions on the new SUV line," he said. Nice doublin' down, Bob!
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Phil Wahba: "The struggles of the low-income U.S. consumer are playing out in Wal-Mart Stores Inc's grocery aisles. The world's largest retailer, which gets more than half its sales from groceries, on Thursday gave a disappointing full-year forecast. It blamed sharp cuts in food stamp benefits and higher payroll taxes that are will hit disposable income for its core customers." The "sharp cuts" actually reflect the premature expiration of a 2009 benefits increase. Democrats were responsible both for the increase and for taking it away last year. Republicans just kinda sat there like, "huh." [Reuters]
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DEMS LEARNING TO LOVE THEM SOME BILLIONAIRES - Harry Reid hoped you liked that Edible Arrangement, Marc Lasry. Sam Stein: "A hedge fund manager is pledging to spend $100 million in an effort to tip the balance of congressional elections and advance his personal agenda. And Democrats couldn't be more ecstatic. Tom Steyer is not one of the Koch brothers, the energy tycoons who have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into efforts to elect Republicans and rid the country of Obamacare. Tom Steyer is not Paul Singer, the New York-based hedge fund manager who has bankrolled conservative causes and, more recently, helped pass marriage equality in his home state. Steyer is a Californian, a billionaire and an environmentalist. This past week, he became one of the biggest fundraisers in Democratic circles, fêting Democratic senators at his San Francisco home and pledging to spend $50 million of his own money -- to be matched by $50 million in donations -- on ads pushing tougher action on climate change. For lawmakers who have spent the past few years warning about the pernicious influence of money in politics, Steyer's entrance into the world of mega-donors would seem to present a tricky proposition. A counterweight against the Koch brothers is nice. But there are plenty of instances in the not-so-distant past of Democrats lamenting how unrepresentative democracy had become in the post-Citizens United world, where billionaires could pour millions of dollars of their personal wealth into shadowy campaign organizations." [HuffPost]
ENERGY BILL TO GET SECOND CHANCE, JUST LIKE DAVID VITTER - Kate Sheppard: "A bipartisan energy efficiency bill that got sidetracked last fall in the Senate is expected to come into play again next week. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act last year. It went up for debate on the Senate floor in September, but got derailed when Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) attempted to use the bill to force a vote on delaying Obamacare. Vitter said that he had 'nothing against this bill and the provisions of it.' But the fiasco succeeded in keeping the energy efficiency legislation from ever getting a vote. A few weeks later, the fight over Obamacare managed to shut down the federal government for 16 days. Now Shaheen and Portman are planning to bring the bill back. A spokeswoman for Shaheen confirmed to The Huffington Post that the bill is expected to come up at some point next week, but could not offer an exact date. Other sources suggested that Wednesday is the day they expect it to be reintroduced." [HuffPost]
STEVE KING LOVES BEING AN UNAPOLOGETIC RACIST - That's why John Boehner thinks he's an asshole. Samantha Lachmnan: "In an interview with an Iowa newspaper published Wednesday, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) defended controversial remarks he has made about immigrants. 'I'm not going to apologize,' he insisted to the Iowa Daily Reporter. 'What I've said is objectively true, and any time that Republicans have criticized me, it's not because of what I said, it's because they disagree with my agenda.' King told Newsmax in July that granting citizenship to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children would be a mistake, because, in his eyes, most are engaged in activities other than excelling in school. 'For everyone who's a valedictorian, there's another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds -- and they've got calves the size of cantaloupes because they're hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert,' King said." [HuffPost]
More diplomatically, the Washington Post's Glenn Kessler undertook the tiresome chore of trying to figure out what King was talking about. Kessler's conclusion: "King’s claim about valedictorians and smugglers is a nonsense fact, designed to suggest an aura of authenticity to an otherwise objectionable statement. It appears King heard something, from someone he has not named, and had blown it into 'facts' for which he feels little need to provide evidence."
SALLIE MAE IN (MORE) TROUBLE - Shahien Nasiripour: "The Illinois attorney general has launched a broad probe into Sallie Mae, leading a coalition of state prosecutors investigating whether the embattled student loan giant used anti-borrower practices. Lisa Madigan, Illinois' top law enforcement officer, is 'taking a comprehensive look at all of Sallie Mae’s practices, including servicing and collections,' a spokeswoman said. Illinois is among about a half-dozen states investigating Sallie Mae, people familiar with the probes said. Sallie Mae, or SLM Corp., is the nation’s largest lender of student loans outside the Department of Education and the biggest servicer of student debt. It’s also the focus of increasing federal and state government scrutiny, as officials are growing concerned that procedures employed by companies like Sallie Mae when collecting monthly student loan payments or pursuing bad debts resemble the shady practices used by mortgage companies during the height of the housing crisis. The Department of Justice, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are among the federal agencies -- none of them the Department of Education -- formally investigating the company’s treatment of borrowers, securities filings show." [HuffPost]
Liberal darling Tom Perriello is moving to State: "Former Rep. Tom Perriello is leaving the Center for American Progress to head the State Department's Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, which analyzes U.S. diplomatic and development efforts abroad. Perriello was the president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the progressive think tank's advocacy arm, and had represented rural Virginia as a Democrat for one term before being wiped out in the 2010 tea party wave. His consistent progressive voting record bucked the conventional wisdom that swing-district Democrats should moderate their views. Though he lost, his race was much closer than in similar districts, where Democrats were defeated by double digits. Perriello said one of his top objectives will be to make sure the reality of climate change is integrated into the State Department's strategic vision. The review, produced every four years, was first launched in 2010 by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and is modeled after a similar Department of Defense project. The 2010 review includes only passing references to climate change." [Grim]
Maybe the strongest case yet for why social media directors should exist: "RGA spokesman Jon Thompson’s background features New Jersey governor and RGA chair Chris Christie, former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker." [BuzzFeed]
KEYSTONE ON TRACK - Amanda Terkel: "On Wednesday, the race for Nebraska's U.S. Senate seat wasn't Democratic candidate Dave Domina's top concern. That's because a judge had just struck down the law that allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to cut through the state, and Domina was the attorney who won the case. Domina represented three landowners trying to block the route approved by Gov. Dave Heineman (R) for the project. The law would have allowed TransCanada Corp., the company building the pipeline, to seize property from individuals who refused to give up their land. The judge ruled that the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, and not the governor, should have made the decision whether TransCanada had such eminent domain powers. 'TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners. The pipeline project is at a standstill in this state,' Domina said on the day of the decision. Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning (R) said the state plans to appeal the ruling, which the Associated Press noted, 'could add months of uncertainty to the project.' The $7 billion pipeline would connect the oil sands in western Canada to refineries in Texas. The Obama administration has delayed making a decision on whether to allow the project to go forward and faces pressure from environmental groups to block it. Domina has said he personally opposes the pipeline and would like to see Secretary of State John Kerry block it." [HuffPost]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a sleepy meerkat
GUY WHO WORKED FOR BILL CLINTON FELT SPIRITUALLY HUNGRY - No kidding. WaPo: "Mike McCurry was President Bill Clinton’s spokesman during the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky years, so suffice to say he knows what it’s like to feel uncomfortable at a podium. But his typical audience these days scares him in a new way. A few weeks ago, McCurry, 59, became a teacher in religion and politics at Wesley Theological Seminary, from where he graduated last spring. It marked his official transition from a hard-charging, super-political spin doctor who quietly attended church to a very public evangelizer for the idea that religious values can save 'the frozen tundra' of today’s politics. 'I had no problem getting up and doing briefings before millions of people, but I am fearful in front of 12 students that I can’t really fake it,' says McCurry, who spent more than two decades as a political spokesman before going on to do communications for corporations and non-profits. “I’m laying it on the line about who I am and what I believe in a way that’s different. When you’re spokesman for someone else, they don’t care what you think.. These people want to know who I am.'" [WaPo]
- Project Tango is a Google undertaking that would let smartphones map 3D environments. [http://bit.ly/1br3TGW]
- An introduction to the accents of the British Isles. [http://bbc.in/1l64pxq]
- A history of rhyming in popular music. [http://slate.me/OhTKCA]
- "House of Cards" but with more Larry David. [http://huff.to/1goqzp1]
- The Sochi wolf was a prank devised, once again, by Jimmy Kimmel. [http://bit.ly/1bRM6t5]
- FAO Schwarz employees put Tom Hanks' "Big" keyboard dance to shame. [http://bit.ly/1jlhdNn]
@HuffPostMedia: In a way, we're both winners. But in another, more accurate way, Canada is the winner.
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