POLITICS

HUFFPOST HILL - Aaron Schock Under Investigation, Y'know, Like Mr. Bates

03/16/2015 04:31 pm ET | Updated Mar 16, 2015

Ted Cruz scared a young child, a throwback to his campaign slogan, "Cruz for Senate: Your Eyes Will Stay Crossed If You Keep Doing That." Darrell Issa made the rounds at SXSW, but failed to tout the sustainable, farm-to-table practices behind Issa Cream. And Aaron Schock purchased a custom replica of the official presidential lectern, supplanting his life-sized copy of Han Solo trapped in carbonite as his favorite conversation piece. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Monday, March 16th, 2015:

AARON SCHOCK IS HISTORY'S FANCIEST COSPLAYER - In fairness to the Illinois congressman, we scribbled the words "OOH LA LA, I’M FANCY AND BRITISH” across our workspaces and sometimes pretend they're the Resolute desk. BuzzFeed: "Rep. Aaron Schock owns what appears to be a fairly accurate replica of 'The Falcon' -- the internal White House nickname for one of President Obama’s official podiums -- and based on photos, uses it at times when speaking in his Peoria, Illinois, district. USA Today reported last month that Schock spent $79,061 in federal money on furniture in 2009, and $5,123 of that went to Mulnix Industries, a firm that makes custom furniture for public speaking in a town 40 miles outside of Jefferson City, Missouri. Page 2563 of the 2010 Statement of Disbursements of the House of Representatives shows the outlay to Mulnix, but it doesn’t say exactly what the money purchased...multiple photos of Schock back home in his district... show him standing behind The Presidential, a discontinued Mulnix model still listed in the company’s online catalog of 'Standing Podiums.'...The model was pretty popular when Mulnix made it — the company sent four to the U.S. Consulate in Pretoria, South Africa — and Crane said it sold for 'somewhere around' $5,000 a piece." [BuzzFeed]

Reminder of the difference between a podium and a lecturn.

Annnnnnnnnnnnd scene: "Investigators from the Office of Congressional Ethics have begun reaching out to Rep. Aaron Schock’s political orbit, a possible first sign of an official investigation of the Illinois Republican. OCE is seeking to speak to people who have either worked for Schock or interacted with him." [Politico]

HUFFPOST REPORTER TRIES TO LIVE LIKE LINDSEY GRAHAM, IMMEDIATELY HATES LIFE - Jen Bendery: "It sounded like a fun experiment at first: Get through a day of work without using email. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) does it every day. He recently said he's never sent an email in his entire life. He also doesn't use Twitter or Facebook -- his staff maintains his official accounts. He will read a text message if you send him one, but if he decides that it's worthy of a response, he'll call you back. So if a U.S. senator can get by in 2015 with 1994 technology, surely a political reporter can do it for a day? I gave it a go on Friday. It was an exercise in futility." [HuffPost]

@HillaryClinton: Congressional trifecta against women today: 1) Blocking great nominee, 1st African American woman AG, for longer than any AG in 30 years…...2) Playing politics with trafficking victims… 3) Threatening women's health & rights.

DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - Because Republicans are buzzing about food stamp cuts, the Congressional Budget Office has put together an analysis of How Different Ways Cutting Food Stamps Would Make People Poorer. The key finding, oddly enough, is that broad food stamp cuts would impoverish the poorest people the most. Go fig. [CBO.gov]

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OBAMACARE WEAKENING 16-MILLION AMERICANS - You know the saying: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to brew his own blood-pressure medicine in his basement and you'll keep him from becoming a teet-suckling babe of the state." Jeff Young: "More than 16 million Americans gained health coverage because of the Affordable Care Act, mainly via the law's health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis published Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services. The government estimate is consistent with numerous surveys taken over the past two years. The Health and Human Services report issued Monday is based in part on findings from the polling company Gallup, which found the uninsured rate has fallen from 20.3 percent in October 2013, when Obamacare sign-ups began, to 12.3 percent during the first quarter of this year. The latest figures stand as more evidence that Obamacare is achieving one of its core goals of reducing the number of uninsured Americans, even as the Affordable Care Act remains embattled in Congress and faces an uncertain future at the Supreme Court." [HuffPost]

GOP DIVIDED OVER DEFENSE SPENDING - They hate us for our deficits. NYT: "The congressional push this week to secure the first Republican budget plan in nearly a decade is revealing a chasm between fiscal hawks determined to maintain strict spending caps and defense hawks who are threatening to derail any budget that does not ensure an increase for the military...Representative Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio, and 69 other House Republicans signed a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, demanding that the budget at least match Mr. Obama’s defense request of $561 billion, $38 billion above the statutory caps. Caught in the middle are a new crop of freshman Republican senators who emphasized national security in their campaigns but are facing heavy pressure from their leaders to fall in line. 'It’s a disaster,' Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, one of those freshmen, said of the sequestration cap. 'Thematically, we all agree sequestration must go.' … But most conservative Republicans are not budging in the face of the sky-is-falling warnings." [NYT]

Has he thought about suspending his campaign to focus on the economy? "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau said Monday that if he were to be reelected, a Palestinian state would not be created, in a definite disavowal of his 2009 speech, in which he had voiced support for the principle of two states for two peoples. Netanyahu's remarks in an interview with the NRG website -- which is owned by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and tied with the settler newspaper Makor Rishon -- were a last-minute attempt to pull right-wing voters away from Habayit Hayehudi." [Haaretz]

GAWKER DIVES HEADFIRST IN TO PHILIPPE REINES' SWEAR-LADEN DYSTOPIAN MIND-HELL - Until now, we assumed that gaining access to Reines' thoughts involved descending into a miles-deep cave and staring into a flame stoked with the flesh of virgins. Jackson Connor: "Gawker Media is suing the U.S. State Department under the Freedom of Information Act for access to emails between former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines and members of the press, the site's executive editor for investigations, John Cook, announced Friday. Though Cook originally reported in 2013 that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been using a private email address to conduct government business, the story has boiled into a full-blown controversy in recent weeks after The New York Times reported Clinton may have violated federal regulations." [HuffPost]

Darrell Issa went to SXSW, donning his best SXSW outfit.

FLORIDA MAN STUCK IN LOUSY REAL ESTATE DEAL - Marc Caputo: "The brick-fronted tract house with a satellite dish and a yellow fire hydrant in front looks like many middle-class homes in Florida’s capital, except for the two names on the deed. Marco Rubio: U.S. senator and would-be presidential candidate. David Rivera: Scandal-plagued former congressman under investigation in a federal campaign-finance probe...While he and Rivera were state legislators, they paid way too much for it in 2005, only to see foreclosure proceedings embarrassingly initiated against them during Rubio's 2010 Senate race….Now, the three-bedroom property stands as a stubborn symbol of both a politically problematic friendship and lingering questions about Rubio’s personal finances, which dogged him on the campaign trail in 2010 and may do so again. The friendship has frayed in recent years, friends say, as the fortunes of Rubio, 43, and Rivera, 49, have diverged. Last week, they put the 1,228-square-foot house up for sale. The list price is $125,000 -- $10,000 less than what the two men paid for it a decade ago." [Politico]

Politician has associations with fringe religious figure: "Eleven years ago, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, now a rising star in the Democratic Party, was a little-known state representative from a West Oahu district. It was her then-Republican father, Mike, who was in the political limelight...a writer at Honolulu Magazine emailed him and asked about his family’s ties to a guru named Chris Butler, aka Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa, who leads an obscure offshoot of the Hare Krishna movement in Hawaii...During the past few weeks, speculation about her place in that world has intensified, thanks in no small part to two recent developments in her life, one personal and one professional: her upcoming marriage to Abraham Williams and the appointment of Kainoa Ramananda Penaroza as her top advisor. Both men grew up in the same offbeat religious world as Gabbard. Many of the people who still talk about and obsess over the Gabbard family’s ties to Butler try to also paint both Williams and Penaroza as devotees of the guru." [Honolulu Civil Beat]

PETRAEUS PLEA DEAL TOTALLY BETRAYSUS - Let's just call it "light treason." Yahoo: "The lawyer for a former State Department contractor imprisoned last year for leaking classified information is asking federal prosecutors for the 'immediate release' of his client in light of the relatively lenient treatment of former CIA Director David Petraeus for similar conduct. Abbe Lowell, the lawyer for former contractor Stephen Kim, acknowledged that he’s not expecting a positive response to a recent letter he wrote to Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, and three other federal prosecutors who pursued his client. But Lowell wrote the letter, obtained by Yahoo News, to highlight what he described as a 'profound double standard' in the government’s prosecution of leak cases -- a subject of mounting debate that could weigh on the Justice Department's decision in at least one ongoing high-profile leak probe." [Yahoo News]

BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here's a duckling falling asleep.

TED CRUZ INCULCATES PYROPHOBIA IN YOUNG CHILD - Sticking with the "Arrested Development" theme, might Cruz be a political pioneer and hire J. Walter Weatherman as his campaign manager? CNN: "U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was delivering his normal rhetoric during a New Hampshire speech on Sunday, hitting the current administration on the economy, Obamacare and national security. 'And the Obama-Clinton foreign policy of leading from behind -- the whole world is on fire,' the senator from Texas declared. But he was stopped by a 3-year-old girl sitting in the front row. 'The world is on fire?' she yelled out. Cruz took it and ran with it. 'The world is on fire -- yes! Your world is on fire,' he exclaimed, seizing the moment as the crowd burst out into laughter. 'But you know what? Your mommy's here and everyone's here to make sure that the world you grow up in is even better.'" [CNN]

Godammit, Ted.

COMFORT FOOD

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TWITTERAMA

@Bro_Pair: Robert Durst Arrested Under New "5 Murders And You're Out" Statute

@pattonoswalt: The little girl who was just informed by Ted Cruz that her "world is on fire"? That's her supervillain origin story.

OlivaNuzzi: In Ted Cruz's defense, 3 is the appropriate age to begin to lose all hope.

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