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John Celock   |   December 27, 2012   11:34 AM ET

A Republican state senator in Oklahoma has introduced legislation seeking to block the implementation of United Nations Agenda 21, the international organization's non-binding sustainability program.

State Sen. Patrick Anderson (R-Enid) is introducing legislation for next year that would block local Oklahoma governments from entering into agreements with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives, a European sustainability group, Tulsa World reports. Anderson's legislation comes after Tulsa officials held a two-year membership in ICLEI in order to use the group's energy software.

Tulsa World reports:

As a farmer, Anderson said he is concerned about the federal government -- pushed by the U.N.'s agenda of sustainability -- forcing rules on a wide variety of things, including the creation of dust and how land can be used.

"There's a place for all that, but we also need to make sure we're not infringing on the property owners' rights to use their own land," Anderson said.

The first and best steward of how land should be used is the private owner, he said.

Anderson is the latest Republican state lawmaker to introduce anti-Agenda 21 legislation, which has become a favorite issue for the Tea Party. Agenda 21 was created during a 1991 U.N. environmental summit in Brazil and signed by President George H.W. Bush. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have all endorsed the compact, which does not hold the force of law in the United States. Among the issues promoted by Agenda 21 are walkable communities and land use planning.

Agenda 21 opponents have said that the program would seize private land and force Americans to live in cities. New Hampshire state Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) told HuffPost that Agenda 21 was "dangerous" and that "citizens would lose their rights." Peterson is promoting a similar Agenda 21 ban in her state next year. Peterson said that while Agenda 21 is not law in the United States, research from the John Birch Society, a conservative political action society, shows it is being implemented in the U.S.

In October, former Georgia state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) hosted a four-hour lecture for Georgia Republican senators on Agenda 21. Rogers unsuccessfully tried to ban Agenda 21 in the state. During the lecture, Field Searcy, a birther activist expelled by the Tea Party, told senators that Obama and the U.N. are using "mind control" to implement Agenda 21 and said the alleged plot was similar to genocide programs promoted by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Chinese leader Mao Zedong. Rogers, who distanced himself from the lecture, later resigned from the Senate to accept a job with Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Alabama lawmakers adopted a ban on Agenda 21 earlier this year, while Kansas legislators adopted a resolution opposing the issue.

Democratic lawmakers nationally have condemned the anti-Agenda 21 crowd, with former New Hampshire state Rep. Christopher Serlin (D-Portsmouth) calling the issue "real tin-foil hat material." Kansas state Rep. Mike Slattery (D-Mission) denounced his colleagues' discussion on the issue as "stupid is as stupid does" during his state's debate on Agenda 21.

Republican Leaders Wait For Action From Obama, Democrats On Fiscal Cliff

Jennifer Bendery   |   December 26, 2012    5:15 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- For those holding out hope for a resolution to the so-called fiscal cliff, this was a lost Christmas.

Little to no progress was made in staving off the $1 trillion in spending cuts and across-the-board tax increases that are set to be triggered at the end of the year, multiple sources acknowledged. And while President Barack Obama cut short his vacation in Hawaii in hopes of sparking a deal before the new year, each side is now in a position of waiting for the other to act first.

An Obama administration official said that talks between the White House and congressional Republican staff haven't entirely dried up. But their utility is limited. The administration is waiting to see whether Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will allow a deal to be moved through his chamber without being filibustered. It is also pushing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to craft a bill in his chamber that would rely on Democratic votes. Short of that, the assumption is that lawmakers will head into January without a deal.

On the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, the politics are more complicated.

After his caucus publicly rebuked him by refusing to support a fiscal cliff package he put forward, Boehner last week removed himself from negotiations, putting the responsibility for reaching a deal on the shoulders of Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). He hasn’t moved from that position since.

“We'll see what Senate Democrats are able to produce,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Wednesday.

A House Republican leadership aide, meanwhile, said Wednesday it is still up in the air when, or if, the House will even come back into session before the end of the year. “No developments on our end at all. No talks,” the aide said.

In case it wasn’t already clear, Boehner and other House Republican leaders issued a joint statement on Wednesday indicating that they want the Senate to get the ball rolling on a fiscal deal.

“The House will take ... action on whatever the Senate can pass, but the Senate first must act. The lines of communication remain open, and we will continue to work with our colleagues to avert the largest tax hike in American history, and to address the underlying problem, which is spending,” reads the statement from Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).

But McConnell doesn't appear any more inclined to play a role in negotiations. Instead, he is looking to Obama and Democrats to sort it out.

"There has been no outreach from Democrats here or at the White House,” said McConnell spokesman Don Stewart. “We still don't know what their plan is to pass something that meets the president's criteria of balanced, bipartisan, and cuts spending. I don't know what Dems are up to."

A Senate Democratic leadership aide responded that the only way a fiscal package can move in either chamber is if both parties are on board. "We need cooperation from Republicans," said the aide, "and that hasn't materialized yet."

A White House official had little to add, saying only that “staff discussions continue,” but that there was no news to report.

Obama and Boehner haven’t talked since they spoke on the phone last Friday, before leaving town for the holidays. Shortly after their conversation, the president urged Congress to at least pass a scaled-down package to avert the fiscal cliff. His eleventh-hour proposal was simple enough: it would extend Bush-era tax rates on incomes below $250,000, extend unemployment insurance benefits for another year and a provide a framework for larger deficit reduction. But neither Boehner nor McConnell have responded to that pitch.

"Whatever we decide on must have the endorsement of Boehner and McConnell, and they each have to commit to producing votes to pass it,” said one congressional Democratic aide involved in the talks. “As we have seen from Boehner, he can't produce the votes. How can we possibly even think of putting something together if neither of them will commit to actually produce votes?"

Jim Manley, a former top aide to Reid, said Senate Democratic leaders aren't likely to bring any fiscal package to the floor without a sign from McConnell that he’s prepared to help pass it. And for now, it doesn’t look like McConnell is willing to do that, said Manley, which doesn’t bode well for anyone.

“Unless Sen. McConnell radically changes his tune and agrees to substantive compromises, we are headed over the cliff,” he said. “But Sen. McConnell wants to ensure that whatever happens doesn't have his fingerprints on it.”

Manley said McConnell is someone who is already “a very cautious politician,” but given that he is also likely to face a Tea Party challenger in 2014, the chances are even slimmer that he’ll support a deal that involves taxes going up on anyone.

“We've got a potentially toxic situation,” Manley said.

Sam Stein and Ryan Grim contributed reporting.

Luke Johnson   |   December 26, 2012    3:27 PM ET

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter on Wednesday slammed the National Rifle Association's proposal to put an armed guard in every school in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, calling it a "completely dumbass idea."

"I guess, you know, out of last week's bizarre press statement -- it wasn't a press conference -- I guess Mr. [Wayne] LaPierre would then say firefighters need to have armed guards go with them," Nutter said on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." I think it just shows that was a completely dumbass idea from the start with the announcement last week," he said.

Nutter was referring to the briefing held Friday by LaPierre, the NRA's vice president, in which he called for armed guards at every school in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," LaPierre said.

"We need to ban assault weapons," Nutter said Wednesday. "We need to ban the high-capacity clips and magazines. We need serious background information, system upgrade."

Nutter is a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a gun control advocacy group co-chaired by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. The NRA once called for Nutter's arrest on the grounds of "official oppression" after he signed a gun control measure.

John Celock   |   December 26, 2012    2:09 PM ET

Less than a week after indicating his own interest in seeking a U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey in 2014, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) has taken to Twitter to help an ally obtain a Hawaii Senate seat.

Booker used Twitter over the weekend to promote the candidacy of Rep.-elect Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) to fill the seat of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who died last week. Gabbard, an Iraq veteran who was elected to her first term in Congress last month, is one of 12 Democrats seeking the two-year appointment to Inouye's seat. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) is expected to name a new senator later Wednesday after the state Democratic Party names three finalists.

Booker kicked off his support of Gabbard Friday after receiving a Tweet suggesting he move to Hawaii to become the state's new senator. The two-term mayor then said he hoped Gabbard received the appointment from Abercrombie. Booker followed up that the Senate needed "some 'new'" as part of his support for the 31-year-old Gabbard.

Since Monday, Booker has continued his Twitter campaign for Gabbard calling her an "inspiring person" and retweeting favorable comments, along with a blog post written by Allen Hoe in The Huffington Post promoting Gabbard's Senate candidacy.

Booker is not the only national leader to support Abercrombie appointing Gabbard. Kal Penn, the actor and former adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted his support for Gabbard, calling her "my homie." On Monday, Gabbard's campaign released a letter to Abercrombie signed by eight national young political leaders endorsing Gabbard.

Booker announced last Thursday that he was exploring a Senate race in New Jersey in 2014, potentially against Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who said he will not announce whether he is seeking reelection until next year. Booker's characterization of the Senate needing "new" in terms of the Gabbard appointment could indicate a future campaign theme against the 88-year-old Lautenberg, first elected in 1982. In a tweet last week, Booker indicated he planned to talk to Lautenberg about the incumbent's plans.

Hawaii News Now reports that Democrats are expected to send the names of Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) and Lt. Gov. Brian Schatz (D) to Abercrombie for the Senate appointment, along with a third name. Inouye indicated in a letter to Abercrombie hours before he died that he wanted Hanabusa to succeed him. If appointed, either Schatz, 40, or Gabbard would become the nation's youngest senator, a title currently held by 41-year-old Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R).

John Celock   |   December 21, 2012    5:16 PM ET

A 31-year-old state senator from western Massachusetts has announced that he plans to start exploring a bid to replace U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.).

State Sen. Ben Downing (D-Great Barrington) confirmed Friday that he is considering a bid to replace Kerry, who was nominated for secretary of state Friday by President Barack Obama. Downing, the youngest state senator in Massachusetts, stopped short of announcing his candidacy in a statement he released.

GoLocalWorcester.com reported that Downing said in his statement.

"We are on the verge of a new era of America opportunity, and voters want new voices and new ideas," said Downing. "While there will be no vacancy until Senator Kerry is confirmed, in the next few weeks I will be meeting with people throughout the Commonwealth as I consider a run for senate. In the meantime, I hope that all residents of Massachusetts have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and take a break from politics over the next week to enjoy some time with their families.”

Downing is the first Democrat to go public with his intentions following Kerry's nomination, Boston.com reports. Several other Democrats, including Ted Kennedy Jr. and Reps. Stephan Lynch, Ed Markey and Michael Capuano have been mentioned as Senate candidates but have not indicated plans to travel around the state, Boston.com reports. On the Republican side, outgoing Sen. Scott Brown is considered the likely nominee. A special election to fill the remainder of Kerry's term, which expires in the 2014 election will likely be held in June.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is slated to appoint a senator to serve until the special election. Patrick has indicated that his appointee would agree to not run in the special election. Potential interim senators include Vicki Kennedy, former Gov. Michael Dukakis and outgoing Rep. Barney Frank.

Downing, a former congressional aide, was first elected to the state Senate in 2006 and represents several counties in the western part of the state. He is currently the chairman of the Joint Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee and vice chairman of the Joint Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development Committee. He has previously chaired ethics, revenue, public service and higher education committees.

If elected Downing would become the nation's youngest senator, replacing Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) who is 41. He would also be six months younger than Missouri Secretary of State-elect Jason Kander (D), who is slated to become the nation's youngest statewide elected official in January. Kander, 31, replaces Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), 33, in that title.

John Celock   |   December 20, 2012    6:40 PM ET

A New Jersey state assemblyman is teaming up to run for a district city council seat with a man he called "un-American" in September.

Assemblyman Sean Connors (D-Jersey City) announced Thursday he will seek a district city council seat in Jersey City, the state's second-largest city, running on a ticket with mayoral candidate Steve Fulop (D). The move comes months after the two were at each other's throats, with Connors backing Mayor Jerry Healy (D) and describing Fulop, a Wall Street hedge fund expert, as "un-American" and a "1-percenter."

Connors recently retracted his Healy endorsement and has now joined forces with Fulop in the nonpartisan June election.

“A few weeks ago, I came to the realization that we needed change in City Hall and that the best person to lead our city forward was Steven Fulop,” Connors said in a statement. “I’m honored and humbled that he asked me to be part of his team.”

Connors has said that he changed his position on Healy following what he described as Healy's "abysmal lack of leadership" during Hurricane Sandy. Connors previously attacked Fulop in September for quitting his Wall Street job to spend 14 months running for mayor full-time, characterizing Fulop as not being in touch with working-class voters in Jersey City. Fulop, a 35-year-old Marine veteran, serves as councilman for Jersey City.

"The 1-percenters like Steve Fulop and Mitt Romney need to stop trying to control everything," Connors said at the time.

In response, Fulop called Connors' remarks "ludicrous," citing his service in Iraq. The councilman also denied Connors' claim that he earned over $600,000 per year on Wall Street, and criticized Connors for earning a salary as an assemblyman while also being a Jersey City police officer. Connors' comments came in response to Fulop criticizing those backing Healy as "career politicians".

Fulop spokesman Bruno Tedeschi told HuffPost that Fulop and Connors have been meeting in recent weeks and discovered that "they share common ground." Tedeschi also said Fulop has been reaching out in order to "build coalitions." Because Jersey City races are nonpartisan, mayoral candidates often run with slates of candidates they back for city council seats.


Healy spokesman Joshua Henne said the incumbent views the pairing of the two former rivals as within the scope of Connors' previous comments.

“We completely agree with what Sean Connors said in September, that Mr. Fulop cannot relate to the struggling, working-class residents of Jersey City,'" Henne said.

John Celock   |   December 20, 2012    4:49 PM ET

New Jersey's senior U.S. senator is focusing his attention on his Senate work in light of Newark Mayor Cory Booker's (D) decision to explore a race for his congressional seat in 2014.

A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) released a statement Thursday afternoon saying that the senator would make no announcements about his political future until next year. Lautenberg spokesman Caley Gray said that his boss is focused instead on rebuilding New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy and on gun control, rather than a potential race for another term.

"Senator Lautenberg is focused on passing a critical disaster relief bill for New Jersey and addressing America's broken gun laws," Gray said in the statement. "The last several months and weeks have been a painful time for New Jersey and America, and the Senator is working on the tough issues we face. This is not the time for political distractions and the Senator will address politics next year."

Booker announced Thursday morning via a video and an op-ed column in The Star-Ledger that he was passing up a potential 2013 bid for governor in order to seek Lautenberg's seat in 2014. Booker indicated he would complete his second term as mayor, which expires on June 30, 2014, as part of the plan to focus on the Senate race.

Booker's decision reshapes the Garden State's political landscape for the next two years and leaves state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen), the only announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Buono released a statement Thursday afternoon praising Booker’s work in Newark and wishing him well, but stopped short of supporting him for Senate. Buono then called for the Democratic Party to unite behind her gubernatorial bid.

"With the mayor's announcement today -- and having already earned the endorsement of the Middlesex County and Somerset County Democratic Parties, I am asking Democrats across New Jersey to join our campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor," she said.

Buono, however, could face a challenge from either state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) or Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (D), both of whom have told HuffPost that they are considering bids for the nomination.

New Jersey political insiders have said that it is likely that Buono, who has long been at odds with South Jersey Democratic leaders, will see a primary foe backed by party leaders from that part of the state. It's unclear if such a challenge would come from Sweeney or Bollwage. Bollwage told HuffPost earlier this month that he would run for governor if he received backing from county party leaders in the state.

Gov. Chris Christie (R) currently enjoys a 72 percent approval rating following Hurricane Sandy.

Lautenberg has been the most vocal Democratic opponent of Christie in recent months, opposing the governor on a series of issues. A five-term senator, Lautenberg fended off a 2008 Democratic primary challenge from Rep. Rob Andrews (D), who was largely backed by South Jersey leaders. Lautenberg has been endorsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the number three Senate Democrat, for a 2014 reelection bid.

Booker has been supportive of a series of Christie measures, including one on charter schools. Christie and Booker both were keynote speakers at a school choice conference sponsored by the American Federation of Children earlier this year. AFC is a national school choice group chaired by former Michigan Republican Party chairwoman Betsy DeVos.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D) told Democratic leaders this week he would also consider a bid for the Senate seat if Lautenberg does not run. First elected to Congress in 1988, Pallone has recently appeared at a number of political events around the state.

John Celock   |   December 20, 2012    2:50 PM ET

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the Arizona Republican Party has announced plans to step down, days after he publicly questioned whether President Barack Obama has a "legitimate" birth certificate.

State GOP Chairman Tom Morrissey told azfamily.com on Wednesday that he would not seek a second term in January due to health issues. Morrissey said he is preparing to have knee surgery and wanted to be able to rest after the surgery. Morrissey, who had previously indicated he planned to run again, did not mention the birther claim when he announced he would step down.

“During a recovery you want your stress level to be as low as possible and this job is loaded with stress,” Morrissey told Newsmax.

Morrissey publicly joined the birther movement at Monday's meeting of the Electoral College, when he and two other Arizona electors, Gila County Republican Party Chairman Don Ascoli and former Graham County Republican Chairman John D. Rhodes, questioned Obama's birth certificate. At the time, Morrissey said that he was not questioning whether Obama was born in the United States, but rather if the Hawaiian birth certificate the president produced was "legitimate."

On Tuesday, Morrissey reiterated his skepticism to a radio station in Phoenix, and claimed that he was not aware of the birther movement. He said that he was performing a "sacred trust" as an elector and said he would have raised the same questions about Republican nominee Mitt Romney if concerns had been raised about his birthplace. Morrissey and the rest of Arizona's electors voted for Romney.

"My issue is not whether he was born here or not," Morrissey said to the radio station. "As an elector, I have a sacred trust to protect what is constitutionally viable. What I have seen from the president put out as a birth certificate is not a real document. I am not saying he wasn't born here."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) was quick to distance herself from Morrissey and his allies, saying she did not agree with them. Brewer has vetoed birther legislation in the past.

Morrissey's comments came a week after birther queen Orly Taitz interjected herself into the Electoral College process by filing a lawsuit in a federal court in California seeking to block Vice President Joe Biden from opening envelopes containing the electoral votes in front of a joint session of Congress in January. Taitz was joined in the lawsuit by federal prison inmate Keith Judd, who received 41 percent of the vote against Obama in May's Democratic presidential primary in West Virginia.

Ariel Edwards-Levy   |   December 20, 2012   10:21 AM ET

For the first time, a majority of Americans now say the Republican Party is too extreme, according to a poll released Thursday by CNN/ORC.

Fifty-three percent of people, including 22 percent of Republicans, said the GOP's views and policies have pushed them beyond the mainstream. The number is up dramatically from previous years. In 2010, fewer than 40 percent thought the party was too extreme.

Democrats were considered to be a "generally mainstream" party by 57 percent in the new poll.

"That's due in part to the fact that the Republican brand is not doing all that well," said Keating Holland, CNN's polling director.

Americans also say that they have far more confidence in President Barack Obama than in congressional Republicans, and that Republicans should compromise more in finding bipartisan solutions.

HuffPost Pollster, which tracks all publicly available polling, puts Obama's approval rating at about 53 percent, with about 43 percent disapproving. Congressional job approval hovers at just under 14 percent -- a high for the year.

Obama alluded to that public support this week. On Thursday, defending his proposal to end the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, he said, "And we had an extensive debate about this for a year. And not only does the majority of the American people agree with me, about half of Republican voters agree with me on it this."

An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week found that 61 percent of Republicans would accept raising taxes on the wealthy in order to avoid the "fiscal cliff." GOP lawmakers, many in safe districts, have largely dismissed the suggestion that the numbers give Obama an edge.

The CNN/ORC poll surveyed 620 adults by phone between Dec. 17 and Dec. 18, with a 4 percent margin of error.

John Celock   |   December 19, 2012    6:35 PM ET

While Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) continues to publicly consider whether to run for New Jersey governor next year or the U.S. Senate in 2014, Rep. Frank Pallone, another New Jersey Democrat, has told party leaders he's interested in a potential Senate run.

Pallone has been informing party leaders of his interest in a U.S. Senate race in the event of a vacancy in 2014, PolitickerNJ.com reports. Pallone's overtures come as the Monmouth County Democrat travels the state attending county Democratic Party events. U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D), 88, has not indicated if he will seek reelection in 2014.

While Pallone lacks the star power of the nationally known Booker, he has developed a relationship with party leaders statewide, PolitickerNJ.com reported, citing New Jersey sources. Under New Jersey's electoral system, county party leaders may award the "county line" to candidates in primaries, giving preferential placement on that county's primary ballot. Booker has also developed close relationships with several party leaders around the state.

Booker has indicated that he will make a decision before the end of the year about whether he will challenge Gov. Chris Christie (R) next year or run for Senate in 2014. Booker, considered a frontrunner in the governor's race, would likely face a challenge from state Sen. Barbara Buono (D-Metuchen) in a gubernatorial primary next year. Buono, a former food stamp recipient who announced her candidacy last week, has received backing from party leaders in Middlesex and Somerset Counties. State senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage (D) have told The Huffington Post that they are weighing their owns bids for governor.

Lautenberg, a five term senator, was endorsed by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) in 2011 for the 2014 race. Lautenberg has been a vocal Christie critic in the last year, challenging the governor on a variety of state issues.

Pallone, a former state senator, was first elected to Congress in 1988 and chaired the Health Subcommittee during the writing of the Affordable Care Act. News of his continued interest in a potential Senate run comes as he backed an effort by small business owners in New Jersey to let the Bush tax cuts expire as part of any fiscal cliff deal in order to help small business growth.

“Our small businesses are engines of economic growth in our New Jersey communities and are especially critical to our local economies as we recover from Superstorm Sandy,” Pallone said in a statement issued by the New Jersey Main Street Alliance. “Any fiscal cliff deal must reflect a balanced approach that asks the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share, does not place the burden on our small business owners and middle class Americans and protects important federal programs like Medicare and Medicaid.”

John Celock   |   December 19, 2012    5:29 PM ET

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Tom Morrissey, who questioned President Barack Obama's eligibility to president earlier this week, told a Phoenix radio station he's not a birther, then said Obama's birth certificate "is not a real document."

Morrissey told 550 KFYI radio on Tuesday that he questioned Obama's eligibility during Monday's meeting of Arizona's Electoral College because he is unconvinced Obama has produced a "legitimate" birth certificate. Morrissey, one of three Arizona presidential electors to question Obama's eligibility, denied being a part of the birther movement and said he didn't know what that was. Phoenix New Times first reported Morrissey's radio interview.

"My issue is not whether he was born here or not," Morrissey said. "As an elector, I have a sacred trust to protect what is constitutionally viable. What I have seen from the president, put out as a birth certificate, is not a real document. I am not saying he wasn't born here."

Morrissey said several times he wasn't questioning whether Obama was born in the U.S. and insisted he was performing his constitutional duty as an elector. The Electoral College met Monday nationally to officially elect Obama over Republican Mitt Romney. Morrissey, along with Gila County Republican Party Chairman Don Ascoli and former Graham County Republican Chairman John D. Rhodes, were the only electors nationally to question Obama's eligibility during the meeting. Arizona's electoral votes were awarded to Romney.

Morrissey accused Obama of "stonewalling" people who have asked for his birth certificate and said the president could have released a "real" birth certificate to end the debate. Morrissey said he was not singling out Obama and was not acting as state Republican chairman, but rather as an elector upholding the Constitution.

"As an elector I have a sacred trust," Morrissey said on the radio. "That is what I am acting on. If it was Governor Romney's or Ron Paul's, I would have the same concern. This is not personal."

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), who has vetoed birther legislation in the state, said she does not agree with Morrissey or his allies in the Electoral College. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett (R), who had previously questioned Obama's birth certificate, also distanced himself from Morrissey.

Morrissey's comments came a week after birther queen Orly Taitz filed a federal lawsuit in California seeking to prevent Vice President Joe Biden from opening the envelopes containing the electoral votes in front of a joint session of Congress in January. Taitz, a lawyer, dentist and real estate agent in California, posted on her website earlier this week that she is preparing documents for the federal court within a seven-day window ordered by a judge.

John Celock   |   December 18, 2012    6:52 PM ET

Birther queen Orly Taitz blames President Barack Obama for the Sandy Hook school massacre, saying the president is "trying to show that some person can appear out of the blue and slaughter people" so he can ban guns and "gain an absolute power."

Taitz, an attorney and dentist from California, has been using her website in recent days to raise conspiracy theories about the school shooting, which left 28 people, including 20 children, the shooter and his mother. Taitz questioned whether Adam Lanza, 20, who police have identified as the killer, could have been under mind control or drugged to fulfill a political mission.

Taitz wrote on her website:

Where was Adam Lanza in the days leading to the massacre? Was he handled by someone? Was he drugged? Was he subjected to hypnosis?

The word assassin comes from the Arabic word “Hashish”, name for a drug, I believe correct translation is opium. For thousands of years, since ancient times assassins were drugged.

Was Adam Lanza drugged and hypnotised by his handlers to make him into a killing machine as an excuse as the regime is itching to take all means of self defense from the populace before the economic collapse?

In a separate post, Taitz questioned whether Obama was trying to ban all guns.

"Obama and his regime are trying to disarm all of us, in order to gain an absolute power," Taitz wrote. "They are trying to show that some person can appear out of the blue and slaughter people."

Taitz claimed that Lanza had a dispute with school officials the day before the shooting and that Lanza's mother had been a teacher at the school. Local police said they had no reports of a dispute between Lanza and school officials prior to the shooting. Taitz is demanding that Lanza's school records be released, along with his emails and phone records.

Some of Taitz' conspiracy theories are circulating on other websites. Talking Points Memo reported one conspiracy theory that involved Lanza's father, Peter, testifying before the Senate Banking Committee regarding the Libor scandal and needed to cancel the hearing. TPM said no hearing is scheduled.

Tea Party Nation accuses sex in the media, teachers' unions and the education bureaucracy for playing a role in the shooting. Tea Party Nation member Timothy Birdnow wrote that people are "overstimulated" by sex in the media and do have an outlet for it, which he said may have caused the shooting.

John Celock   |   December 18, 2012    4:30 PM ET

Documents presented to electors at Monday's meeting of the Michigan Electoral College in Lansing spelled President Barack Obama's first name as Barak.

The documents were prepared by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson (R) for the ceremonial meeting, which officially elected Obama over Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the Macomb Daily reported. State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Witmer (D-Lansing), the presiding officer of the Michigan Electoral College, noticed the typo.

Johnson's office prepared new documents for the electors to sign. The documents formally award the votes to Obama and will be mailed to Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Archivist David Ferriero and a federal judge, along with copies that Johnson will keep on file. Biden is scheduled to open the envelopes containing the electoral votes from all 50 states and the District of Columbia at a joint session of Congress in January. Michigan has 16 electoral votes.

Witmer was not just in spellcheck mode in her role as presiding officer. She used the meeting, normally a ceremonial occasion, to rail against the right-to-work legislation signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder (R) last week. Witmer said she wanted to bring to light the legislation, which is described as being rushed through the state legislature last week.

"We know that Michigan is a state that believes in opportunity and embraces a vision for our nation that looks forward, not one that focuses on an extreme ideological agenda," Witmer told electors, MLive.com reported. "Yet last week in this same chamber, we saw one of the most extreme and overtly political agendas in Michigan's history, rushed through in the cover of night without any public input."

Johnson, who was elected secretary of state in 2010, made news before in her role as Michigan's chief elections officer. Over the summer, she insisted on including a check box on voter registration forms asking people to attest to being a citizen. The decision came after state legislators rejected legislation to require the check box. Johnson is a former Oakland County clerk and register of deeds and she unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2006. As secretary of state, she oversees elections and the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, along with serving on the state Truck Safety Commission.

The electoral college meetings nationwide were largely uneventful on Monday. In Arizona though, three Republican electors, including the state Republican Party chairman, raised birther movement issues and questioned if Obama's birth certificate was legitimate. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) said she disagreed with the three electors.

John Celock   |   December 17, 2012   11:11 PM ET

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had a letter delivered to the state's governor before his death Monday, indicating his preference for a successor.

Inouye's letter to Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) said he wanted the governor to name Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) to fill the Senate seat until a 2014 special election. Abercrombie told the Honolulu Star Advertiser Monday that he received the letter earlier in the day, but declined to reveal the contents. An Inouye spokesman confirmed that Inouye recommended Hanabusa's appointment as a "last wish."

Inouye, who was elected to the Senate in 1962, died Monday afternoon at Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland.

Hanabusa, a former president of the state Senate, was first elected to Congress in 2010, representing a district based in Honolulu's urban core. Hanabusa unseated Rep. Charles Dijou (R), who had defeated her in a special election earlier in 2010 to succeed Abercrombie, who resigned to run for governor. Hanabusa was reelected last month.

If appointed, Hanabusa would be Hawaii's second female senator, after Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono (D), who won election last month. Hanabusa would also be the nation's second Buddhist and Asian-American woman senator, after Hirono. The last Hawaiian appointed to the U.S. Senate was Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), who is retiring in January.

Abercrombie's appointment would serve until a 2014 special election to fill the remaining two years of Inouye's term. The appointed senator would join South Carolina Republican Tim Scott as one of two appointed senators in the next Congress. Scott was appointed to succeed retiring Sen. Jim DeMint (R) on Monday by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R). Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) is expected to appoint a senator to replace Sen. John Kerry (D) if Kerry is named secretary of state.

Inouye was succeeded Monday in his post as president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). Leahy is also expected to succeed Inouye as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.