House Republicans moved one step closer to censuring Lois Lerner and readied for a Benghazi select committee, however their Select Committee On The Contents Of Al Capone’s Vault has yet to turn anything up. An EPA employee spent hours each day looking at porn on a work computer -- it’s not like Congress is giving EPA employees much else to do. And John Culberson allegedly railed against all the monuments in D.C. commemorating African-Americans and Latinos. No one tell him that there’s a giant green monument in New York that begs immigrants to come to this country. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Wednesday, May 7th, 2014:
BENGHAZI THERE, DONE THAT - Sam Stein: "Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Wednesday morning urged his fellow lawmakers not to use the investigation he is leading into the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, to raise money, calling it a subject that 'transcends politics.' Minutes earlier, the National Republican Congressional Committee sent out a fundraising email tied to Gowdy's role leading a select committee to investigate the attacks. The timing of the two events points to a problem that Republican leadership will likely encounter as it looks into the Obama administration's handling of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead. The temptation to rev up the base and raise money from it too could end up damaging the investigation's credibility even before it starts." [HuffPost]
Jon Ward chats with John Kasich's underdog Dem challenger.
GOP SIGNS ONTO EFFORT TO UNDO 'SOFT MONEY' LIMITS - So if Reince Priebus starts sporting alligator shoes and and a solid platinum grill, you now know why. Paul Blumenthal: "Just one month after the Supreme Court struck down aggregate campaign contribution limits, Republican Party officials are set to join what may be the next big court challenge in the ongoing push to unravel campaign finance laws. The case has not yet been filed, but it already has a winning pedigree: The lawsuit was conceived by James Bopp, the Indiana-based lawyer who was behind Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and involved in McCutcheon v. FEC -- the last two major Supreme Court victories for those attacking campaign finance limits. The target of this new challenge is the ban on political parties soliciting and receiving unlimited contributions, known as 'soft money,' that was enacted in the 2002 McCain-Feingold law. The lawsuit aims to overturn that ban and more. It will ask the courts to allow political parties, at both the national and state levels, to create affiliated super PACs that can raise and spend unlimited sums on any electoral effort. This would include express electoral activity -- that is, efforts aimed at supporting or defeating specific candidates. Before the McCain-Feingold ban, parties' spending of soft money was basically limited to issue advocacy and get-out-the-vote initiatives." [HuffPost]
The House Education and Workforce Committee is having a hearing on college athletes unionizing. The AFL-CIO has responded to the hearing -- titled, “Big Labor on College Campuses: Examining the Consequences of Unionizing Student Athletes” -- with top ten list of why it supports unionization on campuses.
TWO ADMINISTRATION INSIDER MEMOIRS DUE OUT SOON - Expect to hear an awful lot of people not recalling the contents of a specific conversation. AP: "Over the next month, two of President Barack Obama's closest first-term advisers will spill insider details on the administration's handling of the early days of the recession, the White House's cautious response to Syria and the genesis of clandestine talks with Iran. The memoirs are from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and ex-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and the latest examples of confidants signed to big book contracts to examine a presidency not yet over and policy decisions still being implemented. The books will be released four months after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates' memoir landed like a sucker punch in the West Wing. Gates gave political advisers in the White House virtually no warning and no advance copy of his book, which included sharp criticisms of Obama's decision-making. Obama aides do not appear to be readying for a repeat of their experience with Gates' book. Geithner has not provided the White House with advance copies of "Stress Test," but the text has been reviewed by lawyers at Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Drafts of Clinton's book, "Hard Choices," have been circulating for months among a small number of officials in Obama's National Security Council." [AP]
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - President Barack Obama's labor secretary reminded House Speaker John Boehner Wednesday that he would like to see a vote on legislation restoring benefits to 2.6 million long-term unemployed Americans. Labor Department boss Tom Perez noted in a letter to Boehner (R-Ohio) that the Senate already passed a bill reauthorizing the benefits that expired in December. Boehner has been unwilling to let the Senate bill get a vote in the House. "We worked closely with a bipartisan group of Senators," Perez wrote, "and remain willing to do the same with you and others in the House." Boehner is not interested. [HuffPost]
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HOUSE MOVES TO HOLD LOIS LERNER IN CONTEMPT - Mike McAuliff: "In the name of protecting Americans' rights against government abuses, the House of Representatives moved Wednesday to hold a former IRS official in contempt of Congress for asserting her constitutional right against self-incrimination. Lois Lerner, who led the IRS division in charge of approving applications for tax-exempt status from political social welfare groups, twice invoked the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify to the House Oversight Committee beyond asserting her innocence. Lerner's unit was found in an inspector general's report to have used inappropriate criteria in screening groups, which led to organizations with "tea party" in their names being flagged. Some liberal groups were also scrutinized. Republicans have alleged that the screenings were politically motivated, although the inspector general and Congress' own probes have found no sign of that, or White House influence. Still, they believe that Lerner might provide a smoking gun. The House voted 223 to 192 along party lines in the first of two votes Wednesday to hold her in contempt. The final vote was set for Wednesday evening. It's a step Congress hasn't taken since the McCarthy era, when it tried nine times to hold people in contempt for pleading the Fifth. None of the votes were upheld by the courts, but Republicans said that they had a responsibility to act." [HuffPost]
DEMS SPLIT ON BENGHAZI PANEL RESPONSE - Roll Call: "House Democrats remain split on how to respond to a new special committee tasked with re-investigating the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, with leaders and party members vacillating between a symbolic boycott or begrudging participation. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not tip her hand in a closed door meeting Wednesday and has not yet decided whether she will allow her caucus to participate in the special panel. But more members who spoke up in the caucus meeting said they think Democrats should boycott, according to sources in the room. One thing is certain: Democrats nearly unanimously believe the investigation is a political sham. As the Thursday vote on the resolution empaneling the committee approaches, Democratic leaders spent Wednesday whipping their members during and between votes on the House floor against the legislation to keep Republicans from the possibility of picking off a few politically imperiled Democrats. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., sent a notice to his caucus urging members to vote no." [Roll Call]
DON'T COMPARE THAT THING YOU'RE THINKING ABOUT TO SLAVERY - Is it slavery? No? Don't compare it, then. AP: "The Anchorage NAACP demanded Wednesday that Alaska Republican lieutenant governor hopeful Dan Sullivan apologize for comments likening required payment of union dues to slavery. The organization's president, Wanda Laws, said in a statement that to compare slavery to current political issues "diminishes how horrible and tragic" it was. Laws responded to comments Sullivan made during a candidate forum Monday, featuring GOP rival Lesil McGuire and Democrats Hollis French and Bob Williams. Sullivan, the Anchorage mayor, was asked about right-to-work legislation, in which employees are not required to join a union to get or keep a job. According to a video of the exchange, Sullivan said he supported such legislation. 'Nobody should ever have to basically pay a fee to someone else to get a job in this state. I mean, we got rid of slavery a long time ago,' he said. 'You should never have to encumber yourself out of your wages in order to work in this state.' He called it a 'freedom issue.'" [AP]
"Important for the little girls" "A House staffer learned, after sharing what sounds like a terribly uncomfortable elevator ride with Rep. John Culberson, that not everyone in Washington appreciates our museum-rich landscape. According to our source, the Texas Republican opened up about his disdain for niche memorials, monuments and the like while shuttling from the basement of the Capitol to the second floor for votes. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., purportedly sparked the jarring conversation by needling Culberson about always 'asking the tough questions' in GOP conference meetings. Per the tipster, Culberson immediately launched into an anti-expansionist rant during which he questioned the need to carve out additional showplaces for African-Americans and Latinos — arguing that no one is clamoring to immortalize the struggle of the Czech-American immigrants that presumably populate his western Houston district. The aide said Culberson then pivoted to fellow rider Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., and mumbled something about being “OK” with a women’s museum because that was 'important for little girls.'" [Roll Call]
TECH CONSERVATIVES PLANNING THEIR OWN NETROOTS - Given conservatives' longstanding technological proficiency, we fully expect the "where can I put my photos so I can find them easily" panel to be a smash hit. Jon Ward: "A pair of young conservative tech entrepreneurs who set out in 2013 to connect conservatives in Silicon Valley aim to put their fledgling organization on the map this summer with a three-day conference that is the first of its kind. Since 2006, progressives have targeted and cultivated digital activists and the tech community with the Netroots Nation and Roots Camp conferences. Conservatives launched Right Online in 2008 to do some of the same things. But they have not had any event aimed squarely at technologists, those who work in the industry and build digital tools. This year, conservatives are finally getting around to doing that. Aaron Ginn, 26, and Garrett Johnson, 29, both work full time at tech startups. Ginn worked for several months on Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. In their spare time, Ginn and Johnson run Lincoln Labs, dedicated solely to connecting conservative and libertarian technologists, with an emphasis on Silicon Valley....Lincoln Labs will host a three-day conference in San Francisco from July 18 to July 20. Johnson said the conference, called Reboot, will be most like Netroots, because it is ' focused on the decision-makers, thought leaders and builders.'" [HuffPost]
Two peas in a well-financed pod: " Ryan Zinke, a Republican House candidate in Montana, has gained an edge in his crowded primary race thanks to the enthusiastic support of a super PAC. The group has been running ads touting his candidacy and was even encouraging people to back him before he officially jumped into the race. The two were so close -- literally -- that at one point, the super PAC was renting office space from Zinke, in a building right across the street from his house. But the decision by the group, Special Operations for America, to support Zinke is not exactly surprising. Zinke founded it himself two years ago, and he's now reaping the benefits of its support as he runs for Congress. It's not completely clear how legal this set-up is in this post-Citizens United world. But it smells fishy enough that it's raising objections -- not only from campaign finance reform experts, but also from Zinke's fellow Republicans, who don't usually complain about the influence of super PACs." [HuffPost's Amanda Terkel]
DRONES DRONES DRONES DRONES DRONES DRONES DRONES DRONES I'd like to teach the world to bomb/ In perfect disharmony/ I'd like to buy the world a drone/ And bomb it haphazardly/ That's the real thing. Defense One: "Virtually every country on Earth will be able to build or acquire drones capable of firing missiles within the next ten years. Armed aerial drones will be used for targeted killings, terrorism and the government suppression of civil unrest. What’s worse, say experts, it’s too late for the United States to do anything about it. After the past decade’s explosive growth, it may seem that the U.S. is the only country with missile-carrying drones. In fact, the U.S. is losing interest in further developing armed drone technology. The military plans to spend $2.4 billion on unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, in 2015. That’s down considerably from the $5.7 billion that the military requested in the 2013 budget. Other countries, conversely, have shown growing interest in making unmanned robot technology as deadly as possible. Only a handful of countries have armed flying drones today, including the U.S., United Kingdom, Israel, China and (possibly) Iran, Pakistan and Russia. Other countries want them, including South Africa and India. So far, 23 countries have developed or are developing armed drones, according to a recent report from the RAND organization. It’s only a matter of time before the lethal technology spreads, several experts say." [Defense One]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Here is a cat ruining a transition shot.
EPA EMPLOYEE LIKES PORN... A LOT - Listen, if there's one thing that puts a person in the mood above all else, it's preparing Powerpoints on Energy Star compliance. Bloomberg: "An employee at the Environmental Protection Agency downloaded more than 7,000 pornographic files onto a government computer and viewed them for two to six hours a day, according to the agency’s independent watchdog. The worker, who wasn’t identified, was watching pornography when a special agent showed up at his work space, Allan Williams, the EPA’s deputy assistant inspector general for investigations, told lawmakers today. 'True deterrence of employee misconduct at the EPA ultimately rests with agency executives and managers to set a tone that ensures such behavior will not be condoned,' Williams told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The allegations emerged in a broader examination of EPA employees. The EPA’s 16,000 employees are facing greater scrutiny by the Office of Inspector General after the 2013 conviction of senior agency official John Beale for collecting paychecks for more than a decade during which he had not worked. Beale explained absences to his EPA supervisors by telling them he was working on classified projects, including for the Central Intelligence Agency, which wasn’t true." [Bloomberg]
- A NSFW-ish porno by Wes Anderson. [http://huff.to/1jeZf0V]
- A rundown of the (mostly) obscure regional cuisines of the United States. [http://bit.ly/1jBntlm]
- A ::facepalm::-y ::facepalm::-tastic round of "Family Feud." [http://bit.ly/1kMtav8]
- What a $1 million luxury RV looks like. [http://bit.ly/1o6EBCX]
- David Foster Wallace's colleague discusses editing "Consider The Lobster." [http://bit.ly/1mDshGk]
- Henri the Existential Cat returns, and this time he is filled with ennui by spring. [http://huff.to/1nju1rZ]
- If headlines treated women as human beings and not objects. [http://huff.to/1smcBuz]
- Short, sharply-edited video describing everything you need to know about Korea. [http://bit.ly/1np7rvy]
@pourmecoffee: How will Monica Lewinsky's not-yet-published article affect Hillary Clinton's not-yet-declared candidacy? This important essay will explain.
@aburnspolitico: Inbox: "SENATOR BOB DOLE NAMED HONORARY CITIZEN OF SARAJEVO"
@moody: Boehner to reporter with shaved head: "What did you do to your hair??"
Reporter: "I raised money for children's cancer research."
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