ACTION ON HARRISON
The civil liberties group Rise and Resist livened up a quiet Harrison Street last night, protesting a $25K a head fundraiser (they said – I did not check) for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie at Terroir. Jane Freeman and A. tipped me off, and while I missed the action, photographer Sue Brisk, who is documenting the Trump resistance movement, was willing to share her shots. Heastie’s fundraiser will benefit the “Speaker Heastie PAC,” according to the group.
BY ZACK FINK | NEW YORK CITY
“Get big money out of politics!”
Demonstrators lined the street outside the fundraiser in Tribeca. Advocates are frustrated that speaker Heastie supported a version of campaign finance reform in the state budget that farms out the details to a new commission.
That commission, which has yet to be formed, will submit binding recommendations in December.
Critics say that doesn’t go far enough, and they want publicly funded campaigns immediately.
“We need a donor match, $1 to $6 we need to Lee track of campaign contributions so we can see where we are getting our money from if we are running for office, so we can actually have a fighting chance,” said Jawanza Williams of Vocal New York.
But the demonstrators were met with a counter protest in favor of Heastie. Supporters say Heastie and Assembly Democrats have been true progressive leaders in Albany.
“He is doing more for progressive values than most of us could have dreamed of fighting for progressive values on the street. We are not going to let him be crippled and hamstrung because they didn’t get as much as they wanted when they wanted it,” said Kirsten John Foy of the National Action Network.
Heastie arrived shortly before 6 p.m. Thursday night. He seemed unfazed by all the yelling and screaming.
“People can have their opinions on what they want to say. There is a commission that is coming up that is going to look at campaign finance, so I think people should reserve judgment on what they say and feel,” Heastie said.
Two Assembly Democrats, David Buchwald and Robert Carrol are circulating a letter in the Assembly asking their fellow members to come back into session after the campaign finance commission comes out with its report in December. We asked Heastie what he thought of that letter.
“I think it’s premature. Members can write letters expressing their ideas, but let’s see what the commission comes back with,” Heastie said.
The Assembly and senate are both on break now. And don’t return to Albany until April 29th. We are expected to hear more about who is on the campaign finance commission and how it will work over the next few weeks.
The political activist group known as ‘the Hedge-Clippers’ released a report showing that just seven wealthy donors donated 30-million dollars throughout state and federal campaigns this election cycle.
The group argues that the power of these dollars unfairly benefit Republican candidates, maintaining an unequal power structure.
Jess Wisneski of Citizen Action of New York, health care activist Elizabeth Deutsch and Chris Tallent of Mayday explain more.
The 48-page indictment said the Hunters attempted to conceal the eight years of spending in federal records, while their household budget was awash in red ink
A judge granted attorneys for California’s Republican Rep. Duncan D. Hunter and his wife, Margaret Hunter, more time to review the more than 12,000 pages worth of data against their clients at a brief status hearing Monday.
The Hunters pleaded not guilty to charges of misusing $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including a family vacation to Italy, Hawaii, school tuition, dental work and theater tickets, among others.
The 48-page indictment said they attempted to conceal the eight years of spending in federal records, while their household budget was awash in red ink.
Protesters carrying musical instruments and others dressed in costumes, including a 12-foot inflatable man in a hazmat suit, nicknamed Cleanup Carl, awaited the Hunters as they walked inside the Southern District of California courthouse in San Diego Monday.
San Diego resident Judy Harrington wore bunny ears and held a sign referencing an accusation that Duncan Hunter spent hundreds to fly the family’s pet bunny across the country.
“I hope we raise awareness that it’s not too much to ask for honesty in our elected officials. I mean, really, is that unreasonable?” Harrington said.
Duncan Hunter’s lawyers said in 2017 that he and his wife repaid the campaign about $60,000, including the $600 airfare fee for the rabbit.
Even with the charges, Hunter is considered to have a strong chance of winning his sixth term on Nov. 6. The 50th Congressional District east of San Diego is the most Republican in Southern California, where the party holds a nearly 15-point registration edge over Democrats.
In court, Duncan and Margaret Hunter’s defense attorneys said they needed more time to review the alleged evidence against their clients while prosecutors said since it is a “simple” case of embezzlement, more time was not necessary.
A judge sided with the defense stating it was wasn’t unreasonable that they would need more time considering the many years over which the alleged crimes occurred. Another status hearing was set for December 3.
Margaret Hunter, who was at the time of the allegations Duncan Hunter’s campaign manager, has arrived at their three court appearances separate from her husband.
Following Indictment, Duncan Hunter Points Blame on Wife
(Published Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018)
The day after they were indicted, Duncan Hunter appeared to blame his wife, who was the congressman’s campaign manager at the time, for any misappropriation of funds. He later told NBC 7 that he wants prosecutors to leave his wife alone, contradicting his previous remarks.
“My message to the U.S. attorney here is let’s get this in court,” Hunter said last Tuesday. “Leave my wife out of it, we know they’re not after her they’re after me. They want to flip the seat, so let’s go to court let’s have a trial and everybody will see everything.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter Says ‘Leave My Wife Out of It’
(Published Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018)
Duncan Hunter and his attorney have maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated and that he looks forward to fighting the allegations in court.
He was among the earliest Republican members of Congress to endorse President Donald Trump and has in interviews compared himself to the president, saying “this is the new Department of Justice. This is the Democrats’ arm of law enforcement.”
“It will be good to expose the leftists that are in the U.S. right now that have brought all this on for political reasons,” Hunter reiterated, telling NBC 7 the charges against him are false.
Democratic candidate Campa-Najjar, a 29-year-old former Obama administration employee, is making his first run for Congress. He has made Hunter’s indictment a central issue in his campaign in the hopes of unseating the five-term congressman, a former Marine.
In the ad that started airing Monday — the third one his campaign has made focusing on the indictment — the narrator describes the charges and says of Hunter: “He’s so in it for himself, it’s criminal.”
Then the music changes, and Campa-Najjar is described as a hard-working, small businessman who once worked as a janitor in a church. It ends with him shaking the hand of a veteran in a cowboy hat.
Hunter has called the indictment by a grand jury a political witch hunt. His campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the new TV ad.
Margaret Hunter has yet to speak publicly about the charges.
After listening to attorneys for the defendants and the government, U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan ordered the parties back to court on Dec. 3.
Thomas McNamara, the attorney for Margaret Hunter, asked the judge to give the defense “several months” before scheduling another status conference, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen said that was too long for what she characterized as a straightforward embezzlement case.
“This is a very simple case, when it comes down to it,” Allen told the judge, noting the government’s speedy trial rights.
McNamara told the judge it took the government 2 1/2 years to investigate the case.
“It’s not a simple case for us,” McNamara said.
With more than 200 overt acts alleged in a 60-count indictment, the defense request was not “unreasonable,” Whelan said.
After the hearing, protesters chanting “shame, shame, shame!” and “bye-bye Duncan” followed the congressman as he left the courthouse.
Hunter, R-Alpine, and his wife, sat a row apart and did not appear to say anything to each other during the hearing. Both are free on bail and have been ordered to appear at all hearings.
At the couple’s arraignment last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern told a judge that the Hunters didn’t appear to have any assets and were “living paycheck to paycheck.”
The indictment alleges Hunter and his wife took money from campaign coffers as if they were personal bank accounts and falsified Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports to cover their tracks.
The indictment details scores of instances beginning in 2009 and continuing through 2016, in which the Hunters are accused of illegally using campaign money to pay for such things as family vacations to Italy, Hawaii and Boise, Idaho, school tuition, dental work, theater tickets and smaller purchases, including fast food, tequila shots, golf outings and video games.
Hunter, a 41-year-old former Marine, and his 43-year-old wife face charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and falsification of records.
Gregory Vega, the lead attorney for the lawmaker, contends the charges are politically motivated.
Duncan Hunter has said that his wife handled his finances when he was in the military and that continued when he got into Congress. He has said he hasn’t done anything wrong and is looking forward to clearing his name at trial.
The congressman is running for reelection in November. He is facing Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar in a district that has been a longtime Republican stronghold. Hunter’s father previously held the seat representing much of the East County, as well as Fallbrook, San Marcos, Valley Center and Escondido.
Outside the courtroom, dozens of protesters waved signs criticizing Hunter. Many vowed to return for future court dates involving the congressman’s campaign spending case.
Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, are scheduled to be back in court Dec. 3 for a status conference on charges they illegally used more than $250,000 in campaign funds to fund their lavish lifestyles and filed false campaign finance records to cover it up.
The couple appeared in federal court in downtown San Diego Monday morning where their attorneys asked for more time to go through the thousands of pages of documents amassed in the case as part of the federal probe.
Thomas McNamara, the attorney for Margaret Hunter, asked U.S. District Judge Thomas J. Whelan to give the defense “several months” before scheduling another status conference, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen said that was too long for what she characterized as a straightforward embezzlement case.
“This is a very simple case, when it comes down to it,’’ Allen told the judge, noting the government’s speedy trial rights.
McNamara said it took the government 2 1/2 years to investigate the case. “It’s not a simple case for us,” McNamara said.
Whelan set the new hearing two months out, citing the amount of documents and saying it was in the interest of justice. With more than 200 overt acts alleged in a 60-count indictment, the judge said the defense request was not “unreasonable.’’
The Republican congressman and his wife — who arrived in court separately — were greeted outside the courthouse by more than a dozen demonstrators. At one point, some in the group chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Duncan Hunter must go,” as one man beat on a drum.
Last month, Duncan Hunter and Margaret Hunter pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, falsification of records and aiding and abetting in the prohibited use of campaign contributions.
According to the indictment, the Hunters used campaign funds to pay for trips, meals, video games, private school tuition, oral surgery and a garage door for their Alpine home.
Hunter also reported spending $600 on an airline ticket to fly the family pet rabbit across the country.
After the brief hearing Monday, Duncan Hunter was trailed by protesters and photographers as he left the courthouse, crossed Front Street and ducked into an office building. Some could be heard chanting, “Lock him up.”
One protester dressed in a rabbit costume, held a sign that read, “Hoppy trail to jail.”
Attorneys for Duncan Hunter and Margaret Hunter did not make statements to reporters outside the courthouse.
City News Service contributed to this report.
Hunter, one of the most prominent combat veterans in Congress, was indicted in August on charges he and his wife stole more than $250,000 in campaign funds to pay for overseas vacations, bar tabs, dental work and other personal purchases.
The five-term Republican lawmaker has denied the charges, labeling them a political attack designed to hurt his re-election chances.
A federal judge could have set his trial date for as early as Nov. 1, but Hunter’s attorney’s requested additional time to respond to the allegations and federal prosecutors’ evidence. The couple is now scheduled to appear back in court on Dec. 3, about four weeks after the election.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Hunter and his wife, Margaret, arrived separately at the hearing and were greeted by protesters outside the courthouse.
Hunter, who joined the Marine Corps after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has portrayed himself on Capitol Hill as a proud veteran and a defender of the best interests of military personnel. He served as an artillery officer in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan, and served simultaneously in Congress and the Marine Corps Reserve until last year.
He was an outspoken member of the House Armed Services Committee until last month, when the indictment forced him to step down from his committee assignments.
But the federal indictment paints Hunter as an opportunist who turned to campaign donations to cover a host of personal debts and maintain a lavish lifestyle. Illegal expenses include more than $6,100 spent on private school tuition payments, $3,100 on home cable bills, $5,900 on trips to Pittsburgh Steelers games and $6,500 on a family vacation to Hawaii.
The charges also include several problematic purchases related to the military. In one case, prosecutors allege, Hunter joked that he would list a pair of shorts he bought for vacation as “(golf) balls for wounded warriors” in official campaign records, to justify the expense.
On another occasion, he listed a $14,000 family trip to Italy as a “mostly military/defense meet related” event even though he never set up a tour of U.S. naval facilities there.
In an interview with San Diego’s ABC 10 in August, Hunter called the charges a political attack by federal agencies that are still working on behalf of Democratic Party interests.
“I’m not worried. I’m looking forward to it,” he told the news station. “They can try to have a political agenda as our law enforcement, as a U.S. government … Let them expose themselves for what they are: a politically motivated group of folks. So let’s go to trial.”
Despite the controversy, the Cook Political Report still lists Hunter’s congressional district as “leans Republican” and gives him an election advantage over his Democratic opponent, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former official within President Barack Obama’s administration.
The congressional seat has been held by Hunter and his father, a 14-term congressman who served as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, since 1981.
September 23, 2018 (San Diego) — A 12-foot-high inflatable man in a yellow hazmat suit will join members of Indivisible on Monday at 8:30 a.m. at a rally at Federal Courthouse Plaza (333 W. Broadway, San Diego). to protest Rep. Duncan Hunter’s alleged corruption as he appears again in federal court on felony charges of embezzling $250,000 in campaign cash.
“Members of Indivisible will bring items that represent some of the Hunters’ staggering number of personal purchases made with donations from lobbyists and other donors to his campaign,” a press release from the group states. “Speakers will connect Rep. Hunter’s corruption by special interests with his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass the GOP Tax Scam, favoring the powerful over the well-being of his constituents.”
“CleanUp Carl” joins the rally as part of a California “Clean the House 2018 Tour,” by the PAC Mayday America, to get big money out of politics.
Allegedly illegal purchases made by Duncan and Margaret Hunter included groceries, gas, utility bills, clothing, alcohol, video games, restaurants, golfing, race track outings, theater tickets, football games, movie tickets, museum outings, luggage, home décor, cosmetics, dog food, cameras, a computer, private school tuition and luxury vacations in Italy, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Boise, Lake Tahoe, Laguna Beach, Palm Springs, Pittsburgh, Mississippi and Washington, DC.
Hunter and his wife, Margaret, have pleaded not guilty to the charges. The trial is set to begin after the November election. If convicted, Hunter, a Republican, could face substantial time in federal prison and would be required to give up his seat in Congress, requiring a taxpayer-funded special election to replace him if he wins in November against Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar.
by: Tiarra Braddock
As we get closer to the general elections in the fall, Representative Mike Kelly gains support from the Job Creators Network, a job and tax cut advocacy group.
“Our goal is to not just stay in DC, but to go out to main street USA communities, like here in Erie, Pennsylvania to thank the congressmen for their support of the tax cut and jobs act,” said Tim Jones.
Jones is with the First Rule Media Network which joined forces with the Job Creators Network to advocate for tax cuts for small businesses.
“There are an awful lot of jobs right now, there are people looking to hire people,” said Representative Kelly. “And to tell people, now your real opportunity comes in looking at the jobs that are available and are you prepared to fill those jobs.”
Representative Kelly says he sees a boom in the jobs in the area and he credits it to the Tax Cuts and Jobs act which was signed into law in 2017. “The tax cuts are one thing, the regulations are another, but more than anything else, the fact that we have opportunity zones that also go along with the tax cuts and jobs act will work right here in our town.”
While Representative Kelly was met with support from the Job Creators Network, he was also met protesters saying they want affordable wage jobs.
“There probably are more jobs than people but they’re minimum wage jobs and families can’t live on minimum wage,” said Terri Hulahan with Keystone Progress. “You look for example here and these are mostly high school kids at seasonal employment. are there a lot of jobs, yes, but they are not going to last.”
Meanwhile Representative Kelly says he is optimistic about the future job force and the local economy.