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BREAKING: Gay Marriage Passes New Hampshire! 198-176

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**UPDATE 5:30 PM** Governor John Lynch, calling it a “great day for all New Hampshire families” signs the gay marriage bill into law.

Today, after many votes and many revisions, New Hampshire will become the sixth state in the Union to offer marriage equality to all couples. After many rounds of votes, including full passage in both Houses of the Legislature May 6, then a vote on Governor Lynch’s required language that passed the Senate but failed to pass the House May 20, the revised bill passed today.

No explanation has ever come to light for the May 6 to May 14 period that the bill had passed both Houses but had not been delivered to the Governor. The Governor on May 14 issued a statement that demanded increased protections for religious institutions, and threatened to veto the bill if the General Court (the New Hampshire Legislature) did not include his language. While gay rights groups and Legislative leaders in both Houses were amenable to the Governor’s changes, and it appeared the bill would easily pass, a May 20 vote succeeded in the Senate but failed by two votes in the House.

Right wing groups took this additional time to slander the Governor, claiming he broke his campaign promises when he stated his personal position against marriage equality. The National Organization For Marriage admitted they had infiltrated New Hampshire. Reports of robocalls, linking conservative voters directly to lawmakers, gave an impression opposition to the bill was greater than it actually was. Since 2003, the majority of New Hampshire voters have supported same-sex marriage.

Previous votes in the House were 178-167 on May 7, and 186-188 on May 20.

The language in the bill provides even stronger protections for religious institutions than the Governor had called for. During the debate in the House, there was considerable debate on the specifics of religious exemptions. Some were concerned that the language was unclear and not certain it would allow religious institutions that wanted to provide services to same-sex couples. There are already existing laws in New Hampshire that provide for persons who object to same-sex marriage to allow them to refuse to participate in gay marriage ceremonies.

Questions about the current bill included concerns that a religion that prohibited inter-racial marriage or polygamy would be allowed to continue that practice. Concerns were raised that the bill was not written to address issues of unintended consequences. Some were concerned that the bill went too far, others were concerned it didn’t go far enough.

Rep. Steve Vaillencourt, who is openly gay and had voted against the last bill because he felt the language was too restrictive, said the new language was even more restrictive but he voted ‘yes’ because it was the bill’s last chance and although the bill was flawed, like great men in history who were flawed, it deserved support.

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News

Wealthy Florida Community Got COVID Vaccine Before Anyone Else — Then the Governor Got a $250,000 Contribution

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may have scored big in the CPAC Straw Poll last weekend, but his citizens aren’t likely to appreciate wealthy communities being able to jump the line for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Florida’s elderly are still struggling to sign up to get their first dose of the vaccine, but in a wealthy gated enclave in the Florida Keys, everyone was vaccinated in January.

A Jan. 22 newsletter sent to the Herald revealed that the Ocean Reef Club in north Key Largo despite the rest of the state struggling to get the vaccine, “Over the course of the last two weeks, the Medical Center has vaccinated over 1,200 homeowners who qualify under the State of Florida’s Governor’s current Order for those individuals who are 65 years of age or older.”

“We are fortunate to have received enough vaccines to ensure both the first and second for those vaccinated,” the newsletter message continued. “At this time, however, the majority of the State has not received an allocation of first doses of vaccines for this week and beyond, and the timing of any subsequent deliveries remains unclear.”

The Herald questioned whether the Republican donors who live in the area are behind the decision to give quick and easy access.

“In fact, the only people from Key Largo who gave to DeSantis’ political committee live in Ocean Reef,” said the report. “All 17 of them had given the governor contributions of $5,000 each through December 2020, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

One donor, in particular, gave Gov. DeSantis an extra $250,000 after the area got their vaccines in mid-January.

Read the full report at the Miami Herald.

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CORRUPTION

Trump DOJ Refused to Open Criminal Investigation Into Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao IG Says Was ‘Warranted’

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The Trump Dept. of Justice refused an Inspector General’s request to open a criminal investigation into Transportation Secretary Elaine’s Chao’s possible misuse of her office. Chao resigned one day after the January 6 insurrection.

“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” Mitch Behm, the department’s deputy inspector general, said on Tuesday, The New York Times reports. The Times cites “a letter to House lawmakers, accompanying a 44-page report detailing the investigation and the findings of wrongdoing.”

The Inspector General’s report reveals the IG’s office had “referred its findings to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia on December 16, 2020, and the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section on December 17, 2020, both of which declined prosecution.”

Mother Jones‘ David Corn weighed in, saying the report “shows Elaine Chao apparently violated federal ethics rules in multiple ways, including directing official staffers to do personal tasks.”

In one instance, Chao had her staff pressure a store to do a repair job for her father. “Tell them I’m the secretary of transportation,” she said.

“The report said the Justice Department declined to investigate her promotion of her family’s shipbuilding business while serving as transportation secretary in the Trump administration,” the Times notes, suggestion there is no question Chao engaged in “promotion of her family’s shipbuilding business while serving as transportation secretary.”

The Times adds: “The inspector general’s investigation detailed a series of instances where Ms. Chao directed her staff to spend federal government time and resources to help with matters related to the shipbuilding company and her father.”

A search of the IG’s 44-page report reveals the word “father” appears 82 times.

Read the Times’ full report here.

 

 

 

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Jim Jordan’s Campaign’s Funds Reporting Is Off by Millions and May Trigger an Investigation: Report

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The campaign committee for U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) is under scrutiny after apparent mismanagement of funds leading to an under-reporting of nearly $3 million over a two-year period. The problems are so severe “experts say that the dollar amount — errors totaling some $2.87 million — may trigger an FEC investigation,” according to The Daily Beast.

Over the past three days the Federal Election Commission has sent Jordan’s campaign committee ten notices “in reply to more than a dozen amended reports correcting errors that the campaign caught in a sweeping review of filings, going as far back as 2018. One of the filings discloses errors in spending and raising totalling $1,470,286.48.”

Jordan’s campaign has about a month to respond. Failure to “adequately respond” could result in enforcement action.

Campaign spokesperson Kevin Eichinger told The Daily Beast: “There was never any money missing from the account…In fact, the campaign’s cash balance is actually higher than previously listed on the campaign finance reports,” which is also not a good sign.

“The error occurred when the former campaign treasurer inadvertently double-reported certain fundraising expenses,” Eichinger adds. “When the error was discovered, the campaign hired an outside expert to conduct a comprehensive audit and file the appropriate amendments.”

Read the full report here.

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