On June 22, 2010, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), the longest-serving member in the history of the United States Congress, wrote a letter to a constituent, Jim McKay, stating, “Repealing ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ does not change the composition of our armed forces–it merely allows troops to continue to do their jobs without fear of dismissal or blackmailing because of their personal life.”
Six days later, Senator Robert Byrd, 92-years old, died.
Senator Robert Byrd has a unique history, having initially fought against the civil rights battles of the 1960’s, but later worked to support civil rights. While he can’t be described as a gay rights supporter, his work on repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” should not be ignored, especially as he opposed allowing gays into the military when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was being debated in 1993.
Senator Byrd definitely was a man of thought, and wasn’t afraid to reconsider his positions over time, including on issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Surely, if in the last days of his life, a conservative Democrat like Senator Robert Byrd felt repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was a sufficiently important cause to work on, our United States Senators in the last days of this session can take the time to repeal it. And Republicans like Mitch McConnell should never again diminish the work their body undertakes as “a waste of time,” even if it means investing time.
The people of this great country deserve it. Senator Byrd, no doubt, would have agreed.
Robert Byrd Supports DADT Repeal
My sincere thanks to Jim McKay for allowing us to publish this letter the late Senator personally write to Mr. McKay. He writes, “No one would have blamed him for not getting involved in DADT, especially with his earlier conservative positions, but he was actively working to advance legislation to do the right thing. My hope is that Senator Manchin would do the same thing.”
Jim McKay is State Coordinator of Prevent Child Abuse WV, a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent the abuse and neglect of West Virginia’s children.
Previously, Jim was Program Coordinator of a crisis shelter for runaway youth, and worked for The Education Alliance, a statewide non-profit promoting private support for public education. Jim served as Legislative Assistant to the Speaker of the WV House of Delegates from 1991-1994. Jim currently serves on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance of Children’s Trust & Prevention Funds and is Chair of the WV Legislative Action Team for Children & Families.
Jim McKay has been blogging since 2002 at his personal blog, Wabi-Sabi. He is also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and wvablue.com and was a credentialed member of the WV State Blogger Corps at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
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Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed
Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.
“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.
Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.
Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.
Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.
A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.
Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’
If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.
“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.
But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”
“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.
It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”
The allegations continue.
“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”
“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”
The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”
The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”
The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.
You can read The Beast’s full report here.
Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report
When he left for Washington, D.C., U.S. Rep. George Santos also appears to have left a string of unpaid traffic violation fines and fees in two states, including red light, double parking, and overtime parking citations totaling thousands of dollars.
The embattled serial liar and freshman New York GOP lawmaker “may owe more than $3,400 in unpaid citations, according to records from New York City and Florida,” CBS News reports.
Included in that total is $1,299.10 from Florida for toll violations that “racked up late fees and were ultimately sent to collections agencies.”
It appears that in November of 2016, as soon as he got his New York driver’s license after having one in Florida, a car previously ticketed via a red light camera whose plates match one registered to Santos “began piling up citations in New York City — 29 in the next two and a half years, according to city government records, which do not identify the drivers of vehicles being ticketed.”
“More than $1,800 in payments were made for 17 citations, but another 12 remain unpaid, with $2,142.61 still due, according to city records.”
CBS News also points to a New York Post report from January revealing “a Nissan Rogue driven frequently by Santos in recent months had been issued speeding tickets at least five times since he was elected on Nov. 8, ‘including four times in school zones.'”
Santos is under numerous state and federal investigations that span the gamut from campaign finance to allegedly stolen charity funds donated to save the life of a veteran’s service dog. The dog died after the vet could not afford to pay for the operation.
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