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$50 Million Convention Threatens To Leave Indiana If Governor Signs ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill

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The longest-running gaming convention in the world, which brings in $50 million annually to Indiana is threatening to move in response to an anti-gay bill awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Since 1968, Gen Con has been bringing gaming lovers together. The convention, now worth an estimated $50 million in revenue, boasts attracting over 56,000 attendees last year to its current home in Indianapolis, Indiana, where it has resided since 2003. But CEO and owner Adrian Swartout is willing to move Gen Con if Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence signs SB 101, a controversial anti-gay “religious freedom” bill that is sitting on his desk.

“Gen Con proudly welcomes a diverse attendee base, made up of different ethnicities, cultures, beliefs, sexual orientations, gender identities, abilities, and socio-economic backgrounds,” Swartout wrote in a letter to the Governor. “We are happy to provide an environment that welcomes all, and the wide-ranging diversity of our attendees has become a key element to the success and growth of our convention.”

“Legislation that could allow for refusal of service or discrimination against our attendees will have a direct negative impact on the state’s economy, and will factor into our decision-making on hosting the convention in the state of Indiana in future years,” she warned.

SB 101 could allow anyone, including businesses, to discriminate against LGBT people, merely by claiming their deeply hed religious beliefs would be compromised if they did not.

Governor Pence has said he is “looking forward” to signing the bill, despite even admitting it is unnecessary.

But Gen Con is not the only big name opposed to the pro-discrimination legislation.

“In recent days, several personalities, including Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, first openly gay pro athlete Jason Collins and “Star Trek” actor George Takei, have spoken out against the bill,” the Huffington Post reports.

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Visit Indy, Indianapolis’ tourism bureau, also has voiced opposition, even before the bill was passed.

“Our concern is that there could be a misperception with this bill that doesn’t paint a picture of being a warm, welcoming, hospitable place,” Chris Gahl, VP of marketing and communication for Visit Indy said. “It doesn’t align with the brand that is Indianapolis, and for that matter, Indiana. Because it could impact our ability to win convention business down the road — and keep convention business — we raised our hand and said we do have a concern.”

The NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), also based in Indianapolis, said it is “examining the details of this bill,” and added “the NCAA national office is committed to an inclusive environment.”

Also on the list criticizing the legislation are Salesforce.com, Fortune 500 member Cummins, Eskenazi Health, and Eli Lilly and Co.

 

Image by Carlos A Smith via Flickr and a CC license
Hat tip: IndyStar

 

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News

Stefanik Was Once ‘Laser Focused on Electing Santos’ – Now She Blames Voters for Electing Him as She Backs Away

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One of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), used her reputation and geographic proximity to help get fellow New York Republican George Santos elected to Congress. But now, as her donors and his express anger at being misled and lied to, and ahead of what appears to be a likely federal investigation and possible prosecution against the freshman GOP lawmaker, Stefanik is blaming voters for electing him to Congress: “Ultimately voters make this decision,” she said Tuesday.

Stefanik is the Chair of the House Republican Conference, a role she was first elected to when the now former Congresswoman, Liz Cheney, was thrown out of GOP leadership for telling the truth about the January 6 insurrection and Donald Trump. Stefanik was re-elected to her role after the November election.

Amid Santos announcing on Tuesday he is temporarily recusing himself from the two committees he was appointed to, Stefanik was asked if she regretted supporting his candidacy.

Indeed, one of the top reasons Santos was elected was Stefanik’s endorsement – and all the donor money that came with it.

READ MORE: 2024 Fundraising Fail: Trump Took in Less Money After Declaring Run for President Than Before

“Stefanik’s team was laser focused on electing Santos to Congress – more than just about any other race in the country,” a senior Republican strategist involved in campaigns before the midterms told CNN. “Another donor, who attended a fundraising luncheon with Stefanik and Santos, confirmed to CNN through a representative that ‘he donated to George Santos because of Elise Stefanik’s endorsement.'”

It wasn’t just her endorsements. It appears Stefanik took great interest in getting Santos elected. CNN also reported that a source “said that a top political aide for Stefanik was involved in campaigning for Santos. Multiple sources told CNN that aide was closely advising Santos’ campaign and involved in hiring people.”

Stefanik’s spokesperson denied the allegations.

In July, Santos tweeted that Stefanik “has been one of my strongest backers and closest friends. I fully stand with her vote today as she stood up for civil rights. I look forward to serving alongside her when I’m elected to Congress in November.”

In fact, this was the banner atop Santos’ Twitter account for a very long time, up until recently:

Here is Stefanik tweeting her “major announcement” – her endorsement of Santos – on August 11, 2001, more than a year before Election Day.

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

“Excited to endorse my friend and fellow America First conservative George Santos for Congress in #NY03. @Santos4Congress will take on NYC liberal elites and bring a new generation of GOP leadership to NY and America. He has my full support!”

And in May of last year: “WOW! Great lunch event for @Santos4Congress! We raised over $100,000 to help George FLIP #NY03 George has my complete and total endorsement and come November, New Yorkers will send George to Congress! #SaveNewYork #SaveAmerica”

She literally told voters that electing George Santos to Congress will “Save New York” and “Save America.”

On Tuesday, Stefanik told voters something very different: it’s their fault they voted for him, she said, taking no responsibility for her endorsements.

“Like all of my colleagues, particularly in New York State, I supported George Santos as the nominee, and the people of his district voted to elect him,” she told reporters – not once mentioning there was no Republican primary and Santos automatically became the Republican party’s nominee.

READ MORE: Listen: Stefanik-Endorsed GOP Candidate Praised ‘Inspirational’ Adolf Hitler as ‘The Kind of Leader We Need Today’

“Ultimately voters make this decision about who they elect to Congress,” Stefanik declared, wholly removing herself, her endorsements, and any possible assistance she or her campaign may have given to Santos or his campaign.

See the tweets and video above or at this link.

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BREAKING NEWS

Santos Recuses Himself From Committees Amid Possible Criminal Investigation

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Embattled freshman U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY), in what is the first time he has taken any steps to acknowledge the depths of political and now possibly criminal challenges he faces, says he will recuse himself from his committee assignments until his ethics issues have been resolved.

Santos also told his Republican colleagues of his plans on Tuesday, NBC News reports. Santos is on the Science and Small Business committees.

The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who has provided extensive reporting on the Republican frequently called a “serial liar,” adds that the Santos’ announcement came after a meeting with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“With all signs pointing to an active federal criminal investigation into his campaign finance activity, Santos has ‘voluntarily’ declined—after meeting last night with Kevin McCarthy—to stay off of committees, as Republicans try to sideline Ilhan Omar,” Sollenberger reports.

READ MORE: DOJ Signals It Is Conducting a Criminal Investigation of George Santos

Sollenberger broke the news that Santos, or his campaign, amended his FEC filing to indicate $625,000 in “personal” loans to his campaign were not actually from his personal funds.

Republicans are trying to keep U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of their regular, prime targets, from taking her seat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. Speaker McCarthy has already blocked Democratic Congressmen Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell from the House Intelligence Committee, invoking his ability to do so because it is a Select committee and subject to the Speaker’s decisions.

MSNBC reported the breaking news on-air. Watch below or at this link.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.

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News

2024 Fundraising Fail: Trump Took in Less Money After Declaring Run for President Than Before

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Donald Trump, the candidate who in 2015 vowed he would self-fund his presidential campaign, only to turn his White House run into a never-ending fundraising operation, is having trouble raising money.

“I don’t need anybody’s money,” Trump said when he launched his campaign in June of 2015 – despite quietly accepting over $14 million in the months after.

The ex-president, under numerous criminal investigations and facing civil court cases, now is “strapped for campaign cash,” NBC News reveals in an exclusive report. The embattled and disgraced one-term president who remains his party’s top choice, took in less money in the six weeks after he officially launched his third attempt to enter the Oval Office than he did in the six weeks before his mid-November announcement.

Trump is now revamping his fundraising machine and hiring a new company, Campaign Inbox, “to solicit the small-dollar donor set.”

READ MORE: ‘Ran a Bribery Center Blocks From the White House’: Comer Mocked for Claiming No Evidence of Trump Influence Peddling

The former president had built a massive fundraising database but decided to launch in November, which puzzled many experts. Some believe he did so in an attempt to evade any possible Dept. of Justice prosecutions. Even as far back as July those who know Trump predicted he would not only run for president again but launch his campaign early – to try to escape justice.

All this points to Trump returning to Facebook, if only to revive his “cash-strapped” campaign.

“Almost 50% of Republican donors log in to Facebook every single day,”Republican digital fundraising consultant Eric Wilson told NBC News, citing data from a survey connected to a nonprofit group he runs. “So if you are not able to reach those donors, you’re just at a huge fundraising disadvantage.”

Image: Shirley Preston/Shutterstock

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