“First he called me a dumbass, then he said if I wanted to sh*t on House bills that I should run for the House,” says Senator Josh McKoon.
Republican state lawmakers hilariously clashed over anti-LGBT religious freedom legislation in Georgia this week,Â with the House speaker’s counsel reportedly calling an anti-gay GOP senator a “dumbass” for criticizing the state’s so-called “Pastor Protection Act.”
Republican Sen. Josh McKoonÂ (photo),Â the author of a sweeping anti-LGBT religious freedom bill that’s been stalled in the Legislature for two sessions, took to the Senate floor on Thursday to express frustration that the far narrower Pastor Protection Act is sailing through the process, Project Q Atlanta reports.Â
Although it’s plenty mean-spirited, the Pastor Protection ActÂ merely reaffirms existing protections under the First Amendment, saying clergy and religious organizations can’t be forced to participate in same-sex weddings, and it passed the House unanimously.Â
In a refreshingly honest and accurate assessment of the bill from the anti-LGBT lawmaker, McKoon called the Pastor Protection Act “a cheap political trick,” urging colleagues to instead pass his Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or GOP Sen. Mark Kirk’s “First Amendment Defense Act,” which also appears to be stalled.
“The best thing I can say about that piece of legislation is the name,” McKoon said of the Pastor Protection Act. “If we were to be accurate about what the bill is really intended to do we would call it the Politician Protection Act. The protection that is being afforded in this proposed piece of legislation is not meaningful.Â
â€” JoshMcKoon (@JoshMcKoon) February 13, 2016
“Why is it racing through the legislative process at warp speed?” he added. “The answer would be that those who originally opposed any effort to move this issue forward now recognize that something must be done. The people are demanding that something be done. And now we have a bill that is tailor-made for direct mail pieces. It is tailor-made for people going back home to campaign. But it does not one thing to protect religious freedom.”Â
GOP House SpeakerÂ David Ralston’sÂ legal counsel, Terry Chastain, reportedly responded to McKoon’s speech by ripping into the senator in a profanity-laced attack that occurred in a public area outside the Senate president’s office.Â
“First he called me a dumbass, then he said if I wanted to shit on House bills that I should run for the House,”Â McKoon explained to WSB.
In 6 years at the General Assembly I have never witnessed such vulgar, unprofessional behavior:… https://t.co/VguhJc15mq
â€” JoshMcKoon (@JoshMcKoon) February 12, 2016
The senator also later took to his Facebook page to pout.
“Evidently in addition to refusing to defend the free exercise of Georgians, if he could have it his way he would take away my right of free speech,” McKoon wrote of Ralston. “Vulgarity and intimidation tactics are totally unacceptable. Anyone that thinks that will get them anywhere with me is seriously mistaken.” Â Â Â
Pass the popcorn, folks. Even conservative, virulently anti-gay blogger Erick Erickson is upset:Â
Here is David Ralston’s phone number. Ask him why his staff is cussing out Christians who support religious liberty. https://t.co/cx21OoczNL
â€” Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) February 12, 2016
Image via FacebookÂ
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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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