Capitol Hill Switchboard Flooded With Calls Opposing Anti-Public Schools Activist Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary
‘Trump Has Essentially Just Put AMWAY in Charge of the Department of Education’
Capitol Hill switchboard operators have been overwhelmed by what one described as a â€œtsunamiâ€ of phone calls to Senate offices this week, most in opposition to many of President Donald Trump‘s cabinet selections. NCRM learned Thursday that an overwhelming number of the calls, according to Senate staffers and Capitol Hill sources, are in direct opposition to the nomination of billionaire political activist and AMWAY heir Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.
In separate interviews with The Hill and NCRM a spokesperson for Virginia Democratic Senator and former Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine relayed that the Senator has received more than 25,000 emails and letters regarding DeVos. Spokeswoman Sarah Peck said that a majority opposed DeVos, adding that the phones and voicemail system for Kaine’s office has been chaotic.
According to one Senate staffer, GOP leadership has also been inundated with phone calls asking Senators to vote to not confirm DeVos. Pennsylvania Democratic Senator Bob Casey’s spokesperson, John Rizzo, indicated that Casey’s office had received over 50,000 emails and letters all in opposition to DeVos.Â
Jenna Mason, Press Secretary for Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski acknowledged that Murkowski’s offices had received a greater than normal volume of calls. In a series of tweets Tuesday, the Senator wrote acknowledging that her Alaska and D.C. offices have been â€œoverwhelmed with calls from the lower 48, which has made it difficult for Alaskans to express their opinions.â€Â
My AK & DC offices have been overwhelmed w/calls from the Lower 48 which has made it difficult for Alaskans to express their opinions (1/3)
â€” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (@lisamurkowski) January 24, 2017
Mason, referencing the Senator’s tweets, said, â€œThe senator tweeted yesterday because she heard that some Alaskans were having trouble getting through to her offices and she wanted to make sure that she is able to hear from them, so she gave them alternative options to reach her.â€Â
WATCH:Â Everything You Need to Know About Why Betsy DeVos Is Unqualified to Be Secretary of Education
Murkowski sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee that is poised to confirm or reject DeVos as Education Secretary.
Trump has essentially just put AMWAY in charge of the Department of Education.
â€” Michael Moore (@MMFlint) November 23, 2016
During this past Saturday’sÂ massive protests and women’s marches, independent filmmaker Michael Moore also called for Senators to reject DeVos. Moore, a Michigan native, has opposed DeVos’s nomination based in part on her record with the charter school movement in Michigan, which she backed. Moore has accused her of destroying public education, particularly in the city of Detroit. In a tweet immediately after her nomination, Moore said that â€œTrump essentially just put AMWAY in charge of the Department of Education.â€Â
Following her initial confirmation hearing, DeVos was ridiculed for advocating that guns should be allowed in schools among her other policy positions.
Elizabeth Warren Grills Betsy DeVos: ‘Swindlers and Crooks Doing Backflips’ Over Answers Like Yours (Video)
WATCH: Betsy DeVos Refuses to Say Children With Disabilities Deserve Equal Protection in Schools
WATCH: Bernie Sanders Asks Betsy DeVos if She Would Be Education Secretary Nominee if She Hadn’t Donated Millions to GOP
Brody LevesqueÂ is the Chief Political Correspondent forÂ The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody atÂ Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.com
To comment on this article and other NCRM content,Â visit our Facebook page. To contact NCRM directly you canÂ email us.
Insert Image by astollerÂ via Flickr and a CC licenseÂ
This article has been updated to properly identifyÂ Sen. Casey as a member of the Democratic Party.
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Lindsey Graham Admonished by Senate Ethics Committee
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has been formally admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for violating ethics rules and standards by repeatedly soliciting campaign donations during an interview at the Capitol.
The bipartisan committee issued Graham a Public Letter of Admonition after the South Carolina Republican solicited donations for Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker.
“Based upon all available information, the Committee concluded that on November 30, 2022, you conducted a media interview with Fox News in the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building and that your interview was slightly over nine minutes, with over four minutes devoted to a discussion of the 2022 senatorial run-off election in Georgia. The Committee further concluded that during your discussion of the senatorial run-off election, you directly solicited campaign contributions on behalf of Mr. Walker’s campaign committee, www.teamherschel.com, five separate times.”
The letter notes that Sen. Graham had previously violated the same standards when he solicited campaign donations in a federal building in October of 2020, but said it was an “unplanned media interview.” When a reporter had asked him about fundraising, Graham “directly solicited campaign contributions” for his re-election campaign.
READ MORE: Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing
The Committee noted “mitigating” circumstances and did not cite him for that violation.
“The public must feel confident that Members use public resources only for official actions in the best interests of the United States, not for partisan political activity,” the letter concludes. “Your actions failed to uphold that standard, resulting in harm to the public trust and confidence in the United States Senate. You are hereby admonished.”
CNN’s Manu Raju posted the letter to social media.
You can read the letter below or at this link.
In a letter to Sen. Lindsey Graham, the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee admonished him for soliciting campaign contributions five times during a media interview in the Russell Senate office building. It is against Senate rules to solicit campaign donations on Capitol grounds pic.twitter.com/amc5ipcosw
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 23, 2023
RIGHT WING EXTREMISM
Watch: GOP Lawmaker Orders Grieving Parkland Parents Removed From ‘ATF Overreach’ Hearing
U.S. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) is being criticized for having the parents of a victim of the Parkland school massacre removed from a GOP-led House committee hearing on “ATF Overreach” after he deemed them “out of order” for remarks they made while a Member was speaking. Minutes later, Capital Police pinned the father to the ground in the hallway and arrested him.
“See this is, exactly what we have to avoid!” Rep. Fallon, chairing the joint hearing, angrily declared as he pointed his finger after the father, Manuel Oliver, made a remark that was inaudible. “Which is some minority of folks trying to silence dissent. Dissent shouldn’t be kryptonite.”
“There’s a decorum that should be adhered to,” Fallon, who recently refused to sign a statement denouncing white supremacy, said as he chastising Oliver.
After another, louder outburst, Fallon mockingly asked, “Is this an insurrection? So will they be held to the same — I don’t want another January 6.”
READ MORE: ‘Unlawful Incursion’: Manhattan DA Schools Jim Jordan for Demanding He Testify in Ongoing Trump Investigation
Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI) responded, “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but I think they’re trying to express their frustrations.”
Angrily again, Rep. Fallon interjected.
“Whoa whoa whoa whoa,” he shouted as he banged the gavel.
“Member’s out of line,” Fallon said (incorrectly. The term is “out of order.”)
Rep. Pat Fallon (R-TX) on gun reform protests: “Is this an insurrection? Will they be held to the same —”
Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI): “If they’re trying to overthrow the government, they oughta be held to the same standard, but … they’re trying to express their frustrations.” pic.twitter.com/SFrMId1fh3
— The Recount (@therecount) March 23, 2023
Shortly thereafter, Rep. Fallon had both Manuel and Patricia Oliver removed.
“You took my son away from me!”
— Parkland parents Patricia and Manuel Oliver are removed after interrupting a House hearing on Second Amendment protections pic.twitter.com/Bjjoq9k93W
— The Recount (@therecount) March 23, 2023
ABC News reporter Will Steakin, who was in the hearing, tweeted video and said bot Manuel and Patricia Oliver “appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers.”
Video of Manuel and Patrica Oliver being removed from the hearing at direction of GOP Chair Rep. Pat Fallon
Both appear to leave without resistance… moments later there was a loud thud outside the hearing room and I found Manuel being pinned to the ground by multiple officers: https://t.co/ZebugeU98Z pic.twitter.com/zdpfPGHjDn
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) March 23, 2023
“Manuel Oliver, the father of a 17-year-old Parkland shooting victim, was arrested Thursday on Capitol Hill after he appeared to shout at a Republican lawmaker who was speaking during a hearing on gun regulations,” NBC News reports. Patricia Oliver, his wife and the mother of their 17-year old son, Joaquin Oliver, who was one of 17 people who died in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, was not arrested.
READ MORE: ‘National Security Implications’: Former DOJ Official Speculates on Ruling Ordering Trump Attorney to Hand Over Docs
On social media critics expressed anger at Fallon.
“Rep. Pat Fallon (R) thinks parents of slaughtered children should just sit down & shut up as Republicans maintain outrageously dangerous gun laws. He had this parent expelled rather than just giving a warning, which is the usual,” wrote one Twitter user.
“Texas Rep. Pat Fallon: You are the EXACT problem with the gun violence and why it keeps being the leading cause of death in children today,” wrote another.
According to the NIH, gun violence is the leading cause of childhood death.
Still another Twitter user blasted Fallon: “What disgraceful & despicable behavior by Representative Pat Fallon. Exercising your right to free speech is being an insurrectionist? The man lost his son. Have you no compassion? I think he has more than earned the right to be heard by Congress. Such an abuse of power.”
And one called Fallon “feckless.”
‘Repercussions’: Biden White House Warns Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ Bill Could Force US to Cancel $950 Million in Annual Aid
The Biden administration may cancel the $950 million in annual assistance the U.S. provides to Uganda if President Yoweri Museveni signs into law its latest “Kill the Gays” bill, which calls for the death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” and between ten and 20 years in prison for other LGBTQ “acts.”
National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby on Wednesday made clear if Uganda further criminalizes homosexuality and the LGBTQ community there could be “repercussions that we would have to take.”
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance,” Admiral Kirby said at a White House press briefing.
National Security Council’s John Kirby suggests the U.S. would consider economic punishments if Uganda’s law criminalizing LGBTQ people goes into effect:
“That would be really unfortunate because so much of the economic assistance that we provide Uganda is health assistance.” pic.twitter.com/hWrRrHqd6q
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2023
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also told reporters Wednesday the Biden administration has “grave concerns” over the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA), and “increasing violence targeting LGBTQIA+ persons.”
READ MORE: Florida GOP Lawmaker Who Wrote ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Facing Up to 35 Years After Pleading Guilty in COVID Fraud Case
“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights, jeopardize progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS, deter tourism and invest in Uganda and damage Uganda’s international reputation,” Jean-Pierre warned. “The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.”
WH Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre denounces the Ugandan parliament’s passage of a bill criminalizing LGBTQ people:
“If the AHA is signed into law and enacted, it would impinge upon universal human rights … The bill is one of the most extreme anti-LGBTQI+ laws in the world.” pic.twitter.com/WSzCY5Vlq4
— The Recount (@therecount) March 22, 2023
Kirby and Jean-Pierre’s remarks came on the same day as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” legislation, saying it “would undermine fundamental human rights of all Ugandans and could reverse gains in the fight against HIV/AIDS.”
“The United States provides more than $950 million in aid to Uganda each year, according to the State Department. The money supports development and health care measures, such as combating HIV/AIDS,” Courthouse News reported Wednesday. “Uganda is already among 30 African countries that ban same-sex relations. The new proposal would broaden penalties and appears to be the first to outlaw identifying as LGBTQ+, according to Human Rights Watch.”
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