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Louisiana Newly Elected GOP Rep Luke Letlow Dies from COVID at Age 41

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Just days before he was to be sworn into Congress, 41-year-old Rep.-elect Luke Letlow (R-LA) died in a Louisiana hospital intensive care unit “due to complications from COVID-19,” his spokesperson Andrew Bautsch confirmed Wednesday.

Letlow announced on Dec. 18 that he had tested positive for the coronavirus and reported to the Ochsner LSU Health ICU in Shreveport on Dec. 23. He is survived by his wife, Julia Barnhill Letlow, and two children.

A special election will be held to fill Letlow’s newly vacated seat. He was elected in a Dec. 5 runoff, replacing retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham, for whom he’d previously worked as chief of staff.

The Lousiana Delegation said in their statement: “We are devastated to hear of Luke Letlow’s passing. Luke had such a positive spirit, and a tremendously bright future ahead of him. He was looking forward to serving the people of Louisiana in Congress, and we were excited to welcome him to our delegation where he was ready to make an even greater impact on our state and our Nation. More than anything, Luke was a loving husband, father, brother, and son, and his family – like so many others who have been affected by this evil disease – needs our prayers. We all join in sending our strongest support to Luke’s wife Julia and their young family, and are keeping them in our prayers.”

Democratic Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards offered his condolences via Twitter to the congressman-elect’s family soon after his death was announced, noting “Louisiana has lost more than 7,300 people to COVID-19 since March, and each one of them leaves a tremendous hole in our state.”

Edwards ordered “flags to be flown at half-staff on the day of Congressman-elect Letlow’s funeral.”

“Luke leaves behind a legacy of service, a love for his community, and a love and understanding of people of every walk of life that will forever be unmatched,” Edwards stated.

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Top House Democrat Blasts ‘Yahoos in Texas’ and ‘Negligent’ Supreme Court Over Vigilante Abortion Ban

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House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) Tuesday morning vowed to protect women’s reproductive rights, blasting the Republicans in Texas who enacted a vigilante law that effectively bans almost all abortion, and the conservatives on the Supreme Court who refused to stop them.

“Later on this week,” Rep. Jeffries said, discussing the House majority’s agenda, “we will pass legislation sponsored by Judy Chu, The Women’s Health Care Protection Act, to make it clear that women across America should have the freedom to make their own reproductive health care decisions. Shouldn’t be determined by a bunch of yahoos in Texas, and a negligent Supreme Court.”

Video here.

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Two Longtime Republican Operatives Indicted — and There’s a Russia Connection: Report

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Reuters legal reporter Jan Wolfe revealed Monday evening that two Republican Party operatives have been indicted after helping Russians donate to political campaigns in 2016.

The Justice Department revealed in a statement that Kentucky’s Jesse Benton and Florida’s Roy Douglas “Doug” Wead were “charged with one count of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal campaign contribution by a foreign national, effect a conduit contribution, and cause false records to be filed with the FEC, one count of contribution by a foreign national, one count of contribution in the name of another and three counts of making false entries in an official record.”

Benton was just pardoned by former President Donald Trump for a bribery scandal while working for Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in Iowa in 2012. In that scheme, Benton and colleague John Tate bribed state officials to change their endorsements to Paul for the Iowa Caucus.

After being pardoned for that, Benton is now being indicted again along with Wead for arranging for a Russian National who wanted to donate to a 2016 presidential campaign to be able to meet with the candidate.

“Benton reached out to individuals at Political Committee B, the national party committee for Political Candidate 1’s political party,” the indictment explains. “He then arranged for Foreign National 1 to attend a political fundraising event and get a photograph with Political Candidate 1, in exchange for a political contribution to Political Committee C, a joint fundraising committee comprised of the campaign committee for Political Candidate 1, Political Committee B, and related state committees. Foreign National 1 ultimately wired $100,000 to Company A, a political consulting firm owned by Benton.”

He then tried to disguise the wire transfer by labeling it “consulting services” and crafted a “cover story.”

Wead went to the fundraiser with the foreign national Sept. 22, 2016 with a translator (Foreign National 2). They all three had their photos taken with the candidate.

“Following the event, Benton repeatedly represented to a consultant working for Political Committee B and Political Committee C that he had already sent the promised contribution for the event, but in actuality he delayed sending the contribution,” said the DOJ. “Benton ultimately filled out a contributor form, indicated that he was the contributor, and used a personal credit card to make a $25,000 contribution. Benton retained the remaining $75,000 of Foreign National 1’s money. Because Benton falsely claimed to have given the contribution himself, three different political committees unwittingly filed reports with the FEC that inaccurately reported Benton, rather than Foreign National 1, as the source of the funds.”

Read the full report at the DOJ.

 

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Legal Experts and Critics Slam Justice Clarence Thomas for ‘Speaking Out Against Something He Is Actively Doing’

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Critics are  observing Constitution Day by responding to remarks U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas made on Thursday, when he blasted the media for criticizing decisions from the nation’s highest court and warning federal judges to not wade in to political discussions.

“When we begin to venture into the legislative or executive branch lanes, those of us, particularly in the federal judiciary with lifetime appointments, are asking for trouble,” Justice Thomas said, CNN’s Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue reports, ironically observing that Justice Thomas made those remarks “during a sweeping lecture at the University of Notre Dame that also touched on themes of equality, race and the state of the country.”

The CNN report adds:

Of all the members of the high court, Thomas has made his views on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion across the US, crystal clear. In 2007, he said that he believed that Roe and the follow-up decision called Planned Parenthood v. Casey had “no basis in the Constitution.” And in 2020, he said that Roe is “grievously wrong for many reasons, but the most fundamental is that its core holding — that the Constitution protects a woman’s right to abort her unborn child — finds no support in the text of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Thomas also on Thursday “seemed to nod to the controversy” of “so-called court packing”:

“We have lost the capacity” as leaders “to not allow others to manipulate our institutions when we don’t get the outcomes that we like,” he said.

Critics, including legal experts are weighing on on Justice Thomas’s remarks, blasting him for, as Daily Beast editor-at-large Molly Jong-Fast says, “speaking out against something he is actively doing.”

Related: Justice Clarence Thomas Has Been Secretly Lobbying Senators to Get a Trump Judicial Nominee Confirmed

Keith Boykin, a CNN political commentator who earned his law degree at Harvard and served in the Clinton White House was even more pointed:

“Clarence Thomas didn’t seem too worried about ‘destroying our institutions’ when he cast the deciding vote to make Bush president in 2000 or to gut the Voting Rights Act in 2013 or when he sat silently from 2017-2021 as Trump trashed our institutions.”

Dr. Miranda Yaver, a political science professor (US law, public policy, health policy) at Oberlin blasted Justice Thomas, saying that “claiming that the Supreme Court isn’t political is nonsense and we all know it. FWIW, whenever I teach Constitutional Law and students go, ‘Who in the hell would write that opinion??’ the answer is invariably Clarence Thomas.”

Norman Ornstein, a political scientist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), laughed:

VOX senior correspondent Ian Millhiser, author of “The Agenda: How a Republican Supreme Court is Reshaping America,” also criticizes Thomas’s apparent hypocrisy:

RELATED:

Clarence Thomas’ Wife Is Helping Trump Purge ‘Snakes’ From the White House — and Replace Them With Fox News Regulars

Clarence Thomas: Slavery Didn’t Take Away Dignity So How Can Same-Sex Marriage Bestow It?

 

 

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