U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), a former constitutional law professor, blasted U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) on Monday for trying to derail the Respect for Marriage Act with a “religious liberty” amendment that had already failed in the U.S. Senate, telling him and his colleagues who claim there is no emergency for same-sex marriage, “I’m not going to accept assurances from people who are working to overturn the right of gay people to get married in America.”
Roy’s amendment is identical to one offered by U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), which failed to pass. The far-right Texas GOP lawmaker appeared before the House Rules Committee to try to convince Democrats to allow debate on his amendment, which he admitted would likely fail. But should it pass, it would also like kill the Respect for Marriage Act, forcing the legislation to be debated and voted on again in the Senate, where the clock is running out.
Democrats are trying to get the marriage protection bill complete and sent to President Joe Biden before Republicans officially take the House majority next month. It needs a final vote of approval from the House.
The Respect for Marriage Act is designed to protect same-sex marriages should the U.S. Supreme Court strike down rulings like Obergefell. 35 states still have laws on the books, including some constitutional amendments, banning same-sex marriage. In those states, should Obergefell be struck down, the bans would likely go into immediate effect.
House Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), slammed Republicans for mocking Democrats’ claim that LGBTQ Americans and same-sex couples are facing an emergency after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a call for cases that could strike down the rights to contraception, same-sex intimacy, and same-sex marriage.
Congressman Roy is a member of the Judiciary Committee, which has said: “If there’s anything we need, it’s more people like Justice Thomas.”
“I’m sorry that the my friends don’t think this is an emergency,” Chairman McGovern told the committee. “I have constituents that think it’s an emergency, and quite frankly are frightened out of their mind by the behavior of the Supreme Court after the Dobbs decision,” striking down Roe v. Wade.
“And so, look, I mean, this may not be a big deal to some of my friends on the other side of the aisle,” McGovern added. “I assure you it is a big deal to many of us on this side of the aisle.”
Rep. Roy told the committee that a lawmaker in Finland was prosecuted for opposing same-sex marriage, trying to use that claim as a pretext to fear monger about what he claims is a loss of religious liberty in America, all in an attempt to grant far-right Christians special rights to discriminate against LGBTQ people.
“Again, I reiterate, a Member of Parliament was prosecuted in Finland for a statement made in defense of traditional marriage made 20 years ago,” Roy claimed. “Is this where we’re headed? Is this the direction that this country is going? Because if it is, we’re going to be shredding what little there is the fabric holding us together in a union in which we can agree to disagree.”
Nearly two years ago Congressman Roy appeared to threaten that if Democrats won the January, 2021 Georgia runoff election, taking control of the Senate, which they did, Republicans would declare civil war.
Congressman Raskin blasted Roy. saying, “he posed the question of whether we’re headed in the direction of Great Britain where he reports a case, which I’m unaware of, about someone being apparently prosecuted or punished for, I don’t know, anti-gay speech or something. I don’t know what he’s referring to there. But I can guarantee you that there’s nobody who’s been prosecuted, for saying that they’re opposed to the Obergefell decision, where they’re opposed to same-sex marriage that’s perfectly covered by the First Amendment.”
“In fact, you can say you’re opposed to our Constitution, which Donald Trump said yesterday, I think, and that’s completely within his First Amendment rights. Of course, you can’t incite a violent insurrection against the government as President of the United States, which is moving from speech to action, but he’s made himself clear that he’s opposed to the Constitution of the United States.”
“I don’t know whether there are any American cases, Mr. Roy, that you were referring to but if there is one, I would love to hear about it,” Raskin offered.
“I would be far more reassured by our colleagues who keep telling us,” Raskin continued, “not to worry about the Armageddon of the Supreme Court overturning the Obergefell decision and trying to strip away the right of gay people to get married in America, if they also told us they were opposed to that.”
“But it seems like the people who keep telling us not to worry about Armageddon are the same people who are trying to make Armageddon erupt. So if any of them would say, ‘Well, don’t worry, Justice Thomas didn’t really mean it,’ or, ‘he doesn’t have the kind of influence with Alito and the other justices that we think he has, but in any event, I’m with you in standing up for Obergefell,’ then I could feel a little bit better, but I’m not going to accept assurances from people who are working to overturn the right of gay people to get married in America.”
You can watch the entire discussion below or at this link.
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‘Volunteer’ Santos Congressional Staffer Alleges Sexual Harassment: ‘Proceeded to Touch My Groin’
A man who says he was hired by U.S. Rep. George Santos (R-NY) as a congressional staffer, told he had to be listed as a “volunteer” until his paperwork was processed, then subsequently told his job offer had been “rescinded” nine days later despite having worked several days during that time, is now accusing the embattled New York GOP congressman of ethics violations and sexual harassment. He is calling for both a congressional and a police investigation.
In a two-page letter to the House Ethics Committee dated Friday requesting an investigation, Derek Myers alleges Rep. Santos invited him to a karaoke club on his second day of work, then “proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin.”
He says Santos then told him, “My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over” and told him where he lived.
Myers is also asking the congressional investigation examine his being told he had to work as an unpaid volunteer while being offered a full-time job, which he says is a violation of House ethics.
He says he has filed a police report.
These matters will not be litigated on social media or through news media. They are serious offenses and the evidence and facts will speak for themselves if the committee takes up the matter. This tweet is being made public in light of transparency. pic.twitter.com/oSs4F3xyqc
— Derek Myers (@DerekMyers) February 3, 2023
In his letter (above) which he posted to Twitter, Myers says was interviewed by Santos, offered the job on Monday, January 23, asked by Santos’ chief of staff to come into the office the following day.
“On Wednesday. January 25, I was alone with the Congressman in his personal office going over mail correspondence from constituents and making my recommendations for which letters we should respond,” Myers’ letter reads. “The Congressman earlier in the day had asked me if I had a Grindr profile, which is widely-known as an LGBTQ+ social networking app, more commonly used for sexual intercourse. The Congressman shared with me that he, himself had a profile.”
Myers says Santos called him “buddy” and “insisted I sit next to him on a small sofa.”
“I proceeded to move forward with the discussion about the mail, but the Congressman stopped me by placing his hand on my left leg, near my knee and saying, ‘Hey buddy, we’re going to karaoke tonight. Would you like to go?’ I kindly declined the invitation by telling the Congressman I was not a fan of clubs and bars and that I was not a good singer,” the complaint reads.
“The Congressman proceeded to take his hand and move it down my leg into my inner-thigh and proceeded to touch my groin. He proceeded to look at me and say, ‘My husband is out of town tonight if you want to come over’ and went on to tell me where the Congressman lived. I quickly pushed the Congressman’s hand away and grabbed the mail from the table and proceeded to discuss the topic of constituent correspondence. Shortly thereafter, I left the personal office and returned to my desk.”
He alleges the following Monday, one week after being made the offer of employment, he was asked about his background as a journalist. He says on Wednesday, February 1, “I was informed that my job offer was being rescinded.”
The New York Times reports, “Mr. Myers’s account could not be corroborated, but a spokeswoman for Representative Susan Wild, ranking member of the House Ethics Committee, acknowledged that his letter had been received by her office.”
“There’s no corroborating evidence whatsoever,” Myers told CNN. “It’s simply going to be his word against mine.”
Santos is currently facing at least three federal investigations, including for allegedly absconding with thousands of dollars raised to save a veteran’s dying service dog, and for campaign finance issues.
Myers was in the news last week after sharing what he says were conversations with Santos he recorded. Talking Points Memo published some of that audio and reported some of Santos’ statements to Myers, including, “Stop going to Colombia for your diluted Botox.”
Santos claimed the recordings “violated the trust that we had” in Myers.
TPM also reported on Myers’ background, which Santos allegedly used to terminate him.
“A local news reporter from Ohio, Myers faced unusual criminal charges last year after he published surreptitiously recorded audio of courtroom testimony that he said he obtained from a source. The criminal case, which is in limbo, sparked a national outcry from press freedom organizations who rushed to his defense,” TPM says.
“It was quite a mesmerizing feeling to be in that proximity to power,” Myers told TPM. “Not only was I working with a sitting congressman, but I would see all these other U.S. senators and congressmen and women who I would only see on the news walking through the basement.”
He also told the news outlet of the “dream that drew Myers to Santos: a potential book or Hollywood project.”
“George Santos is making history,” Myers told TPM. “There’s gonna be a book about it. There’s gonna be a movie about it.”
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.
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