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‘Political Theater’: Conservative Rips Ron DeSantis for ‘Sucking Up to the Anti-Vaxxers’

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Far-right Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis hasn’t officially announced a presidential run for 2024, but his admirers — from author Ann Coulter to Fox News’ Rupert Murdoch to writers at the National Review — are hoping that he will. As they see it, a DeSantis presidential campaign would be the way for the Republican Party to quit Donald Trump (who announced his 2024 campaign in mid-November) while still satisfying the MAGA base. And if DeSantis does run, he may have found a way to show MAGA voters how he differs from Trump: pandering to the anti-vaxxer crowd.

Never Trump conservative and former GOP strategist Rick Wilson is quite skeptical about DeSantis’ prospects as a 2024 presidential candidate. Wilson, a North Florida resident, believes that DeSantis, for all his bombast, will be crushed in a Republican primary if Trump fully unleashes his cruelty on the Florida governor (who was reelected by 19 percent in the 2022 midterms).

In a biting article published by The Bulwark on December 15, Never Trumper Amanda Carpenter emphasizes that DeSantis’ latest anti-vaxxer theatrics are designed to fire up “fringe” MAGA voters ahead of a likely presidential run.

READ MORE:‘He is so done’: Ann Coulter doubles down on Republicans to abandon Donald Trump

“As he seeks to elevate his profile further and distinguish himself from potential 2024 presidential rivals, DeSantis is sucking up to the anti-vax crowd and styling himself as a crusader against what he calls the ‘biomedical security state,’” Carpenter explains. “And, like most of DeSantis’ political stunts, his overtures to the fringe are pretty cringey. On Tuesday, (December 13), as the state legislature was embroiled in a complex debate about skyrocketing home-insurance rates, DeSantis hosted a roundtable in West Palm Beach that brought doctors and scientists together with other Floridians to question the efficacy and safety of COVID vaccines.”

DeSantis, Carpenter notes, featured Steven Ordonia — an anti-vaxxer conspiracy theorist who claims that COVID-19 vaccines have “horrible side effects” that the “mainstream media” are covering up.

“When the roundtable concluded,” Carpenter observes, “DeSantis made a series of planned announcements. He called for investigations into vaccine manufacturers and public officials who he alleges lied about the life-threatening side effects of shots.”

These theatrics, according to Carpenter, reflect “a desperate wish to kiss up to cranky, conspiracist anti-vax voters.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s garbage’: Media critic tears apart Donald Trump’s defamation lawsuit against CNN

DeSantis’ anti-vaxxer pandering is quite a contrast to Trump’s messaging on COVID-19 vaccines, which the former president has exalted as a major scientific achievement and tried to take credit for. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, governor-elect of Arkansas and former White House press secretary in the Trump Administration, has echoed Trump’s messaging and described COVID-19 vaccines as “the Trump vaccine.”

Carpenter points out that when Trump was still in the White House in 2020 and was pushing his Operation Warp Speed program, DeSantis was “advocating” COVID-19 vaccines rather than promoting the claims of “fringe” anti-vaxxers. And she views DeSantis’ recent anti-vaxxer theatrics as a flawed political strategy.

“As DeSantis elevates vaccine skeptics and picks fights with vaccine manufacturers and public health officials, a new Wall Street Journal poll shows him significantly outpacing former President Trump as the preferred 2024 nominee among GOP primary voters,” Carpenter writes. “Is DeSantis making these gains because of his overtures to the fringe activists in the party, or because Republican voters see him as a more palatable alternative to Trump? Probably both, but sucking up to the anti-vaxxers probably doesn’t play that well outside a very distinct slice of MAGA.”

Carpenter continues, “Further, as the WSJ poll attests, DeSantis’ likely 2024 candidacy is already approaching liftoff. Running to the right of Trump on COVID is a high-risk maneuver without a clear political justification. It’s hard to see the payoff for someone in the governor’s position…. DeSantis embraces this sort of political theater even though he appears to lack a natural aptitude for showmanship.”

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Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed

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Supreme Court employees raised security concerns that were not made public when an internal investigation was completed following the leak of a draft opinion reversing abortion rights.

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.

ALSO IN THE NEWS: ‘Has made my life miserable’: Marjorie Taylor Greene explains why she hates being in Congress

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Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’

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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.

READ MORE: Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

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.”

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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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Santos May Owe Thousands in Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines and Fees Across Two States: Report

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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.”

READ MORE: George Santos Says Man Interviewed for Staff Position ‘Violated’ His Trust After Secretly Recording Conversation

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.

READ MORE: ‘Bioweapons? FFS’: House Oversight Chairman Mocked for Pushing Unfounded Balloon Conspiracy Theories

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