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Watch: Dem Senator’s Viral Video Reveals Scalia Accepted Over 70 Undisclosed Gifts of Vacations Like Clarence Thomas

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U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has revealed the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia also accepted and did not disclose dozens of trips paid for by special interest advocates, in a similar fashion to the decades-worth of undisclosed luxury travel, vacations, and trips Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas took.

In video that has gone viral on social media – over 1.6 million views in less than 24 hours – Senator Whitehouse says Scalia took “more than seven dozen” of these undisclosed vacations.

“The personal hospitality problems I’ve been pursuing began with Justice Scalia, who took more than seven dozen undisclosed hunting vacations. Most people know of two, the one where he was on the Air Force Two manifest with Dick Cheney and the one where he died,” Sen. Whitehouse said in his remarks during Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court ethics.

Scalia, a hard-core conservative, died in February of 2016 during a quail hunting vacation, reportedly “at an $800-per-night Texas hunting lodge among still-unknown companions,” a lodge owned by the chairman and CEO of a multi-billion dollar manufacturing company.

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Calling Scalia’s vacation gifts “systematized,” Whitehouse, who has been focused on judicial reform for years, revealed there had been “seventy-plus,” and explained the process the justice would use to get invited.

“Some intermediary would ask the owner of an expensive resort, often a commercial property, to extend to Scalia a personal invitation to the resort, even where the owner was someone he’d never met. Scalia treated it as ‘personal hospitality’ because of the ‘personal’ invitation, and failed to disclose the vacations,” Whitehouse said. “Gun industry advocates, fossil fuel folks, and Republican political figures often tagged along.”

“No reasonable reading of the term ‘personal hospitality’ (we’ve covered this,) but the Supreme Court let this go on for years,” said Whitehouse.

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Legal experts have said that under the law, Supreme Court justices do not have to disclose gifts of vacations, like the ones Thomas and Scalia took, as long as they are gifts from personal friends at their personal homes. But they do have to disclose gifts of travel. Some believe any gift that might suggest the possibility of an appearance of impropriety should be disclosed.

“Private jet travel is not in the personal hospitality exemption,” Whitehouse said, “which is limited to food, lodging and entertainment.”

Whitehouse then revealed – with ten exhibits – how he has investigated these gifts; gifts, in Thomas’ case, which some are now referring to as “graft” and “corruption.”

“When I challenged the court about this practice, (exhibit one,) I got a blow-off letter, (exhibit two.) Basically, ‘nothing to see here.’ So then I asked the circuit courts what they thought about this conduct,” Whitehouse said, stating out of 13 inquiries he received zero responses.

“So I then sent another letter saying I hope their silence didn’t indicate some kind of coordinated obstruction (exhibit four.) I also scheduled a subcommittee hearing. Presto, I was told the Financial Disclosure Committee would examine how the exemption was interpreted,” Whitehouse said. “Almost a year later, two weeks before the recent news about Justice Thomas broke, the Judicial Conference updated its guidance to clarify that this sort of non-disclosure violates the law (exhibit six.)”

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He says no judge outside of the Supreme Court has “ever used the personal invitation trick,” because a complaint would be investigated and would become “embarrassing.”

“Only Supreme Court justices refused to allow their conduct to be investigated or reviewed. My bill would fix that,” he says.

Last month a former chief counsel to Sen. Whitehouse, Alex Aronson, writing in Slate, further detailed how Scalia’s scheme worked:

“Retired federal Judge Charles Pickering, Scalia’s frequent hunting facilitator, explained: ‘After it got out that if you took him hunting or fishing that he would come speak, he started getting invitations all over the place.’ For example: hearing that Scalia would ‘do anything if you take him hunting,’ Texas lawyer and Republican mega-donor Mark Lanier chartered a plane to take Scalia boar hunting on a private ranch following a speech he gave at Lanier’s alma mater, Texas Tech. As was typical, Scalia’s financial disclosure revealed only that he had received ‘transportation, food, [and] lodging’ for ‘Lectures,’ with Texas Tech as the sole reimbursing party.”

Whitehouse also spends several minutes in the video discussing Justice Thomas’ scandal, and then, turning back to Scalia, asks: “So what became of the 2011 referral? Did anyone intervene? Is the committee still considering the 2011 referral more than a decade later?”

We apparently do not know.

Watch Sen. Whitehouse below or at this link.

 

 

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Republican Who Declared His State a ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ Blocks Senate Bump Stock Ban

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In 2021, as the Republican Governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts signed a “largely symbolic” proclamation declaring The Cornhusker State a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” Now, calling the legislation a “show vote,” U.S. Senator Ricketts has blocked a Democratic bill that would have restored a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

Just four days ago, in a 6-3 decision along partisan lines, right-wing justices on the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a bump stock, that effectively turns an AR-15 into a machine gun, cannot be regulated under current law. Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion. The device is so dramatically lethal pro-gun President Donald Trump banned it in 2018.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Samuel Alito made clear: if lawmakers want to ban bump stocks, they can, by passing a federal law:

“Congress can amend the law—and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.”

On Tuesday, Senator Ricketts blocked a bipartisan bill banning bump stocks – what the Supreme Court suggested and what Donald Trump had done – which was sponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

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Bump stocks increase the rate of fire from approximately 45-60 rounds per minute, to 400-800 rounds per minute.

Senator Ricketts called the vote on banning the lethal accessory that effectively increases the rate of fire by a factor of ten, “another day in the Democrat summer of show votes,” and called the legislation “a gun-grabbing overreach.”

“This bill will not pass,” Ricketts also said, as the Associated Press reported. “It won’t pass because enough people in this building still believe in the Constitution, and the Constitution affords Americans the right to own a firearm.”

Watch Ricketts’ remarks below or at this link.

READ MORE: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Desperate Scramble to Stop Steve Bannon From Going to Prison

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On July 1, criminally-convicted former top Trump advisor Steve Bannon is expected to begin his four-month prison sentence for contempt of Congress after a federal appeals court in May rejected his last-ditch claim he was merely following advice of counsel by ignoring a lawful subpoena issued by the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack.

U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) has a plan to make Bannon’s conviction and prison sentence disappear – and that of former top Trump adviser Peter Navarro, who is currently serving his four-month prison sentence.

“I fully support and am co-sponsoring @RepThomasMassie’s resolution to rescind the subpoenas for Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro by repudiating Nancy Pelosi’s illegitimate J6 committee,” Congresswoman Greene wrote on social media Tuesday.

“Nancy Pelosi violated House rules by refusing to accept McCarthy’s appointed Republicans on the committee. Now, our Republican-led House must nullify any actions taken by the illegitimate J6 committee,” Greene wrote, falsely.

Two federal courts have ruled the House January 6 Committee was legally constituted.

READ MORE: Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

“We must also hold the J6 Committee members accountable for the destruction of the committee’s records,” she clamored, also falsely.

The New Republic‘s Hafiz Rashid is mocking the Georgia GOP lawmaker: “MTG’s New Plot to Save Trump Allies From Jail May Be Her Stupidest Yet.”

“Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene seems to think you can just rewind time,” TNR writes. “Unfortunately for Greene and other House Republicans, rescinding the subpoenas doesn’t magically mean no crime was committed.”

Bannon, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign CEO, his Chief White House Strategist, and Senior Counselor to the President, before returning to the far-right wing website Breitbart, where he was a founding board member and later, executive chairman.

But now Bannon, a far-right provocateur, hosts the “War Room” podcast, which Media Matters last year called “the media home of Project 2025 and Trump’s retribution plans.” Last year he called for Rep. Greene to become Speaker of the House.

Project 2025 is The Heritage Foundation’s massive plan to remake the entire Executive Branch, fire thousands of civil servants, and turn the Dept. of Justice into an arm of the next Republican President.

“Bannon has continued his usual activities, such as telling a Turning Point Action convention audience Saturday who exactly will be on Donald Trump’s anticipated ‘retribution’ list and naming Justice Department officials,” TNR added. “But now, after escaping prison once thanks to a Trump pardon over a border wall fraud scheme, he will soon be behind bars, and not in a minimum-security prison camp as he wants, but in a low-security prison like Rikers since he still has an open criminal case against him.”

READ MORE: Whoopi Goldberg Mocks ‘Crook’ Trump for ‘Black Church’ Trip

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Matt Gaetz Ethics Committee Sexual Misconduct and Drug Use Probe Expands

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The House Ethics Committee has expanded its ongoing investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), releasing a rare statement revealing it is now investigating the Florida Republican congressman for allegations of sexual misconduct, illicit drug use, accepting improper gifts, dispensing special privileges and favors to individuals, and obstruction.

The statement detailed the direction of its probe while announcing it has issued dozens of subpoenas and spoken with numerous individuals. It also announced certain allegations will not continue to be investigated.

The bipartisan Committee adds that “at this time” it “will take no further action” on allegations Gaetz “may have shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe or improper gratuity.”

No reasons were given for expanding the probe nor for appearing to step back from pursuing certain  aspects.

Under Trump Attorney General Bill Barr, Gaetz, a top Trump follower, had been under federal investigation for alleged sex trafficking of a minor and alleged illicit drug use.

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“Investigators are examining whether Mr. Gaetz violated federal sex trafficking laws,” The New York Times had reported in 2021, citing unnamed sources. “A variety of federal statutes make it illegal to induce someone under 18 to travel over state lines to engage in sex in exchange for money or something of value. The Justice Department regularly prosecutes such cases, and offenders often receive severe sentences.”

The House Ethics Committee had also opened an investigation in 2021, but on Tuesday noted it had paused that probe at the request of the Dept. of Justice, but “reauthorized” its investigation after DOJ withdrew its request.

“On April 9, 2021, the Committee announced it had initiated a review into allegations that Representative Matt Gaetz may have engaged in sexual misconduct and/or illicit drug use, shared inappropriate images or videos on the House floor, misused state identification records, converted campaign funds to personal use, and/or accepted a bribe, improper gratuity, or impermissible gift, in violation of House Rules, laws, or other standards of conduct,” the Ethics Committee said in Tuesday’s statement.

Punchbowl News co-founder John Bresnahan characterized the Committee’s statement as “very unusual,” and adds it “[s]ays Gaetz hasn’t cooperated with the investigation.”

Despite “difficulty in obtaining relevant information from Representative Gaetz and others,” the Ethics Committee revealed it “has spoken with more than a dozen witnesses, issued 25 subpoenas, and reviewed thousands of pages of documents in this matter.”

The Committee notes that Gaetz maintains his innocence. It often indicates an expected date for resolution, updates, or further announcements but did not on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Whoopi Goldberg Mocks ‘Crook’ Trump for ‘Black Church’ Trip

HuffPost’s Jennifer Bendery called it “an unusual public statement.”

“Apparently aware the ethics committee would be making a statement about its investigation, Gaetz claimed on social media on Monday afternoon that he’s been the subject of four committee probes and all were closed,” HuffPost reported Tuesday.

On Monday Gaetz targeted former GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

“’This is Soviet,’ Gaetz said of the latest ethics investigation,” HuffPost noted. “’Kevin McCarthy showed them the man, and they are now trying to find the crime.’ ”

In April, McCarthy declared he was no longer Speaker “because one person, a member of Congress, wanted me to stop an ethics complaint, because he slept with a 17-year old.”

While McCarthy did not name Gaetz, the Florida congressman has denied that allegation and never been charged for it.

Also on Tuesday Noah Bookbinder, president of the government watchdog Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), announced the organization is suing DOJ for “documents explaining why the Justice Dept. chose not to prosecute” Gaetz.

Watch McCarthy below or at this link.

READ MORE: Democrats Have One Way to Correct Corruption of Justices Thomas and Alito: Expert

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