By Jueseppi B.
From The Associated Press.
Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to two and a half years in prison Wednesday after pleading guilty to scheming to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
Jackson, the 48-year-old son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, had been a Democratic congressman from Illinois from 1995 until he resigned last November. In an emotional speech to the judge during which he got choked up and used tissues to blow his nose, he apologized and said he wanted to “take responsibility for my actions.”
“I misled the American people,” he said.
According to court papers in the case, Jackson used campaign money to buy items including a $43,350 gold-plated men’s Rolex watch.
Jackson’s wife, Sandra Jackson, also was to be sentencedWednesday for filing joint federal income tax returns that understated the couple’s income. She spent $5,150 in campaign funds on fur capes and parkas, court documents show.
Jesse Jackson Jr. had pleaded guilty to the criminal charges back in February. He admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy 3,100 personal items worth $582,772 from 2005 through April of last year — including $60,857 for personal expenditures at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $16,058 for personal expenditures at sports clubs and lounges; $5,814 for alcohol and $14,513 for dry cleaning.
Individual campaign credit card purchases included a $466 dinner for two of “a personal nature” at a restaurant; a washer, dryer, range and refrigerator for the Jacksons’ Chicago home; multiple flat-screen televisions, Blu-Ray DVD players and DVDs for their Washington, D.C., home; and a five-day health retreat for one of Mrs. Jackson’s relatives.
Jackson told another judge when he entered his plea that “for years I lived in my campaign.”
On Wednesday, Jackson asked that his family, in particular his son and daughter, not suffer because of his actions. He said he hoped his wife would get probation and that if that wasn’t available he would want to serve her sentence for her.
“Give me her time,” he said.
Jackson also asked to serve his time in Alabama, saying, “I wanted to make it a little inconvenient for everybody to get to me.”
Under federal sentencing guidelines, Jackson faced a potential sentencing range of 46 to 57 months in prison, and the government recommended the lower end of that — 48 months. Jackson’s lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, wrote that the former congressman’s mental health might worsen under the stress of incarceration. Jackson has been treated for depression and bipolar disorder.
Prosecutors sought an 18-month prison sentence for Sandra Jackson, who was a Chicago alderman before she resigned this year during the federal investigation. U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen has said the government could have come up with more serious charges against her than filing false joint federal income tax returns, but used discretion because the Jacksons have children.
Associated Press reporter Michael Tarm contributed to this report from Chicago.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The wife of former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been sentenced to one year in prison for filing false joint federal income tax returns that understated the income the couple received.
Sandra Jackson admitted in a guilty plea earlier this year that from mid-2006 through mid-October of last year, she failed to report $600,000 in income that she and her husband earned from 2005 to 2011.
Mrs. Jackson was a Chicago alderman before she resigned during a federal investigation of the couple.
She was sentenced Wednesday along with her husband. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to engaging in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items.
2013 The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON — A day after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) demanded that the Obama administration delay the Oct. 1 launch of the health insurance exchanges — a key component of Obamacare — the head of Kentucky’s exchange said that project is on target to begin on time.
In yet another gambit to hamper the president’s key health care reforms, McConnell wrote Monday to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to express concern that the exchanges, most of whose transactions will be online, could be vulnerable to “hackers and cyber criminals.” Recently, the Department of Health and Human Services inspector general had raised issues with the agency’s readiness: CMS had missed several deadlines to test the cyber security of the exchanges. But the missed deadlines would not impact the Oct. 1 launch, Reuters reported.
Carrie Banahan, executive director of Kynect, told The Huffington Post that Kentucky’s exchange in particular was proceeding on schedule. She said she hasn’t had time to even review McConnell’s letter. “I haven’t looked at his comments,” she said. “I have been working all day long on some other issues.”
The McConnell campaign did not return a request for comment about Kentucky’s exchange.
In an email to HuffPost, a spokesperson for CMS wrote that the agency, too, is on schedule for the exchanges to open Oct. 1. “CMS has extensive experience building and operating information technology systems that handle sensitive data,” the spokesperson wrote. “This experience comes from many years administering the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP programs.”
The Health and Human Services inspector general’s report looked at security testing through the end of May. According to CMS, the feds have since testified several times before Congress that they have made progress on the issue. Testing the exchange network started in October 2012, CMS reports, and major tests should be completed by the end of August.
Just how successfully Obamacare is implemented in McConnell’s home state could have an impact on his tough 2014 reelection fight, in which he faces both a serious Democratic foe in Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes and a primary tea party challenger in Matt Bevin. Kentucky is not only implementing its own exchange; it has agreed to the expansion of Medicare. As a result, Obamacare could end up providing insurance for more than 640,000 residents.
Banahan said she has received fairly positive feedback from residents when she has done outreach across the state. “Everybody has been very kind, very cordial when they come up and ask questions,” she said. “We haven’t had had any protesters or angry people come up.”
Thank you Huffington Post.
Eric Cantor says that “no one” is talking about shutting down the government. So Cruz, Rubio and Paul are no one?
From HuffPost Politics:
We’re about eight weeks from a potential government shutdown and either Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mike Lee (R-UT) are lying, or House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) is delusional.
“No one is advocating a government shutdown,” Cantor told the National Review’s Robert Costa on Friday.
Maybe he’s calling these three prominent senators “no one” or maybe he hasn’t been paying attention.
“Look, I’m not attacking anyone directly,” Rubio told radio host Mark Levin last week, during his “Forget That Whole Immigration Reform Thing, Man” tour. “All I’m saying is that you cannot say you are against Obamacare if you are willing to vote for a law that funds it. If you’re willing to fund this thing, you can’t possibly say you’re against it.”
Rubio outlined the Tea Party’s dream scenario: The House passes a bill funding the government and defunding Obamacare, which gets sent to the Senate, where it dies and thus — in Rubio’s magical thinking — the Senate gets blamed for the government shutdown.
The New York Times‘ Paul Krugman used a gem from Abraham Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech to clarify this kind of logic:
That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”
Among the other “no one”s talking about shutting down the government is new neocon darling, U.S. Senate candidate and champion of husbands’ rights Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), who basically reiterated Cruz, Rubio and Lee’s plan to use either a government shutdown or the debt limit to defund Obamacare. He then quickly added, “Barack Obama is the only one talking about a shutdown.”
Do Cotton along with Cruz, Lee, Paul and Rubio really think that the president would be blamed for a shutdown if House refused to refund Obamacare?
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein doesn’t seem to think so. To him, this campaign is more of a can’t lose insurgency for these “happy warriors” who are hoping to grow (or, in Rubio’s case, restore) their credibility with the Tea Party:
They get the credit with conservatives for being willing to shut down the government to defund Obamacare but it never actually happens, and so they never have to take the blame for the consequences.
Klein’s hopeful interpretation is based on what Republican congressmen have been saying in town halls. House members seem to be on board with Eric Cantor’s stand that shutting down the government is dumb for two reasons. Not only would it not stop Obamacare, it would also be a political disaster, complete with American troops losing their homes because they aren’t getting their paychecks.
“I’m just suggesting that when you get into a fight, politically, you gotta make sure you’re willing to kill the hostage you got,” Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) told a constituent at one meeting. “And I am not convinced yet that that’s a hostage we should take headed into this fight.”
Did you catch the key word there? “Yet”?
No discussion of a potential government shutdown is complete without a reminder that the House GOP is slightly more dysfunctional the the Lohan family, except when it comes to pretending to repeal Obamacare.
They couldn’t pass a farm bill that included any food stamps. And they couldn’t pass a Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill because the committee’s chairman called the cuts from the sequester “unrealistic and ill-conceived.”
Ironically, it’s the GOP’s general solidarity on the sequester that should prepare us for the likelihood of a government shutdown.
After Republicans were forced to vote for higher tax rates on income over $400,000 to fix the so-called “fiscal cliff,” they decided they needed a scalp and that scalp was sequestration. Their strategy was to blame the sequester on the president — as if he had held the debt limit hostage in 2011 to demand cuts from himself — and let the automatic budget cuts go through. This strategy worked, more or less, mostly because those cuts predominately afflict government workers and the poor.
But Cantor says the government will not shut down. And who listens to Eric Cantor?
In April, Cantor proposed the “Helping Sick Americans Now” bill, which would take money from the Obamacare marketplace to help some Americans with pre-existing conditions afford care. “It was a message vote whose purpose was ‘embarrassing Obamacare,’ as one conservative activist gloated, by forcing Obama to deny immediate aide for the uninsured,” New York Magazine‘s Jonathan Chait wrote in his must-read dissection of the Republican caucus “Anarchists of the House.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if House Republicans lack a majority in their caucus — the miniumum support needed to vote on a bill according to the “Hastert Rule” that Boehner says he will stick to — for even a resolution to keep the government funded past September 30 to continue negotiating, as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has called for.
Because as Rubio said, “…you cannot say you are against Obamacare if you are willing to vote for a law that funds it.”
This ridiculous standard is being sold as an article of faith to the most vocal, relentless, committed corners of the GOP base, a group that makes up less than a third of the electorate but about half of the party’s primary voters.
Cantor may think he’s the adult that can keep the government funded despite the antics of those who are ginning up the base. But the truth is those adults, the Republicans who have actually made tough deals, are leaving or have left Washington D.C.. To make matters worse, John Boehner (R-OH) almost lost his speakership in January and Mitch McConnell is facing the most serious re-election challenge(s) of his career.
All of this means that even though everyone paying attention knows there are majorities — or a “compromise caucus” — in both Houses that would likely vote to keep the government open, a shutdown can easily happen because the Republican base won’t let its leaders lead.
Unfortunately, I do think Cruz, Cotton, Lee, Paul and Rubio are sincere — they would risk even majorities in the Senate and the House to defund the president’s signature legislative accomplishment. Because opposing Obamacare before 26 million Americans get tax breaks to buy insurance and millions more get fully subsidized health insurance funded by tax increases on corporations and the rich isn’t just good politics with the GOP base, it has become an “ideological fixation” of the modern Republican Party.
And if we’re counting on Eric Cantor to save us, we’re as delusional as he is.
Thank you HuffPost Politics.
North Carolina: Keep Kay Hagan. She’s Fighting For You!!
By TAL KOPAN
North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan sent the attorney general a letter on Tuesday, asking the Justice Department to review her state’s newly signed voting bill, saying she is “deeply concerned” it could restrict citizens’ right to vote.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory on Monday signed the bill, which requires voters to show ID, restricts early voting and ends early registration for teenagers under the age of 18, among other changes.
Hagan, a Democrat, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder that the possibility the bill will impede voting for minorities, seniors, students and other groups is “unacceptable” and asked for his “immediate attention” to the matter.
“Protecting the fundamental right of our citizens to vote should be among the federal government’s highest priorities. In response to voting restrictions signed into law yesterday, I strongly encourage the Justice Department to immediately review North Carolina House Bill 589 and take all appropriate steps to protect federal civil rights and the fundamental right to vote,” Hagan wrote.
On Monday, the ACLU and other civil rights groups immediately announced they were filing lawsuits over the bill, claiming that it violates the Voting Rights Act.
Before June, North Carolina would have been required to get Justice Department approval on such a bill, but the Supreme Court’s decision on the Voting Rights Act eliminated the pre-clearance requirement for North Carolina and more than a dozen other states.
The Justice Department has already intervened in Texas, which was also formerly covered and has moved forward with voting changes, and asked a federal court to put the state back under the pre-clearance requirement.
A spokeswoman for DOJ said the department had received the letter and was reviewing it.
Thank you POLITICO.
THIS is so very ironic….coming from a business that makes it’s money from dressing women up in the skimpiest uniforms allowed by law, and named “HOOTERS.”…….Taking a stand against discrimination of women…..It’s almost comical.
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