Review Category : Poltics

Mary Landrieu Draws Criticism for Re-Enacting Congressional Hearing in New Ad

US Senate(WASHINGTON) — A new campaign ad from Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is drawing criticism from some conservative groups for using re-enactments of statements that the senator made in an Energy Committee hearing last year.

But Landrieu’s campaign is defending the re-enactments as necessary to avoid breaking rules that forbid the use of footage shot by Senate cameras.

“It is against Senate ethics rules to use footage that was shot using Senate cameras in campaign ads,” Landrieu campaign manager Adam Sullivan told ABC News.

The $250,000 ad buy began hitting Louisiana airwaves Tuesday and casts Landrieu, now the chair of the Senate Energy Committee, as a defender of Louisiana’s oil and gas industry who has shown independence from President Obama.

“When we were cheated out of oil royalties,” a voiceover in the ad says, portraying Louisianans watching Landrieu on television, before cutting to a re-enacted clip of an actual statement (occurs at 2:32 in video) that Landrieu made in the Energy Committee last year.

“They have to sit here and listen to the federal government say, ‘We can’t share a penny with you,’” Landrieu says. “I will not rest until this injustice is fixed.”

“You think there are a bunch of fairy god mothers out there that just wave a magic wand?” Landrieu asks in another clip from the re-enacted Senate hearing.

Watch Landrieu’s ad:

The conservative opinion magazine The Weekly Standard first reported that “the video clip doesn’t come from C-SPAN or any other real TV,” and the Republican opposition research super-PAC, America Rising, posted a video that juxtaposes Landrieu’s re-enacted statement from the ad with the real statements from the hearing. The video used in America Rising’s clip was shot originally by Senate cameras, which according to a Senate Resolution 431, prohibits it from being used for campaign purposes.

But American Rising Executive Director Tim Miller said that doesn’t serve as justification for re-enacting the hearing.

“There is no rule that requires their campaign to manufacture a fake news show to cover a staged hearing,” Miller said. “The ad is misleading to voters who are made to think they are looking at real news footage. It is telling that Sen. Landrieu is so desperate for positive news to use in an ad that she needed to fabricate it.”

Watch America Rising’s video:

As she campaigns for a fourth term in the Senate, Landrieu is considered one of the Senate’s most vulnerable Democrats and has been weathering a storm of negative attack ads from conservative advocacy groups, such as the Koch Brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Partners. Landrieu, the only Democrat holding a statewide elected office in Louisiana, is facing off against Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy, as well as tea party candidate Rob Maness, in November’s election.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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New App Finds ‘Virtual’ Way to Fix Congress

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Every day it seems a new app hits the market seeking to solve the most benign problems facing the smartphone-wielding masses. But how about a much bigger problem — like fixing Congress, an institution with an approval rating hovering around 13 percent?

“If you want to be able to hold Congress accountable, then you have to know what it is doing,” said Ted Henderson, the creator of Capitol Bells. “Living with the 21st century technology we have, you should be able to do that without turning on the TV.”

Henderson, 29, started Capitol Bells almost a year ago in a fit of nostalgia. He had been a staffer for former Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich., who retired in January 2013. Henderson found himself out of work and out of the loop on what was going on just miles away from his apartment.

“Being on the Hill, knowing when votes are starting is the thing that kind of drives what’s happening,” Henderson said. “So it kind of became, if I feel this disconnected…no wonder everyone else feels so disconnected.”

Henderson had grown up programming and coded a system that monitors the radio signals that control Congress’ buzzer system to alert lawmakers and their staffers when votes are happening. Users of the app are alerted via push notifications, which Henderson says makes for a “virtual Congress,” that people can follow along with in real time.

The app quickly gained traction in Washington. Henderson said more than half of the House of Representatives currently uses it along with a handful of Senate members and hundreds of staffers.

“I think it’s the one app that’s gone viral in Congress before it went anywhere else,” Henderson said.

That’s when Henderson took his idea and turned it toward constituents.

Now anyone with an iPhone, Android, or the ability to open a web page can put themselves on the floor of the virtual Congress and vote alongside lawmakers on pieces of legislation.

It then creates a private voting record, allowing voters to weigh themselves against their elected representatives by actual votes instead of party affiliation.

Now Henderson is setting his sights on the midterms in November, in a move he says could shift the political landscape if users decide to put the app’s results into practice.

“My big goal for the midterms is to choose three or four battleground districts, from a nonpartisan stance, do some viral marketing and get some of the candidates from the race onto the platform and create their own virtual voting records if they aren’t the incumbent,” Henderson said.

Henderson said it wouldn’t be his mission to unseat a particular lawmaker.

“So much of what happens that leaves people feeling disconnected from Congress is that most of what happens isn’t in front of the public as much as it should be,” Henderson said. “Capitol Bells is a tool that would let representatives know that people are actually starting to keep tabs on them.”

In order to expand his operation to where he expects it will begin to have some national influence, Henderson estimates he’d need to raise $300,000 to $750,000.

Henderson sees the three-or-four state midterm push as a potential means to that end, but he said his hopes are to fund it without having to force users to wade through advertisements.

“To me what really would define whether this works or not is whether you can make it politically relevant in an actual race,” Henderson said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Rep. Ron Barber Finally Opens Up About Tucson Shooting

The Office of Congressman Ron Barber(WASHINGTON) — When shots rang out on April 2 at the Fort Hood military post in Texas, Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., couldn’t help but remember his own experience with gun violence.

“That takes me back to the day that the shooting occurred in Tucson back in January of 2011,” Barber told ABC News in a recent interview. “I know from talking to my family afterwards how shocking and just scary that first phone call was.”

Barber at the time was the district director to Rep. Gabby Giffords. He was shot twice when Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011. Loughner killed six and nearly took the life of Giffords, who he shot in the head. Barber was wounded in the cheek and leg.

Barber succeeded Giffords after the congresswoman resigned in 2012 and he is currently in a tough re-election fight with a formidable Republican challenger.

Although Barber has been working on gun violence legislation since taking office, he has not spoken out frequently about his personal experience with the shooting. During his two previous congressional bids — first for Giffords’ seat in 2012 and in a race for the re-districted 2nd Congressional District five months later, he spoke little of the shooting.

“I made a decision very early on that I wasn’t going to make it a centerpiece or even a piece of the election or campaign,” he said. “I really felt that I wanted to present myself to the community as someone who I thought would be able to do the job and that was competent and had experience and depth, some roots in the community that would be helpful to serve the community, as I’m now doing.”

The closest he came was in his last campaign ad for the 2nd district seat, which opened with a quote from Tucson Weekly stating: “After nearly losing his life…Ron Barber demonstrated his resilience.”

Recently, however, that’s changed. Barber has recounted his experience publicly, most recently in an Op-Ed in The Hill newspaper and at the White House ceremony honoring fellow Tucson shooting survivor Pam Simon for her efforts to reduce gun violence.

“Sandy Hook was the tipping point for me, and I think millions of Americans, when we saw what happened,” Barber said. “Twenty really beautiful young kids who were just massacred and…I couldn’t believe it.”

Barber said his work on gun violence prevention started in his hospital room after the Tucson shooting. By the time he arrived in Washington, Barber immediately got to work on a Mental Health First Aid bill to help raise public awareness about mental illness. The program, which provides mental health training services to teachers, students, police, firemen and other citizens, received $15 million in funding from a provision in an omnibus spending bill in January.

“I think it has a lot of potential across the country to help get out in front of these tragedies, [because] the truth of the matter is that because of stigma and because people aren’t really aware of what mental health symptoms look like, a lot of things get missed,” Barber said.

Accused Fort Hood shooter Ivan Lopez had a history of pyschological issues and was being evaluated for possible PTSD, which Lopez claimed he had.

In March, Barber took a congressional trip to visit troops in Afghanistan, and even as the war has drawn to an end, he said the experience allowed him to see first-hand the magnitude of stress the war has put on U.S. troops.

“Unfortunately we are seeing all too many people who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq coming back with very serious mental health issues such as PTSD, and we are not, I believe, prepared to help treat them or deliver the services they need,” Barber stated.

Barber said using the lessons learned about mental health and guns in Tucson, Sandy Hook and Fort Hood can help avert future situations.

“If we do early identification we do early diagnosis and treatment, many of these tragedies could be averted,” he said. “I believe that would be the case in the man that shot us, if he had gotten treatment I think we could have potentially avoided that terrible day.”

The congressman said the other part of preventing gun violence is finding a way to make sure those prohibited from buying guns go through a background check, and called on Congress to end the background check “loophole” that allows people to purchase firearms over the Internet and at gun shows without checks.

“People who want to buy a gun without having a background check can do so [at gun shows or online], and I think that’s an issue we need to resolve,” he said.

The Arizona congressman is facing one of the toughest reelection races this midterm election season against his former Republican opponent, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, whom he narrowly beat in 2012. Although McSally still has to win the August primary, she is the clear Republican front-runner, enjoying the support of big spending powers like Americans for Prosperity and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

McSally’s position on gun violence prevention mirrors Barber’s emphasis on mental health, but rejects his calls for background checks.

McSally’s deputy campaign manager, Kristen Douglas, said in a statement that McSally is “pro Second Amendment and believes our focus for preventing shootings should be on strengthening our mental health system and enforcing background check laws already on the books, not expanding those laws that will do little to prevent violence and infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens.”

“I’m a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I believe that people have a right to own a firearm,” Barber stated, stressing that his goal is preventing gun violence, not pushing all gun control initiatives.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Rep. Ron Barber Finally Opens Up About Tucson Shooting

The Office of Congressman Ron Barber(WASHINGTON) — When shots rang out on April 2 at the Fort Hood military post in Texas, Rep. Ron Barber, D-Ariz., couldn’t help but remember his own experience with gun violence.

“That takes me back to the day that the shooting occurred in Tucson back in January of 2011,” Barber told ABC News in a recent interview. “I know from talking to my family afterwards how shocking and just scary that first phone call was.”

Barber at the time was the district director to Rep. Gabby Giffords. He was shot twice when Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8, 2011. Loughner killed six and nearly took the life of Giffords, who he shot in the head. Barber was wounded in the cheek and leg.

Barber succeeded Giffords after the congresswoman resigned in 2012 and he is currently in a tough re-election fight with a formidable Republican challenger.

Although Barber has been working on gun violence legislation since taking office, he has not spoken out frequently about his personal experience with the shooting. During his two previous congressional bids — first for Giffords’ seat in 2012 and in a race for the re-districted 2nd Congressional District five months later, he spoke little of the shooting.

“I made a decision very early on that I wasn’t going to make it a centerpiece or even a piece of the election or campaign,” he said. “I really felt that I wanted to present myself to the community as someone who I thought would be able to do the job and that was competent and had experience and depth, some roots in the community that would be helpful to serve the community, as I’m now doing.”

The closest he came was in his last campaign ad for the 2nd district seat, which opened with a quote from Tucson Weekly stating: “After nearly losing his life…Ron Barber demonstrated his resilience.”

Recently, however, that’s changed. Barber has recounted his experience publicly, most recently in an Op-Ed in The Hill newspaper and at the White House ceremony honoring fellow Tucson shooting survivor Pam Simon for her efforts to reduce gun violence.

“Sandy Hook was the tipping point for me, and I think millions of Americans, when we saw what happened,” Barber said. “Twenty really beautiful young kids who were just massacred and…I couldn’t believe it.”

Barber said his work on gun violence prevention started in his hospital room after the Tucson shooting. By the time he arrived in Washington, Barber immediately got to work on a Mental Health First Aid bill to help raise public awareness about mental illness. The program, which provides mental health training services to teachers, students, police, firemen and other citizens, received $15 million in funding from a provision in an omnibus spending bill in January.

“I think it has a lot of potential across the country to help get out in front of these tragedies, [because] the truth of the matter is that because of stigma and because people aren’t really aware of what mental health symptoms look like, a lot of things get missed,” Barber said.

Accused Fort Hood shooter Ivan Lopez had a history of pyschological issues and was being evaluated for possible PTSD, which Lopez claimed he had.

In March, Barber took a congressional trip to visit troops in Afghanistan, and even as the war has drawn to an end, he said the experience allowed him to see first-hand the magnitude of stress the war has put on U.S. troops.

“Unfortunately we are seeing all too many people who have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq coming back with very serious mental health issues such as PTSD, and we are not, I believe, prepared to help treat them or deliver the services they need,” Barber stated.

Barber said using the lessons learned about mental health and guns in Tucson, Sandy Hook and Fort Hood can help avert future situations.

“If we do early identification we do early diagnosis and treatment, many of these tragedies could be averted,” he said. “I believe that would be the case in the man that shot us, if he had gotten treatment I think we could have potentially avoided that terrible day.”

The congressman said the other part of preventing gun violence is finding a way to make sure those prohibited from buying guns go through a background check, and called on Congress to end the background check “loophole” that allows people to purchase firearms over the Internet and at gun shows without checks.

“People who want to buy a gun without having a background check can do so [at gun shows or online], and I think that’s an issue we need to resolve,” he said.

The Arizona congressman is facing one of the toughest reelection races this midterm election season against his former Republican opponent, retired Air Force Col. Martha McSally, whom he narrowly beat in 2012. Although McSally still has to win the August primary, she is the clear Republican front-runner, enjoying the support of big spending powers like Americans for Prosperity and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

McSally’s position on gun violence prevention mirrors Barber’s emphasis on mental health, but rejects his calls for background checks.

McSally’s deputy campaign manager, Kristen Douglas, said in a statement that McSally is “pro Second Amendment and believes our focus for preventing shootings should be on strengthening our mental health system and enforcing background check laws already on the books, not expanding those laws that will do little to prevent violence and infringe on the rights of law abiding citizens.”

“I’m a very strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and I believe that people have a right to own a firearm,” Barber stated, stressing that his goal is preventing gun violence, not pushing all gun control initiatives.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Papers that Published Leaked NSA Files Awarded Pulitzer

Sunshinepress/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Pulitzer Prize committee on Monday gave The Washington Post and The Guardian its award for public service based on coverage of National Security Agency documents leaked to the papers by former government contractor Edward Snowden, who is wanted by the U.S. for espionage.

The Post and Guardian were given the Pulitzer for “authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.”

The documents Snowden leaked to the papers contained information of the NSA collecting phone records of millions of Americans as well as Internet data of people living abroad.

Due to the exposure of the NSA’s activities, President Obama last month proposed an end to the bulk collection and storage of phone data by the NSA. The president has asked Congress to stop the program and leave the records with phone companies but allow the government access to the “metadata” when needed.

Snowden has been granted temporary asylum in Russia to avoid extradition to the U.S. He has expressed doubts of ever returning, fearing that he would not be granted a fair trial.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Revised Estimates of Health Care Law Good News for White House

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — In estimates that bode well for the Obama administration, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported Monday that the Affordable Care Act will cover 25 million Americans over the next decade — an increase of one million from the initial projection.

Perhaps even better for the White House is that the CBO predicts the law will cost $104 billion less during that period than what the agency first predicted.

The reason for the revised forecast that works in favor of the law is because the CBO overestimated the cost of insurance premiums by 15 percent.

Since these costs are lower, the government will wind up paying out less in subsidies to assist lower-income people in affording medical coverage by about $300 per person.

With the deadline for finishing the first wave of enrollments due to end Tuesday, it’s possible that the number of people who signed up for the Affordable Care Act could reach eight million, about a million more than the Department of Health and Human Services was aiming for.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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POLL: Broad Public Approval for Feds on Boston Bombing Investigation

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Two-thirds of Americans approve of the federal government’s handling of its investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, and nearly six in 10 hold a favorable view more generally of the government’s efforts to try to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.

Those results in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll mark unusual majority-positive ratings for government actions — difficult scores to achieve in recent years, given anti-Washington sentiment generated, in large part, by the nation’s slow crawl to better economic health.

Notably, views on the federal response to the marathon bombing, a year ago Tuesday, cross partisan lines. Approval peaks at 74 percent of Democrats, but also includes 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of political independents. Similarly, 63 percent of conservatives and 68 percent of liberals approve, relatively rare agreement across ideological groups.

Thirty percent of Americans, moreover, “strongly” approve of the government’s handling of the marathon bombing investigation, almost twice as many as strongly disapprove in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Views are somewhat less positive — and political divisions are sharper — in terms of the things the government is doing more generally to try to prevent terrorism in this country. Controversy surrounds some such efforts, including surveillance activities by the National Security Agency, the long-running U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

Overall, 58 percent express a favorable opinion of federal anti-terrorism activities, ranging from 72 percent of Democrats to a sharply lower 49 percent of Republicans — a 23-point gap, compared with a partisan gap half that wide, 12 percentage points, in views of the Boston bombing investigation.

Similarly, 60 percent of liberals have a favorable view of the things the government is doing to try to prevent attacks, vs. 49 percent of conservatives — an 11-point gap, compared with a non-significant 5 points in their views of the handling of the marathon bombing investigation.

Notable, too, is that fact that positive views in both cases peak among moderates — 72 percent in this group have a favorable view of federal anti-terrorism efforts in general, and 74 percent approve of the government’s investigation of the attack in Boston.

These ratings are far less overtly partisan than views of Barack Obama’s handling of the threat of terrorism, as opposed to the federal government’s. In an ABC/Post poll in January, 50 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of terrorism, with a vast 52-point partisan gap.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Broad Public Approval for Feds on Boston Bombing Investigation

Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Two-thirds of Americans approve of the federal government’s handling of its investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, and nearly six in 10 hold a favorable view more generally of the government’s efforts to try to prevent terrorist attacks in the United States.

Those results in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll mark unusual majority-positive ratings for government actions — difficult scores to achieve in recent years, given anti-Washington sentiment generated, in large part, by the nation’s slow crawl to better economic health.

Notably, views on the federal response to the marathon bombing, a year ago Tuesday, cross partisan lines. Approval peaks at 74 percent of Democrats, but also includes 62 percent of Republicans and 65 percent of political independents. Similarly, 63 percent of conservatives and 68 percent of liberals approve, relatively rare agreement across ideological groups.

Thirty percent of Americans, moreover, “strongly” approve of the government’s handling of the marathon bombing investigation, almost twice as many as strongly disapprove in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates.

Views are somewhat less positive — and political divisions are sharper — in terms of the things the government is doing more generally to try to prevent terrorism in this country. Controversy surrounds some such efforts, including surveillance activities by the National Security Agency, the long-running U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and drone strikes on suspected terrorists.

Overall, 58 percent express a favorable opinion of federal anti-terrorism activities, ranging from 72 percent of Democrats to a sharply lower 49 percent of Republicans — a 23-point gap, compared with a partisan gap half that wide, 12 percentage points, in views of the Boston bombing investigation.

Similarly, 60 percent of liberals have a favorable view of the things the government is doing to try to prevent attacks, vs. 49 percent of conservatives — an 11-point gap, compared with a non-significant 5 points in their views of the handling of the marathon bombing investigation.

Notable, too, is that fact that positive views in both cases peak among moderates — 72 percent in this group have a favorable view of federal anti-terrorism efforts in general, and 74 percent approve of the government’s investigation of the attack in Boston.

These ratings are far less overtly partisan than views of Barack Obama’s handling of the threat of terrorism, as opposed to the federal government’s. In an ABC/Post poll in January, 50 percent of Americans approved of Obama’s handling of terrorism, with a vast 52-point partisan gap.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Boehner’s GOP Challenger Charges ‘Electile Dysfunction’ in Video

Ryan Struyk/ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A new parody video out this week from one of John Boehner’s Republican primary opponents is accusing the House speaker of “electile dysfunction.”

In a not-so-subtle spin of Boehner’s last name, Tea Party candidate J.D. Winteregg recruited a team of actors to stage a Cialis-style commercial that takes jabs at everything from Boehner’s smoking habits to his skin color.

“Sometimes when a politician has been in DC too long, it goes to his head,” the narrator says in the video. “If you have a Boehner lasting longer than 23 years, seek immediate medical attention.”

If the spot from Winteregg, an Ohio high school French teacher who launched a campaign against Boehner last October, seems purposefully suggestive — it is.

A statement from Winteregg’s campaign says the “provocative” new video “comes as Boehner himself is now advertising in the district — a sign that the once comfy Congressman is worried about his re-election. It is the first time Boehner has advertised in four years.”

Winteregg’s campaign didn’t say whether it was spending money to air the ad on television.

While history is certainly stacked against Winteregg — a sitting speaker has never been defeated in a primary election — he received a boost in February after winning the endorsement of the Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC.

Winteregg’s video latches on to some of the criticisms of Boehner expressed by Tea Party critics in recent months. It accuses Boehner of being able to “maintain a spine in the face of liberal opposition” while showing clips of the speaker golfing with President Barack Obama and giving a thumbs-up during the president’s State of the Union address in January.

Boehner’s campaign didn’t immediately comment on the ad.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Boehner Visits with US Soldiers, Officials in Afghanistan

Official Photo by Michael Steel(WASHINGTON) — While the U.S. struggles to complete a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan, House Speaker John Boehner has concluded his first trip there as speaker of the House.

Boehner and several other senior GOP members of the U.S. House of Representatives met with American troops, as well as Ambassador James B. Cunningham and General Joseph F. Dunford

“The delegation sent a strong, unequivocal message that the House of Representatives wants to maintain a right-sized presence in Afghanistan to successfully complete the work that has been done to date, and to honor the sacrifice of thousands of troops and civilians, as well as their families,” a statement from Boehner’s office reads.

Boehner previously visited Afghanistan prior to the Republicans’ capturing the House majority.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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