READ IN: Tuesday, April 22, 2014: Biden announces Ukraine help, Boehner puts $300k on TV, McConnell challenger loses staff, Alaska legislature helps Begich

April 22, 2014

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A1: The stories you need to read before your first conference call.

-- Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the White House would dispatch $50 million in aid to help Ukraine undergo political and economic reform, including $11.4 million to "support the integrity" of elections scheduled for May 25. The U.S. has dispatched three banking advisors to Kiev, with more debt managers and macroeconomics experts coming this week. And a team of energy experts arrived in Kiev on Tuesday to help the government secure reverse flows of natural gas from its European neighbors -- a big deal, given that Russia claims Ukraine owes it billions for natural gas delivered over the last two months.

-- From the Washington Post's Scott Wilson, on Biden pool duty today in Kiev: "VPOTUS walked around table, shaking several lawmaker’s hand. When he got to Vitaliy Klychko, the 6’7’’ former heavyweight boxing champion, he looked up at him, smiled, shook his hand, and squeezed his right bicep through his suit jacket." Biden met with three presidential candidates running in the May 25 election. He told them he had run for president twice, and wished them more luck than he had.

-- Four pieces to help you get smart on Asia as President Obama departs for Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines today: Washington Post, New York Times, NPR, USA Today. (Buzzword Bingo: "Trans-Pacific Partnership," "regional tensions," "crises," and of course, "pivot")

-- The Justice Department expects to reassign dozens of lawyers to its pardons office to handle requests for clemency from inmates convicted of non-violent drug crimes, Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday. The administration will consider clemency requests from as many as thousands of non-violent offenders. Deputy Attorney General James Cole is expected to lay out details of DoJ's new criteria for considering clemency applications. (Yahoo News, Washington Post)

-- Thirty-eight Republican members of Congress have signed onto an amicus brief supporting Sen. Ron Johnson's (R-Wis.) lawsuit challenging ObamaCare regulations promulgated by the Office of Personnel Management, the Judicial Education Project will announce today. Ed O'Keefe explains why it matters: Johnson's lawsuit is one of the few formal attempts out there for critics to take action. Johnson has said he'll use campaign funds for the legal battle. But not every Republican is on board: Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has urged Johnson to drop the suit.

-- As many as half of the members who chair House committees could be forced to step down next year after reaching self-imposed term limits. Reps. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) are retiring after giving up their chairs. Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Sam Graves (R-Mo.) all have to give up their seats, too. Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) is likely to get a waiver to continue heading the Education Committee. (Roll Call)

-- President Obama has named Neil Eggleston as his next White House counsel, replacing outgoing top lawyer Kathryn Ruemmler. Eggleston, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, represented Rahm Emanuel during former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption trial and served in President Clinton's White House during the Lewinsky scandal. He clerked for Warren Burger and worked for the House committee investigating Iran-Contra in the 1980s. (Washington Post)

-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with DoJ's clemency push. NYT leads with a chaotic Crimea. WSJ and USA Today highlight Ford chief Alan Mulally, who's handed in his resignation. Everybody fronts the triumphant return of the Boston Marathon, but the Globe does it best: "Unstoppable."

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- Ohio: House Speaker John Boehner has spent nearly $300,000 on TV ads in the Dayton and Cincinnati markets, public records show. The ads, which have run since April 3 and will stay on the air at least through April 28, come after the Tea Party Leadership Fund spent $320,000 of its own money on mail, phone calls and billboards on behalf of challenger J.D. Winteregg. The primary is May 6. (Here's one of the ads) Reid's Take: Speakers getting ready to retire don't spend $300,000 on a re-election bid. Boehner has campaign events scheduled for later this week in advance of the May 6 primary.

-- Kentucky: Mitch McConnell challenger Matt Bevin's campaign has lost its top spokeswoman and two field operatives in the last few weeks. Communications director Rachel Semmel told a Kentucky radio station she had left. The campaign is running a new ad featuring Bevin's children, while a new McConnell spot focuses on President Obama, the coal industry and the Affordable Care Act. (Lexington Herald-Leader, WFPL Radio)

-- Alaska: An arcane provision in Alaska law could be a big boost to Sen. Mark Begich's (D) re-election bid this year. Because the legislature failed to adjourn on time this weekend, three voter initiatives that had been slated for the August primary ballot will instead get punted to November. The measures would legalize marijuana, increase the minimum wage and give approval to a mine in Bristol Bay; two of those initiatives can help boost Democratic turnout. Alaska voters will still weigh in on taxes levied on the oil industry in August. (Anchorage Daily News, Washington Post)

-- West Virginia: House Majority PAC released a poll late Monday that shows Rep. Nick Rahall (D) leading state Sen. Evan Jenkins (R) by a 52 percent to 40 percent margin. The Garin-Hart-Yang survey of 400 likely voters was conducted April 15-16; it also found President Obama's approval ratings at a believable 35 percent in Rahall's southern West Virginia district. (Charleston Gazette) Reid's Take: The Obama numbers make it believable, but Rahall is still vulnerable. The proof: House Majority PAC has already spent $437,000 on the race.

-- New Hampshire: House Speaker Terie Norelli (D) said Monday she will retire after 18 years representing Portsmouth. Democrats hold a narrow majority in the 400-seat state House. (New Hampshire Union-Leader)

-- Michigan: Candidates, get those papers in order. Today's the filing deadline for major party contenders.

DC Digest: What's on tap today in DC.

-- President Obama leaves the White House at 10 a.m. today, en route to Oso, Wash., site of a tragic mudslide last month that killed more than 30 people. Obama and Gov. Jay Inslee (D) will tour the area and speak at the Oso firehouse. Later, Obama departs Washington for Tokyo, Japan, the first stop on his Asia tour.

-- Vice President Biden has already met with acting Ukraine President Oleksandr Turchynov and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Kiev today. After a few more meetings with civil society leaders, Biden heads back to D.C.

-- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper last week quietly issued a new policy aimed at cracking down on media leaks. The policy, which covers employees at 17 intelligence agencies, prohibits intelligence officials from providing any "intelligence information" to the media, even unclassified information, without getting approval from their agency. (Wall Street Journal)

-- The Supreme Court on Monday said it would hear arguments in a case over whether Congress can require the State Department to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. At issue: A 2002 law that requires American children born in Jerusalem to be described as born in Israel on their passports. Both the Bush and Obama administrations say the law interferes with the executive branch's foreign affairs powers. (New York Times) Hill press secretaries preparing to be outraged on your boss's behalf, take note: The case is Zivotofsky v. Kerry.

TV Time Out: Our exclusive look at who's advertising, and where

-- Colorado: Sen. Mark Udall (D), who just a month ago looked like he might cruise to a second term, is jumping on the airwaves tomorrow. Udall's campaign on Monday bought a little over $400,000 in broadcast and cable airtime in the Colorado Springs and Denver markets for ads set to run between April 23 and May 6. Udall finished March with $5.9 million in the bank.

-- Arizona: Attorney Christine Jones (R) on Monday kicked off an ad blitz totaling $210,000 across the Phoenix and Tucson media markets. It's Jones's second foray onto the airwaves after she ran a week of ads back in March. She's trying to distinguish herself in the crowded field vying to replace Gov. Jan Brewer (R).

-- Michigan: Former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) has purchased $280,000 in broadcast and cable TV ads to begin running tomorrow. Land's fundraising has been impressive; she's pulled in $5.2 million, of which $1.7 million is her own money. Rep. Gary Peters (D), who's also seeking retiring Sen. Carl Levin's seat, is spending about $179,000 on ads this week, but he hasn't purchased flights for next week yet. (Washington Post)

-- Alaska: Sen. Mark Begich (D) is reserving last-minute advertising early. Begich's campaign has started booking ads that will run from October 14 through the general election, locking in low rates now before super PACs and outside groups drive up the price. He's booked about $145,000 in Anchorage; $4,000 in the super-cheap Juneau market; and $85,000 in Fairbanks so far over the last three weeks before Election Day, though those numbers will likely rise.

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- "The most likely outcome [in the battle for the House], according to Sides, is a five-seat gain for Republicans -- meaning that they would control somewhere in the neighborhood of 239 seats in the 114th Congress." The Monkey Cage blog pegs Democratic chances of retaking the House at just 1 percent. (Washington Post)

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- Looking for a Democratic senator during the second week of recess? Odds are they're in Silicon Valley. Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Mark Udall (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have fundraisers scheduled for this week. Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have events planned, either for themselves or the DSCC. (San Francisco Chronicle)

-- Stock futures are up slightly after markets added minor gains on Monday. Most international markets are trading higher this morning. (CNN)

C4: The comics page, fun things to read when you're bored at work

-- Iraq? Iran? Who knows the difference? Iowa Senate candidate Mark Jacobs got a little confused Monday during an interview with the Des Moines Register's editorial board. "With Iraq, it's clear to me we cannot let Iraq get a nuclear bomb," he said. First-time candidate oops. (Des Moines Register)

Attn Matt Drudge: Things conservatives will get outraged by today.

-- Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) told the Boston Herald this week that the worst impacts of the Affordable Care Act are yet to come. Repeal isn't possible, he says, but the still-to-come impacts are going to cost Democrats House seats. (National Review) History: Lynch voted against ObamaCare, lost a bid to replace John Kerry in the Senate and with it the chance to mount a campaign for the job he really wanted, when Boston Mayor Tom Menino announced his retirement.

-- Boy Scout Edition, Part I: A body that advises the California Supreme Court has proposed ending the Boy Scouts' exemption from anti-discrimination ethics rules, thus prohibiting state judges from being affiliated with the group. The Life Legal Defense Foundation, a conservative pro-life group, is up in arms over the proposal. (Daily Caller)

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- Boy Scout Edition, Part II: The Boy Scouts have shut down a troop in Rainier Beach, an economically depressed area of Seattle, after the troops stood by an openly gay scoutmaster. The Boy Scouts of America removed Scout Master Geoff McGrath, an Eagle Scout, in March, but Rev. Monica Corsaro has refused to remove him. (CNN)

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.
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