READ IN: Friday, May 9, 2014: Dems debate Benghazi, why Gowdy got the call, Landrieu in BIG trouble, companies blame ObamaCare on earnings calls, and Bill Clinton on knifing a guy in an alley

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

-- President Obama will announce a series of executive actions aimed at creating green jobs and combating carbon production during a stop today at a WalMart near Stanford's campus, including making federal buildings more efficient. The White House said the actions would save $26 billion on energy bills. (CNN, New York Times)

-- The CIA plans to close its network of secret bases in Afghanistan and pull personnel back to Kabul this summer, causing concerns among Pentagon planners who worry the pull-back will deprive them of vital intelligence. CIA Director John Brennan told military commanders of plans to shut down operations in March, made necessary by U.S. troop withdrawals. (Los Angeles Times)

-- House Democrats are considering naming just one member to the Benghazi committee, a symbolic protest that would still give them access to information obtained by Republican investigators. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) pitched the idea in a letter Thursday to fellow Democrats. Democrats meet this morning to discuss their options. House Speaker John Boehner is likely to name the six other Republicans who will sit on the committee today. (Roll Call) Boehner joked at a Conference meeting the other day that 200 members had asked for one of those six seats.

-- Inside Baseball: Why did Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) get the nod to head the Select Committee on Benghazi? In part because the other candidate House leadership considered, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), is a leading contender to replace Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) atop the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Leadership didn't want to appear to be anointing an Issa successor, several aides with knowledge of the decision told us.

-- The House Veterans Affairs Committee on Thursday voted to subpoena VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and top department officials after allegations that VA hospital administrators used secret waiting lists to cover up delays for doctor's appointments. The committee wants emails and correspondence related to a medical center in Phoenix, which is at the heart of the probe.The American Legion has called on Shinseki to resign, though other veterans groups like the VFW have not. (New York Times)

-- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday traveled to Crimea, his first trip to the Black Sea region since Russia annexed it in March. The visit comes a day after a military parade in Moscow included a unit flying the Crimean flag. Putin will watch a navy parade during his visit. (Associated Press)

-- With friends like these: Conservative outside groups have spent $3 attacking Republican candidates for every $1 attacking Democrats, according to data compiled by the Center for Public Integrity. Right-leaning super PACs and 501(c) groups have spent about $10 million since Jan. 1 advocating the defeat of other Republicans, while left-leaning groups have spent almost nothing attacking other Democrats. (Center for Public Integrity)

-- Speaking of conservative groups, Americans for Prosperity plans to spend $125 million on the midterm elections, according to a memo distributed to major donors. The group has spent more than $35 million on TV ads hitting Democrats so far; one source said the $125 million figure was a conservative estimate. (Politico)

-- A group of 13 RNC members will choose timing, location and media partners for the 2015-2016 Republican primary debates under a proposal the party passed on Thursday that also imposed sanctions on candidates who participate in unsanctioned debates. The RNC members will get to choose their moderators; chairman Reince Priebus in recent weeks has sat down with top officials at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News to hear their thoughts, too. (Politico)

-- Front Pages: WaPo leads with a preview of the weekend's planned referendum in eastern Ukraine. NYT examines Mayor Bill de Blasio's budget. WSJ looks at a breakdown in merger talks between two ad makers. USA Today leads with companies blaming ObamaCare (see below). Houston Chronicle: "No. 1 indeed: Texans make Clowney the top selection." Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Here's Johnny!"

National Roundup: What's happening outside the Beltway.

-- WH'16: Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) is winning the I'm-Not-Running-Yes-I-Am primary. He swears he's focused on governing, but he's reaching out to Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer, staking a claim opposing Common Core and traveling to Michigan, New York and Alabama in the next few weeks. "In the last few months, people have reached out," Pence said in an interview. "I'm listening." (Washington Post) As we told you a few weeks ago, Pence's long-time chief of staff just left his official office to go run Pence's political shop.

-- Louisiana: Sen. Mary Landrieu's disapproval rating has risen from 28 percent to 58 percent in the last 18 months, according to a new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll. The April 28-30 survey of 600 likely voters found Landrieu leading the field with 36 percent of the vote, with Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) nipping at her heels at 35 percent. Landrieu is winning 79 percent of the African American vote but just 20 percent of the white vote. Most damning: Even after voters hear Landrieu has been named chair of the Senate Energy Committee, 59 percent say it was more important to elect someone new than to keep Landrieu in office. (Bayou Buzz)

-- Pennsylvania: Gov. Tom Corbett (R) on Thursday said he would not ask the state Supreme Court to reverse a lower court ruling that overturned the state's voter ID law, after that ruling made clear there was no easy administrative fix to the law. Legislators said there was little appetite to reopen a contentious debate; the voter ID law was passed in party-line votes in 2012. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

-- Connecticut: Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is tied with businessman Tom Foley (R) in a rematch of the 2010 race Malloy barely won, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Malloy and Foley each score 43 percent of the vote. Forty-six percent view Malloy favorably, while 45 percent see him unfavorably. President Obama's job approval stands at 48 percent, in a state he won by 17 points. (Quinnipiac)

-- North Carolina: Bonus points for creativity in this ad from Senate Majority PAC, which features a narrator who apparently snuck into state House Speaker Thom Tillis's Senate primary victory party earlier this week. We told you yesterday the PAC is spending more than $650,000 against Tillis just after his primary. This is, well, a unique way to do it.

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

-- President Obama visits a WalMart in Mountain View, Calif., to roll out new executive actions on energy. He heads back to D.C. at 10:45 a.m. Pacific time and lands at Andrews around 6:20 p.m. Vice President Biden is in Columbia, S.C., where he will hit a fundraiser for the state Democratic Party and deliver the commencement address at the University of South Carolina.

-- The House meets at 9 a.m. to debate an education bill and a jobs bill, with last votes expected around 1:30 p.m. The Senate has gone home for the weekend; they'll be back Monday at 2 p.m.

-- Candidates quietly vying to head the DCCC in 2016 include Reps. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Donna Edwards (D-Md.). Longer shots include Reps. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) and Tim Walz (D-Minn.). Current chair Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) doens't want to do it again, but some Democrats think he could be talked into it. (Roll Call)

-- The Prince George's County Planning Board on Thursday approved a plan by MGM to build a luxury casino at National Harbor. The unanimous vote sets up a July 2016 opening for the $925 million project. (Washington Post)

-- The White House was locked down for an hour and a half on Thursday after two men threw objects over different fences at about the same time, the second lock-down in three days. One man threw a cassette tape over the wall; another threw a bunch of papers. (Washington Post)

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

-- Kentucky: The pro-Mitch McConnell group Kentuckians for Strong Leadership is making one final series of ad buys in advance of the May 20 primary. The group will run $250,000 in broadcast ads in five Kentucky markets beginning Friday. Matt Bevin, McConnell's Republican challenger, hasn't been on broadcast since April 27.

-- Alaska: Democratic super PAC Put Alaska First has upped its ad buy to just over $300,000 over the first three weeks of May. The group is running two ads, one touting Sen. Mark Begich's (D) vote for the Affordable Care Act and one bashing former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (R) for his connection to the Koch brothers.

-- South Carolina: Pastor Det Bowers (R) is up with his first ad, a positive spot introducing himself to voters as he runs against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R). Bowers is spending about $17,000 to run the ad on Fox News Channel.

-- California: Former Congressional aide Amanda Renteria (D), challenging Rep. David Valadao (R) in CA-21, has bought $38,000 in broadcast and cable TV ads that started running this week. Early? Maybe, but consider the Chamber of Commerce just dumped almost $200,000 onto Fresno and Bakersfield TV on Valadao's behalf.

The Buried Lede: The nuggets that deserve the spotlight.

-- Government-wide budget cuts last year caused just one layoff in the federal workforce, but they forced more than 770,000 employees to stay home without pay, according to a new GAO report. The report found most agencies minimized impacts of the sequester by shifting funds and pulling back on hiring. (Washington Post) Who's going to be the first to find the poor guy who got laid off?

B1: Business, politics and the business of politics

-- Thirty members of the S&P 500 have mentioned the Affordable Care Act during conference calls reporting quarterly earnings, including UPS, GE and Dollar General. Most companies that bring up the law are saying it is either hurting demand or costing their bottom lines, and some directly blame the law for increasing health care costs. (USA Today)

-- Market futures are down in early morning trading. Asian markets traded mostly higher while European markets are trading lower today. (CNN)

C1: The long reads you'll need to check out before tonight's cocktail party.

-- In his new book, due out May 12, former Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner reveals some members of the Obama administration talked openly about nationalizing banks like Citigroup. On his way to meet President-elect Obama in Chicago to interview for the Treasury job, Geithner bumped into Larry Summers at O'Hare, which he calls an awkward moment. Geithner says he tried to resign several times, but Obama refused to let him. Instead, he spent six to nine months with then-Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, getting a crash course in politics.

-- Geithner sought Bill Clinton's advice on how to pursue a more populist strategy. "You could take Lloyd Blankfein into a dark alley," Clinton said, "and slit his throat, and it would satisfy them for about two days. Then the blood lust would rise again." Geithner's Secret Service code name: Fencing Master. (New York Times)

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

-- When Steve Wynn announced he would build a half-billion dollar mega resort that would come to be known as the Mirage, he had already signed Siegfried and Roy to a five-year, $57 million deal to provide entertainment. Read more about the fascinating story of the resort that launched the modern Las Vegas strip at VegasSeven.

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

-- A pair of brothers who say their HGTV show was cancelled after they expressed their Christian faith said in a statement Thursday that if their faith cost them a show, "then so be it." (Deadline Hollywood) Congratulations, Fox News, you just got your very own house-flipping show!

Attn HuffPo: What outrages liberals today

-- "Politics is not for 'Pansies'!" So says a fundraising email from Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.) that gay rights groups called insensitive. Schweikert said the email, an invite to a garden party, referred to the flower, not the anti-gay slur. "Pansy is a flower," Schweikert said. "If you tie it in to a garden party and something to do with plants, at that point, the reference is a little hard" to take as offensive. (Arizona Republic)

Reid Wilson covers state politics and policy for the Washington Post's GovBeat blog. He's a former editor in chief of The Hotline, the premier tip sheet on campaigns and elections, and he's a complete political junkie.
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