THE BIG IDEA:
— Marco Rubio is playing to win The Sheldon Adelson Primary. The Florida senator, who has relentlessly sought the billionaire casino mogul’s backing for 2016, co-sponsored a bill yesterday afternoon to ban online gaming. It is not only Adelson’s top legislative priority, it could significantly boost his company’s bottom line. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another presidential hopeful who has assiduously courted Adelson over their shared hawkishness on foreign policy, is the lead Republican author on the legislation for a second year in a row.
An intense courtship: This is just the latest in an aggressive string of moves by Rubio to win over one of the GOP’s biggest donors. The two men dined together at Charlie Palmer steak house, adjacent to the Capitol, in March. That was one of at least half a dozen private meetings, which we know about, since the Florida senator took office. Politico reported in April that Rubio calls Adelson every fortnight to provide detailed updated about the campaign. Meanwhile, the newspaper Adelson owns in Israel has trumpeted Rubio on its front page so much so that Israelis joke about it.
Electability matters to Adelson: After spending at least $92 million on the 2012 elections, a good chunk of it for Newt Gingrich, GOP insiders say that Adelson wants to get behind someone who can actually win. That was reportedly a factor in his souring on Ted Cruz. He likes Graham (hosting a fundraiser for him earlier this year and donating to his reelection campaign last year), but he’s seemingly more attracted to Rubio’s story as the son of Cuban immigrants. He’s reportedly told friends that Rubio is the future of the Republican Party. Adelson has telegraphed that he will hold off until at least September to get behind anyone, and he could also invest in multiple contenders. This posture will encourage others to keep kissing his ring.
Marco again risks upsetting conservatives, but Adelson’s money would more than make up for any blowback: Rubio’s move puts him at odds with movement conservatives (i.e. federalists) who believe that, under the Constitution, states should have the right to decide for themselves whether to legalize online gaming, and that the federal government should not be in the business of boosting one business interest (brick-and-mortar casinos) over another, more innovative one. (This would be akin to Rubio siding with the traditional taxi industry against Uber, the opposite of the approach he’s taken.) The senator, for his part, has previously said online gaming hurts people already struggling economically, messaging that sounds like it is meant to resonate with social conservatives.
— First in The Daily 202 (via Tom Hamburger): House Republicans quietly tucked language into an appropriations bill to protect dark money. The House Appropriations Committee approved a spending bill last week that included little-noticed provisions to hobble executive branch efforts that would mandate more campaign finance disclosures by federal contractors. The restrictions are in a 157-page financial services funding bill. The spending bill would also prohibit the IRS from moving ahead with a rule defining political activity for nonprofits and prohibit the SEC from creating a rule requiring public companies to disclose their political spending.
It is not clear when or if there will be a floor vote on the spending measure but campaign finance reform advocates said they hope an executive order will be in place before the legislation is considered by the full House and Senate, which like other appropriations bills, may not occur until late this year. White House spokesman Eric Schultz declined Wednesday evening to discuss plans for future executive orders, but he criticized the House committee action while confirming ongoing White House concern over “dark money” contributions to politically active non-profit organizations.
Appropriations bills have carried language protecting contractors against executive branch disclosure requirements since 2011, when a draft of an Obama executive order on the topic leaked publicly. The Brennan Center at NYU tallies hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions collected by committee members from firms doing business with the federal government. Read more trenchant analysis from Tom Hamburger here.
Speaking of government contractors: “The recipient of a sole-source contract to help secure the computer network of the Office of Personnel Management was accused by a government watchdog this year of possibly misusing $135 million of taxpayer money after videos appeared to show its employees high on drugs and alcohol while working on a U.S. Army contract in Afghanistan,” Christian Davenport and Lisa Rein report.
— Momentum keeps building against symbols of the the Confederacy:
- Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, reversed course and announced that his state’s flag should be redesigned to eliminate the Confederate emblem. His fellow Republican senator, Thad Cochran, followed suit a few hours later.
- The National Park Service moved to stop its sale in federal parks.
- Warner Brothers will stop selling toy cars featuring the “General Lee” automobile from Dukes of Hazzard because it has the flag on its roof.
- Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) ordered the battle flag flying on the grounds of his state capitol taken down.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is working to stop the issuing of vehicle tags with the Confederate battle flag.
- Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal flipped in a matter of hours on Confederate license plates. After telling the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he would not support any changes in the morning, he announced that he wants a redesign of a state-sponsored plate featuring the Confederate flag emblem.
- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who was late to the party on this, claimed in Madison yesterday that he avoided weighing in because South Caroline Gov. Nikki Haley “asked him to hold off speaking about it.” [Jeb Bush did not wait.]
- Harry Reid called on the University of Nevada’s Board of Regents to consider changing the Las Vegas school’s mascot and team name from the “Running Rebels” to something else.
- Strom Thurmond’s son, a South Carolina state senator, made an impassioned call to remove the Confederate flag from the state capital grounds in Columbia during a eulogy for Charleston victim Clementa Pinckney.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING:
— Hopes were dashed for a quick Greek bailout deal. “Hopes that Greece was on the verge of an agreement to release €7.2bn in desperately-needed bailout funding were dashed on Wednesday night after Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, failed to reach a deal after hours of talks with creditors in Brussels,” the Financial Times reports. “The marathon session between Mr Tsipras and the heads of his country’s three bailout monitors — the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — produced ‘not much progress,’ according to a senior eurozone official.”
— A new Fox News poll puts Jeb Bush in first place with 15 percent among Republican primary voters nationally. Donald Trump is second at 11 percent, followed by Scott Walker and Rand Paul (9%), Rubio (8%), Mike Huckabee (6%), Ted Cruz (4%), Carly Fiorina and Rick Santorum (3%), and Bobby Jindal (2%).
— “Republicans in the Ohio Senate pushed through legislation that would ban abortions in Ohio after 20 weeks of pregnancy,” per the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “The legislation … would make it a crime — a fourth degree felony — for a physician to perform an abortion if the unborn child is more than 20 weeks from fertilization.” Meanwhile, a District court judge will hear a challenge today to a strict new anti-abortion law in Kansas.
— The artist who created the iconic “Hope” poster of Barack Obama in 2008, Shepard Fairey, now faces felony arrest warrants in Detroit after he allegedly tagged buildings while he was in the city working on a mural. “He faces two counts of malicious destruction of property, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail, plus fines that could exceed $10,000,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
— An F-16 crashed during nighttime training in the Arizona desert, causing a large fire that’s still being contained this morning. The pilot’s condition is unknown, per Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star.
GET SMART FAST:
- It’s another decision day at the Supreme Court. We’re awaiting landmark decisions on gay marriage, Obamacare subsidies and redistricting.
- NBC and the Wall Street Journal found in their most recent poll that 57 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to rule that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Thirty-seven percent oppose such ruling. While 62 percent of independents favor SCOTUS legalizing gay marriage, only 33 percent of Republicans do, according to numbers that came off embargo at midnight.
- Hillary Clinton “has raised at least $17 million, based on the number of people her campaign says have attended 49 fundraising events,” since announcing in mid-April, according to an AP calculation. “Unlike in 2008, Clinton is collecting money only for the primary contest, an amount capped at $2,700 per individual.”
- Hillary will skip the Netroots Nation conference next month. Many progressives who show up are not on her team, and she risked an icy reception.
- Obama won a huge legislative victory on trade yesterday, as the Senate gave final approval to fast-track authority and key House Democrats signaled that they would concede defeat and support the trade-adjustment assistance legislation — which they had blocked two weeks ago.
- The Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee voted down an amendment yesterday that would have allowed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to again study the underlying causes of gun violence. The CDC has been restricted from doing so since 1996 because of the National Rifle Association.
POWER PLAYERS IN THE NEWS:
- Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) may be stripped of his position as president of the House Republican freshman class later this morning because he voted against the trade bill. He told the Denver Post that it is “retribution” from leadership. He’s now trying to use it to raise money and his profile.
- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is expected to announce later this morning whether he will go forward with plans to build the Purple Line, a 16-mile rail line that would connect two Washington suburbs.
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), campaigning in Des Moines yesterday, called for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and said deporting those who entered the country illegally is “inhumane,” according to Iowa Public Radio.
- Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), whose Northern Virginia district includes many federal workers, strongly defended the embattled OPM director during a House hearing in which members from both parties attacked her. He said the Chinese are to blame, and she’s being made a “scapegoat” unfairly.
— “Mark Meadows’ House of Cards Moment,” by Elise Viebeck: After being booted from a subcommittee chairmanship for flouting the House GOP leadership one time too many, “Meadows, perplexed at being the symbol of the controversy, has shot to prominence in the last week. He’s receiving text messages from presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), hosting a rally in North Carolina with Ben Carson on Tuesday and will have completed about 15 live media hits by the end of the week. For an obscure House sophomore known primarily to viewers of Greta Van Susteren’s “On the Record” (he’s a semi-regular guest), it’s a swift rise.”
— “Supreme Court ruling could push health industry agenda to the back burner, again,” by Catherine Ho: “Industry advocates are concerned that no matter how the court rules on the legality of certain insurance subsidies provided under the law, the health care debate in Congress will once again become dominated by the political divisions over the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ‘It has the potential for serious chaos and disruption,” said health care lobbyist Ilisa Halpern Paul, who represents hospital systems and health advocacy groups.'”
BOBBY JINDAL’S FIRST 100 DAYS — He would not appoint “celebrity” cabinet secretaries who might go “native.” George W. Bush appointed him assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services in 2001, so the Louisiana governor knows what it’s like to work inside the federal bureaucracy. Ahead of his formal announcement last night, the Republican told The Daily 202 that his experience at the agency, in his early 30s, would influence his approach to governing if he winds up in the White House.
In a wide-ranging interview, focused on how he would spend his hypothetical first 100 days as president, he complained that past Republican presidents have not done enough to actually reduce the size of government – only to limit the size of its growth. Part of the problem in Jindal’s view is who gets put in the cabinet. “Too many of them go native and come back to OMB and start advocating for their power and for more funding,” he complained. “When I was at McKinsey, when a CEO buys an $800 hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Even Republican administrations are guilty of this. There’s a temptation to expand and use those powers …We need every member of the administration to be willing to rock the boat and to be unpopular on the D.C. cocktail circuit.”
Jindal took a shot at Jeb Bush by name in his announcement yesterday: He concluded a kickoff speech outside New Orleans by seizing on the former Florida governor’s comment last year that to win the general election, you’ve got to be willing to lose the primary. “Republicans must stop being afraid to lose,” he said. “If we try to hide who we are again, we will lose again.”
SOCIAL MEDIA SPEED READ:
— ZIGNAL VISUAL: Jindal dominated the 2016 conversation among Republicans yesterday.
In the 24 hour period between midnight and midnight yesterday, 316,000 people on Facebook in the U.S. generated 542,000 interactions (likes, posts, comments, shares) related to Jindal and his announcement. Compare that to 493,000 and 849,000 for Jeb Bush last week. Top states chattering about Jindal (by engagement): Louisiana, Mississippi, the District, Arkansas and Texas.
–WHAT EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT:
Picture of the day:
Lawmakers beat reporters 1-0 at the Congressional Women’s Softball game:
Tweets of the day:
Fox News hosts Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren aired dueling interviews with presidential hopefuls:
Meanwhile, Donald Trump is seriously trolling Neil Young after he said Trump wasn’t authorized to use “Rockin’ In The Free World” at his campaign launch:
Instagrams of the day:
Gov. Jindal, is that a new haircut?
Rick Santorum posted a new photo of puppy Darcy:
GOOD READS FROM ELSEWHERE:
— Miami Herald, “Archbishop: Pope Francis’ words nudge Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush on climate change,” by Patricia Mazzei: “Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski believes Pope Francis’ recent document on global warming is already changing the climate of the conversation in the presidential race, particularly among two friends [and] members of his flock. Wenski said comments on climate change by Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, Republicans and devout Roman Catholics from Miami, have been noticeably milder in tone since Francis weighed in.”
— New York Times, “Bernie Sanders Lags Hillary Clinton in Introducing Himself to Black Voters,” by Patrick Healy and Jonathan Martin: “Even his own campaign advisers acknowledge that Mr. Sanders is virtually unknown to many African-Americans, an enormously important Democratic constituency. Though he led sit-ins as a civil rights activist in the 1960s, helped the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr. pull off a surprising campaign victory in Vermont in 1988, and espouses liberal policy ideas broadly popular with many Democrats, Mr. Sanders has had little direct experience with black voters as a politician in a state that is 95 percent white. And they have been largely absent from his campaign events so far. Mr. Sanders, 73, had planned to start introducing himself to larger numbers of African-Americans last Sunday at a large gathering in Charleston, but he quickly postponed the event after the church killings.”
Smart point: “David Axelrod, formerly Mr. Obama’s chief strategist, noted that insurgent Democrats like Gary Hart and Mr. Dean who were able to win over many white voters fell short because they could not attract blacks.”
— USA Today, Loretta Lynch visited the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, by Kevin Johnson: “Since the Charleston attack, U.S. officials have fielded repeated questions about whether the mass shooting should be regarded as an act of terrorism, rather than a hate crime. Justice officials have said they would explore domestic terror-related charges during the course of the federal inquiry. But Lynch suggested Wednesday that there were few differences in the definitions involving the crimes committed in Charleston. ‘Make no mistake,’ she said. ‘Hate crimes are the original domestic terrorism.’”
— Huffington Post, “Obama May Have to Lean on Democratic Governors To Resell His Health Care Law,” by Jeffrey Young: “Officials in states that created their own health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act — thereby shielding their residents from the possible consequences of the lawsuit currently pending before the high court — are standing by to help their counterparts in other states get marketplaces up and running that would allow subsidies in those states to flow again.”
BUZZING AT THE CAPITOL:
— CNN, “IRS watchdog: As many as 24K Lerner emails lost,” by Chris Frates: “The IRS watchdog investigating the disappearance of Lois Lerner’s emails has concluded that there could be as many as 24,000 missing emails … Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Russell George and his deputy, Timothy Camus, will tell the House Oversight Committee on Thursday that their investigation was able to recover more than 1,000 emails the IRS did not turn over to Congress, according to the written testimony.”
— National Journal, “Cornyn’s new role: the ‘bridge’ on tricky bills,” by Alex Rogers: “Almost seven months into his role as Senate majority whip, Cornyn talks quite a bit about breaking cycles, whether in prisons or the nature of crises in the Senate. His official role is to keep the Republicans in line and on-message, but he also has been an influential figure—the “bridge,” as one Democrat puts it—on bipartisan pieces of legislation, particularly on two in the Judiciary Committee that bedeviled the last Congress.”
HOT ON THE LEFT
Coulter says Nikki Haley is an ‘immigrant’ who doesn’t get American history. From Talking Points Memo: “Ann Coulter claimed on Tuesday that South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has a poor grasp on American history as ‘an immigrant,’ even though Haley was born in the United States … Haley was born in Bamberg, S.C., but her parents are Indian immigrants, according to the governor’s biography.”
HOT ON THE RIGHT
Did Jim Webb defend the Confederate flag? From the Washington Post: “‘Honorable Americans fought on both sides in the Civil War, including slave holders in the Union Army,’ and ‘many non-slave holders fought for the South,’ [Webb] wrote [on Facebook]. ‘This is a time for us to come together, and to recognize once more that our complex multicultural society is founded on the principle of mutual respect.’”
–On the Hill: The House is expected to wrap up work on a trade bill. The Senate will consideration of an education bill and vote on confirmation of a federal circuit judge. The Senate Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on federal cybersecurity and the OPM data breach. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on nuclear negotiations with Iran.
–At the White House: President Obama has no public events scheduled. Press Secretary Josh Earnest will brief the media at 12:30.
–On the campaign trail: Marco Rubio will address the New Hampshire chapter of Americans for Prosperity. Bobby Jindal will also make appearances in New Hampshire. Ben Carson is in Iowa.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’d like to now apologize to the victims and the survivors. I am sorry for the lives I have taken and suffering I have caused you and the damage I have done.” — Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, speaking in a Boston courtroom yesterday for the first time since being sentenced to death
NEWS YOU CAN USE IF YOU LIVE IN D.C.:
— The Nationals beat the Braves 2-1 last night in the 11th inning.
— Mugginess muscles back into town today: The humidity may fuel another round of intense evening storms. “While showers and storms are going to be an ever present threat the next 3 days, do not abandon all outdoor plans,” per the Capital Weather Gang. “The only likely candidate for scrapping the pool plans and grabbing the board game comes on Saturday, when heavy rains threaten.”
— Two lanes are barely getting by on Interstate 95 north near the Intercounty Connector after an early morning crash left one construction worker dead.
— A fan at the Nationals game on Tuesday night caught on video a lightning strike hitting a crane adjacent to the stadium.
VIDEO OF THE DAY:
Watch Obama challenge a heckler at an LGBT event in the East Room — “Listen, you’re in my house … It’s not respectful.”: