Barbara Lee is STEAMed! And will FCC Chair Ajit Pai run for office in KS?
Barbara Lee is STEAMed! And will FCC Chair Ajit Pai run for office in KS?
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December 18, 2018
Kamala Harris Names New Chief, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Targets Hakeem Jeffries, and Cory Booker Addresses Sexuality
GOODFELLASDonald Trump’s first National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, is set to be sentenced today in the Special Counsel’s investigation of Russian election interference. But Robert Mueller recommended no jail time at all. The president wished him “good luck” on Twitter. NO, BUT REALLYWill the government shutdown on Friday? Trump is not getting $5 billion for the border wall. So what will it take? A shutdown could cost the U.S. economy billions. FIRST STEP OF MANY… The First Step Act, the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill now before the Senate, faces yet another challenge. Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR) and John Kennedy (R-LA) have offered amendments that would bar more offenders from participating in the bill's earned-time credit program, among other things. DON’T TALK TO THEMHomeland Security told members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus that they can’t talk to the Customs and Border Protection agents who detained the now deceased seven-year-old Jakelin Caal, when they visit the remote station today where her illness was originally treated. DEUCES… 78-year-old Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) announced his retirement on Monday. His exit will also have ramifications for the seniority in the Tennessee delegation, with his fellow Republican colleague Senator Bob Corker set to retire at the end of the year. STACEY ABRAMSThe former Georgia gubernatorial candidate was Google's most-searched politician of the year. JUSTICEThat’s what Merriam-Webster has named its Word of the Year for 2018 after it saw a 74% spike in look-ups compared with 2017. GET MONEYThe pay gap between men and women is so vast it’ll take 202 years to fully bridge, according to the World Economic Forum. THE BIG GREEN APPLENY Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that he would push to legalize recreational marijuana next year, a move that could generate more than $1.7 billion in sales annually. COMPLETELY UNRELATED... I’m off to catch the Amtrak Acela to NYC. We’re kicking off your Tuesday with this...
  • Saudi Arabia targets the first two Muslim women elected to Congress: MI’s Rashida Tlaib and MN’s Ilhan Omar.
  • From Russia with love? How Blacks were targeted in 2016.
  • Will Ajit Pai run for office?
  • More new hires on Capitol Hill. Read below. And to keep track of all staff diversity, try this nifty tool from The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies.
  • Carrie Ann Inaba joins The Talk.
  • Catch The Beat DC’s Tiffany D. Cross today at 1:20P EST on Keepin’ Real with Rev. Al Sharpton on SiriusXM Ch. 126.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama with actress  Reese Witherspoon on Thursday during her Becoming book tour in Denver, CO.
Actor Jason Momoa on Wednesday doing the Haka dance at the premiere of Aquaman in LA. Photo credit: Hot New Hip Hop
Elijah Cummings Wants to Revisit Guidance on Indicting POTUS and Looks to Summon Michael Cohen
During an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) -- who is likely to serve as the next Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform -- made it clear that the Committee will look into the allegations of wrongdoings by Donald Trump. The current Ranking Member of the Oversight Committee started by saying that the Department of Justice should revisit whether or not a sitting president can be indicted for criminal actions. Cummings told Jake Tapper that he thinks “we should always reconsider laws and regulations. This is one we should definitely reconsider.” He also said he wants Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to testify in January. “I'm hoping that Mr. Cohen will come before the Congress, where he can tell the American public exactly what he has been saying to Mueller and others, without interfering with the Mueller investigation,” Cummings said. “I think the American people just voted for transparency and integrity in our hearings. They want to hear from him.” Cummings added that Dems are also likely to look at the activities and contributions around Donald Trump’s inauguration. Stay tuned. More here.
Judy Chu Counters GOP Tax Bill with Measure to Shield Taxpayers from Withholding Penalties
Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) 
introduced legislation last week that would shield taxpayers from withholding penalties for the 2018 filing year should they find themselves to be under-withheld due to the changes made in the Republican tax law. Due to the new IRS withholding tables, and the fact that many taxpayers did not adjust their withholding, the impact of Donald Trump’s tax bill will largely remain unknown until taxpayers prepare their returns in early 2019. In a recent survey, H&R Block found that only 1 in 5 people adjusted their W-4 after signage of the law. Additionally, the General Accounting Office found that 30 million filers, or 1 in 5 taxpayers, will find that they owe the IRS next year due to withholding changes made because of the law. The administration has offered penalty relief to corporate multinationals subject to the new transition tax on foreign earnings. However, no comparable relief has been granted to individuals. Chu’s Taxpayer Penalty Protection Act would correct that by creating a one-time safe harbor. “About 20% of individual taxpayers are expected to under-withhold on taxes owed because they have not had a chance to fully understand the changes in the tax law,” Chu stated. “The administration predicted this, which is why they waived the penalty for the new transition tax on foreign earnings for corporations. Yet individuals and small businesses have not received any similar help. It’s clear this bill was rushed and many Americans stand to face penalties because of it. My legislation will correct that by protecting individuals and small businesses from an unexpected bill as they file next year.” More here.

Congressman Mark Takano (D-CA) with American Petroleum Institute's Mario Salazar at the APAICS holiday reception last week in DC.
CA state Assemblywoman Monique Limón, CA AG Xavier Becerra, Grupo Salinas’ VP of Public Affairs Nathalie Rayes, and staff at the TV Azteca México studios in Mexico.
Barbara Lee Wants Women of Color to Get STEAMed
According to the Level Playing Field Institute, it is estimated that there will be 1.4 million new tech jobs by 2020. And while women make up nearly half of all the college-educated labor force, they make up only 25% of college-educated STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) employees. To help increase the number of women of color in STEAM jobs, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) last week introduced the Ronald V. Dellums Memorial Fellowship for Women of Color in STEAM and National Security Act. The measure would help open opportunities for women of color in STEAM, and more pointedly, in national security sectors. Thirty women would receive the Ronald V. Dellums Fellowship each year, which would include a financial scholarship, mentorship, and an internship placement within the Department of Defense and STEAM industries. “Women of color remain vastly underrepresented in STEAM industries – a problem that is even more pronounced in the national security sector,” Lee said. “I firmly believe that the best way to increase diversity is to build a pipeline of talent. Through this legislation, I hope we can build a more diverse and inclusive STEAM workforce that includes women of color in national security positions.” The legislation is named after the late House Armed Services Chairman, Ron Dellums. More here.
Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib Versus Saudi Arabia?
Saudi Arabia has been attacking two incoming House Democrats -- MN Congresswoman-elect Ilhan Omar and MI Congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib -- two of the first Muslim women elected to Congress. The Saudi-owned pan-Arab television news channel Al Arabiya, which is based in Dubai, last week published a feature insinuating that the pair were part of an alliance between the Democratic Party and Islamist groups to control Congress. The article accused the two of being “anti-Trump and his political team and options, especially his foreign policy starting from the sanctions on Iran to the isolation of the Muslim Brotherhood and all movements of political Islam.” Why? It could be anxiety that their countries’ expensive public relations and lobbying efforts might be undermined with the arrival of these two new lawmakers. Just hours after Omar won her election, a staffer at the Saudi Embassy in the U.S. accused her of following the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he said has permeated the Democratic Party. “She will be hostile to the Gulf and a supporter of the political Islam represented in the Brotherhood in the Middle East,” tweeted Faisal al-Shammeri, a cultural advisor at the Saudi Arabian Cultural Mission to the United States -- which is part of the embassy -- and a writer for Al Arabiya. Tlaib tweeted out an article from adding, “#Bringit. I grew up in #Detroit. We don't back down or get scared easily.” More here.
Congressman Juan Vargas (D-CA) accepting the 2018 Leadership Award from Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s Madeleine Spjut over the weekend.
Oprah Winfrey congratulating actress Kerry Washington on her performance in the Broadway play American Son, over the weekend.
Cory Booker Addresses Sexuality
For years, there has been speculation about the sexuality of Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ). As the potential 2020 contender appears to be ready to mount a presidential run, he addressed it again. “I’m heterosexual,” Booker told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He added that there are more important things to talk about. Booker’s interactions with single women have attracted attention, including poet Cleo Wade and his give-and-take on Twitter with actress Mindy Kaling. And in October, the NY Post reported that Booker was trying to keep his relationship with Chanda Gibson, Executive Director of the Council of Urban Professionals, a secret. When Booker first ran for the Senate and was asked about his sexual orientation, Booker answered, “What does it matter?” Should he win the White House, Booker would be the first unmarried president since Grover Cleveland in 1884. Booker said it wasn’t necessarily by choice. In a September interview with New York Magazine, he was asked directly whether he was currently single (he said yes) and whether he was gay, and he said no. The Senator added, “It’s tough to date as a senator. The title I seek the most is probably husband and father." More here.

Dem Primary Schedule Forces Candidates to Engage Communities of Color
Several developments are reshaping the Democrats’ primary process. Following the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses (February 3rd) and New Hampshire primary (February 11th) -- two predominately-white electorates that are the traditional vetters of presidential candidates -- the race heads West. California has moved its primary to March 3rd. This will press 2020 hopefuls to engage and empower the state’s growing Latino and Asian American populations. It will also drastically increase the amount of money candidates must raise to mount a competitive campaign and shift the conversations to focus on issues such as immigration and the environment. Joining California is Texas, which will also hold their primary on the same date. Given that the Longhorn state is home to potential presidential hopefuls Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke, this will undoubtedly shape the race. Following California and Texas, at least six of the next nine states on the 2020 calendar will take Dems through states where Black and Hispanic voters dominate primary elections. Those states include Alabama, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. There’s also a possibility that Georgia, where Black voters make up more than half the Democratic electorate, could move to a March 3rd primary as well. More here.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Targets Hakeem Jeffries in 2020
When NY Democratic Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won her primary earlier this year, she warned that she planned to recruit candidates to challenge members who were not progressive enough. Her first target is reportedly another rising star: Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). Politico reports that Ocasio-Cortez has reportedly already recruited a Black woman candidate to primary the newly elected Democratic Caucus Chair. Ocasio-Cortez and the Justice Democrats -- the group who helped recruit her to run and helped manage her campaign -- feel Jeffries takes too much money from corporate interests, and is too open to the finance and banking sector as well as and pro-charter school interests. One source told the outlet that it’s also personal for Ocasio-Cortez; her campaign donation to Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) was allegedly held against Lee behind-the-scenes as she and Jeffries fought to serve as Democratic Caucus Chair. A spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez denied that she was already recruiting candidates. However, when asked if she is looking at Jeffries' seat, the spokesman did not deny it and instead pivoted to the Caucus Chair race: “We’re disappointed in the way that the leadership elections went down, specifically that leadership election … We would have liked to have seen that be a more fair fight with less pressure." Jeffries, who has just over one million dollars in his coffers, responded to the potential challenge saying, "It’s a free country and democracy is a beautiful thing.” While Jeffries is Justice Democrats’ top target, they also reportedly have their sights set on Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), who consistently receives the approval of conservative groups, among others. No one is exempt. “We’re going to double down on primary challenges and look at some of these white, male corporate Democrats similar to Joe Crowley," said Alexandra Rojas, Executive Director of Justice Democrats. "Many of these places are majority or plurality people-of-color districts that don’t demographically or policy-wise reflect the diverse working class communities they often serve.” More here.
Black Voters Specifically Targeted By Russia in 2016
Russians targeted the Black community extensively with dozens of Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and YouTube posts during the 2016 presidential campaign. A new report commissioned for and released by the Senate Intelligence Committee -- which is run by Republicans -- on Monday found that the targeted social media was used to spread doubts about Hillary Clinton and decrease Black voter turnout. While “other distinct ethnic and religious groups were the focus of one or two Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts, the black community was targeted extensively with dozens,” the report says. The Russian troll farm, Internet Research Agency, placed Facebook ads that were targeted at users who had shown interest in Black history, the Black Panther Party, and Malcolm X. They also created websites with names like,,, and On YouTube, the largest share of Russian material covered the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, with channels called “Don’t Shoot” and “BlackToLive.” The most popular of the Russian Instagram accounts was @blackstagram, with 303,663 followers. While it is impossible to know the full scope of Russia’s impact, it appears that their efforts to suppress the Black vote paid off: the Current Population Survey found that just 59.4% of eligible Black voters cast a ballot in 2016 -- down from 66.2% who reported voting in 2012. And while the decline can be partially attributed to President Barack Obama no longer being a candidate, 2016 was the first time there had been a decline in Black turnout since 1996. In Wisconsin, where Donald Trump won by only 10,704 votes, Black voter turnout was down from 73.7% in 2012 to 45.1% in 2016 -- a 27 point decrease -- the largest drop in turnout among African Americans. More here.
Will FCC Chair Ajit Pai Run for Office?
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has been eyed for years by Kansas Republican party leaders. Some of his former government colleagues say the state’s GOP officials have asked Pai to consider running for office on three separate occasions -- though it’s not clear what those offices were. In a recent interview for C-SPAN's The Communicators, he was ambiguous about plans for a future run. When asked about it, he replied with this: "I’m very focused on doing the best job I can in this position. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve at the FCC. I’m going to give it my all over the next two years." Newly empowered House Democrats promise more rigorous oversight of the FCC under his leadership. But Pai said he expects to find common ground with lawmakers, including policy issues related to broadband deployment. "My sense is that getting more broadband-related services out there, like telemedicine, is a good thing," he said. "Precision agriculture, for example, doesn’t have a political affiliation ... I’m really looking forward to working with the new House in the next Congress and the new Senate as well. I think we have a lot of great things we can accomplish." He said his 2019 agenda will be focused on rural broadband, telemedicine, 5G, public safety communications, and robocalls. More here.
CNN commentator Angela Rye in Los Angeles on Monday. 
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) with a constituent at the Bicycle Hotel & Casino Community Foundation’s “An Incredible Christmas” holiday event over the weekend.
Carrie Ann Inaba Joins The Talk
Carrie Ann Inaba
is joining CBS’ The Talk as their newest co-host. She’ll be permanently replacing Julie Chen, who left the show in September following the sexual misconduct allegations against her husband and former CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves. The longtime Dancing With the Stars judge had been filling in for Chen since her departure, along with other guest hosts such as Rosie O’Donnell, but Chen made it no secret who deserved a seat at the table. On Chen’s final episode, she gave Inaba a shout-out, saying, “You’d look awful good sitting in that chair, my Asian sister. I’m just saying.” Inaba previously worked as a choreographer on shows America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and So You Think You Can Dance, and has guest-hosted Live With Kelly and Access Hollywood Live. The UCLA graduate began her career as a singer in Japan before being cast as one of the original “Fly Girl” dancers on the 1990's comedy show In Living Color. Inaba will join the table in January 2019. More here.
Telemundo to Launch English-Language Newscast on YouTube
Compared to other demographics, Hispanics aged 18-49 in the U.S. over-index on YouTube. Hence, since so many young Latinos utilize it, the online platform is primed to reach the community. That's why it is very notable that Telemundo is collaborating with YouTube to develop its first English-language newscast. The planned newscast will be distributed exclusively via YouTube -- it will be the first Noticias Telemundo production to live outside a Telemundo-owned platform. "In today's fast-paced world you need to reach out to your audience where it is, not where you want it to be," said Romina Rosado, SVP of Digital Media & Emerging Business, NBCUniversal Telemundo Enterprises. "Our goal here is for NOTICIAS TELEMUNDO to reinvent the 'traditional' broadcast news for the LatinX generation- the multicultural, multiracial, mobile, millennials in the United States." The project received a Google News Innovation YouTube grant, which is awarded to ventures that elevate quality journalism, evolve business models to drive sustainable growth, and empower news organizations through technological innovation. More here.
CNBC Staffs Up Newsroom
CNBC has added several new faces to its editorial team. Yun Li has been hired as a Reporter for the markets and investing team. She was previously a Reporter at Reuters, where she covered the U.S. leveraged loan market. Prior to that, Li was a Reporter for Fund Action, where she wrote about mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. The Shanghai University of International Business and Economics graduate, who also has a Master’s from Ohio University, began her career as a freelancer for Athens News in Ohio. Natalie Zhang has been hired as an Associate Producer on the video team, where she’ll work on news and programming content. She served most recently served as the Social Media Producer for WGBH in Boston, where she was responsible for leading the strategy, planning, and execution of the social media campaigns for the PBS affiliate’s productions. Zhang has also contributed to Los Angeles Business Journal and USA Today. The 2017 University of Southern California graduate is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association. Vanna Le is joining CNBC’s Make It as a Contributors Editor. She was previously Editor of News and Global Partnerships at Thrive Global, where she launched a health news portal and was responsible for managing content from more than 40 syndication partners. Prior to that, the bilingual journalist -- who is fluent in English and Vietnamese -- was a Senior Editor at Inc. Magazine. The 2010 University of California at Davis graduate began her career as a Business Producer at Forbes. More about them here.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson celebrating his 70th birthday with National Action Network’s Rev. Al Sharpton in NYC over the weekend.
CNN’s Ana Cabrera at the reopening of FAO Schwartz toy store in NYC last month.
Kamala Harris Names New Chief of Staff
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has named a new Chief of Staff as she prepares to make a decision on a presidential run over the holidays. Rohini Kosoglu has assumed the helm in Harris’ DC office, where she has served as the Senator’s Deputy Chief of Staff since 2017. The promotion makes Kosoglu the only Asian American woman currently serving as a Chief in the Senate. The daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants is a legislative and policy expert with more than a decade of Senate experience. She began her political career as a mailroom manager for Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). After working her way up to Senior Policy Advisor, she then moved on to Senator Michael Bennett's (D-CO) office as his Senior Health Care Advisor. During her time in the Senate, she has managed legislative activity involving landmark laws, including the Affordable Care Act. The University of Michigan graduate, who earned her Master’s from George Washington University, said part of her job as Chief of Staff will be to keep the Senator's door open to young people and show that "this is the job that they can have. This is the job that they can see themselves in." In an interview with Roll Call earlier this year, she said, “I definitely try to prioritize if any women, particularly women of color ... just want to meet to talk about how to move up on the Hill or they’re interested in working on the Hill.” Harris has two books coming out next year and is expected to kick off her highly anticipated presidential campaign in January. More here.
Abigail Spanberger Names Legislative Director
VA Democratic Congresswoman-elect Abigail Spanberger has named Maryam Janani as her Legislative Director. Janani was most recently the Director of Policy and Research for Congressman Beto O’Rourke’s (D-TX) 2018 senatorial campaign. She also served in his House office as a Senior Legislative Assistant. Janani -- who is of Mexican and Iranian descent -- previously served as a Senior Strategy Consultant, Federal Practice at Monitor Deloitte. Before that, she was a Strategy Consultant at Dalberg Global Development Advisors. The bilingual staffer, who is fluent in English and Spanish, has worked for the World Health Organization, Innovations for Poverty Action, and Common Hope for Health. The 2009 Harvard College graduate holds a Master’s from Princeton University. More about her here.
House Oversight Committee Announces New Comms Director
Aryele Bradford
has been named Communications Director for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. She most recently served as Deputy Communications Director on the Committee, where she advised incoming Chairman Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on messaging. Bradford also previously served as a Press Secretary on the Committee. Prior to that, she was the Deputy Director of Media Operations/Special Assistant for Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). The 2011 University of Texas at Austin graduate began her career on Capitol Hill as a Staff Assistant for Johnson. More here

Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus Announces 2019 Leadership 
The Senate Black Legislative Staff Caucus (SBLSC) has announced their 2019 leadership team. Zarinah Mustafah, the newly elected President of SBLSC, is currently a Legislative Aide to Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR). The 2016 Spelman College graduate is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Jonathan Carter has been elected VP. The 2016 Howard University graduate currently serves as a Legislative Correspondent to Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), where he works on the Senator's Commerce Consumer Protection team, handling auto and product safety, telecommunications, and data privacy issues. Alyssa Brockington will serve as Secretary. The 2013 Howard University graduate, who also holds a Master’s from George Washington University, is currently a Legislative Correspondent for Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). Jessica Spence will serve as Treasurer. The 2017 New York University graduate is currently a Legislative Correspondent for Senator Doug Jones (D-AL). And Courtney Brunson will be SBLSC’s Communications Director. The 2016 Mount Holyoke College graduate currently works as a Legislative Correspondent for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). More about them here.
Prairie View A&M; University President Ruth Simmons and former BET CEO Debra Lee at the fall commencement in Cypress, TX over the weekend.
Outgoing UN Ambassador Nikki Haley last Tuesday hanging out with NBC’s Craig Melvin in NYC.
Odgers Berndtson Adds Names New Partner
Conrad Woody has joined Odgers Berndtson -- the world’s 6th largest executive search firm -- as Partner and Head of the firm’s U.S. Corporate and Government Affairs Practice. In his new position, his portfolio of search work includes advising clients on government affairs, corporate communications/public affairs, economic development, trade association CEO, and leadership roles. Woody was most recently a Principal at Korn Ferry, where he specialized in federal, state, and international government affairs searches for major corporations and trade associations including Amazon, BMW North America, Cisco Systems, Google, Motion Picture Association of America, Prudential, Starbucks, Walgreens, and more. He has also worked on political campaigns and as an Analyst at Goldman Sachs. The 2005 Howard University graduate, who is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., began his career as a Staff Assistant for Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). More about him here.
Thursday, January 3, 2019, 6P: A reception honoring Congresswomen-elect Sharice Davids (D-KS) and Deb Haaland (D-NM), the first Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress. National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth Street & Independence Avenue, S.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, January 9th, 2019, 6P: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute hosts a swearing-in ceremony and welcome reception for the Hispanic members of the 116th Congress. U.S. Capitol Visitor Center - Congressional Auditorium & Atrium, East Capitol St NE and First St SE, DC. Click here for more information.
Friday, January 18, 2019, 9A–3P: The Indigenous Peoples Movement hosts the Indigenous Peoples March to bring awareness to the injustices affecting Indigenous men, women, and children. DC. Click here for more information.
Saturday, February 16, 2019: The Association for the Study of African American Life and History’s 93rd Annual Black History Luncheon. Washington Renaissance Hotel, 999 Ninth Street, N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019: APAICS 25th Anniversary Awards Gala Dinner to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. The evening honors Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders, both current and pioneers, and recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that continue to politically empower the AAPI community. 1000 H Street, N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
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