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August 06, 2018
The Obamas Make a Hire, Marco Rubio Has Ideas for Paid Family Leave, and NFL PAC Messes with Texas
SO WHAT, WHO CARES? Trump and his legal team seem to have switched their positions from “we didn’t do that” to “so what if we did -- it’s not illegal.” The latest? The president admitted on Sunday that the infamous meeting at Trump Tower in 2016 involving his son and a Kremlin-connected lawyer was to “get information on an opponent.” NOTHING NEW HERE… Over the weekend the president continued his attacks on Democrats, the media, Maxine Waters, Don Lemon, Lebron James, etc. HAVE FAITH… Reminiscent of the role 90’s R&B singer Faith played in the Biggie/Tupac beef, First Lady Melania Trump shouted out Lebron’s newly opened school for underprivileged children in Akron, OH saying she’d like to visit. HE LIED. BIGLY. AGAIN. Trump said 3 million to 5 million illegal votes took place. Never happened. And that’s according to a member of the now-disbanded Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. But ummm … we all already knew this. ABOVE THE LAWRussian officials tapped 90’s action movie star Steven Seagal to be their special representative to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia. True story. NETROOTS NATIONSeveral thousand grassroots progressives gathered in New Orleans, and some potential 2020 candidates auditioned their their messages. TRILLION DOLLAR BABYApple hit a market cap of $1 trillion last week, as the iPhone maker became the first publicly traded U.S. company to reach the mark. How do you like them apples? Speaking of balling… ACTBLUE GETS GREENThe online fundraising platform ActBlue surged past the $1 billion mark in contributions to Democratic candidates and causes in this election cycle. Switching to another baller… TIES THAT BINDRandy Moss wore a tie to Saturday’s Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies showing the names of Black men, women, and children who were either killed by police or died under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. Moss didn’t bring it up during his animated 17-minute speech, but he did share his thoughts on the tie afterwards. BARACK OBAMA DAYPresident Barack Obama turned 57 on Saturday, and in his adopted home state of Illinois, they celebrated their first Barack Obama Day. It’s not a full-scale state holiday, in the sense of shuttering public offices and banks (a bill attempting to do that failed in the face of the argument that it could cost the state $20 million a year), but a day of commemoration. FACTS OF LIFE… Mrs. Garrett has left us. Actress Charlotte Rae, best known for her role as the patient housemother on the 1980s sitcom Facts of Life, has died at age 92. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have FACTS! We’re kicking off the week of recess with this...
  • Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO) squares off with progressive candidate tomorrow.
  • NYT’s Sarah Jeong responds to critics.
  • Senator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) wants to further penalize Russia.
  • New bill would raise penalties for disturbing Native American historic sites.
  • Pulitzer Center names a new Executive Editor.
  • Michelle Obama announces week of action.
CNN’s Laura Coates and Asha Rangappa in the green room at CNN’s DC bureau.
ABC News’ John Quiñones on Saturday greeting young fans at a grocery store in NYC.
Cory Booker and Sherrod Brown Intro Bill to Ban Overdraft Fees
Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ)
and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) on Friday introduced
the Stop Overdraft Profiteering Act of 2018 to ban overdraft fees on debit card transactions and ATM withdrawals. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, U.S. customers paid roughly $15 billion in overdraft and bounced check fees in 2016 -- the equivalent of nearly 10% of the net income that banks made in that year. Additionally, the fees are disproportionately charged to customers who are least able to afford them, especially workers living paycheck to paycheck.The Senators say their bill would also specifically bar financial institutions from charging more than one overdraft fee per month and no more than six overdraft fees in any single calendar year for check and recurring bill payment overdrafts, while mandating that banks post transactions in a manner that minimizes overdraft and insufficient fund fees. “Overdraft fees fall on those least likely to be able to afford them — individuals for whom a $35 overdraft charge could push them over the brink into financial ruin,” Booker said. “Our bill would end these unfair practices many banks use that leave some consumers — especially those that are the most vulnerable — trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty.” More here
Rubio Intros Bill Allowing Parents to Use Social Security Benefits for Paid Leave
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
introduced a bill last week that would allow new parents to finance their paid leave by drawing from their Social Security benefits early. The Economic Security for New Parents Act would allow parents to use their future Social Security benefits to use for at least two months leave, which would then delay receiving their retirement benefits by three to six months when they retire. The measure will allow the benefits to be transferable between parents and eligible for stay-at-home parents. "There's nothing we can do for our children that's better than allowing their parents to spend more time and be more involved in their lives, especially from their early days," Rubio said. The bicameral legislation, introduced with Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-MO), is modeled after a policy paper from the conservative group Independent Women's Forum released in January. Critics say that a program that only covers parents caring for new children, provides no leave for family care and personal medical needs, and forces parents to choose between paid leave and retirement security is absolutely the wrong way to go. “Ultimately right now they don’t even have a choice at all of how they’re going to pay for their bills at the front end,” Rubio said. “This is just an option, no one is forced to do this. Some people will decide they don’t want to do it, that it doesn’t make sense for them, but it’s an option that’ll be available for people. As it stands today, if we do nothing, you’ll continue to see as you said 9 out of 10 workers will basically not draw any income during that period of time. And it’s a real economic strain right now.” More here.

To Russia With Love, From Bob Menéndez
Following the president's widely-criticized meeting with Vladimir PutinSenator Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) introduced bipartisan legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia. The Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was joined in introducing the measure by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), John McCain (R-AZ), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act would require a two-thirds Senate vote to leave NATO; set up an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the State Department to address cyberattacks; and make it a crime to electronically target power plants, dams, and other infrastructure. The bill would also allow the DOJ to file charges for hacking voting systems used in federal elections and require title insurance companies to provide details on those buying high-priced residential real estate. “Vladimir Putin continues to pose a growing threat to our country and allies. While Congress overwhelmingly passed a strong set of countermeasures last year, unfortunately, the Administration has not fully complied with that legislation. This bill is the next step in tightening the screws on the Kremlin and will bring to bear the full condemnation of the United States Congress so that Putin finally understands that the U.S. will not tolerate his behavior any longer,” said Menéndez. More here.

The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj last Sunday at the premiere of The Spy Who Dumped Me in NYC.
 Rev. Luis Cortés Jr. receiving the Eagle Leadership Award from Latino Leaders Network's Mickey Ibarra at their 54th Latino Leaders Luncheon Series in DC.
DOJ Report Claims Barack Obama’s Clemency Program Rife with Errors
A DOJ report claims that President Barack Obama's clemency initiative, which began in 2014 and was targeted at non-violent dealers who received mandatory-minimum sentences during the crackdown on drugs that began in the 1980s, was hamstrung by a lack of planning and may not have reviewed petitions consistently. Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz found that infighting among the program's leaders delayed the first months of the initiative, forcing a change in how applications were reviewed. His report described a chaotic process and poor implementation because of a “philosophical difference” between the Office of the Deputy Attorney General and the Office of the Pardon Attorney, in addition to what it said was a lack of communication. One issue the report found was that a survey for potential clemency petitioners also wasn’t implemented correctly. The survey was for inmates who met all six of the necessary criteria, but instead, the survey was sent to every federal inmate.The report also found that the Justice Department did not provide sufficient resources for the initiative despite initially saying it would. In the final years of his presidency, Obama commuted sentences of 1,696 inmates -- more than any other president in history -- and denied another 12,000 petitions. More here.
The Obamas Make First Hire for Netflix Platform
 and Michelle Obama have reportedly hired filmmaker Priya Swaminathan to join their new production company, Higher Ground Productions, and help develop projects for the former first couple’s Netflix deal. Swaminathan previously worked as the head of development at Annapurna Pictures, the company behind a slew of prestige movies including Oscar winners Her and Phantom Thread. The former Director of Development at Annapurna Pictures also produced and co-directed Very Young Girls, a 2007 documentary on New York's teenage prostitutes that aired on Showtime. She also formerly worked for Dickhouse Productions, the production company of Jackass star Johnny Knoxville and partner Jeff Tremaine. Swaminathan has served as an industry advisor for the Sundance Institute's FilmTwo Initiative to encourage minority filmmakers. More recently, she has been involved in the Time's Up Initiative to combat sexual harassment, as well as Democratic politics and other areas of social activism. Given her background in documentaries, it’s a safe assumption that the genre will be included in the programming the Obamas bring to Netflix. We’ll stay tuned. More here.
Michelle Obama Announces Week of Action
In celebration of the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote announced its “Week of Action.”  From September 22nd to September 29th, the team will crisscross the country to speak with and register voters, and get folks fired up and ready to vote in the midterm elections and beyond. According to an announcement from the former first lady, there will be flagship events in at least a dozen cities. Obama and the other When We All Vote Co-Chairs -- which include Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Janelle Monáe, Chris Paul, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw -- will attend and or support some of the events on the ground. The campaign is calling on people to host events in their communities throughout the week. Starting today, people can sign up online to attend a flagship event and download the When We All Vote toolkit with instructions on how to plan their community events and register voters. The flagship cities include Detroit, LA, Baltimore, Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, NYC, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Houston, and Milwaukee. When We All Vote --- the new national, nonpartisan not-for-profit which brings together citizens, institutions, and organizations to encourage citizens to vote -- launched last month. More here.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) celebrating the 5th Annual Langar on the Hill with Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund advocates last week in DC. 
CBS News’ Errol Barnett on Saturday at the National Association of Black Journalists’ conference in Detroit.
Republican Member Wants to Raise Penalties For Disturbing Native American Sites
Congressman Todd Rokita (R-IN)
introduced a bill in Congress last week that would increase fines for disturbing Native American historic sites. The bill would be an amendment to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. It proposes moving the office of enforcement for the act from U.S. Fish and Wildlife to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. And it would increase penalties for disturbing Native American grave sites, specifically through higher fines. Rokita was moved to introduce the measure after archaeologists from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne excavated formal tribal sites without notifying tribal members. “No one is above the law, especially researchers and professors who rely on federal funding,” Rokita said. “It is imperative that we respect the rich history of the Native American culture, which is uniquely American, and give tribes and their deceased the respect they deserve.” Rokita also supported legislation to end employee protections for tribal casino workers earlier this year. The Associated Press reports the Republican Congressman saw a spike in campaign contributions of more than $160,000 from tribal gaming interests after he took up the bill. More here.
Catherine Cortez Masto Announces Press Team Transitions
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
has announced several transitions in her press team. Communications Director Reynaldo Benitez (pictured) will become a Special Advisor and be based out of her Reno, NV office. The Utah Valley University graduate, who also has a Master’s from Johns Hopkins University, previously worked on Cortez Masto’s Senate campaign. Prior to that, the bilingual strategist -- who is fluent in English and Spanish -- was the Deputy Press Secretary for Hispanic Media, Press Secretary, and Senior Advisor for former Senator Harry Reid. Joining her communications staff as Deputy Communications Director is Mónica Garc
ía (pictured). The Northwestern University graduate is currently the Deputy Communications Director for the Latino Victory Fund. The bilingual strategist -- who is fluent in English and Spanish -- previously served as the National Press Secretary for Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), and prior to that, was also a Press Secretary for Hispanic Media for former Senator Harry Reid. She joins the staff after the recent promotion of Ryan King, who becomes Communications Director. More about them here.
Indigenous Women Rise Co-Founder Chrissie Castro, NM congressional candidate Deb Haaland (D), Native American Netroots Neeta Lind, and North Dakota Native Vote Director Prairie Rose Seminole at the Netroots Nation conference in New Orleans over the weekend.
The Daily Show’s Roy Wood Jr. and actor Brian Tyree Henry hanging out in NYC last week.
NYT’s New Editorial Board Member and the Controversy 
The New York Times announced last week that Sarah Jeong, most recently a Senior Writer at The Verge, is joining the NYT Editorial Board as Lead Technology Writer. Then came the conservative outcry. A survey of Jeong’s past commentary on Twitter reveals several mainly sarcastic tweets dating back to 2013, which were largely discussing and responding to the oppressive mentality of white culture. Commenting on the idea that white people often believe they are being discriminated against when they aren’t, 30-year-old Jeong tweeted, “Having things you like criticized is not pain or marginalization.” And followed it up with, “#CancelWhitePoeple.” The South Korean board journalist’s point was likely to scoff at the false equivalency of “being mean to white people” vs. the actual systemic oppression and marginalization of minority groups. Multiple screencapped tweets circulated the internet which prompted the NYT to say it doesn't "condone" the language in Jeong's controversial tweets that resurfaced after her hire, but the paper also isn't letting her go. The cries of racism against University of California at Berkeley grad, who went on to complete law school at Harvard, then drew writer Andrew Sullivan to write a widely derided opinion piece that characterized Jeong’s comments as promoting “eliminationist rhetoric” and portraying white people as “subhuman.” On Thursday, Jeong issued a statement. “I engaged in what I thought at the time was counter trolling. While it was intended as satire, I deeply regret that I mimicked the language of my harassers. These comments were not aimed at a general audience, because general audiences do not engage in harassment campaigns. I can understand how hurtful these posts are out of context, and would not do it again.” More here.

Washington Business Journal Names New Digital Producer
The Washington Business Journal has added Katishi Maake as a Digital Producer. In his new role, he’ll write news and features for their website and print edition. He previously was a news intern at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and prior to that, a breaking news intern at CNN where he covered politics and Capitol Hill. The 2017 University of Maryland graduate was a Reporter for Capital News Service, a student-run wire outlet, as well as at the university newspaper, The Diamondback. His bylines can also be found in McClatchy, Prince George’s Sentinel, and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. More about him here.
Pulitzer Center Names New Executive Editor
Indira Lakshmanan
is joining the Pulitzer Center as Executive Editor. She is currently the Newmark Chair for Journalism Ethics at the Poynter Institute, as well as a Washington-based Columnist for The Boston Globe, where she covers foreign policy and politics. Prior to that, Lakshmanan guest-hosted several NPR programs including On Point, 1A, The Diane Rehm Show, Here and Now, Weekend Edition, and The Takeaway. During that time, she was also a contributor for Politico, U.S. News & World Report, and the international edition of The New York Times, where she authored the "Letter from Washington" column. The Harvard University graduate, who also completed graduate studies at the University of Oxford, was a Foreign Policy Correspondent for Bloomberg from 2007 to 2015, where she covered former Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, President Barack Obama, the rise of ISIS, and more. Prior to that, Lakshmanan was the Boston Globe's Asia Bureau Chief, its Latin America Bureau Chief, and a Bosnia War Correspondent, where for 12 years she reported on the fall of the Taliban and the Afghan War, the rebel insurgency in Colombia and China, child labor in Bolivia, and much more. The trilingual storyteller -- who is fluent in English, French, and Spanish -- is a member of the Asian American Journalists Association and the South Asian Journalists Association. “Helping news consumers understand the interconnectedness of our world is more important than ever,” Lakshmanan said in a press release. “At an incredibly difficult time in our industry, the Pulitzer Center makes that best kind of journalism a reality.” More here.

The New Yorker Adds Osita Nwanevu 
Osita Nwanevu
is joining The New Yorker as a Staff Writer where he will focus on Capitol Hill, midterm elections, and more. He previously served as a Staff Writer at Slate where he covered politics and the future of the Democratic party. Prior to that, he was an Editorial Assistant. Prior to joining Slate, Nwanevu interned for a several outlets including the Chicago Reader, NPR, and In These Times. The 25-year-old double University of Chicago graduate is also a former Editor of the South Side Weekly, a Chicago-based alternative weekly. The bilingual writer -- who is fluent in English and Igbo -- will start his new gig this month. More about him here.

CNN’s Shimon Prokupecz working out with Cut Seven trainers over the weekend in DC.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and constituent Jack Zimmerman at her 'Java with Jayapal' coffee session in Seattle last week.
Progressive Candidate Faces Off with Lacy Clay Tomorrow
Cori Bush
will be one of the Democrats facing off with Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO) tomorrow. The ordained Pastor and Registered Nurse currently works at Hopewell Health Center Incorporated where she helps patients with mental health problems, but before that, she taught early childhood education. In 2001, Bush became ill while pregnant with her second child. She had to quit her job as an early education teacher because of it. She, her husband at the time, and their 14-month-old son were kicked out of the home they were renting and forced to live in their car. This is not her first time running for office. After the Ferguson shooting, she ran for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and lost her primary by more than 50 points. This time around, the progressive candidate has focused more on engaging with people in the district. She had some help from Our Revolution’s Nina Turner over the weekend. Before she decided to run for Congress, Bush was organizing for a Ferguson/ St. Louis chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to promote nonviolence. “I am one of those everyday people. I felt left out of the conversation for years, just not feeling like our government, like our representatives, represented me,” Bush said. “As a single parent, as someone who struggled to make ends meet, definitely sometimes looking for how would we eat next week – so that person, being in that position, not accepting corporate PAC money, to me, says that that person that can only donate $12 to their favorite candidate still has just as much of a voice as a corporation that can donate thousands.” The 42-year-old raised more than $92,000, with every penny of it from individual contributions rather than PACs. Clay took in about $52,000 in individual donations and more than $330,000 from PACs, labor or corporations. In addition to Clay, she will face Demarco Davidson and Joshua Shipp in tomorrow’s primary. More here.

NFL PAC Messes with Texas
We told you in July about the NFL Player’s Association Political Action Committee. The One PAC raised more than $700,000 in a single day. And now the NFL players have added Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX) to their list of candidates to support. Hurd is facing a tough contest with Democrat Gina Ortiz Jones. He narrowly won his seat by just over 1% of the vote in 2016 and Democrat Hillary Clinton did better than Donald Trump among voters who live in the district. The PAC is also supporting another Texan -- Democratic candidate and former NFL player Colin Allred, who is aiming to unseat Congressman Pete Sessions (R-TX). And in July, the PAC hosted a fundraiser for Ohio Congressional candidate and former NFL player Anthony González. The PAC’s emergence comes at a time NFL players have become embroiled in political fights over some players protesting racial injustice during the playing of the National Anthem. Players have also testified at Capitol Hill about traumatic brain injuries affecting many former players. Pros from all 32 teams donated to the PAC late last year. The Association’s chief DeMaurice Smith, who made the maximum donation, said the PAC will allow the Association to have a voice in ongoing legislative fights, such as efforts at the state level to guarantee players access to workers' compensation benefits. More here.
Today - Saturday, August 11th: 16th Annual Run&Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, August 8th - Saturday, August, 11th: AAJA National Convention. Marriott Marquis Houston. 1777 Walker St., Houston, TX. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, August 8th - Thursday, August 9thCongresswoman Alma S. Adams (D-NC), Co-Chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, will host executives from over 30 major corporations and leaders from Historically Black Colleges and Universities at the Inaugural HBCU Diversity in Tech Summit. North Carolina A&T State University, 1601 E Market St, Greensboro, NC. Click here for more information.
Thursday, August 9th, 9A: HBCU Diversity in Tech Summit Press Availability. North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University Alumni Foundation Event Center. 200 N Benbow Rd. Greensboro, NC, 27411.
Friday, August 17th - Sunday, August 19th: Martha’s Vineyard celebrates Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) 20 years of service. Special guests include House Assistant Minority Leader Congressman Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Congressional Black Caucus Chair Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-LA), and more. Harbor View Hotel, 131 North Water Street Edgartown, MA. Kelley House, 23 Kelley Street Edgartown, MA. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, September 11th - Wednesday, September 12th: CHCI's Annual Leadership Conference. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, September 12th - Saturday, September 16th: Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 48th Annual Legislative Conference. Walter E. Washington Convention CenterClick here for more information.
Thursday, September 13th: CHCI's 41st Annual Anniversary Awards Gala. Marriott Marquis Washington, DC. 901 Massachusetts Avenue N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Thursday, September 25th - Saturday, September 29th: NBMBAA 40th Annual Conference & Exposition. Detroit, MI. Click here for more information.
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