Bakari Sellers forms new org & Ayanna Pressley to meet with DNC donors.
Bakari Sellers forms new org & Ayanna Pressley to meet with DNC donors.
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December 06, 2018
Kamala Harris Top Aide Resigns, Marco Rubio Teams with Bob Menéndez, and Barack Obama Takes a Meeting
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DON’T CONDEMN WHITE NATIONALISTSThat’s essentially what a top White House appointee at the Department of Veterans Affairs told the agency’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity and Inclusion, who -- in the aftermath of last year’s racially charged violence in Charlottesville -- pushed for a forceful condemnation that was at odds with Donald Trump’s “good people on both sides” response. JUNIORS V. SENIORSA push by junior members to impose term limits on Committee Chairs might face stiff opposition from Congressional Black Caucus members. But Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is warming to the idea. BORDER BICKERINGRepublicans and Democrats can agree on nothing when it comes to the border wall. Meanwhile, a government shutdown hangs in the balance. NOMINEES FLAKEDThe Senate Judiciary Committee scrapped today’s meeting to vote on advancing more of Trump’s judicial picks due to Senator Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) vow to oppose judicial nominees until GOP leaders allow a floor vote on legislation to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller. JOHN V. DON? Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D) is taking steps toward launching a presidential campaign including interviews with dozens of potential staffers and hiring a pollster and national fundraiser. OVERTHROWNWisconsin's Republican-led Legislature passed a sweeping set of bills on Wednesday to curb the power of the incoming Democratic Governor and Attorney General. Among the new rules are limits on early voting, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates. And lawmakers, not the Governor, would control a majority of appointments to an economic development board. A STAR IS BORNNominations for the 76th annual Golden Globes were announced this morning. Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg will co-host the live January 6th show. A BEAT IS DROPPED… We’re back on Monday but leaving you with all this…
  • Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) mulls 2020 White House bid.
  • DNC convenes big money donors for an invite-only meeting.
  • Bakari Sellers launches new organization.
  • FCC Chair Ajit Pai admits Russian operatives meddled in net neutrality repeal.
  • Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) accuses DHS of skirting the law on a proposal that would deny green cards to immigrants.
  • Catch The Beat DC’s Tiffany D. Cross on MSNBC on Saturday at 5P EST on PoliticsNation with Rev. Al Sharpton.
Matter of Fact’s Soledad O’Brien on Wednesday rocking her power suit in NYC.
MSNBC’s Frances Rivera and the Grinch on Tuesday at her office holiday party in NYC.
Grace Meng Demands DHS Withdraw Immigration Proposal Denying Green Cards
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY)
sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen calling on her agency to withdraw a proposal that would deny green cards to immigrants and immigrant families who have lawfully used public benefits. Meng said the proposal violates federal law -- agencies are required to provide public justifications for any newly proposed policy that would harm families. The Trump administration in September announced that immigrants who legally use public benefits like food assistance and Section 8 housing vouchers could be denied green cards under new rules aimed at keeping out people the administration deems a drain on the country. Such a move could force millions of poor immigrants, who rely on public assistance for food and shelter, to make a difficult choice between accepting financial help and seeking a green card to live and work legally in the U.S. “Secretary Nielsen must withdraw the proposed public charge rule,” said Meng. “This heartless proposal would harm the wellbeing of immigrant families for no good reason. There is no way that DHS can adequately justify to the American people that harming the wellbeing of immigrant families in this manner is necessary.” Read her full letter here.
Rubén Gallego Leads Veterans in Congress Pressing VA for Full Reimbursement of Underpaid GI Benefits
Congressman Rubén Gallego (D-AZ)
last week led a group of veterans serving in Congress in a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, calling for a full repayment of benefits owed to veterans under the Forever GI Bill. The letter comes after a week of confusion and chaos at the Veterans Affairs Department. After VA officials admitted the agency had no plans to retroactively pay some student veterans -- who are likely to receive incorrect housing stipends during the next year -- Wilkie reversed course, saying that every underpaid GI Bill recipient will get what they are due. After reports of severe payment delays for thousands of student veterans expecting housing stipends this fall, those planning to use the educational benefit for the spring semester could get their money on time, but the payments still may not be 100% accurate. “As veterans ourselves, these reports are deeply dismaying to us, and we urge you to work toward a swift solution that will not further jeopardize the educational pursuits, housing, or financial security of veterans and their families,” the group wrote. “Our nation’s veterans have served our country with honor, often making incredible sacrifices to do so. It is imperative that we also honor our promises to them in return.” Part of the new GI Bill changed how veterans’ housing allowances are calculated -- they’re now supposed to be based on where veterans take classes, rather than defaulting to their school’s main campus. The change was supposed to be made by August 1st, but information technology problems have set back implementation to December 1st, 2019. Read the full letter here.

Ted Lieu Wants Paul Manafort’s Attorney Investigated 
Thanks to a lawyer for Paul Manafort communicating with Donald Trump’s legal team about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian election meddling, the president has gotten a window into the investigation. Now, Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) is crying foul. He and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) have requested an investigation into the attorney, Kevin Downing. In a letter to the Grievance Committee for the Second, Eleventh, and Thirteenth Judicial Districts of New York, the lawmakers urge the Chief Counsel to evaluate whether Manafort’s lawyer violated rules of professional conduct by breaking the terms of Manafort’s cooperation agreement with the Special Counsel’s office. “More than simply an unusual situation, this conduct threatens to interfere with the primary purpose of the Special Counsel’s investigation—to ascertain the truth about Russian interference in the 2016 election and hold any American conspirators accountable,” they wrote. Last week, Mueller filed a status report accusing Manafort of breaking the terms of their cooperation agreement and lying to the FBI. “By deceiving prosecutors who had rightfully assumed that Mr. Manafort and his lawyers were cooperating as per the terms of their agreement, Mr. Downing at the very least should be subject to a review by the Grievance Committee for potential disbarment,” the members concluded. Read the full letter here.

CNN’s Natasha Chen in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday to cover the death of former President George H. W. Bush.  
Former actress Sonia Sosa, husband and former MLB player Sammy Sosa, and Investigation Discovery’s María Elena Salinas in Miami on Monday for Art Basel.
Top Aide to Kamala Harris Resigns After Harassment Allegations Surface 
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) has lost a top aide amid allegations of harassment. Larry Wallace resigned Wednesday after The Sacramento Bee asked about a $400,000 settlement to end a lawsuit from Danielle Hartley, who was Wallace’s assistant at the California Department of Justice. The settlement dates back to when Wallace was the Director of the Division of Law Enforcement at the California Department of Justice under Harris, who was state Attorney General at the time. According to the paper, Hartley accused Wallace of harassing and demeaning her “due to her gender.” Wallace allegedly fitted a printer beneath his desk and demanded that Hartley, who was hired as Wallace’s assistant in 2011, tend to the ink or paper daily -- frequently while he was sat at his desk or in front of other senior male members of staff. Wallace also allegedly diverted Hartley from “meaningful” work and instead asked her to complete personal errands such as fixing his car. When she complained, Hartley claims she was effectively pushed out and told by senior management to quit her job. At the time the lawsuit was filed, Harris was transitioning to her new role as Senator. Wallace had previously worked for Harris when she was San Francisco district attorney and as a detective for the Oakland Police Department prior to that. The case was settled in May 2017, when Harris had appointed Wallace as a senior advisor. However, the Senator did not know about the allegations when she gave him the position. When the paper raised the issue, Wallace’s exit was swift. More here.
Marco Rubio and Bob Menéndez Unite to Reauthorize Flood Insurance Program
Congress has until Friday night to reauthorize the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) ... again. The program has been renewed 42 times since 1998, with seven short-term extensions coming in the past year alone. In fact, before the seven-day extension Donald Trump signed over the weekend, the program was set to expire on November 30th -- the last day of the Atlantic hurricane season. On Wednesday Senators Bob Menéndez (D-NJ) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced legislation to reauthorize NFIP through September 30th, 2019. The legislation would ensure retroactive coverage in the event of a programmatic lapse. “While I am frustrated with the continued need for extensions, it has become clear that we need additional time to come to a consensus on bipartisan and bicameral reforms to the NFIP,” Rubio said. Flooding is the most common disaster in the U.S., one that affects Americans in communities both coastal and inland every year. “The National Flood Insurance Program needs to be comprehensively reformed to make the program more fair, affordable, efficient and solvent, which is what my SAFE NFIP would do,” said Menéndez. “But with the NFIP extension expiring it’s critical that we prevent a lapse that would disrupt the real estate market and leave thousands of families uninsured and vulnerable. This extension will give Congress time to pass a long-term reauthorization with real, meaningful reforms in line with my SAFE NFIP Act, which is the most bipartisan flood insurance bill in the Senate.” The lawmakers were joined in the reauthorization bill by Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA). NFIP will always carry some debt as currently structured. It’s currently $20 billion in debt. More here.
Raúl Grijalva Will Probe Shrinking of National Monuments Considered Sacred by Native Americans
Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)
is expected to become Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee next year and plans to stop what he calls the president’s attacks on national monuments. Donald Trump has slashed two million acres of monument protections since assuming office -- the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. Grijalva plans to hold a hearing on two bills that would enhance protections for public lands. The bills were part of a response to Trump’s decision to drastically reduce two national monuments in Utah that are home to more than 100,000 Native American archaeological and cultural sites, considered sacred by many tribes -- Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Grijalva also wants to probe Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s conduct and the secretive process used to decide which monuments to shrink. The Department of Interior’s Office of the Inspector General found no evidence that Zinke shrunk the Grand Staircase-Escalante as a favor to a Utah state Representative. However, documents released earlier this year revealed that agency officials did favor fossil fuel, ranching, and logging interests. “Who were the stakeholders that really influenced this? Because certainly the people left out of that process, in terms of consultation and discussion, never got a full hearing on that,” Grijalva said. “As we assume the majority, we’re going to hold hearings to examine the review process conducted by the administration, who the stakeholders were and weren’t, and look at that whole rushed planning process on both monuments.” More here.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) with Telemundo crew on Saturday sharing her memories of former President George H. W. Bush.
NY Assemblyman and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake on Tuesday celebrating Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.’s Founder’s Day in NYC.
Andrew Gillum Meets with Barack Obama
Former Florida gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum met with former President Barack Obama on Tuesday fueling speculation about a potential national run. Obama had endorsed Gillum’s bid to be governor and campaigned with him in the closing days of the race. Gillum was in town for The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights' “Bend Toward Justice” conference where he was interviewed by The Beat DC’s Tiffany D. Cross. Asked if he would make a run at the White House, Gillum said: "I plan on being married to my wife. That is all I am planning.” Cross went on to ask if he was open to being on the 2020 ticket, to which he replied: “What I am committed to doing between now and 2020 is doing everything I can to make the state of Florida available and winnable for the Democratic nominee for president." During the interview, Gillum also discussed voter suppression issues, how he navigated race on the campaign, and why his campaign resonated with many across the country. See the full interview here.
Tulsi Gabbard Ponders White House Run
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
made a trip to New Hampshire this past weekend. Given that it’s the state that holds the first primary in the race for the White House, she sparked speculation of her political ambitions. She spoke with individual voters after her formal talk and Q&A session at a meet-and-greet. When she was directly asked whether she was running, she did not deny it. “Well, first of all I’m thinking through the decision that has to be made,” she told a voter. “I’m doing a lot of listening and that’s very helpful to me.” In an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, she said, “I’m seriously thinking of how I can best be of service to our country,” Gabbard said. She went on to say “no” when asked if she had any timetable for deciding on a White House bid. More here.
Top DNC Donors Kick Off Presidential Fundraising with Ayanna Pressley and Lucy McBath
The DNC’s National Finance Committee is hosting an invitation-only gathering convening 300 top Democratic donors and fundraisers in DC next Tuesday. The DNC raised about $174 million through mid-October, outraising the RNC by more than $100 million. DNC CEO Seema Nanda said expected donor participation is about three times higher than normal, “building off the momentum we saw in the midterms.” According to Politico, donors are expected to participate in strategy sessions with DNC senior staffers, along with appearances by MA Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley, GA Congresswoman-elect Lucy McBath, NV Senator-elect Jacky Rosen, and NJ Governor Phil Murphy. The first fundraising meetings of the presidential election cycle are typically held in the spring of the year before the presidential election. But Nanda told Politico that Democrats this year saw the value of “planning early, investing early.” The convening will take place at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the nation’s capital. More here.

Bakari Sellers Launches Opportunity Project
CNN commentator Bakari Sellers has launched a community support organization aiming to close the gaps plaguing South Carolina communities including healthcare, education, and technology. Sellers will lead the Opportunity Project of South Carolina (Opportunity Project) which, in addition to community building, some see  as an entré for the former state Representative to run for a higher office. A significant number of South Carolina residents have urged Sellers to challenge Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in 2020, but the Morehouse/University of South Carolina Law School graduate has made no such commitments so far. When he won his legislative seat in South Carolina’s 90th District in 2005 at 22-years-old, he became the youngest African American man to hold elected office in American history. His unsuccessful 2014 run for Lieutenant Governor against Henry McMaster is the subject of a new documentary, While I Breathe, I Hope. “Rural communities across my home state and this country are plagued with enormous inequities and inequalities,” Sellers said. “Whether it be income inequality, or the lack of access to affordable healthcare, or the digital divide, we have to be far more intentional about how we go about closing those gaps and creating opportunity for the South Carolinians that need it most. The Opportunity Project is designed to help close those gaps.” More here.

#TBT

Playwright and activist Lin-Manuel Miranda’s high school yearbook photo in the 1990s.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the late 1950s.
Ajit Pai Admits Russians Interfered in Net Neutrality Commenting Process
FCC Chair Ajit Pai admitted that Russian operatives were actively attempting to persuade the agency to repeal net neutrality. Pai said in a statement that it is a "fact" that a half-million comments were submitted from Russian email addresses during the public comment period, adding that most of those comments were in favor of repealing net neutrality. The FCC’s public comment process around net neutrality was mired in controversy in 2017, with lawmakers and companies on both sides of the issue arguing that a deluge of fake comments undermined the legitimacy of the process. Also, HBO’s John Oliver crashed the system when he encouraged his viewers to leave comments. Pai previously denied or negated the importance of fake comments during the FCC’s open commenting period. The FCC ultimately decided to repeal net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to give equal footing to all web traffic. This was despite an earlier account which found that nearly all of verified comments from actual citizens were in favor of preserving net neutrality. Pai’s admission comes as part of a broader lawsuit against the FCC by The New York Times and BuzzFeed, both of whom are seeking access to FCC documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The FCC pushed back on those requests, arguing that the release of sensitive internal documents could open the agency to security threats. More here.
Google CEO Heads to White House Today, Capitol Hill Next Week
Google CEO Sundar Pichai will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, December 11th. He’s expected to face intense questioning from Republican lawmakers who accuse the Silicon Valley giant’s algorithms of being biased against more conservative content. Pichai will also be expected to answer questions on issues related to data privacy and anti-competitive market behavior. The hearing was originally scheduled for Wednesday, December 5th, but it was postponed due to the federal government's closure for the funeral events for former President George H.W. Bush. Today, the CEO is heading to the White House and will huddle with fellow tech executives from companies including Microsoft, Oracle, and Qualcomm, as well as top aides to Trump, to discuss innovation policy. His trip to the nation’s capital comes as a group of contractors penned an open letter to Pichai demanding higher wages and equal benefits. More here.
Sirius XM’s Zerlina Maxwell on Wednesday ready to smash the patriarchy in NYC.
Blogger Phil Yu on a flight to San Jose, CA last month.
CMS Removes Guidance Used to Help Provide ACA Assistance to Latino Communities
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) removed guidance from its Health Insurance Marketplace website used to train assisters helping to provide healthcare outreach to Latino communities ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) open enrollment period. The Sunlight Foundation found that the document was removed in late September 2018, about a month before the start of open enrollment. The guidance, titled “Marketplace Outreach: Best Practices for Outreach to Latino Communities,” included information about the challenges Latinos might face when enrolling for coverage, such as fear of immigration enforcement, and how to best provide assistance, including how to make services culturally and linguistically appropriate. The removal of the guidance comes at a time when outreach to Latino communities is key. In response to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, legal Latino immigrants have avoided participation in public services including health care programs due to fears of immigration implications and worries that doing so may put undocumented family members at risk. More here.
Hispanic Students Fade as a Result of ICE Partnership
In communities where ICE officers formed partnerships with local police to enforce immigration laws, the number of Hispanic students enrolled in public schools fell significantly: by nearly 10% in just two years. Researchers from Stanford University explored the potential effects of ICE partnerships on student mobility and found that they are likely to have negative consequences for the students, including on their mental health and student achievement, as well as also increasing their risk of dropping out of school altogether. There are currently about 725,000 young people in the U.S. without legal status and 4.5 million young people with at least one parent in the country without legal status. As it stands, 78 law enforcement agencies in 20 states are empowered to carry out immigration law through such partnerships with ICE. Critics say the partnerships eviscerate trust between police officers and the communities they're tasked with protecting and also result in racial profiling and civil rights violations. Using K-12 enrollment data in 55 counties from 2000 to 2011, when such ICE partnerships first began, the researchers found the partnership displaced more than 300,000 Hispanic students, mostly younger, elementary-school students -- most of whom are U.S. citizens. More here.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed on Tuesday getting some holiday shopping done at the City Hall pop-up shop event.
Univisión’s Jorge Ramos and actor John Leguizamo on Tuesday playing chess in Hialeah, FL.
Hispanic Lobbyist Association Elects All-Female Exec Board
The Hispanic Lobbyist Association (HLA) for the first time in the history of the organization elected an Executive Board comprised of all women on Tuesday. Liz López, the newly elected President of HLA, has over a decade of experience advising Fortune 500 companies, businesses, and nonprofits on external affairs, government relations, legal matters, and strategic partnership development. The University of Chicago and Boston University School of Law graduate is currently a Managing Director at Nexus Consulting. She previously served as EVP of Public Policy at the Opportunity Finance Network; in Federal Government Relations Advisor capacities at Barnes & Thornburg LLC and Davis, Wright, Tremaine LLP; and as an Assistant District Attorney. Anaís Carmona, Manager of Federal Government Affairs and Strategic Alliances at T-Mobile, was elected VP of HLA. Before joining T-Mobile, the Georgetown University graduate was an Associate at D&P Creative Strategies, LLC. Elected as Treasurer is Rosemary Garza. The University of Houston graduate, who holds a Master’s from George Washington University, currently serves as Associate Director of Global Government Affairs for Medtronic. Previously, Garza worked for Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) and former Congressman Charlie González. Facebook Manager for Public Policy Zuraya Tapia-Hadley was elected as Secretary. The 2003 Universidad de las Américas, Puebla graduate, who went on to earn a Master of Laws from Georgetown University, was previously a Principal at The Raben Group; VP of Public Affairs at UPS on the Global Government Affairs team; Director of Development and Director of the Mexican American Leadership Initiative at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation; Executive Director of the Hispanic National Bar Association; and worked for Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) on the Small Business Committee, among others. HLA also selected their Board-at-Large: Omar Franco, Susie Felíz, Susan Santana, Patricia Villarreal Tamez, Chuck Rocha, Lucia Alonzo, Noe García, Manuel Bonilla, and Rich López. More here.
Complete College America Names A New President
Complete College America has appointed Yolanda Watson Spiva as its next President. The Spelman graduate, who holds a Master’s from the University of Chicago and a doctorate from Georgia State University, previously served as President & CEO of College Success Foundation. Prior to that, she was the CEO and Executive Director of Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc., where she served as a strategic partner to the Atlanta Public School District to increase the number of low-income, first-generation Atlanta students of color graduating from high school and college. She also previously held several leadership roles in academia at Agnes Scott College, Trinity Washington University, and Morgan State University, and various positions at the Department of Education. Watson Spiva is also the author of NAACP Image Award-nominated book, Daring to Educate: The Legacy of the Early Spelman College Presidents. More here

FOMO
Today - Sunday, December 9th: National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators hosts the 16th National Summit. Kona Kai Resort, 1551 Shelter Island Dr, San Diego, CA. Click here for more information.
Monday, December 10th, 10A: The Aspen Institute hosts “Future of Sports Activism: Reimagining its Bottom Line,” a conversation about the implications in a number of areas, such as fan engagement, sponsorships, relationships within teams, athlete health and welfare, and society in general if more athletes spoke out. Featuring Etan Thomas, former NBA player and author of We Matter: Athletes and ActivismJoe Briggs, NFL Players Association Public Policy Counsel; and Ellis McKennie, University of Maryland football player, among others. The Aspen Institute, 2300 N St. N.W., DC. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, December 11th, 10A: The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Black Women’s Roundtable host a media briefing on “Power of Black Women’s Leadership and Vote at the Polls In 2018.” 1666 K Street NW, Suite #440, DC. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, December 12th, 6PCBCPAC Chairman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) hosts the CBCPAC’s Annual Holiday Reception. Click here for more information.
Thursday, December 13th, 7P: A holiday reception honoring the members of the Tri-Caucus Staff Associations. The Brighton, 949 Wharf St S.W., DC. Click here for more information.
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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