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Harvard taps Obama alumni and former Morehouse president for diversity work
Harvard taps Obama alumni and former Morehouse president for diversity work
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March 29, 2018
Alex Acosta Floated as Possible Attorney General, Susan Rice Joins Netflix, and Eric Holder Wins Again
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Donald Trump’s sudden firing of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and surprise nomination of the White House’s top physician, Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, to take his place has raised concerns among lawmakers and veterans groups. Some, who question Jackson’s limited qualifications to lead the embattled agency, have credited the appointment to his glowing -- and skeptical -- review of the Trump’s health during a press briefing in January. There was no mention of the staff shake-up during Wednesday’s daily White House press briefing. However, WH Reporter April Ryan did ask Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders why Trump hasn’t released a statement about Louisiana’s failure to indict the officers who killed Alton Sterling or the fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark. Sanders dismissed the question, calling both local issues. NBC News’ Kristen Welker followed up, pointing out that “a lot of African American moms all across the country feeling as though their sons are dying, so doesn’t the president feel like he needs to do something about that?” Sanders then pivoted to Trump’s school safety plan. A quick roundup of POTUS45 news: he tweeted about his desire to regulate Amazon; he called actress Roseanne Barr to congratulate her on the reboot of her show, which scored huge ratings; and his lawyers are said to have broached the idea of Trump’s pardoning two former top advisors, Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort. In SCOTUS news, Justices were torn during their second look at the issue of gerrymandering on Wednesday. After considering a Republican-drawn plan from Wisconsin that hurt Democrats and, now, a Democratic-drawn plan in Maryland that undermined a Republican Congressman, there was a sense the conversation was moving in circles. In HBCU news, six Howard University employees were fired for "gross misconduct and neglect of duties" following an independent auditor's investigation into the misappropriation of financial aid funds amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The firings took place in September 2017, but were just made public Wednesday in a statement by university President Wayne Frederick. Lastly, get ready for walk-up Wednesdays at the Blacksonian in the nation’s capital. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening its doors to those who do not have passes on a first-come, first-served basis every Wednesday during the month of April. And with that, The Beat DC is taking a spring break. Sort of. We’ll be hard at work revamping our website, bringing on new staff, and getting ready to embark on our second round of financing. So we’ll have lots of news when we return on Monday, April 9th. Until then, we’re leaving you with all this...
  • Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) wants a hearing on banking bill for weed industry.
  • CBC members refuse to sign a letter for Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
  • Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) intros gun safety bill.
  • Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) tells ICE to get their priorities straight.
  • Harvard taps Obama alumnus and former Morehouse College President for Senior Advisor role.
  • FCC Chairman Ajit Pai faces questions over CPAC appearance.
  • Labor Secretary Alex Acosta’s name floated for AG job.
  • Trump admin does an about-face on Obama’s prison program and a row ensues between Jared Kushner and AG Jeff Sessions.
  • Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) cries foul over proposed HHS religion rule.
  • Hawaii lawmakers vote for a statue of native son Barack Obama.
  • Conservative vet announces congressional run in PA.
  • The Collective PAC makes endorsements in key races.
  • Meet the new film critic at Vanity Fair.
  • The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce adds to its Board.
  • Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice joins the Board of Netflix.
  • Lawmakers want DOJ to publicly commit to hands off Mueller investigation.
  • Former AG Eric Holder wins another one against WI Governor Scott Walker.
  • HUD scaling back fair housing enforcement.
  • NYT Co. releases first iteration of staff and leadership diversity data.
  • Senators push Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to not rescind Obama-era guideline on school discipline.
  • Can Barack Obama save the Dems? Check out Vanity Fair's take in Blogs!
CNN commentator Ana Navarro on Tuesday in Miami visiting Eva Longoria on the set of her new project, the TV series Grand Hotel.
ESPN's Jemele Hill on Tuesday with rapper TI on Wendesday.
Cortez Masto Seeks Hearing on Banking Bill for Weed Industry
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
joined a bipartisan group of Senators on Wednesday, writing to the leaders of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, urging them to hold a hearing on a bill that would allow banks to work with state-licensed marijuana businesses. “A hearing would give members the opportunity to hear from witnesses who have direct experience with the challenges facing the financial sector, the cannabis industry, and law enforcement,” according to the letter, which was addressed to Banking Committee Chairman Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ranking Member Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). As a member of the Banking panel, Cortez Masto helped spearhead the letter, which was also signed by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Brian Schatz (D-HI). Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws to allow the use and sale of medical or recreational marijuana. But banks that work with marijuana businesses “are forced to operate in an uncertain legal environment,” the letter said. “Additionally, cannabis and cannabis-related businesses, such as landlords and security companies, have a limited access to or are locked out of the banking system, including accessing a checking account, meeting payroll and paying tax revenue, among other financial services.” Without access to banks, many of these businesses are forced to conduct transactions in cash “raising concerns regarding public safety, money laundering and other potential crimes.” More here.
Joyce Beatty Intros Gun Safety Bill
As students demand that lawmakers take a tougher stance on gun laws, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) introduced the Safer America for Everyone Right (SAFER) Now Act. If enacted into law, the bill will improve background checks on gun purchases, ban assault weapons and bump stocks, and help prevent firearms from falling into the wrong and/or dangerous hands. Recent polling finds that 97% of Americans support universal background checks, 70% support stricter assault weapons laws, another 82% want a ban on bump stocks, and overall two in three Americans want stronger gun laws. “I refuse to sit on the sidelines as more and more of our fellow citizens are injured or lose their lives—it is time for Congress to act,” Beatty said. “Americans are demanding action because every day another family’s world is turned upside-down from gun violence.” Beatty continued, “That is why I am proud to introduce the SAFER Now Act and am ready to work with Democrats and Republicans alike to help put a stop to this senseless violence.” More here.
Jim Costa Tells ICE to Get Priorities Straight
Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA)
led the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in sending a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan, calling for the prioritization of ICE’s limited resources on what he says are the more strategic and effective law enforcement measures that target public safety threats. Specifically, members say that prioritizing I-9 audits -- a form employers must complete for each employee within three days of hiring them in order to prove eligibility to work in the U.S. -- diverts ICE resources from other critical enforcement priorities. “Under this new policy, ICE will send armed agents to businesses around the country to search for employment paperwork irregularities rather than enlisting these agents to track down human traffickers, investigate terrorists, or apprehend members of transnational criminal organizations.  This would be an irresponsible use of limited resources and we call on ICE to prioritize public safety threats,” the Members wrote. “Rather than quadrupling-down on this misguided policy, we urge ICE to take a more strategic and sophisticated approach to interior immigration enforcement: one that builds working partnerships with immigrant communities to apprehend dangerous criminals.” Read the full letter here.

CA congressional candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar on Tuesday with Democratic pollster John Zogby and his brother Jim Zogby, President of the Arab American Institute.
Paris Dennard with "Benjamin Franklin" on Saturday at the Young Republican National Federation gathering in Philadelphia. 
Ajit Pai Faces Questions Over CPAC Appearance
Two Democrats sent a letter on Monday to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his two fellow GOP Commissioners that included a list of questions about their CPAC attendance. "Your willingness to attend and help promote a political rally raises serious concerns about your roles as leaders of an independent federal agency, and the potential of taxpayer dollars being spent towards political ends," wrote Congressmen Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Mike Doyle (D-PA). The top two Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee go on to ask Pai and his colleagues -- GOP Commissioners Michael O'Reilly and Brendan Carr -- if they had consulted agency ethics officials about attending a political event and whether they had used FCC resources to prepare for the conference. During his appearance at CPAC, Pai was given a Courage Award sponsored by the NRA for his efforts to dismantle net neutrality despite ubiquitous criticism. But he later declined the award, citing the advice of FCC ethics officials. More here.
Lawmakers Want DOJ to Publicly Commit to Hands Off Mueller Investigation
Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ)
, and Kamala Harris (D-CA) are urging top officials at the Justice Department to publicly commit to not interfere with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, including refusing any requests from the White House. Their request, which was sent to those who are in the DOJ’s line of succession to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should he “either resign or be removed,” follows growing concern about possible political interference in Mueller’s inquiry. The Senators also asked the DOJ officials to provide a written and public commitment to refuse to interfere in Mueller's investigation. “We have significant concerns that the president or his White House could order individuals at the Department of Justice with the authority to oversee Special Counsel Mueller’s probe to interfere with the probe or shut it down," they wrote. “You have an oath to uphold the rule of law and protect the Constitution. ... This includes refusing to take part in any effort to deny the American public access to the truth and refusing to participate in any attempt by the president to interfere with a legitimate and critical investigation of national importance.” Legislators have introduced two bills that would limit the president’s ability to fire Mueller. More here.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a champion for working families, is looking for talented video editors to join our digital team’s 2018re-election campaign. You’ll help tell the story of our campaign for millions of people across Massachusetts and around the country -- and motivate people to join this fight. 
Click here to learn more and apply!
The Constitutional Accountability Center, a think tank, law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution, seeks a Policy Counsel to help us amplify our message and develop relationships further on the Hill and among coalition partners. 
Click here to learn more and apply!
Is Alex Acosta the Next Attorney General?
WaPo reports that Donald Trump has been mulling the possibility of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta as the next Attorney General. In their story, they write that Trump will “see a segment on TV and begin musing for someone in a job, creating uncertainty.” One such instance came after he saw Acosta on Fox & Friends one morning and asked about having the Labor Secretary as the next Attorney General. Current AG Jeff Sessions has seemingly been on thin ice with the president, who has publicly berated the former Alabama Senator several times. However, the same report says that Trump sometimes throws out five or 10 names a day for different jobs. Stay tuned to see who follows Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin out the Apprentice-style doors of the White House. More here.
Trump Admin Dismantles, then Adopts, Obama’s Prison Program and a Kushner-Sessions Beef Ensued 
During former President Barack Obama’s final months in office, the DOJ announced a new approach to preparing inmates for life after prison, creating a prison school system, pledging money for technology training, and promising to help prevent former inmates from returning. However, almost immediately after taking office, the Trump administration officials began to unravel the work by slashing budgets and scrapping the school system. Instead, AG Jeff Sessions brought his tough-on-crime philosophy to the Department and deep skepticism of Obama-era crime-fighting policies. When asked about incarceration in a recent interview with Time magazine, Sessions said, "This whole mentality that there's another solution other than incarceration ... All I will say to you is, people today don't know that every one of these things has been tried over the last 40 years." When asked about his policies as they relate to people of color, he said, "Whose side are you on? ... I'm on the victims' side, and overwhelmingly the victims are minorities. The prosecution of certain minorities for murder, the victim is overwhelmingly another African American or Hispanic. It occurs within their own communities. ... We are protecting minority citizens. ... The fundamental question is, who rules the streets? The government, or the outlaws?" Now, nearly a year and a half later, the White House has declared that reducing recidivism and improving prisoner education is a top priority. Sound familiar? Because it’s the very Obama-era policies they helped dismantle. At the end of 2016, Blacks represented 12% of the U.S. adult population but 33% of the sentenced prison population, and while Hispanics represented 16% of the adult population, they accounted for 23% of inmates. The NYT reports that this about-face has caused tension between First Son-In-Law Jared Kushner, who supports the reversal, and Sessions, who is against the sweeping change. According to reports, the two men reached a compromise in recent months: Kushner could push for the prison changes, but Sessions would position the administration strongly against a broader overhaul. But this move led to more trouble on Capitol Hill. Get the story here.
HUD’s Ben Carson Scales Back Fair Housing Enforcement
The Trump administration is shifting policies at HUD to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, while sidelining officials who have aggressively pursued civil rights cases, according to the NYT. The efforts are meant to roll back the Obama administration’s attempts to reverse decades of racial, ethnic and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects. Earlier this month, we told you Secretary Ben Carson cut the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from HUD’s mission statement. Career HUD officials say that Carson and his political appointees have begun weakening the department’s fair housing division. The move comes at a critical moment. A $28 billion line item in disaster recovery Community Development Block Grants was appropriated by Congress to rebuild the Gulf Coast and Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. In November email obtained by the NYT, a top HUD official relayed the news that the head of the Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity division, Anna Maria Farías, had ordered a hold on about a half-dozen fair housing investigations given the highest priority under former HUD Secretary under President Barack Obama, Julián Castro. The freeze would be in effect “until further notice,” the official wrote. One case that never made it to that stage is HUD’s response to a ProPublica article that said Facebook gives advertisers the ability to exclude specific groups it calls “ethnic affinities” from seeing their ads when their social media habits identified them as Black, Hispanic, or Asian American. Carson’s aides ordered fair housing division officials to cancel a planned negotiating session with Facebook executives, leaving HUD to take Facebook at its word that the company’s “policies prohibit using our targeting options to discriminate.” More here.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday with Carlos Casasús of Mexico's University Corporation for Internet Development (CUDI in Spanish).
Neil deGrasse Tyson on Monday hanging out with Steven Tyler to celebrate Tyler's 70th birthday.
Netflix Names Susan Rice to Board of Directors
Netflix has named Susan Rice to its Board of Directors. Rice, who served as UN Ambassador and National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama, joins the company after a long career in government. Before her jobs in the Obama administration, she served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and as a Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton. “I am thrilled to be joining the board of directors of Netflix, a cutting-edge company whose leadership, high-quality productions, and unique culture I deeply admire,” said Rice. The announcement of Rice joining the board comes as news that the Obamas are discussing a production partnership with Netflix in which the former president and Michelle Obama will be involved in a series of shows for the streaming-service-turned-production-company. Netflix is valued at $124 billion and boasts nearly 118 million subscribers worldwide who have access to more than 140 million hours worth of TV shows, movies, and original content. Rice is currently a Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow at American University’s School of International Service, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Contributing Opinion Writer for the NYT. More here.

Harvard Taps Obama Alumnus and Former Morehouse President
Former Barack Obama appointee John Silvanus Wilson has been named by Harvard President Drew Faust to serve as Senior Advisor and Strategist, as the University moves forward in implementing the recommendations of the new Presidential Task Force for Inclusion and Belonging. Wilson’s primary responsibility will be “to serve as a point person during the presidential transition in bringing the task force report to life and ensuring its enduring impact,” Faust said in a letter to the community. The Morehouse graduate, and former President of the HBCU, is no stranger to Harvard. He earned MA degrees from Harvard Divinity School in 1981 and the Graduate School of Education (GSE) in 1982, and a doctorate from GSE in 1985. Wilson is a member of the Board of Overseers, from which he will take a leave in order to serve in this new role. Wilson is currently President-in-Residence at GSE, where he is writing a book on the future of higher education, with an emphasis on HBCUs. The former head of the White House Initiative on HBCUs and former Senior Administrator at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says inclusion and belonging are built on diversity. “The undergraduate and graduate educational experience here should be a model for the kind of world that we want our students to go out and help shape,” he said in an interview. More here
Hawaii Lawmakers Vote to Erect Statue of Barack Obama
Hawaii lawmakers want to erect a statue of former President Barack Obama. A state Senate Judiciary Committee voted unanimously for a resolution requesting that the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts commission the statue. POTUS44 was born in Honolulu in 1961. The resolution will be referred to the state Senate’s Ways and Means Committee for consideration. It called for an art advisory committee to be formed that would select a location for the statue, review design proposals, and select an artist. It did not specify how the statue would be funded. The resolution said the U.S. thrived under Obama’s presidency. It also noted that the national deficit shrank by two-thirds and that 16 million Americans were able to obtain healthcare through the Affordable Care Act adopted during his administration. More here.
#TBT in Pics
That little baseball player is actually Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). She had different dreams as a youngster and her parents encouraged her to pursue them all. 
 Journo Tanzina Vega, who is now the new host of The Takeaway -- the nationally syndicated radio show from WNYC -- as a toddler in the '80s bursting with joy.
CBC Members Bypass Support for Claire McCaskill as Black Leaders Criticize Her Outreach
Black leaders in Missouri are frustrated with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and her lack of engagement with minority voters. At a town hall, Bruce Franks -- a prominent Black activist and state legislator from St. Louis -- said, “I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis.” His remarks were met with cheers and applause. In response to Franks comments, McCaskill asked African American elected officials in Kansas City and St. Louis to sign a letter of support. But Congressional Black Caucus Members Congressmen Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) and Lacy Clay (D-MO) declined. "I'm 100 percent certain that nobody signed it," Cleaver told the Kansas City Star. "We talked about it very seriously and strongly and every one of us said: 'We're going to support her, but signing this letter isn't going to achieve what she wants. It's just going to make people angry.'" McCaskill is running for re-election in a state Trump won by nearly 19 points in 2016, but Black leaders fear the centrist Senator will leave minority voters feeling taken for granted. Asked about the letter at a town hall in Kansas City on Wednesday, McCaskill said: “I think maybe the letter elevated the issue maybe more than it should have been and it was fine. I mean, listen, here's the bottom line: I am going to work very hard and not take one vote for granted. I am blessed to have a lot of friends and a lot of supporters in the Black community and I am not going to take one of them for granted.” Cleaver said he is sympathetic of McCaskill’s plight but offered this: “The state is large and diverse, but she might need to take the campaign into the repair shop in the black communities. I think if people see that she’s actually trying to win them over then I think it will be a benefit to her re-election.” McCaskill was an early supporter of former President Barack Obama and POTUS44 will be headlining a fundraiser for her in Beverly Hills in May. More here.
Conservative Vet Runs for Congress in PA
Dean Malik
, a lawyer who served two overseas tours in the Marines, is running for Congress in the 1st District, hoping to unseat fellow conservative Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). Malik describes himself as an unabashed conservative. The 47-year-old was a prosecutor in the Bucks County D.A.'s Office before working for several law firms, finally settling into solo practice. He was raised Jewish by a Jewish mother from the Bronx and a Muslim father from Pakistan. He volunteered for the military at 23, which led to two overseas tours -- one in Iraq and one in Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa. The 1993 Syracuse University graduate went on to complete law school at Villanova in 1997. Malik’s campaign materials brand him a “Real Republican” in the mold of Donald Trump, and he says American workers have been under attack due to the global warming agenda. “And now the President is properly putting the American worker and the American economy first,” he said. More about him here.
Collective PAC Endorses in Key Congressional Races
The Collective PAC, which supports Black American candidates, yesterday announced their next round of endorsements in congressional races across the country. Michigan state Senator Ian Conyers, who is running to succeed former Congressman John Conyers Jr. -- his uncle -- received the Collective PAC’s endorsement in the state's 13th Congressional District. Ian Conyers received their endorsement over John Conyers III, who has filed to succeed his father in representing the district. Lucy McBath, Moms Demand Action spokesperson and mother of slain teen Jordan Davis, has received the PAC’s nod in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. McBath is challenging Republican Congresswoman Karen Handel, who defeated Jon Ossoff in a costly, nationally watched special election last year. The PAC also endorsed Tamara Harris in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. She is running to replace retiring Congressman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ). In Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District, the Collective PAC endorsed Ayanna Pressley, the Boston City Councillor challenging incumbent Congressman Michael Capuano in the Democratic primary. The group also announced 16 endorsements on the state and municipal levels. More here.
Eric Holder: 2, Scott Walker: 0
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals yesterday rejected WI Governor Scott Walker’s (R) request to extend a lower court’s order saying he must call the two special elections by today. Walker and the GOP-controlled legislature have been working around the clock to pass legislation to change the law and avoid the elections. This is a response to a lawsuit filed by former AG Eric Holder and his group, the National Redistricting Foundation -- whose parent is the National Democratic Redistricting Committee -- late last month on behalf of WI voters. Democrats have argued that Walker delayed calling the elections over fear Republicans would lose them; Walker has said he is saving taxpayers money. The Governor now plans to call a special election for June 12th. Scoreboard check? Eric Holder’s ahead. More here.
Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) last week at her baby shower with Senate colleagues Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
Adi Sathi, RNC's Director of Asian Pacific American Engagement, last week at the WH forum focusing on the opioid crisis and other issues.
NYT Releases Diversity Data
The New York Times Company yesterday released a report sharing detailed data about the ethnic and gender composition of their staff members. The data show that there have been gains in places, including in business leadership, where people of color now comprise 21% of the total, up from 16% in 2015. However, other areas have shown a decline. The overall percentage of people of color declined slightly -- from 21% in 2016 to 20% in 2017. In the News and Opinion departments, Black people in leadership saw a 2% decline between 2016 and 2017, going from 6% to 4%. The number of Latino staff in these same departments has been stagnant at 5% since at least 2015. However, the NYT Co. announced that company-wide, 61% of their new hires in 2017 were women, and 39% were people of color. More here.
Vanity Fair Names New Film Critic
K. Austin Collins
has joined Vanity Fair as a Film Critic. He has previously written for The Ringer. His published work, on films such as Spike Lee's Chi-Raq and the '90s flop 54, has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books and the Brooklyn Rail. He is also an accomplished crossword constructor, with puzzles appearing regularly in the NYT and elsewhere. The 2009 Harvard graduate wrote on Black hood films post-Rodney King as an undergraduate, and his dissertation, The Age of Outrage, examines recent American films and the politicized prominence of online film culture and debate, from arguments over the importance of historical veracity and complaints about "poverty porn," to vehement defenses of superhero movies. He just recently earned his Ph.D. from Princeton. Congrats, K. Austin! More about him here.
NGLCC Adds Nedra Dickson to Board
The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), the business voice of the LGBT community, recently announced that Nedra Dickson, Supplier Diversity and Sustainability Lead for Accenture, had joined the Board of Directors. The Arkansas native, who holds a Master’s from the University of Southern California, a Bachelor’s from Florida State University, and a Bachelor’s from California State University at Northridge, has worked at Accenture since 2000. “Accenture believes that the workforce of the future is an equal one, and we are striving to be the most inclusive and diverse company in the world. Organizations like the NGLCC share that vision of promoting inclusion and diversity,” she said. More here.
Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) on Wednesday in Puerto Rico with DNC Youth Council member Elisa Muñoz.

Congresswoman Nan Hayworth (R-NY), Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) CoS Jennifer DeCasper, and journo Mollie Hemingway on Monday at an RNC forum discussing women in politics.
Bobby Scott Cries Foul Over Proposed HHS Religion Rule
Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a public comment letter urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to withdraw a proposed rule that would allow hospitals, doctors, and other individuals and institutions to deny care to patients based on religious beliefs. The members raised concerns that the proposed rule out of the Department's Office for Civil Rights would ultimately allow for greater discrimination in the country’s healthcare system. The lawmakers say the proposed rule is the latest in a long list of attacks by the administration to erode civil rights under the guise of religious liberty. “Religious liberty is a fundamental American value, but religion should not permit a person to cause harm to others or subvert the rights of others,” wrote the members. “Women, minorities, members of the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups already face widespread discrimination in our health care system and this policy would only make this worse by offering an extensive group of individuals and entities a license to discriminate.” See the full letter here.
Senators Urge Education Dept. to Focus on School Safety and not Scapegoats
The day before the March for Our Lives demonstrations across the country calling for stricter gun laws, Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Menéndez (D-NJ), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and others sent a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos urging the Department to focus on “tangible ways” to prevent gun violence in schools instead of blaming the Parkland, FL shooting on a 2014 directive on school discipline. In the wake of the Florida shooting, the Trump administration announced a new Federal Commission on School Safety that includes considering repealing that Obama-era guideline on school discipline. The Senators wrote last Friday that focusing on getting rid of that guideline was a distraction and that revoking it “will not address issues of gun violence and instead will leave schools less informed and without guidance on how to uphold the civil rights of students of color and students with disabilities while administering school discipline.” The blame, the Senators said, should be placed squarely on “our lax system of background checks and minimum age for firearm purchase, both of which allow too many mass shooters to gain access to weapons of war.” See the full letter here.
FOMO
Today, 5:30P: The Congressional Hispanic Staff Association hosts a happy hour to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and to welcome the new ones. 201 Bar, 201 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E. Click here for more information and to RSVP.
Today, 6P: A happy hour in support of IL congressional candidate Lauren Underwood. Ben’s Next Door, 1211 U Street, N.W. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Today, 8P: Jazz, hip hop, and soul combine in August Greene, the newly formed supergroup featuring emcee Common, pianist and composer Robert Glasper, and percussionist and producer Karriem Riggins. Kennedy Center. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Tuesday, April 3rd, 9A: The National Civil Rights Museum's MLK 50 Symposium. Scholars, historians, and thought leaders from across the country will present on the state of civil and human rights issues including Moving Memphis Forward, Economic Equity & Justice for All, and The Promise of Education. Moderated by former NPR Host Michele Norris. Rose Theatre, University of Memphis, 470 University, Memphis, TN. Free. Click here to register
Wednesday, April 4th, 5:45P: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) hosts its 2018 Latino State of the Union. Time Warner Center, One Time Warner Center, 10th Floor, The Screening Room, New York City. To RSVP, contact Heaven Ocampohocampo@maldef.org or 213.629.2512 ext. 143. 
Thursday, April 5th - Friday, April 6th: Hispanics in Philanthropy 35th Anniversary National Leadership Conference and HIPGiver Gala. This year’s conference theme, "Investing in Leaders, Justice and Opportunity for All," highlights HIPs focus on equity, opportunity and community empowerment. San Francisco. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, April 17th, 8AThe Hill Latino hosts "Latinos in College: Closing the Graduation Gap." The program will feature lawmakers, university presidents, education officials, and students in a series of conversations exploring strategies to boost Hispanic college completion rates. The event is sponsored by Excelencia in Education and Gallup. 901 F Street, N.W. RSVP to events@thehill.com. 
Wednesday, April 18th, 10:30A: Dialogue on Diversity hosts a public policy forum, "Thoughts on Women’s History Month, New Voices in a Chaotic World - Women Save The Civic Order." Busboys & Poets, 2021 14th Street, N.W. Free. Click here for more information.
Wednesday, April 18th, 6P: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) 2018 Gala and Awards. Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. To purchase tickets, contact Heaven Ocampo, hocampo@maldef.org or 213.629.2512 ext. 143. 
Wednesday, April 18th - Saturday, April 21st: The National Action Network hosts its annual conference, this year commemorating the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Sheraton Times Square, NYC. Click here for more information
Thursday, April 19th: The University of North Dakota sponsors a conference on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock protests. Click here for more information.
Tuesday, April 24th - Thursday, April 26th: The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Legislative Conference. The Willard Intercontinental Hotel, DC. Click here for more information and to register.
Wednesday, April 25th - Friday, April 27th: The African American Mayor Association 2018 Annual Conference. DoubleTree Hotel, 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, VA. Click here to purchase tickets
Wednesday, May 2nd, 6P: The Latino Victory Fund hosts Latino Talks 2018, on how Latinos are changing America. Special guests include former Univisión anchor María Elena SalinasClick here to purchase tickets
Friday, May 11th, 9A: The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights holds a public briefing on hate crimes and bias-related incidents. The Commission will examine best practices for local law enforcement on collecting and reporting data, and the role of the Education and Justice Departments in prevention and prosecution. USCCR, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 1150. RSVP to publicaffairs@usccr.gov. Click here to watch a livestream of the briefing.
Wednesday, June 6th - Saturday, June 9th: The Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit. Charlotte, NC. More than 1,000 CEOs, investors, and business experts are expected to attend.Click here for more information and to register
Thursday, June 21st - Sunday, June 24th: The Black Millennial Political Convention, which aims to increase engagement of Black millennials in the political sphere and shed a light on policy issues impacting black communities. This year’s theme is The Advocacy of Policy, Pipeline and Power for the People. Hyatt Regency, Crystal City, VA. Click here for more information and to purchase tickets.
Saturday, July 7th - Tuesday, July 10th: The 2018 UnidosUS annual conference, Marriott Marquis Hotel, DC. Click here for more information and to register.
Tuesday, July 17th - Wednesday, July 18th: The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) 2018 National Women’s Conference. Phoenix. Click here for more information and to register.
Wednesday, August 1st - Saturday, August 4th: The National Urban League 2018 Annual Conference “Save Our Cities: Powering the Digital Revolution.” Columbus, OH. Click here for more information and to register.
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