From Sea to Shining Sea: 5 Examples of Voter Fraud across America

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This is from the Daily Signal.

We all remember the words of Eric The Lawless Holder when he said voter fraud does not exist. 

Contrary to the assertions of many, voter fraud is not a myth.


It is a stark reality that exists nationwide, from the rural counties of Georgia to the urban centers of New York.

The Heritage Foundation has documented nearly 250 caseswhere nefarious citizens, officials, candidates and campaign operatives conspired to commit vote fraud, compromising the integrity of our elections to achieve their ideological goals.

Here are some of the egregious new additions to the voter fraud database:

1. Kentucky

In eastern Kentucky, Ross Harris and Loren Glenn Turnerfunneled $41,000 to the 2002 county judgeship campaign of Doug Hays for what the defendants claimed was a lawful operation to pay more than 1,200 people $50 each to drive voters to the polls.

But a jury determined that this alleged vote-hauling program was just a disguise for what was in reality a vote-buying scheme. The punishment reflected the severity of the fraud:Hays was sentenced to six months behind bars, and Harris was hit with a $100,000 fine.

2. Mississippi

Not to be outdone, William Greg Eason of Tallahatchie County, Mississippi bribed voters with beer and money to cast fraudulent absentee ballots for a district supervisor candidate in a 2003 run-off election. A jury found him guilty, and he was sentenced to two years in prison, a punishment that also clearly reflected the severity of the offense.

3. West Virginia

Voter fraud and its ill effects are not limited to elections for local offices. On the contrary, voter fraud can and often does occur in connection with elections to the nation’s highest offices. In Lincoln County, West Virginia, Circuit Clerk Greg Stowers and five other Democrats were charged in 2005 with participating in a conspiracy to buy votes in congressional and presidential elections dating back to 1990.

The men paid for votes in liquor and cash (typically $20 per vote), handed out slates listing preferred candidates, and performed favors for supporters. All six eventually pleaded guilty to these charges in 2006, and Stowers was sentenced to six months in federal prison.

4. Georgia

A case out of Georgia shows that voter fraud has the power to steal an election from the rightful victor.

Tommy Raney, a 2007 candidate for a city council seat, and his campaign worker, Debra Brown, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit absentee ballot fraud.

Raney won the election against Larry Pickett by only 27 votes. Raney and Brown were fined $158,000 and $20,000, respectively. Despite the fraud, the election results were never officially overturned, and Raney did not resign his city council seat until nearly two years later, in September of 2009.

5. Iowa

Martia Yvonne Phillips and eight others in Iowa  pleaded  guilty to voting in the 2008 election despite being convicted felons who had not had their voting rights restored. Phillips voted while still on probation for a 2006 felony drug conviction. She was subsequently sentenced to five years in prison, a sentence that was suspended to two years’ probation.

Voter fraud clearly exists in many forms and in many places despite earnest efforts by some authorities to crack down hard on offenders. Moreover, voter fraud is easy to commit and tough to investigate after the fact, particularly when inadequate safeguards exist to detect the crime in the first place.

That is why it is important for state legislatures to enact commonsense legislation designed to combat voter fraud before it can distort an electoral result. Voter ID laws—which many liberals love to criticize, but which a majority of Americans across ideological lines support—are an answer to many types of voter fraud, including fraudulent use of absentee ballots.

But other measures are also needed, such as requiring proof of citizenship to register and verification of the accuracy of voter registration information.

Critics often argue that laws intended to uphold the integrity of elections are ineffective and unnecessary.

Voting Fraud Prevented

But take the case of Carol Hannah of Colorado. Hannah was registered to vote in Mohave County, Arizona and Adams County, Colorado and was convicted of voting in both statesduring the 2010 election. Hannah’s double-voting was detected by the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a system that examines shared voter data from more than 25 states and checks for identical name and date-of-birth matches to ensure the accuracy of voter rolls and to ensure that individuals like Hannah cannot unlawfully double-dip.

In that case, the program did exactly what it was designed to do. Hannah was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

Democracy is one of America’s finest traditions; voter fraud is not.

The implications of these cases are clear: election fraud exists, and it is neither isolated nor inconsequential. We can and must take steps to detect and deter this problem.




Drunk teacher wins unemployment benefits; gets to keep license

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This is from Iowa

What in the Hell has happened to the teaching profession?


DES MOINES, Iowa — If Dennis Pagel had taken a box of school supplies while working as a teacher at Dallas-Center Grimes Middle School, he could have gotten in serious trouble.

Luckily for Pagel, he just showed up for work drunk and on OxyContin.

For lighting up a breath test at three times the legal limit, Pagel received a three-day suspension with pay and later was allowed to resign.

He’s now collecting unemployment, thanks to a ruling by an administrative law judge earlier this month.

Iowa Watchdog tied to contact Pagel to discuss his case, but he has failed to reply.

Pagel, who had been a teacher in the Dallas-Center Grimes Community School District since 2005, was initially denied unemployment benefits due to “work-connected misconduct.”

He appealed the decision. In his appeal, Pagel did not dispute the facts.

On the morning of May 27, Pagel showed up for work with a severe hangover, and he had taken OxyContin. At lunch, Pagel decided to treat his hangover by going home and drinking.

When he returned to school, Pagel was so obviously drunk his fellow teachers informed Principal Jerry Hlas.

Hlas summoned Pagel to his office, and Pagel confessed to drinking. He claimed recent weight-loss surgery had made him more sensitive to the effects of alcohol.

Hlas contacted the Dallas Center Police. Officer Derrick Spoerry responded to the call and administered a breath test to Pagel.

Pagel registered a blood-alcohol level of .297, more than three times the legal limit for drivers.

A search of Pagel’s car uncovered a bottle of vodka.

Dallas-Center Grimes Middle School. Photo courtesy of the city of Grimes

TEACHER IS A LUCKY DRUNK: The Dallas-Center Grimes Community School district decided not report a drunk teacher to state officials. Under Iowa law, the district isn’t required to report drunk or stoned teachers.

According to Spoerry’s report, Hlas said he would have Pagel driven home and that “the school would handle this issue.”

Pagel was not arrested and no charges were brought against him.

Instead, Pagel received a three-day suspension with pay.

At his appeal, Pagel testified that a few days later he was told by “district officials” they  received complaints that Pagel’s punishment was too lenient.

Pagel then struck a deal with the district. He was allowed to resign. In return, the district agreed not to oppose his application for unemployment benefits.

Since the district didn’t even have a representative participate in the appeal, the judge said he had no choice but to rule in Pagel’s favor.

But Pagel’s deal with the district did more than just enable him to receive unemployment benefits. It will also make it easier for him to get future employment.

The district agreed not to inform future employers as to why Pagel resigned.

Those potential future employers include every other school district in Iowa, because the district also agreed not to inform the Iowa Board of Education Examiners, the body that licenses teachers.

Iowa Watchdog tried to contact Dallas-Center Grimes Community School District Superintendent Scott Grimes, but he has not responded to questions left on his voicemail about the district’s deal with Pagel and about the district’s policy regarding drunken teachers.

Remarkably enough, Iowa schools are not required to report teachers who are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

“They certainly can report that behavior, but when the Legislature revised the reporting requirements in 2012, it only required reporting for three separate areas of behavior,” Darcy Lane, an attorney for BoEE, told Iowa Watchdog.

“Those areas are soliciting, encouraging or consummating a romantic or otherwise inappropriate relationship with a student; falsifying students’ grades, test scores or other official information or materials; and converting public property or funds to the personal use of the school employee,” Lane said.

Any of those activities will get a teacher’s license revoked.

So will certain crimes: forcible felonies — such as murder, armed robbery and rape — and sexual crimes involving minors.

“All other criminal convictions that don’t rise to that level are assessed according to factors such as how recently the offense occurred and how many offenses there were,” Lane explained.

Even if Pagel had been arrested for public drunkenness he would have been facing only a suspension of his teaching license.

Since 2012, B0EE has disciplined five teachers for alcohol or drug use at school. Each had his or her license suspended for two years and was required to take an ethics course.

If after the end of that period the teacher can document at least two years continual sobriety, the suspension will be lifted.

The fact that Pagel testified to an administrative law judge that he was drunk at school does nothing to jeopardize his teaching license.

According to Lane, “In order to initiate an investigation, the board needs to receive a complaint. The board doesn’t have the authority to initiate a complaint by itself, it has to receive a complaint from an eligible complainant.”

Eligible complainants include any licensed educational professional, as well as parents whose children have been effected by unethical or criminal behavior.

So far, B0EE has received no complaints about Pagel.


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This is from Breitbarts Big Government.


At the beginning of 2013, Obama and his Democrat party were in firm control of the nation’s political terrain. Obama had won a convincing reelection by again boosting turnout of his young and minority voter base. Contrary to expectations, the Democrats gained two seats in the Senate, extending their control of the chamber, and made modest gains in the House. The Republicans, after squandered an almost unprecedented opportunity, were have something of an existential crisis. What a difference a year makes.

Not only did 2013 see a resurgence of the Republican party, it provided a number of political surprises throughout the year. The following were the biggest surprises of the year.

5. The Collapse of Marco Rubio

At the beginning of the year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) seemed the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016. A poll of Iowa Republicans in January showed him with a commanding lead with a crowded field, running ahead of his closest competitor, Rep. Paul Ryan, by over eight points. In December, however, Rubio polled 8th in Iowa, garnering support from just 6% of Republicans in the state. In national polls, he polls around 6th place. It is a breathtaking political collapse.

Rubio’s political fortunes were reversed by a fundamental misreading of the electorate on immigration reform. There is a robust case to be made for reforming our nation’s immigration system. The approach adopted by the Senate and promoted by Rubio, however, is arguably worse than the current system. It provides immediate legalization for 11 million illegal immigrants and effectively does almost nothing to secure the border. Even the modest security provisions in the bill would likely be ignored by the Obama Administration, which has ignored existing Congressional directives related to the border.

Like amnesty legislation in 1986, it provides legalization with a promise of security that will likely never materialize. Also like the deal in 1986, it will likely provide an incentive for even greater illegal immigration in the future. The GOP establishment and its business allies may still approve immigration reform in 2014, but Rubio’s political standing is unlikely to return.

4. The ObamaCare Rollout Disaster

I always expected ObamaCare to ultimately be a failure. I did not anticipate, however, the smoldering wreckage that was its rollout. The government simply had to build a website with no more complexity than Amazon or any other e-commerce site. It also had hundreds of millions of dollars and three years to build it. Even the government didn’t seem incompetent enough to screw that up.

Oh, but it did.

Even more surprising was the very slow response of the Obama Administration to the obvious disaster. Subsequent reports have detailed several warnings to government officials that the website wasn’t ready to launch, wasn’t secure, and wasn’t even accessible. Did no one take these remotely seriously? Did they think unicorns and pixie dust would mask these failures?

In October, in the aftermath of the government shutdown, Democrats led the generic congressional ballot by eight points. In the wake of the ObamaCare rollout disaster, Republicans have gained an unprecedented 13 points and now lead Democrats by 5.

3. The GOP’s War on Its Base

Inexplicably, the Republican party establishment reacted to its defeats in 2012 by declaring war on its base, conservative voters. Party officials and strategists blamed their defeat on the “tea party” and conservatives, who presumably turned off more “moderate” voters. The problem with this narrative is that the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, won Independents by five points. Republicans lost because the Democrats did a better job turning out their base voters. For the past two elections, the GOP has given its nomination to the most “moderate” candidate running. It is clearly not a recipe for success.

In the past few years, there have been some candidates with strong tea party backing who in the end were flawed. There have been far more “establishment” candidates who also lost. Todd Aiken won the GOP primary in Missouri because the tea party was divided between two other candidates. Richard Lugar had the edge over eventual nominee Richard Mourdock, until it was revealed that Lugar didn’t have an actual residence in his state. At least make a pretense of representing a state. At least six “establishment” and “electable” Senate candidates, enough to secure a majority, went down to defeat in 2012.

The party and its business allies, however, have vowed to challenge conservatives in primaries next year. The GOP establishment will no doubt be able to raise millions to wage this pyrrhic war, but it is hard to see how it will have the “boots on the ground” to win elections. It may very well spark its own destruction as a national political force.

2. Obama’s Irrelevance

Congress ended its year passing the first budget agreement in five years. Most surprising, though, is that it accomplished this because Obama wasn’t part of the negotiations. The Democrats’ lead negotiator, Sen. Patty Murray, intentionally kept the White House out of the talks.

It was a dramatic turn around for a President who won a solid reelection just a year ago. At the start of 2013, Obama’s approval rating was nearly 60%. By a combination of political miscalculation and detachment, Obama has squandered all the political capital he won through his reelection.

He has made high-profile pushes for gun control, immigration reform, climate change and a higher minimum wage. Progress on these issues is arguably harder now than it was before Obama made them priorities.

In foreign policy, an area where second term presidents generally focus, Obama has led a withdrawal of the US from the world stage. America was a passive observer to the dramatic events in Egypt. Our absence allowed Russia to reassert its influence in the region for the first time in decades. China is expanding its influence throughout the world. Obama drew a line in the sand on Syria and then quickly retreated. His outreach to Iran has angered almost all of our allies. They don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us.

1. Obama’s Political Resilience

With his approval ratings at the lowest of his Presidency, it may seem counterintuitive to talk about Obama’s political resilience. Consider, however, what he has withstood this year.

We have learned that the government is engaged in comprehensive surveillance of Americans. The NSA tracks our web activity and even keeps records on every phone call we make. Worse, the Administration has lied about its activities repeatedly. The government even targeted reporters it suspected of working with government whistleblowers.

We also learned that the government was using the IRS to target its political opponents. This targeting went beyond supervision of tax-exempt groups and included audits of major Republican donors. When a cancer patient went public with the news that he was losing his health insurance as a result of ObamaCare, he quickly learned he was being audited by the IRS.

PoliticFact names Obama’s oft repeated promise that people can keep their health insurance the “lie of the year.” Millions of Americans have lost their health insurance as a result of his signature legislative achievement. The cancellation of these policies and problems with the law’s implementation raise the real possibility that fewer Americans will have insurance when ObamaCare takes full effect on January 1st.

I could literally run through a half-dozen more issues, any one of which would cripple most presidencies. That’s even before considering the anemic economic “recovery.” Obama does currently have the lowest approval rating of any 2-term President, at this point, since Richard Nixon. Still, between 40-42% of the public approves of the job he is doing. How is this even possible?

The most surprising thing about 2013 is that Obama has absorbed more negative shocks than almost all modern-day presidents combined and yet is still supported by only a little less than half the public. Even his currently low approval ratings defy gravity.

Something’s got to give next year.


Ted Cruz’s Father: ‘Obamacare Is Going to Destroy the Elderly’

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This is from ABC News.

Rafael Cruz is 100% correct in his assessment of Obamacare.

 Sarah Palin said the same thing back during the 2008 election

she was savaged by the Lame Stream Media.

The Obama Media will once more savage Rafael and Ted Cruz for

telling the truth about Obamacare and the death panels.


AMES, Iowa — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is the subject of endless 2016 presidential speculation, and if he does decide to run, he’s already learned one important lesson.

“You all had the opportunity earlier this afternoon to get to know my father. And as you saw, my dad is very soft spoken,” Cruz joked during a speech in Iowa this weekend. “I will confess, I am today violating what has been a cardinal rule, which is never, ever, ever follow my father at the podium.”

Cruz and his father, Rafael, a Texas pastor, both addressed a gathering of Christian conservatives in Ames, Iowa on Saturday, and the elder Cruz — speaking without notes — recounted his imprisonment and torture in Cuba during the 1950′s and subsequent immigration to the United States.

“A young charismatic leader rose up, talking about hope and change,” Rafael Cruz said in a veiled reference to President Obama’s 2008 campaign themes. “His name was Fidel Castro.”

For nearly 20 minutes, the pastor regaled the audience with a fiery pro-Christian, anti-Obama speech that drew a boisterous standing ovation from the crowd at an annual summit organized by the Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative group.

“This administration has both their hands in your pocket,” the 74-year-old Cruz said. “They’re going to take everything you have.”

Near the end of his speech, he declared: “Obamacare is going to destroy the elderly by denying care, by even perhaps denying treatment to people who are in catastrophic circumstances.”

If his son, a first-term U.S. Senator, does decide to run for president, it’s clear that his father will be an impressive surrogate on the campaign trail. Cruz is no stranger to the media limelight, and he has been taking on a more public role as his son’s star has risen.

In an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network last month, Cruz called his son “gifted above any man that I know.”

“God has destined you for greatness,” he said of the senator.

And Rafael Cruz is about to get a lot more attention soon.  Later this month, he will embark on a “Defund Obamacare Tour” organized by the Heritage Foundation, which will take him to cities across the country between Aug. 19 and Aug. 29.


The Return of State Surpluses Could Point to More Growth to Come

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This is from The Daily Beast.

Maybe the rest of the nation should follow the example set

the state of Texas.

My home state of Indian is not doing bad budget wise.

Hey Barack this is how to grow the nation’s economy.

This spring, budget surpluses are blossoming across America. We’ve noted that the combination of employment growth and tax increases is boosting federal revenues significantly—13 percent in the first five months of the current fiscal year. Combined with a bit of fiscal discipline, the higher revenues are helping to reduce the (still massive) federal budget deficit.

Matthew Borkoski/Getty

But America’s 50 states aren’t permitted to run deficits. So each year, state legislatures pass, and governors sign, budgets for the next fiscal year in which expenditure are supposed to align with expected revenues. Then, they wait and hope that the revenues actually materialize.

That’s happening—and more. In the current fiscal year (fiscal 2013, which started last spring or summer in most states), the level of spending rose just 2.2 percent from fiscal 2012, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO). That’s far below the historical average of 5.6 percent growth per year. But state revenues are growing more rapidly than spending. In the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, state tax receipts were up 5.7 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011. For the full year, revenues probably rose about 4 percent. Now, late 2012 tax receipts were boosted in part because so many companies rushed dividend payments out the door to avoid the prospect of higher taxes.

Still, with revenues rising more rapidly than spending, deficits are evaporating in state capitals. “It’s likely most states will end the year with a slight surplus,” said Brian Sigritz, director of state fiscal studies at NASBO.

Surpluses are showing up in places you’d expect. North Dakota, currently enjoying an energy and agricultural boom, is projecting a $1.6 billion surplus over its two-year budgeting cycle. Texas, another resource-rich state, foresees an $8.8 billion surplus over its current two-year budget cycle.

But the Rust Belt is also regaining some of its fiscal shine. Ohio is expecting a $1 billion surplus for the current fiscal year. Wisconsin is looking at $484 million in black ink. Other states with surpluses include Iowa ($800 million) and Tennessee ($580 million). West Virginia completed its 2011–12 fiscal year with a surplus of about $88 million.

Some of the coastal states whose finances were hit hardest by collapsing housing markets and persistently high unemployment are also making a comeback. For the past several years, California’s massive, recurring deficits have made life miserable for politicians and inspired comparisons to Greece. Thanks to tough spending cuts, higher taxes, and a general recovery, California’s finances are on the mend. “California expects to take in $2.4 billion more in revenue than it will spend this fiscal year, which ends June 30,” Tami Luhby of CNN Money reported. “After paying off a shortfall from last year and setting aside funds for upcoming obligations, it’s on track to end the year with a $36 million surplus.” Florida, another state that has had to deal with harsh cuts to rein in deficits, is also now in the black. The current projection is for a surplus of $437 million.

Now, this doesn’t mean the state and local financial problems are over. States in New England and the Northeast ravaged by slow growth and weather-related destruction—New York, New Jersey, Connecticut—must still cut their way to balance. In real terms—i.e., adjusted for inflation—state revenues are still below the their pre-recession peak, notes Liz McNichol, an analyst at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Most states have long-term problems with underfunded pensions. Cities, which have far less flexibility in raising revenues, continue to suffer. On Monday, Stockton, California, declared a rare Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

But in states with surpluses, life is becoming more fun for governors. Governors like John Kasich (Ohio), Mike Pence (Indiana), and Terry Branstad (Iowa) are pushing for tax cuts. Others are essentially pocketing the cash, stowing it in rainy-day funds or using it to cope with higher spending requirements. Tennessee is looking to use cash to spend more on health care and its prison system. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, up for reelection in 2014, is seeking to raise pay for teachers. Looking ahead to fiscal 2014, which starts for most states later this year, NASBO says almost every state is projecting a spending increase, and up to a dozen are cutting income taxes. (Here’s a state-by-state summary of next year’s budgets.)

Analysts are holding out hope that the return of surpluses will help reverse one of the most devastating results of the last several years. Governors and legislatures have frequently sought to balance their budgets by firing employees—including teachers and police officers. Since January 2009, state and local governments have reduced employment by 746,000—or about 4 percent. It’s likely that some of the increased tax revenues will be used to recall laid-off employees.

Sustained growth is the miracle cure for deficits. And when it comes to state finances, surpluses can help spur further growth.


Harkin: ‘Is It a Spending Problem? No … It’s a Misallocation of Wealth’

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This is from CNSNews.

Shame on the people of  Iowa for electing this mental midget.

Shame on you for reelecting this mental midget.

We need to remove this mentality from Congress.


( – Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said on Thursday that U.S. government does not have a spending problem, but America suffers from “a misallocation of wealth.”

“I look at it this way,” Harkin said at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the law that includes the automatic spending cuts referred to as “sequestration”). “We’re the richest nation in the history of the world.  That kind of begs the question doesn’t it? If we’re so rich, why are we so broke?”

“Is it a spending problem? Harkin said. “No, it’s because we have a misallocation of capital, a misallocation of wealth.”

“All of this wealth that’s been built up by hard-working Americans has been accumulated into fewer and fewer and fewer hands all the time,” Harkin said.

Harkin, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, criticized a U.S. tax code he said benefits wealthy people.

“I tell you we’ve got to get back to a better, rationale system of revenues and spending in this country and back to our obligations,” Harkin said. “I just feel very strongly, that it’s not just appropriations that’s causing this problem.

“It’s the lack of the revenue that we should be taking in to meet our obligations as a country,” Harkin said.

But Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who said she supported tax increases for the wealthy and opposed letting sequestration commence, took issue with Harkin’s views on federal spending.

“It’s very difficult to follow the eloquence of my colleague from Iowa,” Collins said. “The fact is, however, I believe we do have a spending problem and the $16.4 trillion dollar debt is ample evidence of that.”


Sen. Harkin to Retire

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This is from The Washington Free Beacon.


It is not any loss Tom Harkin is leaving the Senate.

One less DemocRat Progressive Communist in the Senate.


Citing old age, Senator to retire amid questions of cronyism

Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin will retire from the Senate at the end of his term in January 2015, the Associated Press has reported.

The 73-year-old Harkin told The Associated Press in an interview, “It’s just time to step aside,” noting that by the time he would finish a sixth term, he would be 81.

The AP noted that Harkin has $2.7 million in his campaign war chest and was planning to attend a fundraising event next month.

Harkin has come under scrutiny for his relationship to donors and thepolitical science institute at Iowa State University named after him.

PMX Industries, which manufactures sheet metal and has millions of dollars in contracts with the U.S. Mint, donated to the Harkin Institute of Public Policy. Harkin has advocated shifting from the dollar bill to a dollar coin.

Herbalife, a health and nutritional supplement company, also donated to the institute, but it has also been Harkin’s largest contributor to his campaigns. Sen. Harkin, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee, wrote the wellness title in Obamacare, and has appeared in promotional material for Herbalife.

The Iowa Board of Regents, on which Harkin’s wife sits and which approved the institute, voted to prohibit any new institutes from being named after active politicians.


Republicans consider ending Iowa straw poll, in post election reset

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This is from Fox News Politics.

It is not only time to reform Iowa but New Hampshire.

There many things that need fixed with the primary system.

The GOP needs to take a hard look at the complete process.


DES MOINES, Iowa –  In the days since Republicans lost an election many in the party thought was theirs, chatter has been bubbling about what the GOP should do to recover.

For Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, it starts with the smallest of actions: abandoning the state’s now-infamous straw poll.

Once a festive checkpoint on the road to the leadoff Iowa caucuses, the poll has devolved into a full-blown sideshow, Branstad and other critics contend. They say it’s an unfair and false test that has felled good candidates and kept others from competing in the state.

“It’s just something that’s gotten totally out of control,” said veteran GOP presidential campaign consultant Charlie Black. “It’s been bad for years, but no one has had the guts to say it until now.”

The poll, which morphed over the decades into a closely watched early test of caucus campaign strength, had “outlived its usefulness,” Branstad told The Wall Street Journal this week. Some activists contend it amplifies the voices of candidates lacking broad appeal.

Branstad says he has widespread support for a different event to replace the poll, held in Ames the summer before every contested presidential caucus since 1979. It has become a lavish affair where campaigns spend heavily to wine, dine, entertain and chauffeur their supporters by bus to the Iowa State University campus.

Critics have increasingly called it a shakedown. Not only do campaigns buy up thousands of tickets for their supporters to attend the event, they bid thousands of dollars for prime spots to pitch tents near the voting area on the college campus.

It’s all to show early support in Iowa, where the precinct caucuses traditionally lead off the early-state nominating march, even though only a fraction of caucusgoers turn out for the straw poll.

“It’s a tedious effort. It costs a lot of money. It’s totally irrelevant at the end of the day. It used to be a test of organization,” said Ed Rollins, who managed Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign at the time she won the 2012 straw poll. “Today it’s a lot of effort and a lot of energy that really is not worth the effort.”

Bachmann spent $2 million on the August straw poll and edged Texas Rep. Ron Paul with heavy support from religious conservatives.

“The straw poll doesn’t provide a complete cross-section of the caucus-going electorate,” said Phil Musser, an adviser to former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

Pawlenty pinned his hopes on a strong finish in Ames last year but dropped out of the race for the GOP nomination after finishing third, never reaching the caucuses in his neighboring state.

Only about 17,000 turned out for the straw poll, one-seventh the size of the roughly 120,000 who voted on caucus night in January.

John McCain, the GOP’s nominee in 2008, and onetime favorite Rudy Giuliani opted not to compete for the straw poll, turned off by the event’s heavy influence by Christian conservatives. They ran scaled down caucus campaigns as a result.

Romney did not compete in the 2011 straw poll, choosing to project himself as a national candidate who didn’t need to define himself among the Iowa GOP’s rank and file.

But in 2007, Romney spent millions and won, only to struggle to a second-place caucus finish. A month later, he quit the race.

During that campaign, the former Massachusetts governor was so struck by the ferocity of opposition by Iowa Republican activists to illegal immigration that he tacked to the right to distinguish himself from Giuliani and McCain, who supported relaxed sanctions for illegal immigrants.

Doug Gross, a leading Iowa Republican who chaired Romney’s 2008 Iowa campaign, said Romney’s strong opposition to any pathway to citizenship or tuition benefits for illegal immigrants hurt him in the general election four years later against Obama, partly due to his effort to appeal to Iowa conservatives at the straw poll.

The straw poll “forces them to deal with extremists and you can’t help but have some of that rub off on you,” Gross said. “That hurts our ability to nominate candidates who can win.”

Advocates of the straw poll argue the money helps finance the caucuses, which are party-run, not state-run, elections.

Instead, Branstad’s allies are urging the party to substitute the straw poll with a summer fundraiser, without a vote.

Without the straw poll, the caucuses may lure back all top-tier Republican contenders, Branstad’s supporters say. That would raise the stakes for the caucuses by making them truly the first event to winnow the field.

“(The straw poll) was great in its time,” said Iowa GOP strategist John Stineman. “It’s time to move on.”

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International observers say states out of line

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This is from The Politico.

We do not want or need UN observers at our polls.

America is not some Muslim third world sh!@ hole.

To Hell with the United Nations and their observers.


The group hosting international election observers said Thursday that state officials in Iowa and Texas are needlessly blocking access to the decades-old process the United States already has agreed to, an official said Thursday.

Thomas Rymer, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, said the group will abide by election laws after officials in those states warned about possible criminal prosecution if the observers came within hundreds of feet of polling places.

“We will of course comply,” Rymer told POLITICO. “At the same time, the lack of access to polling stations for international observers in some states is not in line with the United States’s international commitments, and we have noted this in past final reports issued by observation missions.”

On Nov. 6, the OSCE — a 56-country security and conflict resolution organization that includes the United States — will have 44 observers in different states meeting with “stakeholders,” including candidates, local media and other on-the-ground actors, as well as a team of 13 election analysts in Washington , who will focus on specific issues such as demographic turnout nationally.

The 2012 race is the sixth U.S. election the OSCE has observed since 2002, and since then, access to voting precincts across the country has been largely dependent on the reaction of state and local officials.

“In Texas, for example, the attorney general is the chief law enforcement authority, so if the state law as written and as the AG is going to enforce it says the election observers can’t go in, we will report that,” Rymer said.

On Tuesday, Iowa followed Texas’s move and warned of arrests if observers violate state election law by coming within 300 feet of polling places. (In Texas, it’s 100 feet.)

“My office met with two delegation representatives last week to discuss Iowa’s election process, and it was explained to them that they are not permitted at the polls,” Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz said in a statement. “Iowa law is very specific about who is permitted at polling places, and there is no exception for members of this group.”

This is not a new problem for OSCE observers, Rymer said.

According to its report after the 2008 general election, OSCE election observers were turned away from polling stations in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Ohio and Texas. Their poll watchers also had difficulties in counties in Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Virgina, the report said.

“It’s a pretty simple answer: The U.S., as a participating state and founding member of the OSCE, has made certain commitments to allow international observers,” he said. “That said, our observers aren’t there to interfere.”

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Five shocking truths about Michelle Obama

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This is from The Daily Caller.

I already know more about Moochelle that i would like to know.

I will be glad to see her America hating ass sent back to Chicago.

Moochelle has spent tax payers money like it was her own money.

In November we can fire her husband and stop her wild spending.


First lady Michelle Obama gave an exclusive interview to celebrity tabloid Us Weekly and spilled five previously unknown facts about herself — and the revelations are startling.

1. Michelle thinks voting is a good idea. This is a novel admission that we haven’t heard from candidates or their wives, ever.

2. Sometimes she lets Bo sleep in her bed when Barack is out of town. It’s not what you think: Bo is the name of the first family’s Portuguese water dog.

3. Michelle didn’t just skip a science class here and there — she skipped the entire second grade.

4. The self-proclaimed health freak with the healthy eating “Let’s Move” campaign admitted that she once ate a fried Twinkie in Iowa. The hypocrisy is astounding.

5. Michelle didn’t make any mention of loving her husband, but she did admit that she “loves” sports.

We’re not quite sure how Us Weekly landed this mind-blowing exclusive, but hats off to them.

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