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'Mercenary' donor gets 12 years in campaign finance scheme

 

A once high-flying political fundraiser who prosecutors said gave illegal campaign contributions to Joe Biden, Lindsey Graham and a host of other U.S. politicians was sentenced Thursday to 12 years behind bars.

 

Imaad Zuberi, who was accused of ingratiating himself with politicos in both major parties and peddling the resulting influence to foreign governments, pleaded guilty to charges of tax evasion, campaign finance violations and failing to register as a foreign agent.

 

He also was ordered to pay nearly $16 million in restitution and a nearly $2 million fine. Federal prosecutors described Zuberi, who reports to prison May 25, as a “mercenary” political donor who gave to anyone he thought could help him. Pay to play, he explained to clients, was just “how America work(s).”

 

Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips for a stiff sentence, calling the scope of Zuberi's scheme unprecedented. The Los Angeles businessman's crimes included unregistered lobbying for governments with spotty human rights records like Sri Lanka and Turkey as well as a Ukrainian oligarch close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, prosecutors said.

 

Phillips noted the sophistication of Zuberi's straw donor scheme and also spoke of the role such campaign finance investigations play in preserving the integrity of American elections.

 

The sentence comes after former President Donald Trump recently pardoned others who had been convicted or pleaded guilty to similar foreign-influence-related crimes, including his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Elliott Broidy, a major Trump fundraiser.

 

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Pittsburgh-Area Man Accused Of Threatening To Kill Members Of Congress And Start Civil War

 

A Pittsburgh-area man was indicted by a federal grand jury over accusations he threatened to kill several members of Congress and start a civil war.


According to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady, Harry Miller was indicted Friday on charges of sending threatening communications in interstate commerce.

 

He is accused of calling U.S. Rep. Katherine Clark’s office in Massachusetts in 2019 saying he was “willing to abolish government by spilling blood by taking out four to five democrats, including Clark,” according to the indictment. Miller also claimed he “would start shooting black people to keep them in line if he had to, and that the congressional staffer was an (expletive) who will also die in Miller’s forthcoming civil war,” the indictment says.

 

The indictment also says the Ross Township man called U.S. Sen. Richard Burr’s office in Washington, D.C. last year saying he would “put a bullet in his head.” Miller also made a call saying if he traveled to Washington, D.C., “he would be willing to shoot four or five senators in the head and that this statement was not a threat but a promise.”

 

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Purported 501(c)(4) admits to being used to conceal corrupt payments related to passage of legislation

 

An organization charged as part of a public corruption racketeering conspiracy pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court today.

 

Generation Now pleaded guilty to one count of participating in a more than $60 million racketeering conspiracy.

 

Jeffrey Longstreth, 44, a longtime campaign and political strategist to Ohio House Representative Larry Householder, signed the plea document on behalf of the entity. Longstreth pleaded guilty in October 2020 to an identical individual charge.

 

According to court documents, Generation Now was at the center of Householder and others receiving millions of dollars in exchange for specific official action. Householder and his enterprise received approximately $61 million through Generation Now from an energy company and its affiliates to pass and uphold a billion-dollar nuclear plant bailout.

 

Generation Now was created as a purported social welfare organization. According to the plea agreement, the actual purpose of Generation Now was for it to be used as a mechanism to receive undisclosed donations as a benefit to Householder. As part of the conspiracy, Generation Now engaged in financial transactions to conceal the source of payments made by Company A.

 

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West Virginia GOP introduces bill seeking to prohibit 'divisive acts' in schools, workforce

 

Republican state legislators in West Virginia have filed legislation seeking to prohibit schools, state agencies and any groups that receive state funding from promoting what they call “divisive concepts.”

 

The bill claims that it aims to prohibit the promotion of what it refers to as “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating” in the workforce and by the state’s education board.

 

But to achieve such, the bill states that it would seek to ban schools from using a curriculum that promotes “divisive acts,” prohibit “discriminatory ‘divisive acts’ in the workplace,” and block “state funding to agencies who promote ‘divisive acts.’ ”

 

The bill then goes on to provide a list of concepts it labeled “divisive,” including that the notion that the United States “is fundamentally racist or sexist,” that an “individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously” and that “any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex.”

 

The bill includes nine “concepts” in total, each of which is a copy and paste of the “divisive concepts” that the Trump administration prohibited in its controversial executive order that took aim at certain diversity training for government workers.

 

That order, which prompted legal challenges from civil rights groups immediately after it was signed in September, was met with a wave of backlash from federal workers and others who said it amounted to executive overreach.

 

The order — which also professed to take aim at “race or sex stereotyping or scapegoating” in the federal workforce and sought to bar grant funding “to be used for these purposes” — was swiftly rescinded by President Biden within hours of his inauguration last month.

 

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White House snubs Ted Cruz by saying he’s not welcome on Air Force One for Joe Biden’s trip to Texas because of ‘COVID restrictions’

 

The White House trolled Senator Ted Cruz on Thursday, saying he wasn't welcome on Air Force One when President Joe Biden travels to Texas because of coronavirus restrictions.

 

Biden heads to Texas on Friday to visit the state in the aftermath of a winter storm that left at least 80 people dead and millions without water or power. 

 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that because Dr. Jill Biden is joining her husband on the trip and because of social distancing requirements of COVID, neither Cruz nor fellow Texas Senator John Cornyn would be on the trip.


It's a tradition to invite home state senators on presidential trips of these types even if they are of the opposite party. Cruz and Cornyn are both Republicans. 

 

'Dr. Biden is traveling, of course, with us to Texas,' Psaki said at her press briefing Thursdsay. 'There are some limitations on space available.'

 

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Jim Jordan Under Scrutiny for Nearly $3 Million in Unreported Campaign Funds

 

This week, the campaign committee for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), received ten notices from the Federal Election Commission flagging discrepancies on its books totaling nearly $3 million dollars, and dating back over two years. The campaign claims that the errors slipped through the cracks amid a record fundraising surge, and that it actually has more money on the books now, but experts say that the dollar amount — errors totaling some $2.87 million — may trigger an FEC investigation.

 

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MITCH MCCONNELL WORKING WITH KENTUCKY LEGISLATURE ON SENATE EXIT STRATEGY

 

SENATE MINORITY LEADER Mitch McConnell has compiled a short list of successors in his home state of Kentucky, preparing for the possibility that he does not serve out his full term, Kentucky Republicans tell The Intercept.

 

The list is topped by his protégé, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, and also includes former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, whose billionaire coal magnate husband is a major McConnell donor, as well as Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams, a former McConnell Scholar.

 

Under current law, the power to appoint McConnell’s replacement falls to Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. But new legislation McConnell is pushing in the Kentucky General Assembly would strip the governor of that power and put it into the hands of the state GOP. 

 

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America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

 

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

 

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.

 

Driving the news: Nearly every big news site saw its traffic decline in February, compared to a tumultuous January that included the Capitol insurrection and Biden's inauguration.

 

Publishers' traffic was down across the board, and many major sites saw traffic dip more than 20%, according to data from traffic analytics company SimilarWeb.


Politics consumption dropped most dramatically, tumbling 28%.


Between the lines: Interest in the presidency, specifically, has taken a steep plunge.

 

There were three times as many stories written about about Trump in February of 2017 than about Biden last month, according to data from NewsWhip.


Biden was discussed on cable news for an estimated 1,836 minutes last month, according to the Stanford Cable TV News Analyzer. In February of Trump's first year, he commanded an estimated 4,669 minutes on cable news.

 

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