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Watchdog: California Republican trying to kill rail project that could devalue family farmland

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A congressional ethics watchdog has again called for an investigation of a California lawmaker who criticized a high-speed rail line that could reduce the value of property he owns.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) renewed its request Monday after Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) testified earlier this month in opposition to the rail project during a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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The ethics watchdog said Valadao failed to inform his colleagues that he has a financial interest in the rail line, which would run through property owned by the lawmaker’s family.

Many opponents of the high-speed rail line have claimed that it would reduce their property values, and the lawmaker’s family operates Valadao Dairy, which owns hundreds of acres along the proposed route just south of Fresno.

Valadao told the congressional committee that the project was too costly and would have a negative impact on farms and businesses in his district, CREW said, noting that House members may not sponsor legislation or participate in committee proceedings when their own financial interests are involved.

“It seems Rep. Valadao is no more familiar with House ethics rules now than he was six months ago when he first violated them,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. “As he continues to flout his obligation to inform his colleagues of his financial conflict of interest, it is all the more urgent that the Office of Congressional Ethics conduct a full investigation.”

The group filed its original complaint against Valadao in July after he successfully offered an amendment that would have required the federal Surface Transportation Board to approve the rail project in its entirety rather than allowing incremental approval of new segments.

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That amendment could have derailed the entire project if it was passed into law, said the chairman of the high-speed rail authority board.

“Rep. Valadao’s continued advocacy for policies that benefit his own bottom line is seedy, but perhaps unsurprising as it appears to be consequence-free,” Sloan said.

[Image via Valadao for Congress]

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2020 Election

GOP ridiculed for hyping Ohio anti-impeachment protest — and only a handful of Trump supporters showed

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The official Twitter of account of the Republican National Committee was buried in mockery after hyping up a video of anti-impeachment protesters in Youngstown, Ohio, where it appears only a handful of people showed up.

According to the tweet, "Ohioans are sick and tired of the Democrats’ impeachment charade. It’s time to STOP THE MADNESS!"

However, in the video from WKBN, which can be seen below, few people chose to show up for the cameras.

As one commenter noted with tongue-in-cheek, "Thought Ohio had a few more people than that."

That was the general consensus in the comments.

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Melania Trump scorched by columnist for standing by president’s Thunberg bullying: ‘Indefensible’

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In a piece for the Washington Post, columnist Karen Tumulty called out first lady Melania Trump for her statement defending her husband's bullying of 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg in a fit of jealousy after she was selected Time Magazine's Person of the Year.

Responding to a statement from the White House that stated, “BeBest is the First Lady’s initiative, and she will continue to use it to do all she can to help children. It is no secret that the President and First Lady often communicate differently — as most married couples do. Their son is not an activist who travels the globe giving speeches. He is a 13-year-old who wants and deserves privacy,” Tumulty wasn't having it.

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BUSTED: Devin Nunes is hiding how he’s paying for all his frivolous lawsuits — which could land him in more trouble

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On Saturday, the Fresno Bee dived into a lingering question: How does Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) pay for all the lawsuits he is filing against journalists, satirists, and political critics?

"Nunes, R-Tulare, has filed lawsuits against Twitter, anonymous social media users known as Devin Nunes' Cow and Devin Nunes' Mom, a Republican political strategist, media companies, journalists, progressive watchdog groups, a political research firm that worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and a retired farmer in Nunes’ own district," noted the Bee.

These lawsuits were mainly filed in Virginia — a state with very loose laws against so-called "SLAPP suits," or meritless lawsuits intended to drown people in legal expenses in retaliation for expressing political opinions. Nunes was assisted in these suits by Steven Biss, a Virginia attorney, and yet except for the suit against the retired farmer, there is no clear record in Nunes' FEC reports of how he paid for the suits.

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