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Trump official paid president’s campaign $744,000 for experts to pump up her ‘personal brand’: report

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In April, President Donald Trump’s Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Seema Verma faced public backlash after a report detailed a $2.25 million contract she awarded to Republican consultants to bolster her own public image.

But the scandal may have been even worse than that. According to Politico, among the 40 outside contractors hired as part of this contract included “eight former White House, presidential transition and campaign officials for President Donald Trump” — who charged up to $380 per hour for “strategic communications” work and relied on the federal government’s convoluted contractor system to conceal what they were doing.

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Among the contractors Verma hired were Marcus Barlow, her former spokesman when she was consulting for Mike Pence while he was governor of Indiana. Barlow’s contract allowed him to bill up to $425,000 in one year — which is more than twice the salary of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. Also hired were Ken and Keith Nahigian, who worked for multiple GOP presidential campaigns and the Trump transition team, Brad Rateike, who advised the Trump campaign, and Maggie Mulvaney, a Republican fundraiser who is now working on Trump’s re-election team.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services deny anything improper, with a spokesperson saying, “When the administrator started in 2017, [Verma] wanted to ensure that the agency was communicating with the American people about CMS programs and not just relying on inside-the-beltway health press. At that point, CMS did not have the specialized expertise or bandwidth needed to execute on a strategic communications plan for the agency’s work in ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, high quality health care.”

Verma has long been a controversial figure in the Trump administration. She is the mastermind behind the plan to encourage states to disenroll working-age adults without a job from Medicaid, which resulted in tens of thousands of low-income people — including some who are working — being kicked off the rolls in Arkansas. This work requirements plan is largely stalled in federal court.


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Mississippi Republican who lost to Democrat by 14 votes files request for state House to void the election and declare her the winner

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On Thursday, Mississippi Today reported that state Rep. Ashley Henley, who lost her bid for re-election to Democrat Hester Jackson-McCray by just 14 votes in November, has filed a request for the GOP-controlled state legislature to overturn the results of the election and seat Henley for another term.

Henley cites what she claims are several irregularities in voter signature collection, and "missing" ballots. "There were irregularities that happened, absolutely, documented, very much so that bring into question the legitimacy of the election results," said Henley said. "That is without question."

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Trump’s campaign manager mocked for proudly sharing poll that suggests Dems will keep the House in 2020

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On Thursday, President Donald Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale posted a poll that was meant to warn Democrats off of their impeachment efforts, by showing how it was hurting their prospects in a competitive House race.

Specifically, the "confidential" poll showed freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (R-OK) down seven points against a generic Republican, and impeachment opposed 52 percent to 45 percent:

Nancy Pelosi is marching members of her caucus off the plank and into the abyss.

Impeachment is killing her freshman members and polling proves it.

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Two House Democrats push a clever plan that calls Republicans’ bluff on their Biden attacks

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Democratic Reps. Katie Porter of California and Max Rose of New York introduced a clever plan this week that will expose whether Republicans’ criticisms of former Vice President Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal reflect good faith — or if, as many assume, they are just a shameful distraction and a bluff.

The lawmakers announced a bill on Wednesday called the Transparency in Executive Branch Officials’ Finances Act. It has two key components:

First, it would require all politically appointed executive branch officials, as well as the president and the vice president, to “disclose any positions they or any members of their extended families hold with foreign-owned businesses, any intellectual property they own that is protected or enforced by a foreign country, and whether any members of their families have stakes in companies that engage in significant foreign business dealings.”Second, it will “require the President and Vice President to disclose their tax returns for the previous five taxable years and prohibit political appointees from accepting payments from foreign entities.”

What’s clever about the proposal is that it latches on to two important issues, creating a wedge for Republicans. As part of the GOP’s defense of President Donald Trump in the Ukraine scandal, Republicans have argued that the president’s patently corrupt efforts to get a foreign country to investigate Biden, a political rival, were legitimate because the former vice president’s son created a conflict of interest by taking part in business in Ukraine.

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