LOS GATOS, Calif. — A South Bay woman has been charged with hosting a series of illegal parties for her son and his friends at which investigators say she supplied alcohol, pushed them to binge drink and manipulated them into having sex with intoxicated teenage girls — in some cases, facilitating sexual assaults. Shannon Bruga, also known as Shannon O’Connor, is awaiting extradition to Santa Clara County after she was arrested Saturday in Ada County, Idaho, where she has a home in addition to her residence in Los Gatos that is currently on the market. She faces 39 criminal charges, including 1...
Arizona Republicans fear ‘we’re going to shoot ourselves in the foot’ by chasing Trump ‘down the rabbit hole’
A slate full of conspiracy cranks and right-wing extremists is threatening to undermine the Republican Party's chances next year in Arizona, which has been tilting toward the left in recent elections.
The state's GOP-led Senate authorized a lengthy and widely criticized "audit" of Donald Trump's election loss, and former TV anchor Kari Lake and state Rep. Mark Finchem have made the former president's "fraud" conspiracies a centerpiece of their campaigns for statewide office -- and Arizona Republicans worry that will doom them in the midterms, reported Politico.
"The goalposts keep moving," said Bill Gates, a Republican Maricopa County supervisor. "It used to be that we got into genuine debates about whether you're more of a conservative or a moderate. We used to debate over ideology, and now it is how far you can go down the rabbit hole of conspiracy theories, and if you're unwilling to do it, it doesn't matter if you're pro-life, if you've never voted for a tax increase. It doesn't matter. It's all about going deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole, unfortunately."
The state's congressional delegation Rep. Paul Gosar and Rep. Andy Biggs, both of whom were implicated in the "Stop the Steal" rally by organizer Ali Alexander, and Ron Watkins, the purported head of the QAnon conspiracy movement, hopes to join them in Congress.
"I don't think anyone considers [Watkins] a serious candidate," said longtime GOP consultant and former state legislator Stan Barnes, who nonetheless finds the QAnon celebrity's campaign a bad omen. "The center is not holding in the political spectrum. You need to understand that among Republican primary voters, the concept that President Trump was done wrong in the Arizona election scores very high. It is a very popular opinion, majority opinion, among Republican voters who will turn out in the Republican primary."
But that's not the case outside of deeply conservative circles, and certainly not among independent voters.
"I think people are getting tired of hearing it," said Delos Bond, the GOP chair in Apache County, which Joe Biden won by 30 points. "I really think we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot if we just expound on 2020."
Items were discovered at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida on Wednesday.
"The Sarasota County Medical Examiner and a cadaver dog were called on Wednesday to a Florida park where authorities found several items belonging to Brian Laundrie, the missing fiancé of Gabby Petito," CNN reported. "Laundrie's parents, Chris and Roberta Laundrie, informed the FBI and the North Port Police Department Tuesday night that they intended to come to the park on Wednesday morning to search for him, family attorney Steven Bertolino said. Law enforcement met them there Wednesday morning, he said."
Petito's remains were discovered in Bridger-Teton National Forest in Wyoming.
Brian Laundry www.youtube.com
Democrats appear to be sick of playing by the rules as Republicans laugh in their faces and do whatever they want
Stick out your hand, Terry McAuliffe. Let me give you a proverbial “slap on the wrist" for the fawning video that Vice President Kamala Harris provided your gubernatorial campaign. It will be shown in 300 predominantly Black churches across Virginia on the Sundays leading up to the Nov. 2 election.
“Virginians, you deserve a leader who has a vision of what is possible, and the experience to realize that vision," Harris says in the 2-minute-plus clip. “Terry McAuliffe is that leader."
Not exactly roof-raising, but OK. Former President Barack Obama and Stacey Abrams of Georgia are among the Democratic Party luminaries who will or have come to Virginia to get their guy across the finish line in this closer-than-expected contest.
Airing the Harris video by the faith congregations, though, may be a violation of the IRS law banning churches that are 501(c)(3) organizations from participating in political campaigns. You're encouraging them to be criminals, former (and would-be) Gov. McAuliffe!
By the way, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, last week touted the Biden administration's support for you, too. That's an apparent no-no under the Hatch Act, which prohibits most executive branch members from taking part in such campaigns. (Psaki said the next day she and Joe Biden take ethics “seriously" and that she would be more careful with her word choice, because “words certainly matter.")
That's not your fault, Terry, but I'm sure you're not minimizing the love from a president who's a Democrat — like yourself. Two slaps, maybe?
I'm being facetious, of course.
Federal statutes and rules involving politicking should be followed. Yet, when such law-breaking occurs continuously and without penalty, everyone knows there's little risk of getting in trouble.
One other thing: The fact Republicans and conservative commentators are pointing out the reputed misdeeds involving McAuliffe is especially galling. They've had no shortage of violations themselves, especially during the recently deposed administration of Donald Trump. The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says the Trump White House routinely ignored the Hatch Act.
News articles say the feds have rarely revoked a church's tax-exempt status. Maybe officials are squeamish about going after one faith community and not targeting another, or being accused of allowing one candidate religious support – but then cracking down on her opponent.
“More lately," the Tampa Bay (Fla.) Times reported in early 2020, “the IRS has remained silent even as religious leaders on both sides of the spectrum have increasingy waded into political debates."
The Virginian-Pilot reported in 2018, for example, that dozens of churches here in the commonwealth have been donating cash to campaigns for years “and often to liberal Democrats, according to an analysis of campaign reports compiled by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project."
This means the actual risk to these churches, synagogues, mosques and others is practically zero.
Which brings me to the hypocrisy involving some GOP apparatchiks.
Exhibit No. 1 is Kayleigh McEnany, one of several White House press secretaries under Trump. “Why does the media not hold @PressSec accountable for potential Hatch Act violations?" she tweeted about Psaki. “She has twice advocated for political candidates from the podium."
McEnany clearly forgot about speaking in support of her former boss during his failed re-election campaign and urging an investigation into the “Joe Biden-Hunter Biden situation" while on the White House grounds in her role as press secretary. Twitter users called out McEnany for her apparent amnesia regarding her purported Hatch Act violations.
It was hard for me to keep up with all of Trump's lies, accusations and breaking of norms during his single term. The Washington Post even had a team of journalists documenting his tens of thousands of falsehoods.
So I simply forgot this nugget during his 2020 re-election bid: Legal experts said he shouldn't have campaigned at a megachurch near Miami early last year. About 7,000 supporters attended the event at King Jesus International Ministry.
In fact, Democrats are likely sick and tired of playing by the rules while Republicans laugh in their faces and do whatever they want – norms, laws and fairness be damned:
Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell denied Merrick Garland even a chance at a hearing for a Supreme Court opening, even though Obama nominated Garland nearly eight months before the 2016 election. In 2020, under Trump, McConnell rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just weeks before the election.
GOP members of Congress — at the behest of their overlord, Trump — politicized what previously had been a pro forma certification of electoral votes after the 2020 election. Trump's exhortation of a mob of supporters led to the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, but Republicans abetted the attack by their nonsensical objections during the certification process that day.
And so on.
McAuliffe must be desperate to win next month if he has to enlist Vice President Harris. Though an overwhelming majority of African-Americans usually vote for Democrats, I'd bet most folks would be uncomfortable sitting in the pews while hearing her video pitch – if not outright angry if they supported his opponent.
A McAuliffe campaign spokesperson declined to answer my question, by email, about the accusations that airing the video could jeopardize the churches' tax-exempt status.
But let's get real. The kerfuffle over the video doesn't equate with Republicans' repeated bad faith and hypocritical actions involving laws and procedures.
It's not even close.
Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Robert Zullo for questions: email@example.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.
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