'The base is behaving so irrationally': GOP strategist warns Utah's 'Trumpy' Republicans are threatening the party's power

Internal conflicts within Utah's Republican Party are expanding as a far-right faction threatens to takes over the GOP.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the developments over the last several months signal a problem within the political party. Republicans in the state who have pushed back against former President Donald Trump's damaging rhetoric are the ones being ousted, while those who embrace it are being praised.

Mike Madrid, a former Republican National Committee (RNC) strategist, weighed in with his growing concerns about the irrational behavior and cancel culture he is seeing among members of the political party.

"The Republican base is behaving so irrationally," said Madrid. "Getting beat is a time for self-reflection and a movement toward building a broader tent trying to attract more voters. The Republican Party is doing the exact opposite, purging some of its most well-known and influential leadership."

Madrid went on to highlight the distinct shift in the party's belief systems. "Utah is going to grow more Trumpy," Madrid said. "It will become a bit more like Idaho until it's not. Then it will turn into Colorado or Arizona. It's just math."

According to Madrid, such behavior could lead to long-term problems for the party. "That's not a recipe for winning more races," he said. "It's a recipe for becoming more extreme."

He also noted that Utah is not the only state where Republicans are embracing extreme, far-right ideologies. According to Madrid, moderate Republicans are beginning to feel "left behind."

"They don't like the grievance politics. They don't like the defense of the Confederacy," he said. "The party base just keeps moving in that direction, and they felt left behind."

With a nationwide shift to the far-right, Madrid also noted that it "means a more intense, radicalized base which you're starting to see in Utah."

Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, shared his perspective of the backlash Gov. and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) are facing for their pushback against Trump. Now viewed as "mainstream" Republicans, the base no longer views them as leaders who are a "reflection of the temperament" the party currently possesses.

"Some of these elected officials, including Romney and Cox, have become viewed by many inside the party as mainstream. They were looking for someone else," Perry said. "That was a reflection of the temperament of this group."

Despite the Utah Republican base's disapproval of Romney, he recently issued a stern warning to his constituents about the future of the party.

"If we divide our party," he said, "we will lose our party."

Experts explain how DeSantis violated the Constitution by blocking outlets from bill signing

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) turned heads on Thursday, May 6 when he only allowed Fox News to cover his signing of the state's newly-passed voting restrictions bill. Now, experts say he may have violated the U.S. Constitution by doing so.

DeSantis' move blocked all news outlets from covering the bill signing with the exception of Fox News. And it may be a violation of the First Amendment, according to Pamela Marsh, the executive director of the open-government advocacy firm First Amendment Foundation. On Friday, May 6, Marsh offered her assessment of DeSantis' stunt during an interview with The Tampa Bay Times.

"The law leaves no question as to the impropriety of banning certain media while allowing only friendly media," said Marsh. "That is viewpoint and content discrimination."

Prior incidents of similar nature also affirm that elected officials have no authority to prohibit specific news outlets from releasing reports on public events simply for the sake of preference. The Tampa Bay Times highlighted a number of past incidents where First Amendment violations were identified.

When a local mayor in Louisiana attempted to exclude news reporters from certain publications from attending press conferences in the 1980s, he ended up in court. A federal judge ultimately ruled in favor of the publications, deeming the mayor's actions, "the essence of censorship forbidden by the First Amendment and so abhorred by the founding fathers."

Then in 2007, a federal judge in Ohio ruled against a former Toledo mayor who refused to notify certain radio stations prior to his news conferences. In that case, the federal court insisted that the mayor was attempting to "manage the news by manipulating who comes to hear what's to be said and therefore who reports it."

In DeSantis' case, the publication notes that the signing of the bill is considered a "public proceeding." Clay Calvert, a law professor at the University of Florida, weighed in with his take on the ordeal as he agreed that it does appear to fall under First Amendment violations.

"Unless you're watching Fox, you're going to be denied access to information," Calvert said. "That's troubling regardless of the First Amendment issues."

Stefanik may be McCarthy's top choice to replace Cheney-- but far-right conservative Republicans are skeptical

Republican lawmakers have touted Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) as a possible replacement for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) but her latest announcement, and voting scorecard, may still lead to issues for the Republican Party later on down the line.

Lawmakers with knowledge of the latest conversations spoke with Politico about Stefanik's intent over the next year. The New York lawmaker reportedly plans to limit her time in Republican leadership by only serving through 2022. She also wants "to finish out the rest of this current cycle as conference chair if she is ultimately elevated to the No. 3 leadership position."

In the next Congress, Stefanik desires to obtain the top seat on the House Education and Labor Committee, a position she plans to maintain as a longtime priority. Stefanik's time limit is one of the many pledges she has made to House Republican lawmakers as she works to secure the bid for leadership. While the rising Republican lawmaker is expected to oust Cheney as early as next week, some Republican lawmakers still are not sold on her.

For far-right conservatives, Stefanik's moderate voting record is concerning. The publication reports that other members within the conference are also disgruntled because they feel "boxed in" due to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) unrelenting calls for support of Stefanik.

Although Stefanik's voting scorecard does signal a more moderate approach, she has reportedly vowed to "toe the party line and not buck leadership whenever they are whipping for or against something — a promise intended to assuage colleagues that she will not rock the boat like Cheney."

On Monday, May 10, Stefanik will speak before the Freedom Caucus in an effort to appeal to members who remain skeptical of her being placed in a position of leadership. When House Republications meet on Wednesday, May 12, they are expected to discuss the vote on Cheney.

Despite the political party's expedited attempts to oust Cheney, she has continued to double down on her beliefs. On Monday, she tweeted, "Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system."

Arizona nixes botched election audit plan after DOJ intervenes

The Arizona Senate is ditching its controversial measure to knock on doors and ask Arizona residents about their voting history. According to AZCentral, Senate President Karen Fann (R) on Friday penned a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice detailing the decision.

The ditch effort comes as federal officials expressed concern about how the canvassing could infringe upon residents' civil rights and the laws enacted to put a stop to voter intimidation.

The Arizona Senate contract agreement with Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based firm tapped to conduct the audit, says that a "registration and votes cast team" has already completed work with a number "in order to statistically identify voter registrations that did not make sense, and then knock on doors to confirm if valid voters actually lived at the stated address."

However, Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan refused to explain the company's methods for identifying voters but claimed their work was "based on a statistical analysis performed by someone else he would not identify and maintained that canvassers would not ask anyone how they voted."

On Wednesday, May 5, Fann also expressed concern about the nationwide overhauls being made to voting and election practices and how many of the measures appear to be aimed at predominately minority communities. Pamela S. Karlan, who serves as the principal deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice's department's Civil Rights Division, also weighed in with her concerns.

"Such investigative efforts can have a significant intimidating effect on qualified voters that can deter them from seeking to vote in the future," wrote Karlan.

Although the Arizona Senate has indicated that it will suspend canvassing for the foreseeable future, Fann did not say if the effort would not be revisited in the future.

Fann wrote, "If canvassing is necessary to complete the audit, we believe these protocols, which will be reinforced by thorough training programs, would permit the Senate to discharge its legislative oversight and investigation functions without compromising the rights or privacy of any voter."

Pro-Trump pastor shares bizarre conspiracy theory with his congregation to support his claims that Trump is still president

A self-proclaimed Christian prophet is circulating an unfounded conspiracy theory that he believes is proof that Donald Trump is still President of the United States.

According to Newsweek, megachurch pastor Johnny Enlow recently shared a Facebook post with his followers as he explained why he has reason to believe former President Donald Trump is still president. Enlow claims to have had a "vision" of Trump holding "a golden scepter" which he believes is proof that Trump is still in office.

Enlow claims that in his vision, he could see Trump "seated on a throne holding a golden scepter... [with] a golden crown on his head." He said the vision was Trump's "PRESENT status from heaven's perspective."

"Heaven does not recognize [Joe Biden] having any scepter nor wearing any crown. From heaven's perspective, there is only the legitimacy of [Trump]. God has assigned a massive contingency of angels to that scepter and to that crown."

The disturbing Facebook post came just one day after Enlow and others were called out by 85 Christian leaders. In a four-page statement, Christian leaders demanded that prophets apologize for publicly perpetuating false claims and predictions about the presidential election. They were also criticized for their false predictions claiming Trump would return to power by a date that has now passed.

The statement also noted that public apologies are not a means of embarrassment but rather "a mature act of love to protect the honor of the Lord, the integrity of prophetic ministry and the faith of those to whom the word was given."

The statement added. "Those refusing such accountability should not be welcomed for ministry."

In his Facebook post, Enlow also fired back with his thoughts about the statement. "Those who refuse to disagree with God, must now be pressured into accepting the steal, under the guise of 'being humble enough' to admit being wrong. How about 'being humble enough' to keep agreeing with God after even believers and fellow leaders push for abandoning what He has clearly revealed?" Enlow wrote.

Despite Enlow's claims, Trump lost the presidential election by more than 7 million votes. On Jan. 6, the Electoral College affirmed President Joe Biden's election victory.

AZ Dem lawmaker slammed for campaign donations from banks and debt collectors after siding with GOP on minimum wage

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) is facing backlash for the campaign donations she received from banks and political action committees (PACs) working on behalf of debt collectors. The money was reportedly donated after Sinema sided with Republicans opposing the $15/hour minimum wage proposed under President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Sinema received $4,000 in donations just three days after she voted against the minimum wage increase. Newsweek reports that Sinema's donors include:

Wall Street investment bank Morgan Stanley donated $2,000 to Sinema. The Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACPAC) as well as the Commercial Law League, two PACs representing debt collectors, each donated $1,000 to Sinema.

The publication also notes that none of the donors are located in Sinema's home state of Arizona. Stanley resides in New York. ACPAC, described as a "third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset buying companies, creditors and vendor affiliates" is located in Washington, D.C. The Commercial Law League has a location listed in Illinois.

Those three groups contributed approximately 20% of the donations Sinema received in the days following her opposing vote. The Arizona lawmaker also saw a substantial increase in donations from individual donors. Those donations totaled $26,653.58.

In wake of the latest reports, Sinema is facing deep criticism from Twitter users who are frustrated by her continued support of Republican-backed policies. In fact, she is now being categorized with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-Va.) who has also been accused of similar actions.

Amid intense scrutiny, Sinema's office released a statement. Although she voted against the minimum wage legislation, she admitted no one should be living in poverty with full-time employment. However, the Democratic lawmaker also suggested that she voted against the bill because she believes it should be "separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill."

"No person who works full time should live in poverty," Sinema said. "Senators in both parties have shown support for raising the federal minimum wage and the Senate should hold an open debate and amendment process on raising the minimum wage, separate from the COVID-focused reconciliation bill."

Legal loophole in Florida leaves annoyed Palm Beach residents stuck with Trump

It doesn't look like former President Donald Trump's Palm Beach neighbors will be getting rid of him anytime soon thanks to a legal loophole.

According to Palm Beach Daily News, the town attorney John Randolph determined that Trump can reside at the golf resort as long as he is classified as an employee.

The latest comes just months after Palm Beach residents voiced their concerns about Trump living at the luxury club. Back in February, the former president clashed with his neighbors over a Declaration of Use agreement he signed in 1993. When the luxurious mansion was converted into a golf resort, it prohibited him from using the location as a private residence and barred him from living at the location just as a permanent resident.

Despite the agreement, Town Manager Kirk Blouin concluded that "the agreement doesn't specifically prohibit the ex-president from residing at the club."

Randolph also noted that the town's zoning code does allow for the private club to provide living quarters for a "bona fide employee."

However, the determination has not stopped opposition. With Trump being allowed to reside at Mar-a-Lago as an employee, there are now concerns about how the legal loophole could lead to the former president allowing others to do the same.

Philip Johnson, the attorney representing Preserve Palm Beach expressed his concern about the determination.

"If officers of Mar-a-Lago LLC are permitted to reside at the club, then there's no limitation as to how many residents will be able to live there since the club controls the number of officers," Johnson said. "In other words, the town could not limit the number of residents. Does the council want Mar-a-Lago to be a multifamily residence?"

He added, "We feel that this issue threatens to make Mar-a-Lago into a permanent beacon for his more rabid, lawless supporters."

Johnson also noted that "giving Trump the power to determine who does and doesn't count as a Mar-a-Lago employee was irrational and that it would effectively permit him to create his own zoning laws."

Disney rejects DeSantis mask order for Florida's theme parks

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) may have signed new legislation ending all COVID-related government mandates, restrictions and mask requirements but Disney is making it clear that their parks will not be following in the governor's footsteps.

According to Newsweek, Disney World has added a pop-up alert on its My Disney Experience mobile app that acknowledges DeSantis' latest order. However, the entertainment resort complex made it clear they will continue to enforce their current COVID guidelines, which also includes requirements for face-coverings.

"We are aware of the state of Florida's plans announced today to modify COVID-19 guidelines. We will evaluate this latest guidance and maintain our current health and safety measures at this time, including face-covering requirements."

On Monday, May 3, Jason Cochran, author of the Frommer's travel guide for Disney, took to Twitter with a screenshot of Disney's message and a post that included his interpretation of Disney's message. "Translation: 'Sit down, Ron DeSantis. We'll decide what's good for our business, not you.' We know who has the real power in Florida."

Disney's announcement came just one day after the Republican governor's press conference on Monday where he announced the suspension of all COVID-related safety measures and guidelines. "In terms of what a supermarket or some of them choose to do, a Disney theme park, this [the latest legislation] does not deal with that one way or another," DeSantis said.

He added, "It's simply emergency orders and emergency penalties on individual businesses."

While the state of Florida did not have a statewide mask mandate, there have been local mandates in some select parts of the state including Orange County where Disney World theme parks are located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Disney's website has current guidance that reads: "Acceptable face coverings must be worn over your nose and mouth at all times, except in designated areas. If you're unable to do this, please consider rescheduling your Walt Disney World Resort visit to a later time."

Disney World also indicated that it would continue to evaluate guidance and adjust measures accordingly as more Americans are vaccinated.


A GOP pundit attempted to downplay and whitewash the Capitol riot -- it backfired big time

A right-wing conservative pundit found himself at the center of criticism and controversy when he attempted to whitewash the deadly series of events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

According to The HuffPost, political commentator and Trump enabler Dinesh D'Souza took to Twitter on Monday, May 3, posted the infamous photo of the man carrying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif) lectern as he attempted to downplay what transpired that day.

"Does this LOOK like an insurrection? A riot? A coup attempt?" D'Souza tweeted. "If it doesn't walk like a duck or talk like a duck then it probably isn't a duck."

D'Souza, a convicted felon who managed to receive a pardon from former President Donald Trump back in 2017, received swift backlash as they refused to allow him to diminish the severity of the deadly incident.As the photo began circulating on social media, the man was identified as Adam Christian Johnson. Like many other members of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, Johnson was hit with a number of charges including "entering a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, theft of government property, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds."

D'Souza did not mention any of the other disturbing photos that offered a look at a different side of the Capitol riots. Those photos included images of the pro-Trump mob "storming the building, smashing property, assaulting police and threatening to harm elected officials."

Twitter users did not let him forget that.

D'Souza has not yet responded to the backlash he is facing on Twitter but the responses are continuing to flood his timeline.

'Ticking every box': MSNBC's Chris Hayes breaks down how Biden managed to succeed where Trump failed miserably

MSNBC's Chris Hayes took some time to explain how President Joe Biden has managed to succeed in his first 100 days where former President Donald Trump failed.

On Monday, May 3, the primetime host discussed the stark contrasts between Biden and Trump. Although Trump has repeatedly described Biden as a "boring" president, poll results indicate that Americans are actually pleased with the return to boring politics.

Hayes also noted the Biden administration's progress in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic as they also work toward economic recovery. "His fundamental promise was to defeat the virus, get the country up and running again, and be the polar opposite of Donald Trump by actually trying to unify the country around big goals," Hayes said of the Biden campaign. "Biden is basically ticking through every box."

Under the Trump administration, the country faced COVID surges in states across the country. Even as vaccine doses were made available, the deeply flawed vaccine rollout delayed progress because the Trump administration failed to incorporate a national plan, leaving states to make their own decisions.

However, the Biden administration's planning proved to be effective. When he took office, Biden promised a total of 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office. As of May 3, (CDC) confirmed that nearly 247 million vaccine doses had been administered. Approximately 147 million people in the United States have received at least their first vaccine dose while more than 105 million are now classified as fully vaccinated.

On the economic side of the pandemic, Hayes noted that statistics show a noticeable difference in the amount of disposable income Americans currently have compared to last year. Although Republican lawmakers balked at the Democrat-backed $1.9 trillion stimulus package, it has ultimately done as expected.

However, Hayes noted that America still has a number of challenges to overcome in order to thrive and move forward. Protecting America's democracy is one of those things.

Why are Republicans so terrified of taxpayer-supported child care?

In other countries, universal resources are common. From daycare to healthcare and college, many countries have incorporated these benefits to assist citizens and now President Joe Biden is looking to do the same.

An op-ed published by The Guardian discusses Republicans' resistance to universal daycare as if it were the plague. The American Families Plan, if passed, would contribute vastly to much-needed improvements for the United States' childcare system. The piece of legislation would also provide billions in funding for three critical areas in the childcare system: universal preschool, paid family leave, and subsidized childcare.

Although a substantial number of Americans would likely approve of the plan, Republicans are not thrilled about it because there is one detail they are not thrilled about. The plan would be funded by the higher taxes that will be imposed on the wealthy 1%. For that reason, Republican lawmakers have no interest in the plan coming to fruition.

The author highlighted how the core of Republicans' belief systems deeply contradicts their opposition to universal childcare. "Who wouldn't support investing in children?" she wrote. "The party of "family values", of course! The party that loves advocating for embryos but doesn't seem quite so keen on helping kids."

Referencing a survey that ranked the U.S. as the second-worst place to raise a family, she argued that the proposed plan could help to improve the country's family-friendly ranking. Despite the obvious need for such a plan, Republicans are pushing back.

In fact, Charlie Shepherd also weighed in with a mindboggling rebuke of universal daycare arguing that the funding would harm
"the family unit." Shepherd said, "[A]ny bill that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let others raise their child, I don't think that's a good direction for us to be going."

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) also tweeted a bizarre pushback against universal daycare. "You know who else liked universal daycare?" she tweeted along with a 1974 New York Times article on universal daycare in the Soviet Union.

Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance also chimed in with bizarre opposing views. "'Universal day care' is class war against normal people," Vance said.

His explanation for his perspective is that: "normal Americans care more about their families than their jobs, and want a family policy that doesn't shunt their kids into crap daycare so they can enjoy more 'freedom' in the paid labor force."

However, Republicans' opposition, alone, may not be enough to block universal daycare.

Joe Biden learned a lot during the Obama-era on how to deal with the GOP: report

President Joe Biden and his administration appear to have learned a few hard lessons from the first term of former President Barack Obama's presidency. When Obama entered the White House, he too had a Democratic majority and a crisis to attend to. He and Biden both began their presidencies with the same intent: to cultivate much-needed reforms with bipartisan support.

But as Democratic lawmakers attempted to embrace bipartisanship during the Obama era, Republicans responded with opposing votes, subsequently striking down many of the legislative measures they sought to pass. However, things appear to be different now.

Although Biden has described himself as a unifying impetus with the ability to influence bipartisanship, the Democratic president's governing may be sending a different message. According to The Guardian, that message is: "get on board or get out of my way."

The lesson learned appears to be simple: extend the olive branch to Republican lawmakers so they can be included in negotiations and discussions but if they choose not to come to reach common ground, move forward with the agenda. That approach also appears to be the one Biden will take on infrastructure if lawmakers cannot come to an agreement.

"I'd like to meet with those who have ideas that are different," the president said of his infrastructure plan. "I welcome those ideas. But the rest of the world is not waiting for us. I just want to be clear: from my perspective, doing nothing is not an option."

Republican lawmakers have also noticed Democrats' approach as they've expressed concern about it. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) recently accused the president of "further dividing the country by passing major legislation without bipartisan support in Congress," according to the publication.

"President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership. He promised to unite a nation, to lower the temperature, to govern for all Americans, no matter how we voted," Scott said. "But three months in, the actions of the president and his party are pulling us further apart."

Despite the concerns, the Biden administration insists their legislative proposals are, indeed, bipartisan. Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said, "The most game-changing change in the dynamic that this White House has done is redefining bipartisanship to mean among the public and not among DC politicians."

Tucker Carlson's attack on GOP pollster Frank Luntz leads to a litany of 'angry, misspelled messages'​

Fox News' Tucker Carlson leveled an attack on Republican pollster Frank Luntz during his broadcast on Friday evening and apparently, his viewers continued the attacks with a barrage of messages sent directly to Luntz inbox.

During the primetime show, Carlson insisted that Luntz "should no longer have any role with the GOP because his views don't align with average Republican voters," according to Newsweek. "Luntz — Dr. Frank I. Luntz, as he's often called, at his request — is the Republican Party's longest-serving message man," Carlson said at the beginning of his commentary.

Luntz took to Twitter with his reaction to the attack. In a now-deleted tweet, Luntz included a screenshot from Carlson's segment when his photo appeared on the screen. He'd tweeted, "That explains all the angry, misspelled messages in my inbox tonight."

Carlson's relentless attack included criticisms about Luntz's work as he lambasted the pollster for being what he describes as "a smooth salesman."

"Frank Luntz is a smooth salesman," Carlson went on. "That why he's been around for a while. The problem with Frank Luntz is that his views, his personal views, are very different from those of your average Republican voter."

Tucker on why you probably don't recognize the Republican party youtu.be

To get a clear scope of voters' perspectives on key issues, Luntz typically uses focus groups to compile research. However, Carlson has repeatedly mocked the long-serving Republican pundit's work describing it as "just random people yammering." According to the publication, Carlson went on to slam Luntz for his views on "immigration, guns in schools and the phrase 'law and order.'"

Despite Luntz's political affiliation, Carlson insists Luntz is a "conventional liberal" who caters to "left-wing corporations."

He added, "Frank Luntz is a conventional liberal. His main clients are left-wing corporations like Google. When Frank Luntz gives advice to congressional Republicans, he's got Google's perspective in mind. That's a huge problem."

Carlson concluded by saying, "This is the guy Republican leaders went to just this week for, quote, 'messaging guidance on hot topics.' And you wonder why you no longer recognize the party that you vote for."

Matt Gaetz investigation evolves from sex trafficking to marijuana: report

The investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) continues to evolve as federal authorities find more information to expand their case. Over the last several weeks, the case, which began as an investigation into sex trafficking, has expanded to an investigative probe into medical marijuana legislation passed in Florida a few years prior.

According to NBC Connecticut, there are multiple reasons why investigators are zeroing in on Gaetz's longstanding interest in medical marijuana. His connection to two individuals who benefited greatly from Florida's passing of medical marijuana raises ethical concerns and questions about the possibility of conflicts of interest.

The publication reports that Gaetz, Dr. Jason Pirozzolo, and Halsey Beshears have quite a few common interests between the three of them but the most significant is the Sunshine State's $1.2 billion medical marijuana industry. Now, his case, which focused on allegations of sex trafficking a minor, has shifted to one that focuses on "a larger review of public corruption."

What began as a probe into sex trafficking and whether Gaetz paid women and an underage girl in exchange for sex has grown into a larger review of public corruption, according to people familiar with the investigation.

Individuals with knowledge of the investigation have revealed investigators are "looking at whether Gaetz and his associates tried to secure government jobs for some of the women."

Investigators are also said to be looking into "scrutinizing Gaetz's connections to the medical marijuana sector, including whether Pirozzolo and others sought to influence legislation Gaetz sponsored. The probe includes legislation from 2018, when Gaetz was in Congress, and earlier work in the state legislature."

With Florida's distinct legislation in place to govern its medical marijuana industry, the state only allowed a "limited the pool of applicants to nurseries that had been in continuous business for 30 years and had an inventory of 400,000 or more plants." The pool of applicants included the Beshears family.

The Tampa Bay Times reported in 2014 that Beshears had failed to file a conflict of interest report when he voted on the bill, and the lawmaker who sponsored the amendment wanted to "err on the side of limiting who could qualify now" when embarking on such a new industry. More licenses have since been awarded, but the industry is still tightly controlled.

On the day Pirozzolo viewed from the Florida House, another amendment was added to the state's marijuana legislation requiring "dispensary applicants to employ a doctor as a medical director." Just one week after that amendment was added, Pirozzolo formed a consulting firm to connect cannabis businesses with medical directors.

Amid Florida's continued expansion of marijuana, many measures were incorporated that appear to align with Gaetz, Pirozzolo, and Beshears' interests. However, Gaetz continues to deny any wrongdoing in connection with the allegations he is facing.

A 'sweet stress relief': DOJ releases shocking details about sheriff's deputy who allegedly bragged about beating Black man

A violent extremist's phone records have led to the discovery of a group chat that included racial epithets and threats from a law enforcement officer.

According to The Washington Post, the man in the group chat labeled himself as "Shadow Moses" but federal investigators later determined that the mystery man was Cody Richard Griggers, a Georgia sheriff's deputy.

In court documents, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that Griggers "boasted about beating a Black man during an arrest, threatened to falsely charge Black people with felonies so that they could not vote and advocated for killing politicians and others he viewed as political enemies."

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Justice released a statement about the case involving Griggers. The 28-year-old, who has been terminated from the Wilkinson County Sheriff's Office several months ago, entered a guilty plea on a weapons charge after federal agents confirmed his ties to violent extremists.

The law enforcement agency also noted that federal authorities confiscated a total of 11 unregistered firearms inside his home and in his police patrol vehicle.

"This former law enforcement officer knew that he was breaking the law when he chose to possess a cache of unregistered weapons, silencers and a machine gun, keeping many of them in his duty vehicle," acting U.S. attorney Peter D. Leary said in a statement. "Coupled with his violent racially motivated extreme statements, the defendant has lost the privilege permanently of wearing the blue."

Despite the group chat records where Griggers boasted about his actions, Wilkinson Sheriff Richard Chatman has pushed back against the claims. He reportedly believes Griggers may have fabricated stories about targeting Black people "to impress the other people in the extremist group's chat."

In reference to Griggers' claim about beating a Black man during an arrest, Chatman claims, "That never happened."

However, investigative evidence suggests otherwise. Griggers faces the possibility of up to 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine. The Washington Post has also confirmed that he will never be allowed to work in law enforcement again.

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