<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Politics]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.com en-us Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:36:25 -0400 Mon, 30 Mar 2015 20:36:25 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Apple's Tim Cook: "Religious Objection" Laws Are "Very Dangerous"]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 13:22:16 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/tim-cook-apple-fortuna.jpg

Apple CEO Tim Cook slammed Indiana's new "religious objection" legislation over the weekend, penning a Washington Post piece warning that “there’s something very dangerous happening in America.”

The piece, which was posted late Sunday night, said the openly gay executive, who was raised in a Baptist home in the South, was "deeply disappointed" in the recently passed "Religious Freedom Restoration" law in Indiana that shields business owners who turn away customers for religious reasons.

"This isn’t a political issue," he wrote. "It isn’t a religious issue. This is about how we treat each other as human beings. Opposing discrimination takes courage. With the lives and dignity of so many people at stake, it’s time for all of us to be courageous."

Cook called this new wave of legislation "very dangerous," noting there are about 100 similar bills under consideration in two dozen states. And he added that they "go against the very principles our nation was founded on" and "have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

“America's business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business,” he wrote. “At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers' lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That's why, on behalf of Apple, I'm standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I'm writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement.”

Cook, who was baptized in a Baptist church and grew up in the South in the 1960s and 1970s.  He publicly disclosed that he is gay in October. Last week, Cook announced that he will give his fortune away.

Photo Credit: NBC NEWS]]>
<![CDATA[Iraq War Vet Tammy Duckworth Launches Senate Bid in Illinois]]> Mon, 30 Mar 2015 19:24:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Tammy-Duckworth3.jpg

In a video to supporters, Rep. Tammy Duckworth on Monday made official a 2016 challenge to Sen. Mark Kirk. 

"I’m running for the United States Senate in 2016 because it’s time for Washington to be held accountable and to put Illinois’ families and communities first," the Hoffman Estates Democrat said her video message.

Duckworth, an Iraqi war vet who lost her legs in a helicopter crash, recently had her first baby at the age of 46. 

Well known in her district, her message was a sort of introduction to a statewide audience. She said she was a Marine, a wife, a new mom and a combat veteran. She recalled the financial struggles she faced with her family while growing up and as she put herself through college.

"If you elect me as Illinois’s Senator, I will fight my heart out to represent you with honor and integrity," she said. 

Kirk, who suffered a stroke in 2012, plans to run for re-election.

Illinois Republicans quickly tied Duckworth to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is currently serving time in a Denver-area prison on a corruption conviction.

"Rod Blagojevich protégé Tammy Duckworth is not the kind of partisan politician Illinois families want to represent them in the United States Senate," said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider. "Duckworth represents the extreme wing of the Democrat party — voting with Nancy Pelosi 92 percent of the time. I have no doubt that next November, Illinois voters will re-elect Mark Kirk who has been a strong & independent voice for our state in Washington."

Photo Credit: YouTube / Tammy Duckworth
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<![CDATA[The Week Ahead: Ted Cruz in Control?]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 17:09:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

First candidate Ted Cruz hits the trail in Iowa, Kennedy Institute is dedicated in Boston, a summit on Cuba, it's April Fool’s Day and the lowdown on who is next to enter the Presidential fray.

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<![CDATA[Meet the Press Preview: Conflict in Yemen, Iran Nuclear Talks]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 22:24:51 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009939604_1200x675_419415619736.jpg Chuck Todd and guests will discuss rebel advances in Yemen, talks about Iran's nuclear capability and more on Meet the Press this Sunday.]]> <![CDATA[Presidential Candidate Ted Cruz Speaks in NH]]> Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:22:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/cruz-AP938170470053.jpg

Just days after making his presidential candidacy official, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is in New Hampshire for a two-day swing.

Cruz was the first major candidate to announce a run for president. He made the announcement on Monday at Liberty University in Virginia.

On Friday, he attended a rally in Merrimack, New Hampshire, at 3 p.m.

He's also scheduled to speak later in the day at the "New England Freedom Conference" in Nashua, being held by the Young Americas Foundation. On Saturday, he is scheduled to speak at a brunch being hosted by the Rockingham County Republican Committee and the Seacoast Republican Women.

Cruz has made four previous visits to the Granite State with more than a dozen individual stops dating back to 2014. See those visits and more in NECN's New Hampshire Candidate Tracker. 

Photo Credit: FILE - AP Photo/Andrew Harnik]]>
<![CDATA[CA Attorney General Moves to End Anti-Gay Initiative]]> Thu, 26 Mar 2015 10:44:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/file-kamala-harris-ca-ag.jpg

California Attorney General Kamala Harris asked a state court on Wednesday for permission to reject a proposed ballot initiative stipulating that anyone who engages in gay sex be killed.

Harris issued a statement saying she was making the unusual request to stop the measure filed by a Southern California lawyer late last month. The initiative seeks to amend the California penal code to make sex with a person of the same gender an offense punishable by "bullets to the head or by any other convenient method." The distribution of gay "propaganda" would be punishable by a $1 million fine or banishment from the state.

"This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society," Harris said.

Matthew McLaughlin, the Orange County lawyer who paid $200 to submit the initiative, did not respond to a telephone call seeking comment. A Democratic state senator, Ricardo Lara, has asked the California bar to investigate whether McLaughlin's actions make him unfit to practice law.

The measure puts Harris in a difficult position. Although the bill has no discernible momentum or likely chance of success, she said unless a judge rules otherwise, she will have no choice but to give McLaughlin the go-ahead to seek the nearly 366,000 votes needed to qualify the measure for the November 2016 ballot.

California is one of 21 states where citizens can petition to have laws put on the ballot through the gathering of voter signatures. Under California's initiative process, state officials do not have authority to refuse to administer initiatives they find objectionable, the California Supreme Court has ruled. Although few of the dozens submitted to the attorney general each year make it on the ballot, the ease with which a resident with a pet peeve can gain clearance to circulate their proposals while seeking signatures has prompted calls for reform.

University of California, Davis law professor Floyd Feeney, an expert on California's initiative process, said Harris alone cannot impede the proposed law. And despite the numerous legal problems with McLaughlin's proposal, Feeney said he was not convinced a court would agree to halt it at this stage.

"The courts, rightly or wrongly, treat the initiative as sort of the citizen right and they are reluctant to get involved in trying to get rid of it, at least in advance, by using the law to keep something from being presented to the electorate," he said.

On Wednesday, a Southern California real estate agent, Charlotte Laws, countered the so-called "Sodomite Suppression Act" with an initiative of her own. Titled the Intolerant Jackass Act, it would require anyone who proposes an initiative calling for the killing of gays and lesbians to attend sensitivity training and make a $5,000 donation to a pro-LGBT group.

Photo Credit: Getty Images for Variety]]>
<![CDATA[Concern Grows Over Whereabouts of Former D.C. Del.]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 20:16:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Walter-Fauntroy.jpg

Concern is growing for the well-being of 82-year-old Walter Fauntroy -- a former D.C. congressman and longtime civil rights activist -- who has been traveling for an extended period of time, but has been unclear in explaining where he is or what he's doing.

A group of people worried about Fauntroy spoke at a meeting Wednesday, where they also announced the creation of the Walter E. Fauntroy Family Fund to raise money to help Fauntroy's family with money problems.

Fauntroy has been traveling extensively in Africa and Dubai for years, with little contact with friends and family, according to bankruptcy documents filed earlier this month by his lawyer, Johnny Barnes.

At Wednesday's meeting, Barnes said he believes his client is currently in Dubai. He said he'd last spoken with Fauntroy three day ago.

Arrington Dixon, a community leader in Ward 8, stressed the desire to get to the bottom of what's going on and to help his family.

"It's funny because Walter always had a plan," Dixon said. "I mean, he was always called the man with a plan. He'd have his notebook.... Walter was about a plan. So we have to have a plan to take care of his folks here, his family, but we've got to have a plan and some questions have got to be answered.... We've got to have a plan to find out how to get Walter back home and in our community...."

Fauntroy, a former right hand of Martin Luther King Jr., helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, founded the Free South Africa movement, and served 20 years as the District's first delegate to Congress. He was pastor of the New Bethel Baptist Church for 50 years before retiring in 2009.

"[...I]f we talk about civil rights, we can say that he was one of the leaders and the voice of the Civil Rights Movement," said Denise Rolark-Barnes, editor and Publisher of the Washington Informer, earlier this month.

Rolark-Barnes is among a group of associates hoping that Fauntroy is found safe.

"There is a concern," she said. "There's a concern about his physical well-being, and there's a concern about his mental well-being."

Earlier this month, Fauntroy's attorney filed bankruptcy papers for Fauntroy and his wife, Dorothy, to stave off foreclosure of their home in Northwest D.C.'s Crestwood neighborhood.

"So many of... the folks who have given their lives for the movement... some end up being destitute, their families are not taken care of, and we just wanted to make sure that didn't happen," said Rolark-Barnes.

<![CDATA[13 Ward 8 Candidates to Meet at Debate]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:00:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009909096_1200x675_418057795671.jpg It's a crowded field in the April 28 special election for Marion Barry's Ward 8 Council seat. Barry died late last year. Wednesday night, 13 candidates will meet for a debate. News4's Tom Sherwood offers insight on what to expect.]]> <![CDATA[The Week Ahead: A Nuclear Deal with Iran?]]> Sat, 28 Mar 2015 19:31:41 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/20141205+The+Week+Ahead.jpg

Nuclear talks with Iran continue, Chuck Todd talks to California Governor Jerry Brown on Meet the Press, Afghan President Ghani meets with Obama and it’s 70 years since Iwo Jima.

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<![CDATA[No Run-of-the-Mill House Budget Vote]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:30:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2015-03-25_1503.jpg Members of the House are slated to vote on a budget Wednesday -- but this is no run-of-the-mill vote. We're are about to see some very tricky legislative moves. NBC News political writer Carrie Dann walks us through what the House leadership is attempting do.]]> <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Walt Whitman’s Washington…]]> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 07:09:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/whitman_full.png

The Notebook shook ourselves from the couch on Sunday and traveled over the 14th Street Bridge, down the George Washington Parkway to the Athenaeum in Alexandria.

Writer and friend Garrett Peck was regaling an overflow audience on the 10 years that poet Walt Whitman lived in Washington, D.C., around the time of the Civil War.

On this, the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Peck noted that Whitman wrote four poems about Lincoln after his death, including the mournful “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

If you haven’t read it, Peck suggested, “Get a box of Kleenex; it’s devastating.” And Peck added, “It’s a remarkable poem and he wrote it in Washington, D.C.”

Peck’s new book — just out Monday and his sixth on various local subjects of interests — tells of Whitman in Washington after first coming here to find his brother George, who had been wounded in the battle of Fredericksburg. In the book, “Walt Whitman in Washington, D.C.: The Civil War and America’s Great Poet” (Arcadia Publishing and The History Press), Peck tells of the horrific suffering Whitman witnessed as he visited tens of thousands of wounded soldiers in nearly a dozen hospitals set up in the District, including Armory Square Hospital on what is now part of the National Mall.

Whitman was not, as popularly believed, a nurse. Instead the gentle poet sought to offer a bit of human kindness to the soldiers, many of them only teenagers severely wounded and away from home and the support of family.

Whitman lived at six different addresses while here. None of the original buildings remain.

But Peck’s book reminds us that Whitman is all around us.

Martin G. Murray, founder of the Washington Friends of Walt Whitman, formed in 1985, writes the introduction to the book. “Peck’s emphasis on the city’s importance to the poet follows Whitman’s lead and is a welcome addition to efforts made by other scholars and enthusiasts.”

The Dupont Circle Metro station on the north side has a Whitman quote from his poem “The Wound Dresser,” reading in part, “Some suffer so much...”

It was added in 2006, when Dupont Circle was still the gay epicenter of the city.

Then-D.C. Council member Jim Graham and others wanted to acknowledge the HIV/AIDS suffering in the city and those who ministered to them. “That poem was inspired by [Whitman’s] ministrations to the sick and the dying, and so that, of course, has a fitting connection to the early years of the AIDS epidemic,” Graham told The Washington Post’s Answer Man column.

Chapter 7 of Peck’s book explores the well-established record that Whitman was gay, the 27-year relationship Whitman had with Peter Doyle, and Whitman’s homosexuality as a precursor to more modern gay rights movements. Peck notes that Whitman is a namesake of the current day Whitman-Walker Health, a community organization that expanded its programs in response to the HIV/AIDS crisis of the early 1980s.

Outside the Old Patent Office Building on F Street downtown, which had served as a hospital, the section of roadway ceremonially was renamed “Walt Whitman Way” in 2005.

“It would be difficult for me to imagine a bill that engages my enthusiasm on as many different fronts as this one does,” testified Craig Howell at the D.C. Council public hearing on the renaming. Howell was testifying for the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance before then-Council Chairman Linda Cropp. “Besides having been a gay activist for more than 30 years, I have been a Civil War buff since childhood,” he said.

Peck’s book tells of Whitman’s strong support of the Union cause — “Beat! Beat! Drums!” was one of his poems — but also his despair at the horror of war. And Peck addresses the racism of the era, a racism that remains in the headlines of today.

Whitman’s Washington years overall provide an engaging read that reminds us that in this area, we are uniquely surrounded and suffused with the history of our nation. It’s even worth a trip to Alexandria.

■ Learning more? Peck will be discussing his new book at various venues around the region over the next few weeks (schedule at garrettpeck.com), but you can catch him in Dupont Circle at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe on March 30 at 6:30 p.m. and in Upper Northwest at Politics and Prose on April 19 at 5 p.m.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Private Collection ]]>
<![CDATA[Ted Cruz Enters the 2016 Presidential Race]]> Mon, 23 Mar 2015 19:37:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Cruz-Rand-Paul-Shirts-03231.jpg Texas Sen. Ted Cruz enters the 2016 presidential race. Senior Political Editor Mark Murray discusses his current position.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Gov.: Cruz Unfit for WH]]> Sun, 22 Mar 2015 15:02:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/brown-cruz.jpg

Calfiornia Gov. Jerry Brown tore into climate change skeptics on Sunday, saying one major presidential hopeful's position on climate change should disqualify him from the highest office in the nation.

Brown warned that climate change would be a major issue for America's next president in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," days after announcing a roughly $1 billion plan to combat California's drought.

"That man has rendered himself absolutely unfit to be running for office," Brown said, when asked about Texas Senator Ted Cruz's claim that there isn't a scientific consensus that climate change is caused by human activity.

Cruz made his remarks on "Late Night With Seth Meyers" this week, saying that "climate alarmists" have a problem because scientific data doesn't back up their claims.

"My view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data," Cruz said.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Cruz was preparing to formally announce on Monday that he will run for president in 2016.

Brown, who has sought the White House three times, said more than 90 percent of climate scientists "are absolutely convinced" that human and industrial activity are leading to heat-trapping greenhouse gasses that caused both California's drought and severe cold and storms on the Eastern seaboard.

According to NASA, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that warming trends in the last 100 years are "very likely due to human activities."

When pressed by NBC's Chuck Todd, Brown didn't directly link his state's drought crisis to climate change, but said more droughts are inevitable in the coming decades. Two-thirds of California are in an extreme drought after more than three years of low water levels, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Brown also called the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) letter to convince states to block or ignore the EPA's proposed carbon pollution regulations "a disgrace."

"Here's the point, that the buildup of carbon coming from coal and petroleum and other sources, that this is going to create these droughts and much, much worse. And that's why to have the leader of the Senate, Mr. McConnell representing his coal constituents, are putting it at risk, the health and well being of America, is a disgrace," Brown said.

Calling the drought California's new normal, Brown wants a presidential campaign "almost at the level of a crusade" to make the public aware that man-made carbon dioxide emissions can have an affect on the climate. He implied that politicians who dismiss the scientific consensus on climate change are doing the bidding of profit-hungry constituents and corporate donors.

"The coal companies are not as important as the people of America and the people of the world," Brown said.

Climate change, balancing the country's budget and investing in science and technology are the three issues presidential candidates should be talking about, Brown said.

Asked if he would consider running if he was 10 years younger, the 76-year-old Brown said, "Yes, I would."

"If I could go back in a time machine and be 66, I might jump in. But that's a counterfactual, so you don't need to speculate on that," he added.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP]]>
<![CDATA[How Likely is Mandatory Voting in the U.S.?]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 15:03:10 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009857602_1200x675_415895107981.jpg NBC News Senior Political Editor Mark Murray analyzes the possibility of mandatory voting in the U.S. after President Obama commented on the idea.]]> <![CDATA[Lewinsky Talks Cyberbullying, Affair on TED Stage]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:39:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/TED2015_031915_2DD7163.jpg

Monica Lewinsky spoke bluntly about cyberbullying and her own experience in the public spotlight Thursday, as the she took the stage for one of her most prominent appearances since her affair with President Bill Clinton as a White House intern.

Lewinsky, now 41, said during a TED talk that her own scandal was “brought to you by the digital revolution," according to TED.com. When the news of the tryst broke online, she told the audience that she transformed from being a “completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide.”

“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss,” the website cited her saying. “At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences."

The Internet, she said, had created a culture where people enjoy viewing others' downfall online, a dynamic that made her situation worse at the time it was made public in the 1990s.

“It was one of the first time that the traditional news was usurped by the Internet, a click that reverberated around the whole world,” she added. “When this happened to me, 17 years ago, there was no name for it. Now we call it cyberbullying.”

She later referenced cyberbullying cases in recent years that have made national headlines, including that of an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University in New Jersey who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate secretly watched him having a sexual encounter with a man using a webcam and posted about it online. 

In her 18-minute talk, Lewinsky urged people to be more compassionate and mindful when communicating online.

"Showing empathy to others benefits us. Imagine walking a mile in someone else's headline," she said. 

Photo Credit: James Duncan Davidson/TED]]>
<![CDATA[Feds Probe Ex-Rep. Schock: AP]]> Fri, 20 Mar 2015 19:13:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP326057663792_RepSchock.jpg

Friday was the day things went from bad to worse for Congressman Aaron Schock.

The Congressman, already under fire for globe-trotting vacations, documented on Instagram and often billed at taxpayer or campaign expense, abruptly resigned on Tuesday. And on Friday, federal subpoenas began going out, in what would appear to be a wide-ranging investigation of the Peoria Republican’s finances.

NBC 5 Investigates has learned that even former Schock staffers began receiving subpoenas to appear before a Federal Grand Jury in Springfield in April. And separately, the Federal Election Commission confirms it has received a complaint, asking for an investigation of the congressman’s campaign accounts.

Schock’s resignation blunted a pending inquiry by the House Ethics Committee, but his upcoming departure does not quell a potential criminal investigation. And a spokesman for the F.E.C. confirmed that enforcement matters there can continue even if a candidate or officeholder is no longer active, since political committees often continue in existence long after an official has left office.

Neither the congressman’s spokesman or his attorneys returned calls seeking comment.

Investigators are reportedly focusing on Schock’s House office expenditures and expenses, his campaign, and personal investments. The FBI would not formally comment on the investsigation. But the agency’s Springfield chief made clear that a probe is underway.

“Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top criminal priorities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Cox. “When there are allegations of public corruption, it is our responsibility to look into those allegations.”

In resigning Tuesday, Schock cited a “heavy heart”, but that the constant questions about his spending and business dealings had become too much of a distraction. His departure was so sudden, the congressman did not even give the customary (and expected) notice to House leadership. Speaker John Boehner made no effort to rise to his defense.

“If somebody’s going to violate the rules, they’re going to violate the rules,” Boehner said. “And in almost every case, sooner or later, it catches up with you.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Launches 2016 Exploratory Committee Ahead of NH Visit]]> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 12:29:28 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP333051909036.jpg

Business mogul Donald Trump is considering throwing his hat in the 2016 ring, announcing the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.

"We have lost the respect of the entire world," Trump said in a message from the committee. "Americans deserve better than what they get from their politicians, who are all talk and no action!"

Trump went on to tout his success as a businessman and added he will push to control the nation's borders, education system and military.

Trump will also head to New Hampshire Thursday night, bringing his total number of trips to the home of the nation's first primary to at least five since early 2014, according to NECN's 2016 New Hampshire Primary Candidate Tracker.

He is expected to address the media following a reception at the home of State Rep. Steve Stepanek. Trump was invited back in January when Stepanek was at the Iowa Freedom Summit.

"It sounds like he's serious," Stepanek said of Trump. "He's gonna get a taste for what it's like to campaign in New Hampshire. We're going to have him wade into the crowd, doing what you have to do to be a candidate in New Hampshire."

Stepanek, who said he's hosted similar events for Rudy Giuliani and others in the past, is expecting about 200 people on Thursday. It's the first in a series of house parties featuring GOP presidential candidates being hosted by the House Republican Caucus. Ted Cruz is expected to speak in April, and Ben Carson in May.

Trump recently wrapped up hosting the seventh season of reality show "Celebrity Apprentice," in which television personality Leeza Gibbons won $250,000 for a charity of her choice.

Trump, whose presidential aspirations have generated buzz for years, recently said he would not renew his contract for the show, according to the Associated Press, a sign that he could be more serious this time around. The show airs on NBC, which is owned by the same parent company as this site.

Photo Credit: File - AP]]>
<![CDATA[Hillary Supporters Launch Online Campaign for 2016 Run]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:15:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/188*120/2015-03-18_1008.png

Hillary Clinton hasn't announced whether she will run for president in 2016, but her husband is already running for the position of first lady. Well, a mascot version of him is.

BillForFirstLady2016.com, a political action committee of Hillary Clinton supporters, launched a pair of online ads Tuesday, supporting Clinton if she decides to run. 

In one of the videos, young girls run through various scenes while giving the former first lady reasons why she should return to the White House as president.

"When we grow up we want choice. President Hillary will be our voice," two girls say.

In the second video, a "homesick", "bobble-head" Bill Clinton -- decked out in a red dress and matching heels -- urges voters to return him to the White House. The Bill Clinton mascot is then shown rallying in several cities while holding a “Bill for First Lady 2016” campaign sign and a purse.

The group hopes their humorous campaign will energize young voters.The PAC has also launched an online petition with a goal of getting the signatures of 100,000 supporters.

Photo Credit: BillForFirstLady2016.com
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<![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: What's in a Name...]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 10:41:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/national+mall+aerial+generic.jpg

Maybe we should rename the Washington Monument. After all, the father of our country was a brutal slave owner.

Even the official Mount Vernon site notes that despite disputes about how he really felt about slavery, “What is clear is that Washington frequently utilized harsh punishment against the enslaved population, including whippings and the threat of particularly taxing work assignments.”

He also banished slaves to the West Indies, ripping apart families, as was then common.

This came to mind this past weekend. An op-ed in The Washington Post urged the U.S. Senate to strip the name of Richard B. Russell from the oldest Senate office building on Capitol Hill and rename it for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

“So we believe,” they authors wrote, “Congress has a choice for the big beauty at the corner of Constitution and Delaware: Keep the name of an avowed segregationist who stood in the way of racial progress? Or rename it for a consummate senator — a liberal lion, civil rights champion and bipartisan deal-maker. The choice is clear: It’s time to christen the Edward Moore Kennedy Senate Office Building.”

The writers are David Bennett of Syracuse University and his son Matt, a co-founder of the D.C. think tank Third Way.

Your Notebook won’t argue a single word in defense of Russell’s appalling anti-civil rights record. Nor will we roll out 50 years of good stuff — supporting President Franklin Roosevelt, literacy, highways, agriculture and water conservation, military readiness and the 1946 National School Lunch Program — to defend him.

What the Notebook wants to defend is recognizing history. Let’s learn from the past, not eradicate it. Find something worthy and different for Sen. Kennedy. And make sure the whole history is told.

The Russell Building was so named after Russell’s death in the early 1970s. Whether it was a good idea or a bad idea, it simply was done. And anyone reading an ounce of Russell’s history — including Congress’ official version — can’t miss the ugly civil rights history.

The same is true locally and around the nation.

The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., for example, is named for a man who was a Confederate general, U.S. senator and Grand Dragon of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. The nation just observed the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” on that bridge, where armed riot police viciously beat peaceful civil rights marchers.

Some want to change the name. But many others more wisely want it to stand as a testament to a better America that began there, including the push for the 1965 Voting Rights Act that became more powerful than billy clubs. Both sides of the bridge should have markers explaining the site, but the bridge — named a national landmark in 2013 — should remain in all its infamy.

Also recently, the Chevy Chase advisory neighborhood commission discussed whether to recommend changing the name of the fountain within Chevy Chase Circle. It’s named for developer Francis Griffith Newlands, who strongly desired that the area “be forever racially segregated.” Maybe to his dismay, it wasn’t. But people should remember the development of this beautiful area as well as the ugly thinking behind it.

The same is true of “Appomattox,” the controversial Confederate statue that sits in Alexandria traffic, first erected in 1889. In 1988, when the statue was damaged by a vehicle, then-Mayor James P. Moran suggested it be removed. It wasn’t. And it provides a history lesson each time someone new passes by and says, “Who’s that?”

Back in the District, the statue of Albert Pike stands adjacent to police headquarters at 3rd and D streets NW. On the National Register of Historic Places since 1978, it’s the only Civil War statuary in the District commemorating a Confederate, although it was erected by Scottish Rite Masons to mark his 32 years of leadership of its southern jurisdiction. There was a brief D.C. Council effort in 1993 to have it removed. It’s still there.

Also in the city, when then-Mayor Sharon Pratt took office in 1991, she had Marion Barry’s name removed from the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets NW even though the building’s construction during Barry’s mayoral tenure had been crucial to the rebirth of the area. Again mayor in 1995, Barry put his name back and it remains.

Especially in the Washington region, our history is all around us. Let’s not make it a sanitized Disneyland, but learn from all of it, the good and bad.

■ But what of football names? Before anyone writes a letter or misunderstands, this column does not address the controversy over the name of the NFL team that plays in suburban Maryland. That’s a business, not a monument — no matter how much some cheer for it.

■ A final word. We end the column back at the Washington Monument and the death this past week of influential architect and designer Michael Graves.

It was he who draped the monument in dramatic sheathing and lighting in 1998 and inspired the more recent renovation wrapping. There are so many positive things to say about him and the brilliant St. Coletta’s school he designed on Capitol Hill. The Notebook will be mentally dimming the monument lights for Graves the next time we ride by. Thank you.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[D.C. Budget Approval Process Still Controversial]]> Wed, 18 Mar 2015 09:50:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/461046870.jpg

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser says she is going forward with a controversial way of getting Congress to approve the city’s 2016 budget.

She also wants a lawsuit over the issue thrown out.

Bowser and the D.C. Council think the District has the authority to spend its own money after voters passed a budget autonomy referendum in 2013. Unlike past years, they contend the city budget now automatically goes into effect -- unless Congress specifically votes to stop it or amend it.

But the city's chief financial officer disagrees, saying he can't write any checks without formal congressional approval.

In a court filing, Bowser said she intends to move forward unless a court orders her not to do so.

House Republicans leaders say congress could force the city to submit its budget for approval as required since home rule began in 1973.

"The District of Columbia will continue to send its budget to Congress," Michael Czin, a communications director for Bowser, said Wednesday. "On Monday, the Mayor joined the Council in a lawsuit in support of Budget Autonomy. If we win the case, the budget will be sent to Congress just like all other District legislation, but it will be decoupled from the larger federal budget process."


This story has been corrected from a previous version.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Maryland Lawmakers Consider Hazing Crackdown]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 19:05:31 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009818954_1200x675_414581827904.jpg Victims of hazing shared their emotional stories with lawmakers in Annapolis. Legislators are considering two bills that would strengthen penalties for those who participate in hazing on college campuses. Zachary Kiesch reports.]]> <![CDATA[Ill. Rep. Aaron Schock Resigns]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 20:18:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Aaron-Schock-blurb1.jpg

Illinois Rep. Aaron Schock announced his resignation from Congress Tuesday following questions surrounding misuse of funds in his campaign and congressional spending accounts, including reports that he redecorated his office with lavish decor inspired by "Downton Abbey."

"Today, I am announcing my resignation as a Member of the United States House of Representatives effective March 31st," Schock said in a statement. "I do this with a heavy heart. Serving the people of the 18th District is the highest and greatest honor I have had in my life. I thank them for their faith in electing me and letting me represent their interests in Washington.

The Republican congressman said he has given the people of his Peoria-area district his all since his election in 2008, "but the constant questions over the last six weeks have proven a great distraction that has made it too difficult for me to serve the people of the 18th District with the high standards that they deserve and which I have set for myself."

The move, first reported by Politico, comes after numerous reports alleging questionable expenses by the congressman. Sen. Dick Durbin said the resignation "came as a surprise."

"With this decision, Rep. Schock has put the best interests of his constituents and the House first," U.S. House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. "I appreciate Aaron's years of service, and I wish him well in the future." 

Last week, NBC5 Investigates reported that Schock had billed his office account and leadership PAC for over $16,000 in mileage for his personal car, last year alone. On Tuesday, POLITICO reported that Schock had billed various entities for over 170,000 miles over for years, for a personal car he sold with only about 80,000 miles on the odometer.

“It’s a sad day for the people of the 18th District,” said Kankakee Congressman Adam Kinzinger. “He was a friend of mine, and I just wish him luck in the future.”

In Chicago, the chief of the Illinois Republican Party seemed to put some distance between the party and a congressman.

“Honesty and integrity are of utmost importance when serving the public,” said Chairman Tim Schneider. “Today is an unfortunate day for the people of the 18th Congressional District, the State of Illinois, and the Illinois Republican Party.

A special election will be held to replace Schock, a four-term congressman who was the Congress’ youngest member when he was elected at age 27. The election must be held within 120 days of the seat becoming vacant.

Among those considered contenders for the job, State Senator Darin LaHood, whose father Ray LaHood preceded Schock, before leaving Congress to become Secretary of Transportation.

“It is clear to me Congressman Schock believes he is doing what is best for the people of the 18th District at this time,” LaHood said Tuesday. “I will be evaluating the full impact of this decision in the next few days.”

In a separate report Monday, the website Buzzfeed reported that Schock spent more than $5,000 from his House account for a portable podium that looks a lot like a presidential podium used by President Barack Obama. A public watchdog group has filed a federal ethics complaint against the lawmaker for using congressional money to redesign his office in the style of the TV show "Downton Abbey" and for billing taxpayers or his campaigns tens of thousands of dollars in private air travel on donor-owned planes.

“This is a sad day for the people of Illinois and the 18th District," Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said in a statement.

<![CDATA[Photos of Rep. Aaron Schock's "Downton Abbey" Office]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:38:59 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/schock-th-462707536.jpg Photos of Rep. Aaron Schock's (R-IL) new office in the Rayburn Office Building, which was designed to resemble the dining room of the PBS show 'Downton Abbey,' on January 30, 2015 in Washington, DC. The interior decorator owns a company called Euro Trash LLC.

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Influence of the "Invisible Primary"]]> Tue, 17 Mar 2015 14:36:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000009814747_1200x675_414328899944.jpg Mark Murray, political editor for NBC News, discusses potential 2016 candidates and the influence of the "invisible primary."]]> <![CDATA[Former Md. Lt. Gov. Brown to Run for Rep. Edwards’ Seat]]> Thu, 12 Mar 2015 05:20:01 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/BROWNULMANTICKETPKG_722x406_32139843818.jpg

Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown has announced his intent to run for Rep. Donna Edwards' House seat.

Edwards is running for Sen. Barbara Mikulski's Senate seat in 2016.

In a message posted on his website Thursday, Brown wrote that he decided to run for office again because he still has "something to give back to the community." 

"Families in the 4th District have been fortunate to have a leader like Donna Edwards fighting for them every day. With your support, I'll continue that fight," Brown's letter went on to say.

Brown lost the Governor's race to Larry Hogan last year.

His announcement will come just a day after former State's Attorney Glenn Ivey said he will also enter the race for Edwards' seat.

<![CDATA[Ney Warns McDonnell About Life in Prison]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 19:39:09 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/160*120/112308-Pardon-Bob-Ney.jpg

Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell is likely to face intense scrutiny from inmates, if he begins serving a two-year prison sentence for corruption, according to a former high-ranking government official who served a similar sentence for a similar crime.

In an interview with the News4 I-Team, former U.S. Congressman Robert W Ney (R-Ohio), convicted and imprisoned in 2007 for exchanging official government acts for gifts, issued warnings to McDonnell about life in federal prison as a famous elected official. Ney, who served a two-year prison sentence, said, “You want to stay low profile, you don’t want high-profile visitors. The prison system hates it.”

Ney served his prison term at the federal prison in Morgantown, West Virginia.

“(Public officials) have to be careful, because everybody else (in the prison) thinks that you think you’re above them,” he said. “You’re going to project an image that you don’t want to have in prison.”

Ney told the I-Team he was considering, but decided against, writing a letter to the federal judge who presided over McDonnell’s case asking for a stiff penalty for the former Virginia governor. Ney said McDonnell didn’t appear to be fully contrite. He said he was angered by reports that McDonnell supporters sought leniency for the former governor by comparing his case with Ney’s.

“I’ve been in his shoes,” Ney said. “When you get found guilty you can plead all day long, but there must be something there.“

A judge ruled McDonnell and his wife, who also was convicted of corruption and sentenced to prison, can remain free pending their appeals to a different federal court. A decision has not yet been announced about which federal prison to which either McDonnell would be assigned. There are federal prisons in Virginia and Maryland. Though cameras are prohibited inside federal prisons, the News4 I-Team obtained images from inside some of the local federal prisons, using the Freedom of Information Act. Those images show the use of bunk beds, recreational facilities and brown-colored inmate clothing.

The I-Team also obtained a list of commissary items McDonnell would be permitted to purchase if placed at the federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia (click on the image below), which is in close proximity to McDonnell’s former government offices in Richmond.

A McDonnell legal representative declined requests for comment from the I-Team.

Ney said he was permitted to keep only two personal items during his prison term: A pair of eyeglasses and a wedding ring.

Ney said family members of public officials suffer greatly during prosecutions and criminal sentencing.

“Everybody is living in paranoia,” Ney said. “Your kids are followed. Your family is followed. It’s a whole nightmare.”

He said his family, still based in Ohio, was supportive and welcoming after his prison term.

A spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said federal statute prohibits the agency from showing any favoritism to any inmate because of that inmate’s social stature or prominence. He said no final decision has been reached as to where McDonnell would be imprisoned, if the former governor’s appeal fails.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons said it would consider a judge’s recommendation when determining at which federal prison to place Bob McDonnell. The spokesman said,

“The Bureau of Prisons weighs carefully the judge's recommendation for an offender's place of incarceration,” the spokesman said. “However, a number of factors impact designation to a federal prison, to include things such as the level of security and supervision an inmate requires, programing and medical/mental health needs, proximity to the inmate's release residence (to facilitate the maintenance of family and community ties), and population management considerations due to crowding throughout the federal system.”

Ney recently released “Sideswiped,” a book chronicling his career and federal prosecution. The book was published by Changing Lives Press.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[AP Sues for Access to Clinton's Emails]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 15:19:23 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/2015-03-11_1517.jpg The Associated Press is suing the Department of State to release private emails from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. NBC News political writer Carrie Dann discusses how the lack of transparency could affect Clinton's image.]]> <![CDATA[Sherwood's Notebook: Neighbors of Different Sorts]]> Wed, 11 Mar 2015 06:21:00 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/homeless+generic.jpg

Former Mayor Adrian Fenty in 2007 began referring to homeless people as “our homeless neighbors.”

It was an attempt to humanize the homeless problem, although few neighborhoods then or now think of the homeless that way.

“This is the premier example of how not to care for our homeless neighbors,” Fenty said in October 2007 when he began closing the bleak D.C. Village in far Southeast Washington. “It’s not only inhumane but against best practices.”

Fenty’s administration would come to depend upon the old D.C. General as its go-to shelter for the homeless.

Now Mayor Muriel Bowser is trying to find new housing strategies to close down D.C. General. It has become its own hellhole for our homeless neighbors. Her administration is looking to provide more permanent housing than shelters, but so far homelessness has been an intractable problem.

“D.C. General is full again, and it will remain that way for another summer, another winter and beyond — all while many of the same perils there for children remain,” Washington Post reporters Aaron C. Davis and Justin Jouvenal wrote this past weekend.

Still, there is a different sort of “neighbor” now filling up our neighborhoods.

They don’t need shelters. They don’t need assistance.

They are mostly youthful and white. They have money to spend, and they are changing neighborhoods in all four quadrants of our city radically.

The city’s population is now 658,893 people, a historic rebound from the dire 1990s. The city has had nine straight years of population growth.

And the Post reported in a separate story that for the first time in four decades, young voters outnumber older voters who traditionally have dominated elections here.

The Post analysis documented the continuing decline in the influence of African-American voters, losing ground in both population and impact at the polls.

It’s no longer news that the nation’s capital, our city and our neighborhoods are changing before our eyes.

The news will be in answering the question, what are we becoming?

■ Your neighborhood streetcar? NBC4 reported in early February that the city’s much ballyhooed but troubled streetcar system was likely to be killed or cut back to one or two anemic lines, compared to the originally planned 37-mile system. New D.C. Department of Transportation director Leif Dormsjo was noncommittal last week. Well, actually, he was quite dismissive of the whole thing.

And on Monday, Mayor Bowser and Dormsjo placed another nail in the streetcar coffin, promising that an independent review would be completed in time to be reflected in Bowser’s 2016 budget, due April 15 to the D.C. Council.

Bowser said she had been a supporter of streetcars, but as mayor she is looking at the big picture of budgets and practicality.

“What I don’t support is a system that doesn’t go all the places that it should, that isn’t safe or doesn’t work,” Bowser said in response to NBC4. “Those are the issues DDOT is studying right now.”

■ Our soccer neighbors. The new soccer stadium in Southwest Washington should get under construction later this year. That means new, expensive apartments and condos nearby and threats to low-income citizens that they’ll be priced out of the area.

Mayor Bowser said Tuesday she’s working to protect low- and moderate-income families and will announce next month how she intends to fulfill a campaign pledge to spend $100 million a year on the issue.

The mayor made the comments while announcing a “labor peace agreement” for workers who will staff the new soccer stadium in Southwest. Construction should begin late this year.

At the event, Mayor Bowser was reunited with hotel housekeeper Juanita King, the Marriott worker who last September showed then-mayoral candidate Bowser how to clean hotel rooms and properly make the beds.

King had told reporters in September that her union job through Unite Here Local 25 was providing money to support her family, and she said she hoped to be able to buy a home in the city. On Tuesday, she told us she has been saving money and now is actively looking for her new home in Southeast Washington. With her can-do spirit, she’s going to make some neighbors happy wherever she winds up.

■ Our valet neighbors. You ever wonder how valet companies can take over public space and park cars willy-nilly? You might want to attend a Transportation Department discussion on the issue. It will be held Thursday, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Reeves Center (2000 14th St. NW). Read more here.

■ Our Maryland neighbors. U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s announced plan to not run for re-election has set off a Democratic donnybrook in the state. (In case you’re wondering, Merriam-Webster says “donnybrook” dates back to the mid-1800s and refers to “Donnybrook Fair,” an “annual Irish event known for its brawls.”)

The early favorite is Montgomery County Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a popular state politician. He was endorsed Monday by all nine members of the Montgomery County Council. Van Hollen already had been endorsed by leaders including Attorney General Brian Frosh and Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid also has chimed in with an early endorsement, but it’s unclear what impact he’ll have. Van Hollen doesn’t need any help raising money.

But yesterday Prince George’s Rep. Donna Edwards was getting into the race, too. Edwards got her start challenging the party leaders and then-powerful incumbent Rep. Al Wynn, and she’s been rising in the House minority leadership. Don’t underestimate her.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.