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Number of 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls being investigated by grand juries: 2 (so far)
ABC News:
The U.S. Attorney in New Jersey has convened a grand jury to investigate the involvement of Governor Chris Christie’s office in the George Washington Bridge scandal, ABC News has learned.

Twenty-three jurors convened in a federal courthouse in Newark today to hear testimony from a key staff member, Christie press secretary Mike Drewniak, whose lawyer, Anthony Iacullo, said Drewniak was not a target of the investigation.

"We're here to answer questions and that's what Michael did today," Iacullo said.

The convening of the grand jury is evidence that the U.S. Attorney’s investigation has progressed beyond an inquiry and moved to the criminal phase.

Once a heavy hitter in Republican politics, first as a congressman and then as governor of Connecticut, John G. Rowland suffered the ultimate political defeat nearly a decade ago when he resigned from office amid a corruption scandal, eventually ordered to serve time in a federal prison.

After finishing his 10-month sentence, Rowland promised “to be a better person” and managed to piece together a new life as a popular AM radio commentator, taking calls from admirers who still referred to him as “Guv” while he also enjoyed taking jabs at the state’s current governor, a Democrat. As an added bonus, the 56-year-old Rowland became eligible last year for an annual state pension of about $50,000.

But now, the once-popular Rowland finds himself again in the crosshairs of federal investigators, and those who stood by him last time are dumbfounded and frustrated.

Meanwhile Scott Walker isn't quite done with his John Doe campaign finance investigation (like a grand jury, only with a judge).

NY Times:

The United Automobile Workers has seized on leaked documents from Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee in its efforts to persuade the National Labor Relations Board to order a new unionization election at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga.

The union, which lost a vote in February, plans to argue in a hearing later this month that Mr. Haslam and Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, both Republicans, frightened VW workers at the plant with anti-union statements that made a fair vote impossible. The board’s director for the region that includes much of the Southeast has set the hearing for April 21.

In the documents, revealed earlier this week, Mr. Haslam proposed nearly $300 million in incentives to help the VW plant add a second production line, contingent on the unionization effort’s “being concluded to the satisfaction of the state.” The documents, including the outlined incentives, were made public Monday by WTVF, a Nashville television station.

Serge Schmemann:
For voters not in the habit of handing suitcases full of disposable income to politicians, the Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission was a lesson in the arcane world of biennial aggregate contribution limits, political action committees and party committees. The basic issue, however, was relatively simple: Conservatives regard money — and some have lots of it — as their ticket to getting their candidates elected, and by extension, they regard limits on donations as favoring liberals.

So the court ruled 5-4, along straight conservative-liberal lines, that existing limits on how much an individual can contribute to federal candidates and parties and political action committees were an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment right to free speech. The decision built on the Citizens United ruling in 2010, which struck down limits on campaign spending by corporations and unions.

This “McCutcheon” of this week’s ruling was Shaun McCutcheon of Alabama, who funded 16 Republicans in 2012 but was prevented from supporting another dozen by the cap on overall donations. Nay, wrote Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. in the majority opinion: “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

Nicholas Bagley:
In short, the delays appear to exceed the traditional scope of the President's enforcement discretion. To some extent, the President's willingness to press against legal boundaries is an understandable and even predictable response to the difficulties of implementing a complex statute in a toxic and highly polarized political environment. Congress's unwillingness to work constructively with the White House to tweak the ACA has increased the pressure on the administration to move assertively to manage the challenges that inevitably arise in rolling out a massive — and critically important — federal program.

The delays nonetheless set a troubling precedent. They are unlikely to be challenged in court — no one has standing to sue over the employer-mandate delays, and no insurer has thought it worthwhile to challenge the “like it, keep it” fix. But a future administration that is less sympathetic to the ACA could invoke the delays as precedent for declining to enforce other provisions that it dislikes, including provisions that are essential to the proper functioning of the law. The delays could therefore undermine the very statute they were meant to protect — and perhaps imperil the ACA's effort to extend coverage to tens of millions of people.

Ron Brownstein:
In the 1936 election, one year after President Roosevelt signed the law creating Social Security, his Republican opponent Alf Landon called it a "cruel hoax" and promised to repeal it.

Landon won just two states—and, four years later, Republican nominee Wendell Willkie ran on expanding Social Security. Although congressional Republicans continued guerrilla warfare against the program into the 1950s, the prospect of full-scale repeal sank with Landon.

In 1964, Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater staunchly opposed the creation of Medicare, the health program for the elderly proposed by President Johnson. But after Johnson routed Goldwater and then pushed Medicare through Congress in 1965, opposition collapsed. By 1968, Republican presidential nominee Richard Nixon accepted it as settled law.

Although the skirmishing around Social Security offers some parallel, the struggle over health reform is burning longer and hotter than the scuffling over any previous expansion of America's safety net. It was emblematic earlier this week that just hours before President Obama announced that the Affordable Care Act had exceeded its original enrollment goal of 7 million, Rep. Paul Ryan for the fourth consecutive year released a House Republican budget that would repeal the law.

By the way, here's another enrollment tracking resource in addition to Charles Gaba: SHADAC, from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. Here's an example (.pdf) from their March report.


If climate change is going to matter as a political and economic issue, it needs to be translated into political and economic terms. Out in San Francisco the hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer is trying to make climate matter for politics, promising to spend tens of millions of dollars in 2014 on attack ads targeting politicians who oppose action on global warming. And Steyer is also involved in an effort to make climate change matter for the business community, teaming up with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson on the Risky Business initiative, a wide-ranging project that will eventually produce a major report about the likely economic impact of climate change on U.S. business. “We came to this thinking how do we get to a place and a way of talking about climate change that is comfortable for the business community,” says Gordon, who also serves as the executive director of Risky Business. “And that’s the language of risk.”
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