By John Ruberry

A major story broke last week, and while the mainstream media dutifully reported on it, there was no blanket coverage, unlike in the case of the guilty plea of Trump campaign hanger-on, George Papadopolous, one of the big catches of Robert Mueller’s Russian collusion probe.

What was that big breaking news? Recently-retired Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe, who National Review’s Andrew McCarthy calls “a textbook swamp creature,” was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI. Wolfe worked for the Senate Intelligence Committee for 29 years and he’s suspected of being a longtime leaker of classified information to reporters.

One of those journalists may have been Ali Watkins, 26, a Washington-based New York Times writer. As part of the Wolfe investigation, several years of telephone and email records belonging to Watkins were seized by federal investigators. The Committee to Protect Journalists says it fears the move “could be an opening salvo in an ongoing battle over reporters’ ability to protect their sources.”

Ah, about that source: In an article about the mainstream media uproar about the seizure, The Times, in the seventh paragraph of that piece, admitted about Watkins, “She and Mr. Wolfe had been in a three-year relationship, which drew the attention of prosecutors who were investigating unauthorized leaks from the Senate Intelligence Committee, including articles that Ms. Watkins had written for two previous employers, Politico and BuzzFeed News.” Yes, Little Red Watkins was inappropriately involved with the Big Bad Wolfe.

Oh, Wolfe is 57.

The Old Gray Lady also disclosed in that article that Watkins was informed in February that those electronic records of hers had been seized. After speaking to her attorney, Watkins decided not to tell the Times. Left undiscussed is whether she told anyone at the Times that she was involved in a relationship with Wolfe. Buzzfeed and Politico knew.

The mainstream media is comprised of phonies and frauds. Had Watkins been an FBI agent investigating Wolfe, they’d be calling for her dismissal. But Watkins is still on the job–on the same beat–which is federal law enforcement. No suspension, no transfer to the sports department or local school coverage for the Times for her.

Here’s the big question: Did the New York Times know that Watkins and Wolfe had that “relationship,” which I assume was of a sexual nature, before she was hired? Did they know before Wolfe’s indictment?

The media plays tough when it discovers blood in the water surrounding political figures, particularly ones it despises, such as President Donald Trump. But when a member their club is caught acting unethically it just circles the wagons and moves into protection mode.

Trump is right. The swamp needs to be drained. The Deep State needs to be dethroned.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – It hasn’t been a good week to be Mary Landrieu; she’s getting bad press throughout the state and now nationwide over her abuse of taxpayer funds to pay for her fundraising jaunts.  There are at least two events now in question that the Landrieu campaign must reimburse.

The distance from New Orleans, LA to Lake Charles is only about 205 miles.  In early November 2013, Senator Landrieu caught a ride on Air Force One with Obama from Washington to NOLA; Obama was on his way there for a fundraiser and she rode along.

In the second instance of what is now being called “Flight-Gate”, Landrieu billed taxpayers over $5,700 to fly from Shreveport to Dallas in September – about 300 miles.  The official story on that one is that she used a charter flight to get to Dallas so she could pick up a connecting flight and a fundraiser just popped up.  You know, fundraisers do that.  They just happen.  Conveniently.

When Senator Landrieu hitched that ride back to New Orleans in November, she had no intention of going to Obama’s fundraiser; it was just a cushy mode of travel for her to get back to a fundraiser of her own.   This, in and of itself, is a problem.

In New Orleans, she and Obama parted ways; he went to his fundraiser and she chartered a plane and flew 205 miles over to Lake Charles to get to her fundraiser.  The round trip charter flight cost taxpayers over $3,200.

CNN broke the story last Tuesday and, embarrassed, Landrieu’s campaign claimed it was all a big mistake, it wasn’t her fault, and that the charter company had billed Landrieu’s Senate office rather than the campaign.  It’s a good effort – the Blame-Someone-Else method works pretty well for Obama, so I can see why Landrieu would try it.

Landrieu spent more than $3,200 in taxpayer money to fly 400 miles round trip from New Orleans to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she attended a $40-per person fundraising lunch with hundreds of women, according to Senate records and Landrieu campaign information. It is illegal to spend government money campaigning.

Landrieu’s campaign spokesman, Fabien Levy, said in a statement that the charter company mistakenly billed Landrieu’s Senate office instead of her re-election campaign. Levy said the campaign noticed the error a few weeks ago and asked the company to refund the Senate office and bill the campaign, which the company did. Levy said Landrieu’s re-election campaign paid for the flight August 4, almost nine months after the November 8 trip.

It took them nine months to figure out this “mistake”?  Not very good bookkeeping, is it?

Using taxpayer money for campaigning is a rookie error; Mary Landrieu has been in political office since 1980 (that’s 34 years!) starting out as a Louisiana Representative and then she served eight years as Louisiana State Treasurer where one would assume she might pick up the fine details of campaign finance somewhere along the way.

And what of that flight with Obama in November?  Senator Landrieu’s reason for returning to NOLA in November was to attend a “long-standing” campaign event in Lake Charles.  So she used Air Force One to get to a campaign event?  And that’s ethical?  Why shouldn’t she have to pay back that money, too?

It’s an issue that bears investigation.

Senator Landrieu is already fighting the image of Frequent Flyer Mary and has racked up some $47,000 in charter flights for “official Senate duties” – a problem Senator David Vitter doesn’t seem to have:

For instance, Sen. Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, spent $47,000 on charter flights in 2013, including a $5,500 round trip flight between New Orleans and Lake Charles, La., 200 miles to the west. Landrieu spokesman Matthew Lehner said chartering planes allowed the senator to reach more areas of the state more quickly.

“This alleviates the need for multi-day stopovers and maximizes the senator’s interaction with her constituents,” he said.

But Republican David Vitter, the other Louisiana senator, reported no charter flights. His spokesman, Luke Bolar, said the senator always flies commercial and drives rather than flies around Louisiana.

And if all this kerfuffle wasn’t enough to give Katrina Mary a major headache, Representative Bill Cassidy announced that his campaign now boasts a larger war chest than that of the Landrieu camp.

Rep. Cassidy sent out an email Thursday which announced that his campaign has $5.6 million on hand.  The same day, the Cassidy campaign also sent out an email criticizingv Landrieu who “illegally billed taxpayers $5,700 for a flight from Shreveport to Dallas for a campaign fundraiser last September.”

Rep. Cassidy cited this Senate travel ethics rule:

Expenses for mixed purpose travel must be pro-rated on a reasonable basis to accurately reflect the purpose of the trip.

The Landrieu campaign only agreed to reimburse charges after they were caught.

Make no mistake, this scandal will cost Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.  She’s in a very close race as it is, and with $5.6 million dollars at their disposal, the Cassidy campaign is going to hammer her hard on this one.

Most people in Louisiana were sick of her after Huirricane Katrina, then the Obamacare kickback came along, and now this.  Nothing against Col. Rob Maness, but if he’d pull out of this race I think Cassidy can defeat Landrieu and that would be good for Louisiana but even better for the rest of the country.

 

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.

Timothy Imholt PhD

I was driving to work Monday morning when I heard that Elizabeth Warren, one of the Democratic Senators from Massachusetts, has a new book coming out. As an author myself (although my books are fiction or at least non-political in nature), and as a former candidate for the U.S. Congress, I was interested. I like knowing what people have to say, and love to read, so I was intrigued.

Before we dive into this I want to add that I would write this same post irrespective of someone’s political party affiliation. Please don’t make the mistake that the rest of this post is political, this is about rules. Rules do matter and I hope that they are being obeyed. Our political leaders in this nation need to follow the rules just like everyone else. We have equal protections under the law, I’m certain I read that someplace.

Let me return to the point of this article. Elizabeth Warren has a new book coming out. The radio talk show informed me that if I went to her campaign website I could donate $50 to her re-election campaign for a chance to win an autographed copy of this book. Want to see the link?

Book Contest Website

That statement struck a chord with me for some reason that took a few minutes to resonate. When it finally hit me why I didn’t want to believe it. As a result I did what any reputable scientist (I am a scientist by training) would do. I did some research.

In the Federal Election Commission Guide for Candidates it outlines appropriate and inappropriate uses for campaign funds. It has a special section for books. It further calls out promotion of books. Now, it would seem that a contest to win an autographed book is a promotion (at least in my head), and a discussion on radio, television and wherever else this has taken place is certainly promotional.  I will be honest and say it was not Senator Warren having this discussion, that is important.

To cut to the bottom line, let me quote from the Federal Election Commissions own Candidate Guide (page 57):

Generally, the expense of marketing a book would exist irrespective of a candidate’s campaign, and thus a campaign cannot ordinarily use its funds to pay such an expense. In limited situations, however, the Commission has permitted the use of campaign funds to promote a candidate’s book, as follows:

  • A campaign could incur de minimis costs to post on its website material promoting the book’s release and linking to an online bookseller. AO 2006-07.
  • A campaign could incur costs for planning book-related events and handling press and public inquiries where the candidate donates royalties to charitable organizations and thus does not personally gain from the use of campaign assets to promote the book. AO 2006-18.

See also AO 2008-17, where the Commission ruled that payments to a co-author by the principal campaign committee would constitute personal use.

So, it begs the question of what charity is she donating the money to? Well the $50 contributions obviously go to her campaign. The royalties from the book, if I am correct, should go to charity.  Otherwise what is happening is people are donating to her campaign, a book is sold, then signed, then a royalty on that book(s) is paid to Senator Warren thus using campaign funds to enrich herself.  This is before anyone decides that they probably won’t win the autographed one and just buys it anyway (that is what I would do knowing I never win a contest but like donating to causes on occasion, although not this one).

I googled it, a lot…looking for where that donation was going. Senator Warren has made no public mention of it that I can find. I hope that we can find out, because as a former Harvard Law Professor, she would certainly not violate campaign finance rules. Perhaps if I am reading these rules incorrectly her campaign can answer some questions for us about how what they are doing is not in violation of these rules.

Or, perhaps, I am wrong and Senator Warren should tell us what charity it is that she found worth donating all the proceeds from her book to them. Perhaps I would like to send them a check, I’m sure it is a worthwhile cause if she is giving them her hard earned money.

Rules matter, even for Senators. If I have read the rules incorrectly, or you feel I am misinterpreting them please let me know. I really do what to ensure that those person(s) holding our highest elected offices are held to a high standard, and as a resident of Massachusetts she represents me.  I hope that she does so with integrity.

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