Blogger Files New Ethics Complaint as Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct Dismisses Prior Complaints against 5 of 6 Judges
Billboard Raises Questions after Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct Chair Clears Supreme Court Chief Justice in Senate Hearing
Before a Senate panel last week, the chair of the state board that oversees judges’ conduct attempted to draw bright lines around what constitutes an “endorsement” as the Court’s election rules use the term. Now, a billboard in east Tennessee suggests the state Supreme Court’s incumbent Chief Justice is running afoul of those rules.
Last week the Tennessee Senate Government Operations Committee convened an ad hoc panel charged with investigating the Board of Judicial Conduct’s handling of a once-anonymous complaint that Senator Mike Bell filed with the Board regarding Supreme Court Chief Justice Gary Wade’s alleged endorsement Court of Appeals Judge Andy Bennett and Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Camille McMullen, both of whom are seeking reelection to their benches this year.
After the two appellate judges received poor reviews last fall from the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, an independent body charged with making “retain” or “replace” recommendations for judges who want to keep their office, Chief Justice Wade told Tom Humphrey at the Knoxville News Sentinel last November that
…all three judges receiving negative recommendations from the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission deserve new terms … “A 30-minute interview does not always give you an accurate picture” … “I believe every judge in the appellate court system is qualified to serve….”
Much was made of the Obama “apology tour,” and it could be argued that we’re reaping what was sown now, at least in the Middle East. And as the current administration is scrambling to figure out what to do next when it comes to the unrest in Iraq, Hillary Clinton is hot on the book tour trying to tell the people what she really thought when she was serving as Secretary of State.
On Benghazi, the new narrative is that Hillary didn’t actually buy into blaming the attack on a video. She was apparently jumping from one theory to the next, presumably in her own mind. Exactly how useful that is to anyone remains to be shown, but at least she got out there and said she wasn’t necessarily on-board with the “blame the video” meme that dominated the airwaves immediately following the attack.
As for Iraq, Hillary is now claiming that she was fighting with Obama in the background about pulling out in 2011. Also, she wasn’t a big fan of Nouri al-Maliki, and apparently considered him a thug.
EXCLUSIVE: In Bid to Stop Judicial Election Corruption in Tennessee, #JustABlogger Files Complaints against 3 Supremes, Others
A United Liberty contributor alleges that three Tennessee Supreme Court justices, who all face statewide retention elections this summer, have violated state resource use laws, campaign finance and expenditure laws, and have willfully misled voters about the purpose of their campaigns, and that they have been abetted by others, including the vice chair of the state board that oversees judicial conduct.
Earlier today I filed signed and notarized copies of the complaints below under the Tennessee Code of Judicial Conduct — the judiciary’s own rules governing the professional conduct of those on the bench — with Timothy R. Discenza, Disciplinary Counsel, of the Tennessee Board of Judicial Conduct. The documents have been partially redacted to protect personal information.
There’s no doubt the most-watched Republican primary in 2014 is in Michigan’s 3rd District, where incumbent libertarian Republican Justin Amash is facing off against Big Business-funded challenger Brian Ellis.
Eliis has self-funded his campaign to the tune of more than $400,000, and he’s relying heavily on donations and support from corporate interests and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Amash’s opposition to taxpayer-funded payouts to Big Business in the form of bailouts and tax breaks have made him the top target of Republicans who favor using tax dollars to prop up Big Business.
As reported last week in POLITICO:
[The MI-03 Republican primary] is just one example of the many battles playing out in Republican races all across the country, where an emboldened establishment wing has accused movement conservatives of straying too far from the party’s pro-business roots — and winning.
POLITICO also suggested the Michigan Chamber of Commerce would weigh in, possibly endorsing challenger Ellis over Amash, but that moderate group Main Street Partnership, headed by former Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette, would be unlikely to enter the race “because it is focusing on defending Republican incumbents against conservative challenges.”
Amash has been endorsed by Club for Growth, which has given him a 100% lifetime rating, FreedomWorks PAC, which has given him a 100% lifetime rating, and (as of today) by Citizens United Political Victory Fund.
When the people get annoyed with a milquetoast incumbent, invariably there are at least a few calls to primary the person, to get them out. Most times it’s all bluster, out of pure frustration, that won’t lead to anything. That’s typically the case because of the one thing that keeps incumbents in office - name recognition. People get used to seeing that name, and out of a sense of not wanting to step into the unknown by trusting a new one.
That’s the case when the first calls to primary an incumbent happen, because people that haven’t been deeply involved in running for public office anywhere tend to throw their hats in the proverbial ring. As time goes by, and disillusionment grows, candidates that the people recognize start being considered as viable options.
John McCain will likely be facing a primary challenge, if any of the people mentioned in a recent Citizens United Victory Fund poll decide to run. Arizonians are most likely to end up with a new Senator if Gov. Jan Brewer or Rep. Matt Salmon decide to run. Based on the current numbers from that poll, either one would easily win against McCain in a primary today.
If both Brewer and Salmon would choose to run against McCain in a primary, it would be an historic race. It’s not very common to see a three-way race involving two challengers and an incumbent, with the challengers being in the fight to win, while the incumbent is the irrelevant candidate.
Coming out of a brutal series of losses in last fall’s fiscal fights, budget hawks are facing tough odds.
Some commentators have gone as far as to say that fiscal restraint has been defeated in Congress, with the heyday of 2010 giving way to a situation in which those who want to cut spending and reign in looming deficits and debt have taken a “back seat.”
Have deficit hawks finally been defeated? Is big spending the new norm?
Not if a cadre of Texas candidates has anything to do with it.
On Monday, the Coalition to Reduce Spending announced that 14 candidates for federal office from across the state had signed the Coalition’s Reject the Debt pledge ahead of Tuesday’s primary. The pledge requires elected officials to (1) consider all spending open for reduction, (2) vote only for budgets with a path to balance, and (3) offset any new spending with cuts elsewhere.
The signatories include Tea Party favorites like Katrina Pierson and Matt McCall, in a diverse scattering of candidates from across the state. The Coalition has also been in touch with various third party and Democratic challengers and expects more candidates to jump on after the primary.
“Washington won’t change until we change the incentives of the people we send there,” Coalition President Jonathan Bydlak said. “Candidates have to hold themselves accountable, or we have to do it for them. I’m pleased to see this group willing to hold themselves to fiscal restraint.”
On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office released its regular report scoring Obamacare’s impact on the budget and economic outlook over 10 years. It fails, of course. Big time. But at least Democrats saw it coming.
While arguing in support of the bill just after its passage in 2010, House Speaker at the time, Nancy Pelosi called Obamacare an “entrepreneurial bill”:
…a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care.
Nevermind that someone else will be subsidizing your funemployment. Not only was this loss of 2.5 million jobs over 10 years expected, it was celebrated by Pelosi (and presumably many other Democrats) as a good thing.
There are many thorny and complex issues in the immigration debate. In a lively Twitter discussion on Thursday, I was discussing work authorization, specifically E-Verify, the national electronic database whereby employers check prospective hires for work eligibility. Midway through this discussion, someone compared it to voter ID requirements, implying a consistent position would be to support both.
On its face this seems like a reasonable consideration. If you want to make sure people are legally authorized to vote, you should also want to make sure they are legally authorized to work, right? Upon futher reflection it becomes clear that these two measures aren’t really very similar, and arguments based on their comparison are dubious at best.
Voter ID is a requirement to access a public civic institution, but E-Verify is a mandate on private businesses. Employers have to screen every applicant for citizenship or work permit status before hiring them. One of the talking points of E-Verify opponents is that it makes every employer a de facto immigration officer and passes the buck of law enforcement to private entities. While actual border enforcement and maintenance of the E-Verify database would remain a federal responsibility, employers would face penalties, perhaps even worse than the unauthorized applicants themselves, for not using the system or violating it.
Hillary Clinton is starting a whirlwind tour to promote the concept of trusting the government, and touting the merits of transparency in government. While it might be very tempting to consider this a really ironic punchline of a joke, that’s really what the former Secretary of State is doing.
On a practical level, it does make some sense that Hillary would consider it necessary to restore the nation’s faith in its government. As to whether or not she really “gets” why she is absolutely the wrong person to attempt to deliver that message will undoubtedly remain a mystery. Yes, it is very likely that detractors from the right will regularly lampoon her with comments including her infamous statement on Benghazi - “What difference does it make?” That will be enjoyable in the short term, but given the nature of the public and mainstream media, it is foolish to expect that will be enough to defuse her attempts to lie her way to a reasonable chance at seating herself in the Oval Office.
Make no mistake, that is exactly what this tour is about. It has nearly nothing to do with its stated aim. Hillary will be out there making it clear that while she’s somewhat the same as her former boss, she isn’t for the cloak and dagger activities of this administration that have been called “phony scandals” in an attempt to keep them out of the public eye. If that isn’t her gameplan, then she really doesn’t have any intention of running in 2016.