Hollywood, hedge fund support Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2016 bid

WASHINGTON — New York hedge fund billionaire George Soros and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg are among the biggest donors to a group backing Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Democratic campaign for president.2015_03_10_Hillary_Clinton_by_Voice_of_America_(cropped_to_collar)

That is according to an official at the organization, known as the super PAC, a group that can campaign on behalf of a candidate, but cannot co-ordinate efforts with them.

The group, Priorities USA Action, will disclose having raised $15.6 million in the past three months when it files a required report with federal regulators.

Super PACs can take donations of unlimited size. The biggest gift was worth $2 million and came from media mogul Haim Saban, owner of the Spanish-language Univision network in the U.S.

Clinton’s campaign reported Wednesday it has raised $45 million since she declared her candidacy in mid-April.

White House Brief: Things to know about Wisconsin’s Walker

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A snapshot of things to know about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who aides say will enter the 2016 race for the Republican presidential nomination.GetStory

THE BRIEF

Scott Walker rose to national prominence by effectively ending collective bargaining for most public workers, confronting them in the state where their main union was founded. Walker was forced into a recall election because of the fight with unions the following year but won, making him the first governor in U.S. history to survive such an effort. His 2014 re-election as governor continued a 24-year run of holding public office. He’s been dogged by an investigation launched in 2010 that resulted in misconduct and theft convictions of six associates, as well as by a newer probe focusing on whether conservative groups illegally helped his recall campaign. But he’s not been charged with wrongdoing, and courts placed the second investigation on hold. Walker failed to meet his signature campaign promise to create 250,000 jobs in his first term. He’s enacted nearly $2 billion in tax cuts while also shifting the state to the right by signing into law conservative priorities such as abortion-access restrictions, a requirement for photo identification to vote and a law letting people carry concealed weapons. Moreover, he’s made Wisconsin a right-to-work state and rejected federal money to pay for expanding Medicaid coverage.

RESUME REVIEW

Walker served in the state Assembly for nine years before being elected Milwaukee County executive, the top elected position in Wisconsin’s largest county. He ran for that post in 2002, becoming the first and to date only Republican to hold the office in the heavily Democratic county. Walker benefited from the recall process that would later test his hold on office as governor — his victory as county executive came in a special election called after the incumbent retired following a petition drive to recall him from office. Walker briefly ran for governor in 2006 but dropped out. He won election in 2010, defeated the recall in 2012, and was re-elected in 2014.

PERSONAL STORY

The son of a Baptist minister, Walker was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Nov. 2, 1967. Because of his father’s job, Walker’s family moved to Plainfield, Iowa, three years later, then to Delavan, Wisconsin, when he was 10. Walker grew up there. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee but dropped out 34 credits short of graduation to take a Red Cross job. He could be the first president since Harry Truman, elected nearly 70 years ago, without a college degree. Scott and Tonette Walker have two sons, one attending Marquette and another at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Walker has said both plan to take a year off from school to help him campaign.

CALLING CARD MOMENT

More than 100,000 people rallied at the Capitol in 2011 to protest his legislation curtailing of union rights, and Senate Democrats fled the state for three weeks in a failed attempt to stop its passage by denying the legislative body a quorum. More than 900,000 people signed petitions to force the recall election. But Walker’s unprecedented victory came by a wider margin than did his election as governor. He claims more than $3 billion in savings to local governments as evidence that the law succeeded: The law forced public employees except for police and firefighters to pay more for pension and health benefits, and limited their collective bargaining to base wage increases no greater than inflation. Critics say Walker put the state through chaos to weaken unions. “It’s one thing to fight, but it’s another thing to win,” Walker said in a February interview. “What we have done in Wisconsin is fight and win, for the hard-working taxpayers. We have done that by putting the power back in their hand.”

EARLY STATE ACTION

Walker has been a frequent visitor to neighboring Iowa and is traveling more to other influential early-voting states, such as New Hampshire and South Carolina.

READING LIST

Walker, along with columnist and scholar Marc Thiessen, wrote “Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge” in 2013. It largely chronicled his battle with the unions and subsequent recall victory, but Walker also devoted a chapter to dissecting what he said Mitt Romney did wrong in the 2012 presidential campaign and argued that his successes in Wisconsin were a blueprint for others to follow. “If we can do it in Wisconsin, we can do it anywhere — even in our nation’s capital,” Walker wrote.

ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ScottWalker and https://twitter.com/GovWalker

Instagram: https://instagram.com/scottwalker/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/governorscottwalker

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb to run for president

U.S., Cuba take step ‘forward’ Embassies to open July 20 as Obama urges Congress to lift trade embargo

Cuba-Florida_mapBy Christi Parsons – Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – In a milestone accord, President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed Wednesday to swiftly re- establish diplomatic relations and reopen embassies in each other’s capitals, ending the half-century diplomatic freeze between the Cold War adversaries.

Standing in a sunny Rose Garden, Obama said many Americans and Cubans were making a “choice between the future and the past,” and he urged critics in Congress to do the same by lifting the decades- old U.S. trade embargo.

“Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward,” he said. “I believe it’s time for Congress to do the same.”

Restoring relations with Cuba after a 54-year rupture fulfills a foreign policy goal for Obama, who called for improving ties when he first ran for the White House in 2008. It also removes one of the last vestiges of the Cold War more than a quarter-century after it ended.

[Read more…]

Conservatives gaining influence in House

15131628160_fbee80280e_bLast week, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) was successfully reinstated as chairman of the Government Operations Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after being previously ousted for bucking leadership on a crucial trade vote. Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus got Meadows his position back when they realized they had strength in numbers:

To help Meadows reclaim his gavel, caucus members with backgrounds in the weeds of parliamentary procedures hit the books and discovered that GOP conference rules only allow a committee chairman to appoint subcommittee chairmen if a majority of the panel’s members don’t object. Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz’s panel, they noted, was packed with Freedom Caucus members and their allies, including Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leader of the group.

Armed with that knowledge, conservatives realized they could force Chaffetz (R-Utah) to reinstate Meadows, who had been removed for bucking GOP leaders on a crucial trade vote.

Over the course of several discussions, including a late-night meeting in the basement of Capitol Hill’s Tortilla Coast restaurant, Jordan and other caucus members hatched a plan: Call a closed-door, members-only meeting of the Oversight Committee and demand that Chaffetz reinstate Meadows. Otherwise the Subcommittee on Government Operations would remain leaderless, caucus members said.

The strategy worked.

Meadows’s reinstatement was a huge victory for conservatives against an overbearing leadership — and they could employ the same strategy to level the playing field in the House:

Freedom Caucus founders say they don’t currently have a seat at the table. And they suggested the next set of races — held after the November 2016 presidential election — could see a full slate of conservative candidates vie for the five top leadership slots.

“I hope that next time, there are races in every single position. Everything should be competitive. Everything should be reflective of the body,” said Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), a Freedom Caucus co-founder, who in a phone interview this week signaled he was open to another leadership run.

“As I said when I ran for majority leader, I don’t think it’s anybody’s right to become the next Speaker of the House or the next conference chair or any other position.”

The Freedom Caucus could be uniquely positioned to be a kingmaker in the next round of leadership contests.

Caucus members have called talk of next year’s leadership races “premature.” However, once fall 2016 draws closer, conservatives in the House will undoubtedly strategize to tip the scales in their favor.