Farenthold out – POLITICO

politico 150x150 - Farenthold out - POLITICO

Farenthold out – POLITICO

With Zach Montellaro and Kevin Robillard

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)

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SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON CAPITOL HILL — “Farenthold won’t seek reelection,” by Campaign Pro’s Elena Schneider: “Rep. Blake Farenthold said Thursday he will not seek reelection after facing mounting allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior from former staff members. In a video posted on his Facebook page, the Texas Republican acknowledged that his office ‘accommodated destructive gossip, offhand comments, off-color jokes and behavior, in general, that was less than professional.’ … His comments come after the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the harassment allegations and as former staff members have begun speaking out about his conduct.” Full story.

AND IN THE STATES — “Woman says Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager,” by the Casper Star-Tribune’s Arno Rosenfeld: “Tatiana Maxwell said she was working as an intern at a Cheyenne law firm in 1982 when a young lawyer at the firm, Ed Murray, wrestled her to the office floor and ejaculated on her stomach. Murray, now Wyoming’s secretary of state, denies the allegations. Murray is considering whether to run for governor and is widely viewed as one of the leading Republican candidates, should he decide to enter the race. Maxwell detailed the alleged assault in a social media post earlier this week and confirmed the events in a Thursday phone interview with the Star-Tribune.” Full story.

ICYMI — “Paul Ryan sees his wild Washington journey coming to an end,” by POLITICO Magazine’s Tim Alberta and Rachael Bade: “Tinkering with the social safety net is a bold undertaking, particularly in an election year. But Ryan has good reason for throwing caution to the wind: His time in Congress is running short. … In recent interviews with three dozen people who know the speaker — fellow lawmakers, congressional and administration aides, conservative intellectuals and Republican lobbyists — not a single person believed Ryan will stay in Congress past 2018.” Full story.

TAX REFORM AT HOME — FIRST IN SCORE — “House Majority PAC hits 5 GOP members on tax bill,” by Schneider: “House Majority PAC released a new round of digital ads on Friday, attacking Republican House members on the GOP tax bill as they head home for the holidays. The ads target five House Republican incumbents: Reps. Mike Coffman (CO-06), Peter Roskam (IL-06), Ryan Costello (PA-06), John Culberson (TX-07) and Will Hurd (TX-23).” Watch the ads here: CO-06; IL-06; PA-06; TX-07 and TX-23. Full story.

— Not One Penny hits Collins, Flake: Not One Penny, a coalition of Democratic groups fighting the GOP’s tax reform plan, is out with what it is calling a last-ditch ad buy aimed at persuading Republicans to vote against their tax bill. The ads, backed by a seven-figure buy, are targeted at Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Reps. Rod Blum of Iowa, Steve Knight of California, Bruce Poliquin of Maine and Peter Roskam of Illinois. The ad targeting Collins notes the bill would trigger cuts to Medicare and mostly benefit the wealthy. Watch the ad here. The ad targeting Flake emphasizes he could be the deciding vote on the legislation, which it says would cause tax hikes on nearly 1 million families in Arizona. Watch the ad here.

— AAN boosts tax bill in 1 million robocalls: American Action Network is launching 1 million robocalls to back the GOP tax bill in 29 Republican-controlled House seats. “The House and Senate just announced historic tax reform legislation that will provide tax relief for millions of Americans,” the recorded call says. “In fact, the average middle-class family will receive a $1,200 tax cut!” Check out the list of targeted seats here.

— DCCC pops polling memo on taxes: The DCCC released a polling memo that found voters trust Democrats to “do a better job on tax reform” than Republicans, 55 percent to 44 percent. Check out the polling memo here.

Days until the 2018 election: 326

Thanks for joining us! You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, eschneider@politico.com, krobillard@politico.com, dstrauss@politico.com and mseverns@politico.com.

You can also follow us on Twitter: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin, @danielstrauss4 and @maggieseverns.

POLLING DATA — NEW THIS MORNING — Data on South Carolina governor’s race: South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has a 48 percent favorability rating, while another 26 percent disapprove of McMaster’s job performance, according to a Mason-Dixon poll released today. In the GOP primary, McMaster leads with 51 percent, but Catherine Templeton “could be in the early stages of mounting a serious challenge” with 21 percent support, per the polling memo. Check out the polling memo here.

— FIRST IN SCORE — Blackburn campaign memo says they have the edge: Ward Baker, the strategist for Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s run for Senate, is out with a memo outlining his thoughts on two Tennessee polls released Thursday: “In the poll released by Vanderbilt, we have a name ID advantage of over 50 percent against Stephen Fincher. That incredible name recognition gap will cost Fincher millions and millions of dollars to bridge. Also, it is tough to 100 percent confirm this, but in their press release Vanderbilt notes that Fincher has ‘substantial name recognition in the western part of the state.’ Again, this confirms that Fincher has very little name ID in middle Tennessee, in other words, the Nashville media market, which is the largest media market in the state, and will by far be the most expensive media market in 2018. … Despite not having a full picture from these two surveys, they still prove things we already knew to be the case. Marsha is in an incredibly strong position with a real lead in the primary against Fincher. These surveys also show that Marsha is going to have a real race against [Phil] Bredesen.” Read the full memo here.

— “Iowans favor Democrats for Congress in 2018,” via The Des Moines Register: “Forty percent of Iowa Poll respondents say they would vote for a Democrat if congressional elections were held today, compared to 34 percent who say they would back a Republican. The finding is notable because Republicans hold three of Iowa’s four congressional seats, including two seen as among the most competitive in the country in 2018.” Full story.

AFTER ALABAMA — DSCC, DCCC release digital ads: Both the DSCC and DCCC are out with new digital ads attempting to capitalize on the results of Alabama’s Senate race. The DSCC ads, targeting GOP Senate candidates in Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota and Pennsylvania, attack them for “doing nothing” to oppose Moore’s candidacy. “Roy Moore doesn’t think women should run for office,” one sample ad said. “And Dean Heller said nothing.” The DCCC ads are targeting African-American women in 42 battleground House districts, encouraging voter registration.

DEPT. OF BIO VIDEOS — Jay Hulings releases family-orientated video in TX-23: Democrat Jay Hulings, who’s in a four-way primary to challenge GOP Rep. Will Hurd, released a biography video focused on his family’s story. Hulings and his mother talk about his grandfather, who “was buried in your Harvard T-shirt at his request. Didn’t want a suit, he was buried in your Harvard shirt,” Hulings’ mother said. Watch the video here.

— NH-01 candidate Eddie Edwards opens up in video: Republican Eddie Edwards “begins his new campaign web video by talking openly about witnessing as a child his mother being beaten by his father,” WMUR reported. “Those are the early memories that I have as a young person growing up,” Edwards says in the video. “Hearing my mother’s voice in pain, you never forget that. Having the police come to your home — those lights, those sirens — they meant a place of safety for me.” Check out the video here.

FACEBOOK FEED — “Federal regulators approve narrow Facebook ad disclosure,” reports USA Today: “Federal election regulators told a political group Thursday that its Facebook ads must include disclaimers showing who paid for them, wading into the debate on social-media advertising as the government grapples with revelations about Russian use of the platforms in last year’s election. But, on a 4-0 vote, the Federal Election Commission made it clear that its action applied narrowly, and it still planned to work on broader rules governing digital advertising next year.” Read Thursday’s advisory opinion here.

CASH HELP — “Jordan helps Zeldin fundraise after Ryan cancels help,” via POLITICO’s Rachael Bade: “Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan [was expected to] headline a fundraiser for Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York [on Thursday night] — a last-minute, line-up addition that comes after Speaker Paul Ryan backed out of an earlier Zeldin reelection event. Jordan told POLITICO that he was dining with Zeldin on Wednesday evening when his colleague asked for his help. Zeldin, an early Trump supporter, could face a tough reelection — though Cook Political Report currently rates his district as ‘likely Republican.’” Full story.

CAMPAIGN TECH CALL — Progressive tech incubator Higher Ground Labs opens its second round of applications for companies to get funding for new products. The applications will be open through Jan. 15. Eleven startups have already received $1.75M from the group.

STAFFING UP — NDRC adds staff ahead of midterms: “The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, chaired by former Attorney General Eric Holder, announced its senior staff today. Hayley Dierker, who served as the chief of staff to the DCCC, will reprise the role at NDRC. Marina Jenkins, an attorney, will join as the litigation director. John Bisognano, a former Obama White House official, will serve as the director of campaigns and state outreach.” Full story.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’ve never seen a political landscape like this before.” — Texas Sen. John Cornyn on 2018, POLITICO reported.

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Amazon becomes Mexico’s top online retailer in 2017: report

2017 12 15T183518Z 1 LYNXMPEDBE1HP RTROPTP 0 MEXICO RETAIL 1 150x150 - Amazon becomes Mexico’s top online retailer in 2017: report

Amazon becomes Mexico’s top online retailer in 2017: report
FILE PHOTO: Amazon logo is pictured in Mexico City
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the web service Amazon is pictured in this June 8, 2017 illustration photo. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso/Illustration/File Photo

December 15, 2017

By Daina Beth Solomon

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc <AMZN.O> likely doubled its sales to become the biggest internet retailer in Mexico this year, helping to grow the country’s nascent e-commerce market by a third, according to a report by market research firm Euromonitor International.

The world’s largest online retailer will generate $502.2 million in Mexico sales this year compared with $243.9 million last year, the Euromonitor report said. Its findings were based on trade surveys, market studies and data research.

Online sales still account for slightly over 3 percent of all retail sales in Mexico, where shoppers fear credit card fraud and are often paid in cash. Internet shopping represents nearly 12 percent of all retail sales in the United States.

Argentina’s MercadoLibre Inc <MELI.O> registered an increase of nearly 90 percent from 2016, Euromonitor said, but was still seen slipping to second place with some $489.2 million in sales. MercadoLibre did not comment on the Euromonitor figures but said its Mexican sales rose 82 percent in the third quarter.

In third place was Wal-Mart de Mexico <WLMEX.MX> with $258.9 million in projected online sales, or growth of about a third. Wal-Mart de Mexico did not respond to a request for comment.

Amazon, which formally launched in Mexico two years ago, made a push to expand its customer base in October by introducing a cash payments system. The U.S. company declined to comment on the Euromonitor data, saying it does not release sales figures.

Euromonitor excluded consumer-to-consumer sales sites, such as eBay, in its analysis.

The firm forecast the Mexican online market would be worth $7.1 billion next year, rising to $14 billion by 2022.

(Reporting by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Dave Graham and Andrew Hay)

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Cobb Says No Consideration Of Pardon

2017 12 01T172252Z 1 LYNXMPEDB03PM RTROPTP 4 USA TRUMP RUSSIA e1512153563207 150x150 - Cobb Says No Consideration Of Pardon

Cobb Says No Consideration Of Pardon
Photo of Alex Pfeiffer

12:42 PM 12/15/2017

White House attorney Ty Cobb said Friday that there is no consideration of a pardon for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn after Trump refused to rule out the possibility.

“There is no consideration being given to pardoning Michael Flynn at the White House,” Cobb said, according to CNN reporter Jim Acosta.

Earlier Friday, Trump was asked by a reporter whether he would pardon Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to federal officials about the content of his phone calls with the Russian envoy to the U.S.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet. We’ll see what happens. Let’s see,” Trump said before boarding Marine One. “I can say this: When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.” (RELATED: Mueller’s ‘Pit Bull’ Attended Clinton’s Election Night Party)

Trump was likely referring to recent reports highlighting a troubling bias from investigators. (RELATED: ‘We Can’t Take That Risk’ — FBI Officials Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Presidency)

The president issued his first pardon to former Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a campaign supporter.

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Russia moves to save Promsvyazbank in third bailout this year

December 15, 2017

By Tatiana Voronova and Jack Stubbs

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has stepped in to rescue Promsvyazbank, the country’s 10th largest private lender, its central bank said on Friday, the third in a series of costly financial bailouts this year.

Promsvyazbank (PSB) is the latest banking casualty since late August, when the central bank rescued Otkritie, once the country’s largest private bank, and later B&N.

The bailouts mark the biggest challenge to Russia’s financial sector since a banking crisis roughly 20 years ago and show how the country and its banks are grappling with the economic impact of the fall in oil prices and Western sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

One senior lawmaker said there would be no further such rescues this year.

There are slightly more than 500 banks in Russia, half the number it had some years ago, as the central bank continues a clean up. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday there was no target for the number of banks in Russia.

The central bank said it was providing funds to support Promsvyazbank’s liquidity and would send in temporary administrators.

It said there would be no moratorium on Promsvyazbank paying creditors and that the bank was operating as normal.

“As part of measures aimed at increasing (Promsvyazbank’s) financial stability and ensuring its continued work in the banking services market, it is planned that the Bank of Russia act as an investor using the funds of the Banking Sector Consolidation Fund,” the regulator said.

The latest rescue was announced on Friday, following late-night talks, when the central bank presented the troubled bank with an ultimatum: find 100 billion rubles ($1.7 billion) of extra capital or be bailed out.

People with direct knowledge of the matter said Promsvyazbank’s co-owner and chairman, Dmitry Ananyev, and central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina, agreed on a rescue at a late-night meeting.

Dmitry Ananyev and his brother, Alexei, who together control just over 50 percent of the bank, said on Friday the bank’s its serious difficulties had prompted them to ask for state support.

“Over a prolonged period of time the regulator was examining our assets, which resulted in a request for additional provisions and, as a result, the temporary administration was introduced,” their statement said.

Lawmaker Anatoly Aksakov, a member of the Duma finance committee and head of the Russian Banking Association, said the bailout would not affect the wider sector and was the last such step to be taken this year.

CLEAN SLATE

The latest rescue marks a reversal of fortune for three private banks with ties to the Kremlin and which had helped out dollar-starved Russian companies when big state banks were hampered by Western sanctions.

Otkritie, Promsvyazbank and B&N Bank, had won business lending to state energy firms and others needing to meet big overseas debt repayments as the Ukraine conflict closed financial markets to state lenders such as Sberbank <SBER.MM>.

The central bank said Otkritie and B&N were too financially weak to continue. Promsvyazbank said on Friday that its bail-out was a result of a decision by the central bank to ask for additional provisions.

Richard Segal, a corporate debt strategist at investor Manulife Asset Management, said he was not surprised by the bank’s rescue because its capital had been running low.

One financial executive with knowledge of the rescue said the move cleared banking problems ahead of preparations for presidential elections.

“If not now … you will have to postpone the decision for at least a month. Plus, better to do it before the campaign is in its height,” said the person, who asked not to be named.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his intention to run for another term last week and on Friday, the upper house of the Russian parliament voted to set March 18 as the date of next year’s presidential election.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Budushchee, one of Russia’s largest private pension funds, the Credit Bank of Moscow and non-state pension fund Safmar are among Promsvyazbank shareholders, data from end-November published on the bank’s web-site showed.

(Reporting by Maria Kiselyova, Tatiana Voronova, Jack Stubbs, Elena Fabrichnaya, Elena Orekhova and Sujata Rao-Coverley, writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by John O’Donnell and Jane Merriman)

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Alabama keeps shaking – POLITICO

politico 150x150 - Alabama keeps shaking - POLITICO

Alabama keeps shaking – POLITICO

With Zach Montellaro and Daniel Strauss

The following newsletter is an abridged version of Campaign Pro’s Morning Score. For an earlier morning read on exponentially more races — and for a more comprehensive aggregation of the day’s most important campaign news — sign up for Campaign Pro today. (http://www.politicopro.com/proinfo)

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ALABAMA SHAKES — “Inside McConnell’s slow-motion Alabama train wreck,” by Campaign Pro’s Kevin Robillard: “In mid-March, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called freshly appointed Sen. Luther Strange with a pressing political question: Should McConnell or President Donald Trump urge Alabama’s governor not to call a special election for Strange’s seat in 2017? The previous governor, Robert Bentley, had appointed Strange to his seat and set a special election for November 2018 before resigning in a sex scandal. But new Gov. Kay Ivey was under local pressure to move the election forward, and McConnell was concerned it would distract the GOP amid efforts to repeal Obamacare and pass sweeping tax legislation in 2017. Strange told McConnell not to worry — Ivey was a friend and political ally, Strange said, and they didn’t need to worry about her cutting short Strange’s time in office. The next month, Ivey moved the special election to December, setting off an improbable series of one-after-another political gut punches to McConnell and his conference that ended with Alabama electing its first Democratic senator in a quarter-century, the GOP Senate majority shrinking to just 51 seats, and Democrats hopeful of winning back the Senate in 2018. ‘It’s all one big self-inflicted wound,’ said Josh Holmes, McConnell’s former chief of staff and one of his top political lieutenants, who described McConnell’s conversation with Strange. ‘This election never even needed to happen.’” Full story.

— “Republican civil war erupts anew,” by POLITICO’s Eliana Johnson and Alex Isenstadt: “[B]oth sides are blaming the other for Tuesday’s loss, with each painting the results as a case study in the other’s political ineptitude. [Steve] Bannon has argued from the outset that Republican leaders have positioned themselves against the president, determined to thwart his agenda. But McConnell and his allies are using Tuesday’s results to tell the president — whom Bannon helped to cajole into the race on Moore’s behalf — that his former chief strategist is a political liability. … McConnell told associates that he wanted to destroy Bannon politically, according to one person familiar with the Republican leader’s thinking. Their goal: to curtail his influence ahead of the 2018 midterms, in which Bannon has vowed to recruit candidates to knock off McConnell-backed incumbents.”

Trump listened to the establishment, then ignored them: “It was an appeal from Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker that ultimately convinced the president to campaign in Alabama on Strange’s behalf. Trump even placed a cold call to Ward Baker, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, before doing so. When Baker told Trump that Strange was, in fact, in real trouble, the president decided to intervene. But he didn’t heed the same establishment voices, including his own political advisers, who urged him to stay out of the general election after Strange’s defeat. He also rejected private appeals both from his daughter, Ivanka, and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who urged him to keep his distance from Moore.” Full story.

— “How Republicans are experiencing 2010 in reverse,” by POLITICO’s John Bresnahan and Elana Schor: “Many Republicans insist that the similarities are superficial, that [Scott] Brown’s shocking 2010 victory in deep-blue Massachusetts was a referendum on Obamacare while Tuesday’s win by [Doug] Jones in dark-red Alabama only happened because of a deeply flawed Republican candidate, Roy Moore. … But even those Republicans acknowledge that this year’s intense engagement on the left — turnout in Alabama on Tuesday crushed state officials’ 25 percent expectations, ending up closer to 40 percent — carries echoes of the 2010 GOP wave. ‘The enthusiasm, the movement across country, the reaction, the organizing, that seems very similar to me,’ Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said.” Full story.

— “Alabama win stokes Democratic Senate majority hopes,” by Robillard: “Democrats’ special election win in Alabama has cracked open a path to the Senate majority in 2018 that looked all but impassable before Tuesday night. The party will still have to defend 10 incumbents next year in states carried by President Donald Trump in 2016 — a long shot in even the best political environment — in addition to snagging Republican-held seats in Nevada and Arizona. But the party no longer needs to stage an upset in another forbidding red state — like Tennessee or Texas — on top of that. … “I worry that the Senate is in play. I didn’t think that before [Tuesday],” said Alex Conant, a Republican strategist and partner at Firehouse Strategies who worked for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio‘s presidential campaign.” Full story.

THE NEXT SENATOR FROM MINNESOTA — “Minnesota governor names Lt. Gov. Tina Smith as Franken replacement,” by Robillard and Maggie Severns: “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed his lieutenant governor, Tina Smith, to replace resigning Sen. Al Franken at a press conference Wednesday morning. … Smith plans to run in a 2018 special election to complete the remainder of Franken’s term, which lasts until 2020. That means she’d be running at the same time as Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who is up for reelection next year. It will be Smith’s first solo run for elected office.” Full story.

— Rep. Keith Ellison tweeted his support of Smith and ended speculation that he could run against her in 2018.

— Republicans look to Pawlenty: Republicans are hoping former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a 2012 presidential candidate and now the head of the Financial Services Roundtable, will jump in the race, with some suggesting he could save the GOP majority with a victory. But polling from a liberal group in Minnesota indicates Pawlenty might have a hard start. The survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling for the Alliance for a Better Minnesota when Pawlenty was a rumored candidate for governor in November, found Pawlenty trailing 38 percent to 41 percent to a generic Democrat. Thirty-three percent of voters viewed him favorably, and 36 percent viewed him unfavorably. Full results here.

KIHUEN WATCH — “Second woman accuses Kihuen of persistent, unwanted sexual advances,” by the Nevada Independent’s Megan Messerly: “Once-rising Democratic star Rep. Ruben Kihuen made repeated and unwanted sexual advances toward a female lobbyist while he was a state senator, the woman told The Nevada Independent. The woman, who requested anonymity because of concerns about being identified and the possible consequences in Nevada’s small political world, says that Kihuen touched her thighs or buttocks on three separate occasions without her consent. She also showed the Independent hundreds of suggestive text messages she received from Kihuen — including invitations to come sit on his lap in the middle of a committee hearing and repeated requests to spend the night at her place — over the course of the 2015 legislative session.” Full story.

EARLY POLLING DATA — FIRST IN SCORE — Internal poll gives Nicholson edge in Wisconsin: Businessman and veteran Kevin Nicholson’s campaign is out with an internal poll showing the candidate with an edge over his main rival in the Wisconsin GOP Senate primary. Nicholson earned 30 percent of the vote in the survey, conducted by WPA Intelligence, compared to 23 percent for state Sen. Leah Vukmir. Perennial candidate John Schiess has 2 percent of the vote, with 45 percent of voters undecided. Forty percent of likely GOP primary voters have a favorable opinion of Nicholson, while just 5 percent have a negative opinion of him, and a total of 60 percent have heard of him. Full results here. Full story here.

Days until the 2018 election: 327

Thanks for joining us! You can email tips to the Campaign Pro team at sbland@politico.com, eschneider@politico.com, krobillard@politico.com, dstrauss@politico.com and mseverns@politico.com.

You can also follow us on Twitter: @politicoscott, @ec_schneider, @politicokevin, @danielstrauss4 and @maggieseverns.

Faster, Smarter Legislative Tracking: Don’t wait until 2018 to try Legislative Compass, POLITICO Pro’s powerful, easy-to-use tool for federal and state legislative tracking. 2017 preferred pricing expires 12/31. Start my trial.

ANOTHER ONE — Dent may retire early, triggering special election, The New York Times’ Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns report: “Republicans are now bracing for the possibility of another unexpectedly difficult special election, in March, this one in a conservative-leaning House district in western Pennsylvania, and they are resigned to having to spend money to protect what has been a safe seat. Further, [Rep. Charlie] Dent, who has already said he will not seek reelection next year, confirmed he has had conversations with TV news executives about becoming an analyst, raising the possibility that he would leave his seat early and create yet another special election for his party. (‘I have no definitive plans,’ he said.)” Full story.

EMERGING ISSUES — “Western Values Project pressures three Republicans on public lands,” by Campaign Pro’s Elena Schneider: “The Western Values Project released internal polling and announced a TV, digital and radio ad campaign in three House seats, urging members to ‘stop the attacks on public lands,’ one of the TV ads states. The ads target Republicans: battleground Arizona Rep. Martha McSally, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden and Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler. ‘In the heart of the West, 2 million acres of protected public lands just got wiped off the map, selling off American heritage,’ the TV ad’s narrator says. ‘Now elites in Washington have their sights set on Arizona.’ Polling conducted by Global Strategy Group show that a majority of voters in all three districts oppose legislation to shrink national monuments in Utah.” Watch the AZ-02 ad here, OR-02 here, and WA-03 here. Full story here.

POST-MORTEMS — FIRST IN SCORE — New poll looks closer at Northam win: A new poll, conducted by GBA Strategies for the NEA Advocacy Fund, AAPI Progressive Action, and the National Public Education Action Fund, took a look at how Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam pulled off his landslide win in the Virginia governor’s race. Their five major takeaways: “both the electorate’s composition and enthusiasm broke in Democrats’ favor, health care and education were central to the more nuanced conversation heard by voters, Trump helped Northam more than Gillespie, ‘racially loaded’ messaging and the economy appealed to some of Gillespie’s base, [and] communities of color overwhelmingly broke for Northam, yet had different priorities.” Read the polling memo here.

STAFFING UP — GOP fundraising firm High Cotton Consulting joins Axiom Strategies: “As part of the merger, Alexandra Kendrick and her fundraising staff joined Axiom’s D.C. office,” the Axiom release says, with Kendrick, High Cotton’s founder, adding: “I’m excited to add fundraising to the suite of services Axiom offers clients.”

— Cordray hires Jones’ national finance director: Ohio Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray has hired Antonia Koch as his campaign’s finance director. Koch previously served as national finance director for Sen.-elect Doug Jones’ campaign in Alabama, and before that was finance director for Jon Ossoff in the Georgia special election.

ENDORSEMENT WATCH — Club backs former Cruz aide Chip Roy for Congress: The Club for Growth PAC is endorsing Chip Roy, a former top aide to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for the open seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Lamar Smith. “Cut from the same cloth as Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, Chip is exactly the type of fiscal conservative Congress needs,” Club for Growth PAC President David McIntosh said.

— PCCC endorses four congressional candidates: The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is endorsing Mike Levin in California’s 49th District, Veronica Escobar in Texas’ 16th District, Greg Edwards in Pennsylvania’s 15th District, Liz Watson in Indiana’s 9th District and Jocelyn Benson in Michigan’s Secretary of State race.

MONEY CHASE — Gorka holds second fundraiser for Missouri candidate: Former White House aide Sebastian Gorka is holding his second fundraiser for Tony Monetti, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and otherwise obscure candidate in Missouri’s GOP primary. The minimum $250-a-head fundraiser will be held today in the St. Louis suburbs, according to an invite obtained by POLITICO. A max donation gets a picture with Gorka and access to a VIP reception.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “In hindsight, I admit it wasn’t appropriate.” — Rep. Blake Farenthold to CNN, on calling his aides an expletive.

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May wins applause from EU leaders for Brexit efforts

2017 12 15T003725Z 1 LYNXMPEDBE00P RTROPTP 0 BRITAIN EU MAY 1 150x150 - May wins applause from EU leaders for Brexit efforts

May wins applause from EU leaders for Brexit efforts
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to attend the EU summit in Brussels
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to attend the European Union summit in Brussels, Belgium, December 14, 2017. REUTERS/Yves Herman

December 15, 2017

By Elizabeth Piper and Luke Baker

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European leaders applauded British Prime Minister Theresa May for her work so far on Brexit, assuring her at a summit in Brussels that sufficient progress has been made to allow Britain to move on to the next stage of leaving the union.

A day after she suffered a defeat in parliament over her blueprint for quitting the EU, May told her peers that she was on course to deliver Brexit and urged them to speed up the talks to unravel more than 40 years of membership.

After updating her peers on progress, and telling them that Britain’s departure was “in the best interests of the UK and the European Union”, they offered her a brief round of applause.

“She is our colleague. Britain is a member state. We are not only trying to be, but we are polite and friendly people,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.

As she left to return to London — she will not join the other 27 leaders for further discussions on Brexit and the euro zone on Friday — May said she was eager to move on.

“We’ve had good discussions. I’m looking forward to discussing our future trade relationship and security relationship,” she said.

A British government official said the prime minister was approaching the next phase, which will discuss a transition period as well as the terms of the future trading relationship, “with ambition and creativity”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave her stamp of approval, but cautioned time was running out.

“We made clear that Theresa May has made an offer that should allow us to say that we have seen sufficient progress,” she told reporters. “Nevertheless, there are still a lot of problems to solve. And time is of the essence.”

Summit chair Donald Tusk will call May on Friday to update her after leaders have discussed their next moves on Brexit.

May, weakened after losing her Conservative Party’s majority in a June election, has so far carried her divided government and party with her as she negotiated the first phase of talks on how much Britain should pay to leave the EU, the border with Ireland and the status of EU citizens in Britain.

But the next, more decisive phase of the negotiations will further test her authority by exposing the deep rifts among her top team of ministers over what Britain should become after Brexit.

Acknowledging the difficulties ahead, Tusk warned them that only the unity they had displayed so far would deliver a good deal on trade — an issue on which the member states have different interests: “I have no doubt that the real test of our unity will be the second phase of Brexit talks,” he said.

HURDLES

The EU is willing to start talks next month on a roughly two-year transition period to ease Britain out after March 2019, but wants more detail from London on what it wants before it will open trade negotiations from March of next year.

The deal almost fell apart last week, when May’s Northern Irish allies rejected an initial agreement for fear that a promise to protect a free border with EU member Ireland could separate the region from the rest of the UK.

After days of often fraught diplomacy, May rescued the deal to meet the EU’s requirements for “sufficient progress” but the last-minute wobble by the Democratic Unionist Party, which she depends on in parliament to get laws passed, and the defeat in parliament on Wednesday, underline the tightrope she is walking.

During Thursday’s discussions, she was again keen to show that Britain remains an active member of the bloc for now, committing to staying in the Erasmus university program until the end of 2020 and taking part in talks on the bloc’s plan for closer defense cooperation.

Over dinner, leaders also discussed responses to the migration crisis from Africa and the Middle East, and lingering deep divisions over how to share the load.

They confirmed a rollover of sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis and reaffirmed their opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

(Additional reporting by William James in London and Philip Blenkinsop, Gabriela Baczynska and Alastair Macdonald in Brussels; Writing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Noah Barkin)

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Kenya president’s election campaign used firm hired by Trump: privacy group

2017 12 14T183211Z 1 LYNXMPEDBD1N9 RTROPTP 0 KENYA POLITICS 1 150x150 - Kenya president’s election campaign used firm hired by Trump: privacy group

Kenya president’s election campaign used firm hired by Trump: privacy group
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta waves upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony where he will be sworn in as president at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi
FILE PHOTO: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta waves upon his arrival to his inauguration ceremony where he will be sworn in as president at Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

December 14, 2017

NAIROBI (Reuters) – In the run-up to Kenya’s August presidential election, the ruling party used divisive social media campaigns created by a U.S. company whose previous clients include President Donald Trump, a Britain-based privacy advocacy group said on Thursday.

Two websites – one detailing the accomplishments of President Uhuru Kenyatta and the other attacking opposition leader Raila Odinga – share an IP address with Texas-based Harris Media LLC, according to Privacy International’s report.

Privacy International said the company used data analytics to target audiences using information gleaned from social media accounts in Kenya, where 1,200 people were killed in inter-ethnic violence after a disputed election a decade ago.

Kenyans vote largely along ethnic lines, and candidates appeal to voters on that basis.

“This raises serious concerns about the role and responsibility of companies working for political campaigns in Kenya, in which tribal affiliation and region of origin are particularly politically sensitive data, and volatile ‘coded language’ was widely deployed,” Privacy International said.

Social media in the East African nation were flooded with ads linking to the “Real Raila” and “Uhuru for Us” sites in the weeks before the Aug. 26 vote.

An official for Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party denied the report, saying it handled all its campaigns locally. The company, U.S.-based Harris Media LLC, did not respond to a request from Reuters for comment on the report.

But the allegations by Privacy International recalled how, for the first time in Kenya’s history, social media including fake news, hashtags and trolls dominated the public discussion and stoked tensions in the run-up to the hotly contested presidential election on Aug. 26.

Kenyans went to the polls amid concerns over the credibility of the vote and bitter online hate campaigns stoking ethnic tensions, leading to fears of a return to the bloodshed that followed the disputed 2007 vote.

The August vote was eventually nullified by the Supreme Court over irregularities. Kenyatta won an October re-run that Odinga boycotted. But violence marred the extended election season, and more than 70 people were killed, mainly by police.

Raphael Tuju, Jubilee Party secretary general, denied the party had hired or used Harris Media.

“We have heard a lot of those kinds of accusations. We were running a campaign from the Jubilee Headquarters, and we employed local communications experts, led by our own team, and that is it for us,” he told Reuters by phone.

Days before the August vote, Facebook released a tool enabling Kenyan users to evaluate content displayed prominently when they log on. The tool contained tips on how to spot fake news, including checking web addresses and looking for other reports on the topic.

(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Maggie Fick and Hugh Lawson)

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Don Jr. Responds To The Hill Tweet

pjimage 33 e1513272440768 150x150 - Don Jr. Responds To The Hill Tweet

Don Jr. Responds To The Hill Tweet
Photo of Benny Johnson

12:36 PM 12/14/2017

In the era of Trump, everything the first family does seems to be news.

From the shoes Melania is wearing to the toys Barron plays with to the number of Diet Cokes Trump drinks, every step the family takes is a headline.

So it was Wednesday with Donald Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. on Capitol Hill testifying before the House Intel Committee. The closed door testimony is deeply consequential and worth covering. However, reporter Olivia Beavers of The Hill decided that Don Jr.’s bathroom visit was also worth a tweet.

Beavers tweeted a video of Don Jr. entering the men’s bathroom in a break during the testimony. She said “Trump Jr. takes a bathroom break from closed door meeting with Senate Intel Committee — meeting started at 10am”  and even put a red circle around him:

 

In response, Don Jr. nuked the journalism industry, saying “SurpriIngly, not fakenews. Riveting stuff though. Journalism is dead.”

Savage.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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