tipsheet
Matt Vespa - Rumor Mill: Rubio Could Announce His Presidential Run on April 13
Posted: 3/28/2015 4:30:00 PM EST

Dan has been following the 2016 rumblings being made by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. He’s reportedly “frustrated” with the Senate, and doesn’t plan to run for re-election. Polling shows the young Republican can be a formidable force next year. He’s also been courting Romney and his donor network, which–if successful–could shift things in his direction.

Now, the Freedom Tower in Miami has been reserved for an event on April 13, which could be where Sen. Rubio makes his 2016 intentions official (via Tampa Bay Times):

A Rubio adviser stressed nothing has been nailed down for any kind of announcement, but the timing makes sense: Likely presidential candidate Rand Paul is expected to make things official April 7, to be followed by a five-day, five-state announcement tour, so Rubio presumably would not want to share the spotlight during that period.

All-but-announced candidate Jeb Bush appears to be in no rush to shift more formally into campaign mode, but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz made his announcement this week and Democrat Hillary Clinton is expected to make her campaign announcement in April as well, though nothing has been set.

Rubio, 43, has been preparing for a potential presidential run for at least a year. While behind in most early polls, he has generated considerable buzz as a top-tier contender who offers the party a fresh face, foreign policy experience, charisma and substance.

The Freedom Tower, a Mediterranean Revival landmark beside Biscayne Bay, is apparently one of several venues under consideration by Rubio, but it could be an ideal postcard setting to kick off a presidential campaign promoting the promise and greatness of America by the son of Cuban immigrants.

The building is reserved for 5:30 p.m. that Monday, which also happens to be Thomas Jefferson's birthday.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver wrote that Sen. Rubio has a path to the nomination, noting that his numbers in Iowa aren’t bad, and that his relative anonymity with the general electorate allows him to shape his image. He also has some of the best approval ratings in the 2016 field, which overall, aren’t good. At the same time, Gov. Scott Walker has many of the same qualities as Rubio:

There’s still plenty of room for Marco Rubio. Two years ago, I described the Florida senator as the “electable conservative.” While Rubio has taken fewer tangible steps toward officially running for president than rivals like Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, he still does reasonably well by that rubric. Perhaps along with Walker, he can make the most credible case for meeting William F. Buckley’s standard as the most viable conservative candidate.

He’s quite conservative, but not ultraconservative — instead he’s close to the median of Republicans who have been elected to Congress in recent elections.

Another way is to talk to Republican voters directly — or at least to poll them, as The Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics recently did in Iowa. That poll asked potential Republican caucusgoers whether they saw each of their candidates as “too conservative,” “too moderate” or “just right.” I’ve re-created that data below, removing voters who said they weren’t sure about the candidate from the sample.

These numbers look really good for Walker. Among voters with an opinion about him, 85 percent rated his ideological views as “just right,” the highest in the Republican field. But Rubio isn’t far behind; 74 percent of voters described him the same way, placing him in a tie for third place with Perry.

Rubio and Walker, being lesser known, have more chance to shape their image. And they can make some electability arguments of their own. In Rubio’s case, it’s about being a Hispanic candidate from a swing state with a good life story; in Walker’s, it’s about having been elected in a blue-leaning swing state three times in four years.

They also have vulnerabilities. Walker so far has not gotten a great reception from the mainstream media, which is fond of playing up the “crazy tea partyer” characterization of him. Pushing back against alleged or actual media bias is a part of the Republican playbook, but it requires some dexterity; it worked well for George W. Bush but not so well for Sarah Palin in the end, for instance. Rubio, for his part, has not shown a lot of political dexterity either, having lost more than he gained when he advocated for immigration reform.

Silver ends his analysis by saying that Republican primary voters could push Bush to the side easily in the primaries, leaving Rubio and Walker fighting for the nomination.

We shall see what happens. Then again, Rubio and Cruz running in 2016 undercuts the narrative we’ve been disseminating about Obama, which centered on him being a one-term senator with no experience before he ran and won in the 2008 election.

Regardless, with Cruz and the probable Rubio and Paul presidential announcements coming shortly next month, the Tea Party GOP is the point of the lance for the GOP in 2016–for now.

Matt Vespa - The Clinton Comeback Begins … With The Email Server Being ‘Wiped Clean’
Posted: 3/28/2015 3:21:00 PM EST

Chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi has received an answer from Clinton’s lawyers about turning over her server to an independent third party for review; it’s not worth it because everything on it was deleted. That’s including the backup systems connected to the server as well. In short, her legal team said that all work-related emails between 2009-2013 have been turned over and are in the State Department’s possession (via AP):

Hillary Rodham Clinton wiped her email server "clean," permanently deleting all emails from it, the Republican chairman of a House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks said Friday.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said the former secretary of state has failed to produce a single new document in recent weeks and has refused to relinquish her server to a third party for an independent review, as Gowdy has requested.

Clinton's attorney, David Kendall, said Gowdy was looking in the wrong place.

In a six-page letter released late Friday, Kendall said Clinton had turned over to the State Department all work-related emails sent or received during her tenure as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

"The Department of State is therefore in possession of all Secretary Clinton's work-related emails from the (personal email) account," Kendall wrote.

Kendall also said it would be pointless for Clinton to turn over her server, even if legally authorized, since "no emails ... reside on the server or on any backup systems associated with the server."

Kendall said in his letter that Clinton's personal attorneys reviewed every email sent and received from her private email address — 62,320 emails in total — and identified all work-related emails. Those totaled 30,490 emails or approximately 55,000 pages. The material was provided to the State Department on Dec. 5, 2014, and it is the agency's discretion to release those emails after a review.

The committee had subpoenaed Clinton’s emails relating to the Benghazi terrorist attack in 2012 on March 4, but Kendall noted that the 300 emails, which amounted to 900 pages, Clinton had turned over satisfied the order.

“Secretary Clinton failed to provide a single new document to the subpoena issued by the Committee and refused to provide her private server to the Inspector General for the State Department or any other independent arbiter for analysis,” he said his statement yesterday.

“We learned today, from her attorney, Secretary Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server. While it is not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking member on the committee, said:

This confirms what we all knew—that Secretary Clinton already produced her official records to the State Department, that she did not keep her personal emails, and that the Select Committee has already obtained her emails relating to the attacks in Benghazi. It is time for the Committee to stop this political charade and instead make these documents public and schedule Secretary Clinton’s public testimony now.

So, while some are reporting the makings of a Clinton comeback are in the works, this fiasco has done damage to her numbers. Guy dissected the CBS News poll showing that two-thirds of the respondents felt it was inappropriate for the former Secretary of State to use a private email account to conduct official business, she scored low marks on honesty, and her favorables are under water by double-digits.

As RNC Chairman Reince Priebus aptly noted, “Even Nixon didn't destroy the tapes.”

Christine Rousselle - ICYMI: DC's Congressional Delegate Has Some Issues With Parking
Posted: 3/28/2015 2:50:00 PM EST

The other day, D.C.'s Congressional Delegate Elanor Holmes Norton was caught on video failing miserably at parking her car near the Capitol.

Yikes.

In response to becoming the laughingstock of the internet (at least in the D.C. area), Norton has promised that she will take a refresher course on how to properly park a car.

She told FOX5 that she was running behind for a TV interview and that she doesn’t normally park in that area. Construction, she said, also caused her to make an unfamiliar move.

“Don’t worry! I have signed up for parking lessons, and I’m even thinking about upgrading to one of those self-parking cars,” Norton said.

This isn't Norton's first snafu with a vehicle. In 2014, she accidentally hit the "kill switch" on a demonstration driverless car and forced the vehicle to reboot, ending the demo.

To be fair to Del. Norton, parking in the District of Columbia can be a challenge, especially on those diagonal spaces. Let's hope she's got a good teacher lined up so she can avoid this embarrassment in the future.

Cortney O'Brien - When Smoking Is Involved, Liberals Suddenly Care About Unborn Babies
Posted: 3/28/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

It has taken a pack of cigarettes to convince pro-abortion liberals that unborn babies are not just fetuses without feelings. A study produced by England's Durham and Lancaster Universities has put a face to the negative effects of smoking during pregnancy. The researchers produced ultrasound scans of unborn babies shielding their eyes and moving their faces uncomfortably as their mothers smoked. It is this batch of telling images that suddenly has liberals up in arms about the well being of the preborn - you know, those tiny lives they had previously dismissed as “masses of cells?”

Here were the study's findings:

Observing 4-d ultrasound scans, the researchers found that fetuses whose mothers were smokers showed a significantly higher rate of mouth movements than the normal declining rate of movements expected in a fetus during pregnancy.

The researchers suggested that the reason for this might be that the fetal central nervous system, which controls movements in general and facial movements in particular did not develop at the same rate and in the same manner as in fetuses of mothers who did not smoke during pregnancy.

It's interesting that one group especially outraged over this research, is the liberal media. Cosmopolitan, a women’s publication unapologetic about its pro-abortion agenda, responded to the study with this article, “Disturbing Ultrasounds Show How Unborn Babies React When Their Mothers Smoke.” 

Why all of a sudden do liberals care about unborn babies? Some would argue it’s only politically expedient now because it fits their anti-smoking agenda. It’s hard for anyone to defend the health effects of smoking, but it is nonetheless an unfortunately apt opportunity for Big Government liberals to promote a nanny state culture. In 2009, President Obama made this demographic happy by signing an anti-smoking bill that gave the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco the same way the government regulates cereals and pharmaceuticals.

So, I have a hard time believing liberals are suddenly sincere in their concern for unborn babies. This new study simply gives liberals more ammunition in their anti-smoking campaign.

Smoking endangers an unborn life, but abortion ends one. It’s obvious that if liberals truly cared about protecting innocent lives, they’d direct more of their outrage toward the latter.

The unborn babies in this study shielded their faces from smoke. Shouldn't the ubiquity of abortion make us all do the same thing?

Daniel Doherty - Latest: Germanwings Co-Pilot Suffered From "Illness," Ripped Up "Sick Notes" Day of Crash
Posted: 3/28/2015 9:00:00 AM EST

Another twisted turn in the curious case of Andreas Lubitz, the unstable German airline pilot who purportedly crashed Germanwings Flight 9525 into the side of a mountain in southeastern France on Monday. For days, authorities and investigators have been trying to figure out (a) why Lubitz deliberately locked the captain out of the cockpit and (b) subsequently and slowly took the plane off course. Perhaps, however, they're getting closer. New details suggest that Lubitz was excused from flying the day of the crash for health reasons, even obtaining a series of doctors notes which he subsequently and reportedly ripped up and kept secret:

Torn-up sick notes for the day of the crash "support the current preliminary assessment that the deceased hid his illness from his employer and colleagues," Duesseldorf prosecutors' office spokesman Ralf Herrenbrueck said Friday. Such sick notes from doctors excusing employees from work are common in Germany, even for minor illnesses.

Prosecutors didn't say what type of illness — mental or physical — Lubitz may have been suffering from. German media reported Friday that the 27-year-old had suffered from depression.

The New York Times also reports that officials have not yet determined a clear motive, but several hypotheticals have already been taken off the table:

The German investigators said they had not found a suicide note or “any indication of a political or religious” nature among the documents from Mr. Lubitz’s apartment. They also played down the possibility that his actions were the result of a romantic breakup, saying he was in a long-term relationship at the time of the crash.

“However, documents were secured containing medical information that indicates an illness and corresponding treatment by doctors,” Ralf Herrenbrück, a spokesman for prosecutors in Düsseldorf, said in a statement.

Even more strange, by all outward appearances Lubitz seemed to be a normal person, according to The Wall Street Journal:

Mr. Lubitz’s motive for crashing the plane remain unclear. People who knew him described him as quiet, pleasant and responsible, and Lufthansa said it had no indication why he would have deliberately crashed the aircraft. People who saw him recently said he didn’t appear burdened.

But clearly he was; otherwise, he would not have allegedly murdered so many innocent people.

Meanwhile, this tragic act of mass murder has convinced the airline to overhaul it’s safety regulations; from now on, at least two "authorized persons" will be required to be “in the cockpit at all times”:

The disclosure of torn medical documents at the co-pilot's home came shortly before Germanwings' parent company, Lufthansa, announced that it would be changing company policy to require two crew members remain in the cockpit at all times during the flight, in light of the finding that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz apparently stopped the captain from re-entering the cockpit and forced the plane to crash.

Implementing this change is a no-brainer, of course. And yet it's profoundly tragic that such regulations weren't already in place before this reported killer got behind the wheel.

Conn Carroll - A Conservative Immigration Agenda
Posted: 3/27/2015 8:34:00 PM EST

When it comes to immigration reform, we all know what conservatives are against. We are against the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. We are against the 2013 Gang of Eight bill. And we are against the 2014 Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program.

But what are we for? The system is clearly broken. It takes way too long for law-abiding immigrants to become citizens, the wealthy and powerful game the system for their friends, and, now that the economy is revering, the number of illegal immigrants is rising again.

Sure every conservative wants to "secure the border." But when it comes to how that should be done (a wall, mandatory e-verify, doubling the border patrol, etc.), consensus quickly falls apart. And don't even ask about what to do with those illegal immigrants already in the country.

Establishment Republicans are locked into the amnesty-for-enforcement model. Details may vary but the plans are still fundamentally the same: Devote more resources to some border security efforts now ("secure the border") and then grant legal status to the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States.

There are two main problems with this position. 

First, border security is not a one-and-done proposition. It is not like going to the moon. "Securing the border" will always be an ongoing process. You could build a wall. But then that wall has to be maintained, improved, and monitored. Even then, roughly 45 percent of illegal immigrants currently in the United States entered legally with a visa, and then overstayed that visa. A wall to keep illegal immigrants out is worthless if you let half of them in legally. 

Second, it is not fair or credible to pick some arbitrary date and say every illegal immigrant in the United States before said date will be put on a path to citizenship, but every immigrant who comes after said date will be deported. Such a policy is not fair to those immigrants who are patiently going through the existing legal immigration process and potential immigrants have no reason to believe that if we don't have the political will to deport people today, we will somehow magically find the will to do it tomorrow.

So if amnesty-now-for-enforcement-later is not a workable immigration solution, what is?

Before we get to what the specifics of such a policy could look like, here are some principles which should guide us.

Security - The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens. That is why security must be the first principle of immigration reform. The federal government must prioritize preventing national security threats from entering the country and deporting them when they are found already in the country. Threats to public safety (like violent criminals and felons) must also be deported whenever they are found as well.

Equality - We must treat all immigrants equally no matter what country the come from or when they arrived. Treating all nationalities equally is part of our founding creed, and it is simply not credible public policy to treat some immigrants differently based solely on when they arrived in the country.

Family - Nobody likes to break up families. Everyone has empathy for those who are in this country already and are struggling to keep their families together. Deporting otherwise law-abiding family members of legal U.S. residents, who present no threat to national security or public safety, is simply not politically sustainable. The American people just do not have the political will to do it. It is time everyone admitted this, especially proponents of legalization who claim they want to deport illegal immigrants who fail to pay a fine, fail an English test, or lose a job

Prosperity - Our immigration policies should help all Americans prosper, not just employers looking for cheap labor. That is why it is important that we raise the costs for employers to hire illegal immigrants. But we must also seek to minimize the regulatory costs for employers who do want to hire U.S. citizens.

Simplicity - Lawyers, lobbyists, and community activists are the only ones who gain from a complicated immigration system. The simpler the rules are, the better everyone understands them and the more likely it is that everyone follows them.

The challenge of immigration policy is finding the most politically sustainable way for raising the cost of entering or staying in the United States illegally without unduly burdening our economy 

For centuries the Atlantic and Pacific oceans mostly did this job for us. It was expensive to get here and information about where to go once you got here was hard to come by. But, as technology has improved, it is now far easier and cheaper to travel great distances. Thanks to technology it is also far easier to find jobs in the United States from thousands of miles away and it is also far easier to send the money earned in the United States back home. Since technological growth shows no signs of slowing, especially on the transportation and communications fronts, the trend of more people trying to enter, live, and work in the United States will only grow.

This is yet another reason why the amnesty-now-for-enforcement-later policy framework is destined to fail again as it already failed after it was tried in 1986. The main mechanism that we have for controlling illegal immigration, deportation, simply isn't working. Except for demonstrable national security or public safety threats, the political will just isn't there to deport anyone.

There is no comprehensive package of policies that can solve this problem. But there are some incremental steps we can take to better align everyone's incentives.

Turn Unauthorized Immigrants Away At The Border - One of the driving forces behind the 2014 border crisis was the Bush administration policy of turning away illegal immigrants from Mexico at the southern border, but taking in immigrants from all other countries. Smugglers figured out that if they could overwhelm a section of the border with illegal immigrants from a country other than Mexico, then Customs and Border Protection would be forced to release those illegal immigrants in the United States. That is why you had illegal immigrants flagging down border patrol agents. They wanted to be caught! You can have the biggest wall in the world but it is worthless unless we treat everyone equally and turn all illegal immigrants away.

Require Visa Holders To Post Bond When They Enter The Country - Not only did more than 40 percent of all illegal immigrants currently in the United States first enter on a legal visa, but visa-overstayers are also the driving force behind the recent rise in illegal immigration. The Department of Homeland Security should absolutely develop a comprehensive system for tracking visa holder entry and exit, but that is not enough. Who will track all the visa overstayers down? Who will deport them? How do we know if future presidents will be diligent about updating the system and tracking overstayers down? Conservatives can improve the chance that immigrants will honor their visa terms by making them or their sponsoring employer or educational institution post a bond, say $50,000 when they enter. When said visa holder then leaves, they, or their sponsoring institution, can get their money back. But if they don't then taxpayers get to keep the money.

Tax Remittances - How did Jeb Bush put it? Illegal immigration is "an act of love." "They come to our country because their families, the dad who loved their children," Bush said, "was worried that their children didn’t have food on the table." And he's right. Most illegal immigrants do come to this country to earn money that they can then send back home to their families. But when illegal immigrants take those jobs, they drive down the wages for U.S. citizens with similar skills. And when they send their earnings home, that is money that is escaping the U.S. economy and helping another country's economy. U.S. immigration policy should serve U.S. workers and the U.S. economy. Immigrants sent more than $120 billion a year back to their home countries. We should raise taxes on remittances out of the United States and use that revenue to cut the payroll tax for all working Americans.

Allow Injured Parties To Get Compensation From Employers Who Hire Illegal Immigrants - E-Verify is a highly successful program that empowers employers to check the legal status of their potential employees. Any conservative immigration policy should make E-Verify mandatory. But even in states that already have mandatory E-Verify laws, compliance is often spotty. And enforcement would depend entirely on whoever was in the White House. A president controlled by the Chamber of Commerce and/or amnesty activists wold not enforce an E-Verify law. That is why U.S. Citizens must be empowered to hold employers who hire illegal immigrants accountable. A federal cause of action could be created allowing anyone who could show they were harmed by the hiring of an illegal immigrant, through a loss of job or decreased wages, to collect damages from an employer who is proved to have hired an illegal immigrant.

Create a Z Visa For Non-Security Threats - No border security system will be perfect. No visa tracking system will be perfect. No E-Verify system will be perfect. As long as the United States is the best country on Earth immigrants will always come here in greater numbers than the system can handle. So what should we do with those that are here illegally? The easy answer is "deport them all" but history has shown that that is just politically and practically impossible. The current establishment answer, both on the right and left, is for serial amnesty. We give those in the country here now a path to citizenship, promise to deport all illegal immigrants in the future, and then when we don't deport those future illegal immigrants, we give them amnesty too. Wash, rinse, repeat. This approach is dishonest and undermines the rule of law.

Instead, we should create an alternative to deportation. Every illegal immigrant would still have to go through a deportation process, and those who were found to be threats to public safety or national security would still be deported. But for those who were not threats to public safety, they could be issued a Z Visa granting them protection from deportation. This new Z Visa would not entitle anyone to a work permit, a Social Security number, or a driver's license, but it would allow them to remain with their families.

None of the above policy ideas are dependent on one another. All could be implemented one-by-one in a piecemeal process. Even if they all became law our immigration system would still not be perfect. But it would function far better than it does today.

Matt Vespa - What Is It With Federal Officers Soliciting Prostitutes and Having Sex Parties?
Posted: 3/27/2015 7:35:00 PM EST

Federal law enforcement seems to have an accountability problem within their ranks regarding allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct. The fact that internal affairs within these departments have a history of refusing to investigate these allegations is bad enough, but it reached a whole new level when it was discovered that agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reportedly participated in soliciting prostitutes; a throwback to the Secret Service’s scandal in Cartagena, Colombia. A report from the Department of Justice’s Inspector General released a damning report citing sex parties, and agents accepting money, gifts, and weapons from the drug cartels (via WaPo) [emphasis mine]:

Drug Enforcement Administration agents allegedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by local drug cartels overseas over a period of several years, according to a report released Thursday by the Justice Department’s watchdog.

The report did not specify the country where the parties occurred, but a law enforcement official familiar with the matter identified it as Colombia.

Seven of the 10 DEA agents alleged to have participated in the gatherings — most of which took place at an agent’s “quarters” leased by the U.S. government — admitted to having attended the parties, the report found. The agents, some of whom had top-secret security clearances, received suspensions of two to 10 days.

Former police officers in Colombia also alleged that three DEA supervisory special agents were provided with money, expensive gifts and weapons from drug cartel members, according to the report.

“Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds,” according to the 131-page report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The findings were part of a much broader investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct from fiscal 2009 to 2012 at federal law enforcement agencies — the DEA, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Horowitz said the investigation was “significantly impacted and unnecessarily delayed” by repeated difficulties his office had in obtaining relevant information from the FBI and the DEA. When he did receive the information, he said, it “was still incomplete.”

At the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, the internal-affairs offices “chose not to investigate” some allegations of sexual misconduct, the report said. At the FBI, in 32 of 258 accusations of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment, supervisors failed to report the allegations.

The DEA’s internal-affairs office did not always fully investigate allegations of solicitation of prostitution. There were 26 allegations involving DEA agents soliciting prostitutes abroad between 2009 and 2012, the report said.

“We found that the DEA lacks clear policy on whether to report alleged misconduct to headquarters and the DEA provides supervisors discretion when deciding whether to do so,” the report concluded.

In one case that also appeared to be based in Colombia, a DEA regional director, an acting assistant regional director and a group supervisor failed to report to their superiors repeated allegations of special agents paying prostitutes for sex and “frequenting a brothel while in an overseas posting,” treating the accusations as “local management issues.”

Over at the Washington Examiner, they report that DEA agents were also cited for arranging prostitutes for two Secret Service agents.

In 2012, the Secret Service’s PR nightmare began when agents from the advanced security detail were caught with prostitutes at the five-star Hotel Caribe, where members of the White House Staff and Press Corps would eventually stay as well. Business Insider  had a great breakdown of the incident that took place amongst this group of agents that arrived a week in advance of the planned Sixth Summit of the Americas. Drinking heavily throughout the week, the hotel staff noticed the agents’ solicitation prostitutes when one of them wasn’t paid. When confronted by the hotel manager, the agent refused to cooperate prompting a call to the police.

In all, 22 members of the Secret Service, including five members of U.S. Special Forces were reportedly involved in this night of fun gone awry, according to Insider. As you could imagine, there were some personnel changes, and the secret Service affirmed that the president’s security had not been compromised.

In an ironic twist on the whole incident, the investigator from the Department of Homeland Security, David Nieland, resigned his position last year over allegation that he visited … a prostitute (via NYT):

Sheriff’s deputies in Broward County, Fla., saw David Nieland, the investigator, entering and leaving a building they had under surveillance as part of a prostitution investigation, according to officials briefed on the investigation. They later interviewed a prostitute who identified Mr. Nieland in a photograph and said he had paid her for sex.

Mr. Nieland resigned after he refused to answer a series of questions from the Department of Homeland Security inspector general about the incident, the officials said.

A spokesman for the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general said in a statement that he could confirm only that Mr. Nieland resigned in August. But the spokesman added that department officials “became aware in early May of this year of an incident in Florida that involved one of our employees.”

While prostitution is quasi-legalized in Colombia, I honestly have no words. The DEA is accepting gifts and sex parties with the help of local drug cartels. The Secret Service solicited prostitutes in Cartagena, and their failure to stop Omar Gonzalez when he jumped the White House fence, which led to the resignation of Secret Service Director Julia Pierson; only added another embarrassment to their history. They dodged a bullet with the White House gate incident, where it appears that they didn’t crash into the gate–the agents more or less tapped it–and they weren’t drunk. Still, it's probably not the best time to be asking for $8 million to build a fake White House in Maryland in order to properly secure the real one.

It's really not a good time for federal law enforcement. 

Matt Vespa - Hillary Just Avoided The 'Pepsi Throwback' Of Presidential Primaries
Posted: 3/27/2015 5:30:00 PM EST

Hillary’s email trainwreck has some of Hillary’s staunchest supporters “really freaked out,” according to National Journal’s Ron Fournier. He said on CNN earlier this month that he got calls from Democrats in awe of the email development and unimpressed with how the former first lady conducted herself at the UN presser explaining her actions. Even die-hard Clinton supporters, people who want her to run unchallenged for the Democratic nomination, are worried, or at least very uneasy about the whole situation. As Cortney aptly noted, some Democrats are saying this is what happens when you “put all your eggs in one basket.”

So, does Clinton’s email flap mean Democrats are lining up to challenge her? Well, sort of -- there’s some folks trying to motivate California Gov. Jerry Brown, Al Gore (I’m not kidding), Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vice President Joe Biden to consider 2016 runs. Yes, it’s quite the motley crew of people who’ve never been successful in mounting national campaigns for president and one senator who won because her state is insanely Democratic.

First, let’s go to every progressives favorite, Sen. Warren. In February, Warren sent a rather enigmatic letter to Democrats through the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) saying, The question is whether enough Democrats will stand up -- stand up to corporate money and powerful interests and stand up for regular people, working families, and progressive values…I’m in — what about you? Will you donate by midnight to take back the Senate?" Many on the left, like Moveon.org and Democracy for America are taking this as a sign that she could be swayed to run in 2016. Hillary’s ties to the financial industry has drawn the ire of the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party, and this email fiasco has given them fuel to fan the flames of a potential Clinton challenge–with Warren leading the way:

Democracy for America, MoveOn.org and Ready for Warren all issued statements within minutes of each other, touting Warren’s record as a middle-class advocate and urging her to run.

Timing notwithstanding, the three groups disavowed any interest in the ongoing email flap, but instead said their efforts to draft Warren were driven by the issues. And they all agreed that Warren’s harsh criticism for Wall Street and middle-class advocacy is the right prescription for the party.

“Primaries are decided on the issues, not where candidates store their emails,” said Neil Sroka, communications director for Democracy for America.

“The draft Warren movement is less concerned with the frenzy surrounding Secretary Clinton's emails than we are with standing up, on behalf of millions of working families, to those who are rigging the system in favor of the rich and powerful,” added Erica Sagrans, campaign manager for Ready for Warren.

“A contested nomination will strengthen the Democratic Party by holding candidates accountable,” said Ready for Warren’s Sagrans. “Senator Warren is already shaping the national conversation on key issues, but not having her in the race would weaken our chances of having a real warrior for working families in the White House.”

Well, for starters, Warren has said she isn’t running for president. Though she has friends, many will simply not give the money necessary to mount a successful challenge. Why? They won't leave Hillary. Then again, it's reported that Warren could split the moneyed interests in Hollywood; a lot of folks in the business have soured on Hillary, thinking she's too centrist. David Frum noted that the Senate isn’t an institution designed for a raging progressive like Warren. So, she could toss her hat into the ring.  As Dan wrote earlier today, The Boston Globe wants her to mount a challenge to Clinton. Clinton knows her growing influence in the party given that she and Warren had a sit down in February to discuss, amongst other things, policy ideas. Is this the beginning of Clinton/Warren 2016?  

In a throwback to the 1990s, California Gov. Jerry Brown, who’s pushing 80, was giving off 2016 vibes of his own until this Sunday’s Meet The Press. Citing his age, Brown said if he were 10 years younger, he would mount a campaign for the 2016 Democratic nomination. Bad blood reportedly still exists between the two camps; Brown accused then-Gov. Bill Clinton of funneling money to Hillary's law firm for state business in the 1992 presidential election, which drove Bill into a rage.

Al Gore was creating buzz. Noah wrote about it. Ezra Klein of Vox  had a post saying the former vice president should run, citing his ability to fundraise his possible 2016 bid thanks to his resume as a credible candidate:

Hillary Clinton is crushing her rivals in the invisible primary. The result will be a lopsided race once the campaign turns visible: her likely challengers don't have the name recognition, party support, campaign organization, or funding necessary to force a real contest.

Gore does. He begins with a powerful asset in presidential politics: credibility. As a long-serving senator and a two-term vice president, Gore has more direct political experience and at least as much claim to the triumphs of the 1990s as Clinton. He's also won more elections than Clinton — including the popular vote in a presidential campaign. There are few Americans who don't at least know his name. There is no one in the Democratic Party who won't at least take his call.

But Gore's experience and contacts now reach beyond politics — and into venues that would be enormously helpful to him if he wanted to fund an expensive race. He serves on the board of Apple, as a senior adviser to Google, and at the mega-venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers. He's also carved a path through finance and telecommunications, becoming fabulously wealthy — richer, even, than Mitt Romney — as an investor and mogul.

The problem, Klein notes, is Gore. Oh, and the fact that he’s probably not running for president.

Lastly, there’s Vice President Joe Biden. Though he hasn’t made any of his 2016 intentions known, Draft Biden is up and running. It’s also “appropriately unpolished,” according to National Journal:

The new Draft Biden 2016 effort is a PAC and a fledgling website, RunBidenRun.com, with a full-time staff of two. When the site went live, an unfortunately cropped photo of the vice president's chest—cutting off his head—greeted viewers, and the "Donate" page trumpeted a goal of just $5,000, while showing that $5 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon.

What the effort does have, though, is a network of former Obama for America volunteers who are resolved to boost someone with a last name other than Clinton or Bush to the White House. That includes Draft Biden PAC's organizing director, William Pierce, a 26-year-old who has worked as a field organizer for Democrats, most recently Chicago mayoral candidate Bob Fioretti.

Despite the vice president's lack of a campaign operation, Draft Biden hopes to persuade him to run. For starters, there's a petition—which currently has roughly 2,000 signatures—urging him to get in the race. The group plans to build on what Pierce said is Biden's grassroots support throughout the country, eventually hiring field staff in key primary states "who can mobilize the grassroots army that we're going to have in those states."

Draft Biden isn't deterred by the millions raised by other candidates. With a stated fundraising goal of just $5,000, the group isn't planning to produce "glitzy TV commercials" or an expensive bus tour, because, Pierce said, "money is the root of all evil, we feel."

Allahpundit wrote, “It’s not capital-C Crazy” if Biden runs, though he aptly noted that we should probably drink some special Kool-Aid if he–in some bizarre alternate reality–becomes an unstoppable juggernaut in the general. At the same time, despite being saddled with Obama’s baggage, there really isn’t a reason for Biden not to mount a 2016 bid. Yes, he’s old, so this would be his swan song–win or lose. Vice presidents are usually lost to history after their service, and seldom does the vice president achieve a higher office than having the honor of being a pulse away from occupying the Oval Office.

Last December, I wrote that if he does run, Hillary has to debate him, whereas she could sit idly by and let her would-be opponents asphyxiate from a lack of oxygen from the media and donors. You can’t say the same for the Vice President of the United States, even if he’s trailing you. Also, can you imagine that debate? “Dead broke” lady vs. “butt buddy” Biden; where’s the popcorn?

Lastly, Biden has often told this to his colleagues about his secret to winning.

“You have to figure out what’s worth losing over,” he says. In 2016, he really has nothing to lose by running other than one last stab before probably retiring from public life.

So, in the end, the fledgling 2016 Democratic field (Biden/Brown/Gore) that was mostly a throwback to the 1990s has died a quick death.

With Biden, it’s a wait and see, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he just decides to bow out. With Warren, despite her firm statements to the contrary, we shouldn’t be surprised if she does toss her hat in the ring. This is her only window of opportunity. She will probably be considered too old after the ’16 cycle.

 At the same time, she pales in comparison to Barack Obama when gauging the two as insurgent candidates:

Think back to this time in 2007. Mr. Obama already had emerged as a strong candidate. He had announced his candidacy in February 2007, and surged to about 25 percent in the polls. His early rallies drew large crowds. By April, he was already tied with Mrs. Clinton in Iowa (although John Edwards led them both), and he matched her first-quarter fund-raising tallies.

The numbers, if anything, underestimated his position. His political identity, intentionally or not, was forged from anti-Clinton kryptonite. Early opposition to the war in Iraq positioned him to challenge Mrs. Clinton on her biggest liability. His youth, unifying message and relentless criticism of special interests contrasted perfectly with Mrs. Clinton, who was seen as a polarizing, transactional candidate tied to the past.

The enthusiasm for Ms. Warren’s candidacy on the left is real, but it probably doesn’t compare with the support for Mr. Obama. She isn’t as sharp a contrast with Mrs. Clinton, particularly when it comes to youth. Ms. Warren may be a new face, but, at 65, she doesn’t represent generational change against Mrs. Clinton, who is 67.

And Mr. Obama had an advantage that Ms. Warren can’t replicate: the possibility of becoming the country’s first black president. Ms. Warren’s similar appeal as a possible pathbreaking president, as the first woman to win, would be matched by Mrs. Clinton.

Again, Clinton/Warren 2016 could help Hillary shore up the progressive elements skeptical of her on policy. Myra Adams wrote in National Review that it also has the added bonus of removing Warren from the Senate should this highly hypothetical ticket win in 2016. As a result, progressive obstructionism by Warren to Clinton's pragmatic, sometimes secretive, approach to policy can be avoided. What say you?

**Crossposted over at Hot Air**

Christine Rousselle - Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) To Seek Senate Seat
Posted: 3/27/2015 4:35:00 PM EST

Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) is expected to announce Monday that she intends on running for Senate. Duckworth, a veteran of the Iraq War, was the first Asian-American woman elected to Congress from Illinois and was first elected to Congress in 2012.

The Chicago Sun Times had the exclusive:

On Monday evening, Duckworth will gather some of her top donors at a home in the Hancock Center to discuss securing the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., who is seeking a second term.

In the letter to her best fundraisers about the Hancock meeting, they were told “contributions are encouraged but not required. We realize it is early in the election cycle, but we are asking our top supporters to consider a donation. The maximum an individual can give before March is $5,400. If Tammy decides to not to run for Senate, we will offer you a refund. If she does run, this support will be key in keeping up with Senator Kirk’s $2 million and counting campaign war-chest.”

Duckworth is a new mother to a daughter, Abigail, and recently returned to Congress following maternity leave. Prior to Abigail's birth, a minor controversy erupted over Rep. Nancy Pelosi's refusal to let Duckworth (who was on bed rest) vote by proxy.

Daniel Doherty - Reid: I'd Like to Pass The Leadership Torch to Chuck Schumer
Posted: 3/27/2015 3:30:00 PM EST

Now that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has done a complete about-face and opted not to run for re-election, questions abound about who will succeed him in his leadership role. Reid, however, has a candidate in mind: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Washington Post interviewed the Nevada Democrat this morning:

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) has endorsed Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to succeed him after he retires at the end of 2016.

"I think Schumer should be able to succeed me," Reid said in a Friday morning interview at his home in Washington's West End.

Reid predicted that Schumer, the No. 3 Senate Democrat in leadership and a close friend, would win the Democratic leader post without opposition. He said that the other likely contender, Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), would stand down for Schumer.

We'll see.

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