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Matt Vespa - Oregon Governor's Fiancé Was Reportedly Involved In A Pot Growing Scheme
Posted: 10/14/2014 1:35:00 PM EST

After admitting to a sham marriage in order for an Ethiopian man to obtain permanent residence, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancé, Cylvia Hayes, also addressed claims of a property deal that was intended to start a marijuana drug operation (KOIN):

Just four months after she married an Ethiopian man solely to help him become a US citizen, Cylvia Hayes was involved with a property she admits was intended to be an illegal marijuana grow operation.

Hayes, the fiancee of Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, admitted publicly last Thursday she had an illegal secret marriage from 1997 until 2001. She said she was paid $5000 by the man, Abraham Abraham.

Public records show that in November 1997 — just four months after her marriage — she and another man bought a $245,000 piece of property with a $15,000 down payment.

The property is in remote Washington state, in Okanogan, near the Canadian border.

Patrick Siemion, who sold the property to Hayes and her boyfriend, told KOIN 6 News, “There was somewhat of a leader/follower there, and she was leading and the gentleman was following.”

Siemion said the pair soon stopped making payments and public records show Cyliva Hayes gave up her interest in the property in April 1998.

Her ex-boyfriend has history of domestic violence convictions, KOIN 6 News confirmed.

When he got the property back, Siemion said it was “obvious why they had chosen that property.”

“They had been growing marijuana,” he said.

Again, she released a statement on the matter:

Last Thursday I admitted that 17 years ago I was in the middle of a very difficult and unstable period of my life. I said then, and I’ll say again… I was associating with the wrong kind of people and making mistakes.

I am not proud of that brief period of time – I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man. We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized. I was never financially involved with it. I did not pay any part of the down payment or mortgage payments. I had no money. The money I had received in July 1997 for entering a fraudulent marriage was used as I have previously stated — to purchase a lap top and pay school expenses.

In the spring of 1998 I began to make plans to get away. In July 1998 I moved to Central Oregon and began building a life and career that I am very proud of.

Kitzhaber's Republican opponent, Rep. Dennis Richardson, isn't focusing on these recent developments for political attacks.  Instead, he's putting Hayes' consulting work in the crosshairs, which he says paints the Kitzhaber administration as "inept and unethical."

The governor made a formal request to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission upon these recent revelations by his fiancé to see if any actions should be taken against her.  Yet, the decision won't handed down before Election Day since these reviews can take up to 120 days. 

Katie Pavlich - Ft. Hood Murderer's Attorney: "I Don't Know Where They Come Up With Workplace Violence"
Posted: 10/14/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

Ft. Hood murderer Nidal Hasan recently sent a six page letter to Pope Francis about waging Jihad, further clarifying Hasan's murder of 13 people and the shooting of 30 others in 2009 was Islamic terrorism, not work place violence as the politically correct Obama administration has said and argued.

Last night on The Kelly File Hassan's current attorney, John Galligan, said he doesn't understand where the classification of "workplace violence" comes from in this case.

"I don't know where they come up with the term 'work place violence.' I've been in the Army 30 years, I've been in the practice of law for almost 35 years, work place violence was not the crime for which he was charged, it is not a punishable offense under the UCMJ and it's certainly not an aggravating factor that would warrant the death penalty. Nidal Hasan was charged with mass murder," Galligan said, adding the government had the option to charge him with terrorism and didn't. Galligan also argued it is inconsistent for the Army to pursue the death penalty while attempting to cover the incident with a work place violence label.

Although Hasan has been sentenced to death, Galligan doesn't believe his sentence will be carried out.

Daniel Doherty - Pollster: The Senate Race in NH is "Breathtakingly Close"
Posted: 10/14/2014 12:30:00 PM EST

So close, in fact, Democrats might actually be nervous.

A freshly-published High Point/SurveyUSA poll has finally delivered the news Republicans in New Hampshire were waiting for. After a batch of new polling suggested the race was getting away from Scott Brown, the High Point University poll puts the contest firmly in contention.

Incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) still leads her opponent modestly (48/46) -- but her two-point advantage is statistically meaningless. According to the write-up, the pollsters describe Shaheen's edge as “narrow” -- and the race itself “breathtakingly close” -- mere weeks before Election Day. The findings can be condensed into this one sentence: “Brown holds 91% of the Republican base, Shaheen holds 91% of the Democratic base. Independents split.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a race.

But there are other reasons for Republicans to be optimistic. While Shaheen’s job approval rating is higher than the president’s (41/54) in the state, it’s still underwater (47/48). At the same time, 43 percent of respondents say they are “worse off” financially than a year ago and 63 percent say the country is on the “wrong track.” In an election year that is expected to be very tough for incumbents, these numbers suggest turnout could be even higher than expected -- a boon to candidates like Scott Brown.

Nevertheless, despite her approval rating, Shaheen is snagging self-described moderates (57/38) and women (53/41) by double digits. Appealing to more moderates and women, therefore, could put her over the top. I assume this is why her campaign is making “despicable” claims that Brown (a pro-choice Republican) is insensitive to women’s issues.

We’ll see how this race ultimately shakes out. But if this poll isn’t an outlier, we can say one thing with certainty: Sen. Shaheen's seat is no longer safe.

Guy Benson - Democrats' New Obamacare Strategy: Lowering Expectations
Posted: 10/14/2014 12:01:00 PM EST

Scaling back the public's expectations is a strategy Obamacare defenders ought to have employed during their original sales pitch of 2009 and 2010. If they hadn't made some many big, falsifiable promises, a lot of consumer anger, frustration and betrayal might have been prevented. Then again, if they hadn't made all of those vows, the law wouldn't have passed in the first place. With round two of Obamacare enrollment coming up after the elections (by design), the administration is trying to play things down.  Explicit goalpost-shifting from the "it's working!" brigade.

The Obama administration vastly oversold how well Obamacare was going to work last year. It’s not making the same mistake this year. Gone are the promises that enrolling will be as easy as buying a plane ticket on Orbitz. The new head of HHS is not on Capitol Hill to promise that HealthCare.gov is on track. And no one is embracing Congressional Budget Office projections of total sign-up numbers. Sobered — and burned — by last fall’s meltdown of the federal website, the administration is setting expectations for the second Obamacare open enrollment period as low as possible.

The idea is to keep quiet, then claim victory if and when things aren't a total disaster -- which they still might be for far too many new and re-enrolling consumers. But people still remember the biggest promises that were parroted endlessly by Democrats -- keeping their preferred plans, substantially lower rates, etc.  Speaking of premiums, Politico reports:

Double-digit rate hikes for individual health insurance plans have become an issue in the Louisiana and Iowa Senate races over the past week, where the Republican candidates are hammering their Democratic opponents for the steep premium increases on the way next year for some customers under the Affordable Care Act. In Louisiana, Rep. Bill Cassidy called the double-digit increases for some insurers — including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana — “another hurdle for families and businesses already struggling under the demands of Obamacare” and blamed Democrats for “false promises” that premiums would go down. In Iowa, Senate candidate Joni Ernst used the sharp rate increases for two insurers to blast the Democratic candidate, Rep. Bruce Braley, for supporting the law, charging that “thousands of Iowans are paying for it.”...In most states, premiums for coverage in the Obamacare health insurance exchanges for 2015 are rising at about the normal rate for health insurance throughout the country.

Alaska is another state with a contested Senate rate where premiums are jumping considerably.  Even Politico's best attempt at pro-Obamacare spin falls short of the expectations mark set by the president and his Congressional allies.  Americans weren't promised "premiums for coverage...rising at about the normal rate for health insurance across the country."  We were promised lower rates across the board, to the tune of $2,500 per family, per year.  That's not happening.  Prices remain on the rise for most consumers, and in many places, the new spikes are worse than before the "Affordable" Care Act was passed to "fix" that trend.  And the true impact of the law on premiums won't be fully known until 2017 rates are released, after bailout-style taxpayer assistance programs for insurers sunset.   Meanwhile, many Americans are still worried sick about high out-of-pocket costs, as reported by the Associated Press:

They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs....The survey found the biggest financial worries among people with so-called high-deductible plans that require patients to pay a big chunk of their medical bills each year before insurance kicks in. Such plans already represented a growing share of employer-sponsored coverage. Now, they're also the mainstay of the new health insurance exchanges created by Obama's law.

You may recall CNN's recent report on the growing trend of hospitals asking for up-front payments from patients seeking treatment, which is related to this sticker shock problem.  I'll leave you with this nugget about California's Obamacare system, which made headlines in August for its shrinking network of providers:

California's health insurance exchange has awarded $184 million in contracts without the competitive bidding and oversight that is standard practice across state government, including deals that sent millions of dollars to a firm whose employees have long-standing ties to the agency's executive director. Covered California's no-bid contracts were for a variety of services, ranging from public relations to paying for ergonomic adjustments to work stations, according to an Associated Press review of contracting records obtained through the state Public Records Act. Several of those contracts worth a total of $4.2 million went to a consulting firm, The Tori Group, whose founder has strong professional ties to agency Executive Director Peter Lee, while others were awarded to a subsidiary of a health care company he once headed. Awarding no-bid contracts is unusual in state government, where rules promote "open and fair competition" to give taxpayers the best deal and avoid ethical conflicts. The practice is generally reserved for emergencies or when no known competition exists.

Oh, yes. Highly "unusual."
Katie Pavlich - Where Are The Labor Unions For the 2014 Midterms?
Posted: 10/14/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

It isn't just Democrat voters who are uninterested in heading to the polls in November. There is one major political group missing from the 2014 midterm election conversation: labor unions. 

Labor leaders shamelessly helped re-elected President Obama in 2012, but after broken promises on job creation and the destruction of worker healthcare plans, they've taken a major step back from their traditional role of putting or keeping Democrats in office this fall. More from the Washington Times

Labor unions, long a rich source of ground troops for national Democrats’ Election Day victories, are less enthusiastic this year, according to some movement leaders who say they are more focused on state-level races and feel left behind by the party on key issues such as Obamacare.

While public sector unions remain almost universally supportive of congressional Democrats, more traditional labor unions in key industries and key states express frustration with the party or say they haven’t been given a reason to get as deeply involved in the midterm elections.

“A lot of it is midterms — there’s nothing exciting on the ballot here,” he said. “But I think a lot of it is the state Democratic Party [messed] up. In my personal opinion, the choices they made for the top of the tickets — wow. Did they vet any of these people beforehand or what?”

Last year Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa, UFCW President Joseph Hansen and UNITE-HERE President D. Taylor
sent a letter to President Obama demanding Obamacare be changed and warned the legislation is destroying the 40 hour American work week. The labor leaders also expressed buyers remorse and reminded Democrats of their loyalty, which is now wavering. 

When you and the President sought our support for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you pledged that if we liked the health plans we have now, we could keep them. Sadly, that promise is under threat. Right now, unless you and the Obama Administration enact an equitable fix, the ACA will shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.

Like millions of other Americans, our members are front-line workers in the American economy. We have been strong supporters of the notion that all Americans should have access to quality, affordable health care. We have also been strong supporters of you. In campaign after campaign we have put boots on the ground, gone door-to-door to get out the vote, run phone banks and raised money to secure this vision.

Now this vision has come back to haunt us.

Since the ACA was enacted, we have been bringing our deep concerns to the Administration, seeking reasonable regulatory interpretations to the statute that would help prevent the destruction of non-profit health plans. As you both know first-hand, our persuasive arguments have been disregarded and met with a stone wall by the White House and the pertinent agencies. This is especially stinging because other stakeholders have repeatedly received successful interpretations for their respective grievances. Most disconcerting of course is last week’s huge accommodation for the employer community—extending the statutorily mandated “December 31, 2013” deadline for the employer mandate and penalties.

Time is running out: Congress wrote this law; we voted for you. We have a problem; you need to fix it. The unintended consequences of the ACA are severe. Perverse incentives are already creating nightmare scenarios.

The very complaints union leaders have brought to the table now about Obamacare are the same warnings conservatives and businesses gave before the legislation was signed into law in 2010. Despite all of the disappointment and lack of results, labor isn't throwing its weight behind Republicans and there's no doubt AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka still enjoys his cushy relationship with President Obama. Regardless,  it's a step in the right direction.

Katie Pavlich - The Media’s Bogus “Unarmed” Narrative
Posted: 10/14/2014 9:32:00 AM EST

Editor's note: This column originally appeared in the October issue of Townhall Magazine. 

Over the past few months we’ve heard an awful lot about the police shooting of “unarmed” teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Before his death, Brown was caught on video in a strong-arm robbery of a convenience store. The video shows Brown was “unarmed” and used his personal strength to push away and assault a store clerk who tried to stop him from stealing a $50 pack of cigars. When Officer Darren Wilson stopped Brown and a friend in the middle of the road, an altercation allegedly occurred.

A caller told Dana Loesch on her radio show that Brown slammed Of- ficer Wilson’s door shut, shoved Wilson back in the car, and eventually went for Wilson’s gun. After a struggle in the car, the gun went off. No one was injured at that point. Brown got out of the car and when Officer Wilson followed him and told him to freeze, Brown mocked him and bum rushed him again, which is when Officer Wilson fired six shots, the last, a head shot, was the lethal blow.

Back in 2012, we heard about a similar case with 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman after an altercation in a crime plagued Florida neighborhood. According to a police report, Zimmerman returned to his SUV after a phone call with police about a suspicious person in the neighborhood. When he returned, Martin allegedly approached him from behind, punched him in the nose when Zimmerman turned around, got him on the ground and started pounding his head into the concrete, an action that can quickly result in death due to brain injury. Zimmerman thought he was going to die and shot Martin in self-defense.

Eyewitnesses corroborated Zimmerman’s story and a jury came to the same unanimous conclusion, acquitting him of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges. A separate medical report showed Zimmerman sustained serious injuries from Martin including a broken nose and lacerations to the back of his head.

In extensive media coverage, both of these young men are referred to over and over again as “unarmed” teenagers. The way the media uses the term “unarmed” implies there was no altercation that resulted in a fatal shooting. What the media fails to explain or recognize is that “unarmed” people, in these cases two men who weren’t carrying firearms, don’t have to be “armed” in order to cause serious damage to a person’s life or harm to those around them. 

According to the FBI, more than 600 murders per year are committed with clubs or hammers. Around 900 murders each year are committed with “personal weapons” like hands, fists, and feet. The numbers for severe injury after aggravated assault carried out by a person only armed with their hands and feet are significantly higher, and actually beat out aggravated assaults committed with knives and firearms.

“Of the aggravated assault offenses in 2012 for which law enforcement provided expanded data, 26.8 percent were committed with personal weapons, such as hands, fists, or feet. Firearms were used in 21.8 percent of aggravated as- saults, and knives or cutting instruments were used in 18.8 percent,” FBI crime statistics show.

“The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program defines aggravated assault as an unlawful attack by one person upon another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. The UCR Program further specifies that this type of assault is usually accompanied by the use of a weapon or by other means likely to produce death or great bodily harm. Attempted aggravated assault that involves the display of—or threat to use—a gun, knife, or other weapon is included in this crime category because serious personal injury would likely result if the assault were completed.”

When the cases of Martin and Brown hit the wires, pundits and celebrities complained about Zimmerman or Wilson committing “murder” because they didn’t want to get “a little roughed up.” When an attack occurs, the victim doesn’t have the luxury of “waiting to see” if an assailant will stop short of killing them.

The “unarmed” media narrative creates a false moral equivalence between a victim and an attacker. The media definition of armed seems to be someone carrying a firearm or a knife, when in fact people are most often armed with their own hands and feet for aggravated assault, and in other cases, murder.

Perpetuating an “unarmed” narrative extremely distorts the truth and promotes criminals who use them- selves to prey on innocent victims. Being armed doesn’t require carrying a gun, bat, or knife. Hands, feet, and fists are plenty capable of being used to achieve the same goal: severe bodily injury or death.

The media’s “unarmed” narrative is bogus. • 

Katie Pavlich - Abbott: Wendy Davis is Focused on Attacking Me, I'm Focused on What's Good For Texas
Posted: 10/14/2014 8:25:00 AM EST

Last night on Fox News' Hannity, Texas gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Greg Abbott responded directly to a campaign ad released by Wendy Davis late last week featuring an empty wheelchair. She is defending the ad. Abbott has been paralyzed since 1984 after a large tree fell on him during a run. 

During the interview Abbott said that while Davis is focused on attacking him, he's focused on what's good for Texas, which includes creating jobs and keeping the federal government at bay. 

"My opponent can attack a guy in a wheelchair if she wants to, I don't think it's going to sell real well and so I'm going to stay focused on the future," Abbott said. "I'm running a campaign that's focused on solving the problems of Texans like securing the border, keeping Texas number one for jobs, continue fighting against Barack Obama's EPA that's crushing jobs in Texas. So I will focus on the future of Texas while my opponent continues to attack me."

Yesterday the Abbott campaign released a television ad hitting back at Davis' attack and classified her as unfit to serve as governor.

According to the latest Real Clear Politics average, Abbott is leading Davis by more than 11 points.

Sarah Jean Seman - Gov. Hickenlooper Spokesman Threatens Journalist with Arrest for Requesting Tax Documents
Posted: 10/13/2014 6:54:00 PM EST

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D) campaign spokesperson Eddie Stern allegedly escorted a reporter out of their building Friday and dialed 911 with the intent to have him arrested.

Watchdog journalist Arthur Kane had been pressing for Hickenlooper’s tax returns, a pursuit which he began Sept. 15 via phone call and email. The documents had already been distributed to several other media outlets such as The Denver Post when Kane made the request. Additionally, Watchdog had already obtained the tax returns of Hickenlooper’s Republican challenger Bob Beauprez.

Kane is a respected award-winning journalist who has previously worked as an investigative executive producer for Channel 7 and a writer The Denver Post. Here is his firsthand account:

“Do you mind if we step outside,” Stern said, leading me out of the office complex to the sidewalk and parking lot.

“This is a private office, and I have to ask you to leave,” he said. “Will you not record me?”

“No I will not, not record you,” I responded.

“It’s a private office. I’m being recorded without my consent,” he said.

“We’re standing in a public parking lot, a public sidewalk, probably paid for by taxpayers. So anyway are you going to give me the tax returns or not?” I asked.

Stern then led me into the lobby of the building.

“I’ve been asking you for a month and half for the tax returns,” I said.

“Again, this is a private office. We’re asking you to leave or I’m going to have to call police,” Stern said.

“You’re going to call police on a reporter?” I asked. “You haven’t been able to answer my phone calls, you haven’t been able to provide me with documents I asked for. Just answer the question and I’ll leave. Are you going to give me the tax returns or not?”

The week of Sept. 15, I called the office and emailed asking for the governor’s tax returns. Stern did not respond to that and at least four other calls and a visit to the office this week.

The one time he did come to the phone, I asked him for the address of the office to pick up the returns and he refused to disclose it.

“We’ll look at your inquiry and the outlet you’re with and bounce it off the team and get back to you,” Stern said Sept. 25.

I told him if he didn’t call me back in a week I would come to the office, which I found through a public records database, to pick up the returns.

He finally called police from the lobby of that building.

“You’re really going to call police,” I said as he dialed 911. “OK. I’ll record that and I’ll leave.”

Politicians and reporters are rarely great friends, however, there is a certain level of expected cooperation. While tax documents are not open records under the Colorado Public Records Act, Kane was baffled that the Hickenlooper campaign denied his request as they had offered the information to several other media outlets. 

During a public event Friday, Hickenlooper reportedly told Kane:

“I think what we’ve done is release them to every legitimate media operation that we know of.”

Polls show Hickenlooper with a marginal lead in the race.

Daniel Doherty - Fireworks: Pryor Doubles Down, Calls Cotton "Entitled" Again During Fiery Debate
Posted: 10/13/2014 6:30:00 PM EST

Today, at the University of Central Arkansas, four candidates sought to convince the voters of the Natural State why they deserve to be elected to the United States Senate. The debate lasted some 90 minutes.

The following is my analysis of how the top two contenders fared.

Mark Pryor: It’s no secret that the senator's political ship is starting to sail. As a result, he needs to turn in two solid debate performances this week to give himself some momentum heading into November. And in fairness, he did certain things well today. What was striking to me, for example, was the way Pryor framed the debate. He painted his opponent not as an extremist or an obstructionist (as Democrats tend to do) but as a candidate who is actuated by self-interest and ambition. He argued Cotton would “do anything” and “say anything” to get elected. Toward the end of the debate, he even went as far as to claim that “Cotton thinks he’s entitled to be in the Senate” -- echoing earlier (more cringe-inducing) pronouncements he’s made in the past.

For obvious reasons, this line of criticism is likely to fall flat:

Be that as it may, Pryor hammered Cotton for voting against the farm bill (although Cotton’s response as to why he didn't was excellent) and accused him of cozying up to billionaires and special interest groups. Somewhat surprisingly, he also had the most memorable line of the day.

“You don’t have the reputation, the ability, or the desire to walk across the aisle and get things done in Washington,” Pryor straight-up told his Republican challenger. Ouch.

Tom Cotton: The first-term congressman was the most polished and comfortable candidate on stage today. He made three major points. First, he repeated ad nauseam that Mark Pryor voted with Barack Obama “93 percent” of the time. He made this point virtually every time he spoke (and Pryor eventually called him out for it). Second, he argued Mark Pryor was a “rubber stamp” for the president, warning Arkansans that if his opponent is re-elected, he would continue to vote in lock-step with Congressional Democrats. Third, he incorporated painful stories from the campaign trail into his talking points about how Obamacare is hurting Arkansas' families and small businesses. This was quite effective.

On the whole, though, the debate was a wash. Both candidates had some good one-liners and no overt gaffes (the “entitled” comment notwithstanding). Take, for example, Cotton’s best line of the day. Listen closely as he talks about the differences between Washington leadership and real leadership:

Since the debate aired on a Monday in the middle of the afternoon, I’m not sure how many Arkansans tuned it. But the good news is it will re-air tonight on public television -- and there is another debate tomorrow.

This time, however, there will only be two candidates on stage. Let the games begin.

Ky Sisson - WATCH: "[The IRS] Must be Abolished!" Creator of New Documentary Demands Change
Posted: 10/13/2014 6:00:00 PM EST

"Unfair: Exposing The IRS" is a new documentary that investigates corruption inside the IRS and the many Americans that fell victim. The 80-minute feature is an in-depth look into the people and organizations that want to abolish the IRS and see a new tax system implemented.

Townhall had the opportunity to interview Craig Bergman, the producer, writer, and host of the documentary. 

"Unfair: Exposing The IRS" is in theaters across the country on October 14th for one night only.