Why We’re Not Releasing 2020 Race Ratings Yet

By Nathan L. Gonzales

The Gospel of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

By Pablo Manriquez
Heard on the Hill

Word on the Hill: What’s Buzzing on Capitol Hill?

By Roll Call Staff

A man facing federal felony charges for making threats of violence against an unidentified U.S. senator said he didn’t expect legal repercussions.

“I didn’t think it was going to come to this,” Michael Brogan  stold the New York Post outside his Brooklyn home Wednesday after having been released on $50,000 bail. “I wouldn’t have done it.”

A criminal complaint alleges Brogan left a menacing voicemail with the Washington, D.C., office of one of the twenty-three women serving in the Senate. Authorities have not named the senator.

The voicemail railed against comments by the senator on reproductive rights and her criticism of President Donald Trump, the paper reported.

“I’m going to put a bullet in ya. When I’m in D.C. and you’re there, I got your f---ing mark you stupid b---h,” the voicemail said. “You and your constant lambasting of President Trump. Oh, reproductive rights, reproductive rights. You know what? I’m cursing and I’m in sin because of people like you, OK?”

“If I saw you, I’d snuff your stupid f---ing a--. I’d put a f---ing bullet in you,” the voicemail continued. “You watch your a--. If I see you on the streets, I’m gonna f---ing light you up with f---ing bullets.”

The senator referred the message to Capitol Police, which traced the number to a cellphone that federal agents found in Brogan’s home, the Daily News reported. Brogan left the message after he watched a video of the senator online, he told the paper.

Brogan’s arrest comes as threats of violence by anti-abortion extremists have spiked. Last year threats of harm directed at abortion providers nearly doubled, according to National Abortion Federation statistics.

Brogan downplayed the threats in his interview with the paper, and said he might have already forgotten the call had authorities not arrested him.

“I was just blowing off some steam,” Brogan said. “Not to trivialize it, I wish in retrospect I didn’t do it, but I don’t think it’s that big.”

Watch: Hatch Farewell Senate Speech: ‘Hateful Rhetoric, If Left to Ferment, Becomes Violence’

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Rep. Ruben Kihuen, who will leave Congress after just one term, is taking steps to run for Las Vegas city council, according to files submitted to the IRS.

A House Ethics subcommittee reported in November that Kihuen, a Nevada Democrat, had sexually harassed women who worked with him.

Kihuen filed with the IRS to form a 527 political organization that can raise unlimited funds from groups and individual donors. The stated purpose of his 527 group, which is exempt from taxes, is for a “municipal election campaign.”

Kihuen, once a Harry Reid prodigy, has been rumored since the spring to be mounting a run for retiring Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin’s seat.

‘I’m Gonna Miss Just About Everything:’ As Orrin Hatch Prepares to Leave Washington, Reflections on His Battles and His Wins

Kihuen has not officially announced a run for the seat. His office could not immediately be reached for comment on the 527 organization filing.

Kihuen’s bright future in Congress quickly dimmed just halfway into his first term in office after reports surfaced that he had repeatedly harassed women who worked for his campaign.

A House Ethics Committee report released last month found that Kihuen harassed women who worked with him and violated the House’s official code of conduct.

“Kihuen made persistent and unwanted advances towards women who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities,” the report said. The advances included kissing, grabbing and comments about underwear.

The release came after a nine-month inquiry by an investigative subcommittee impaneled Dec. 2017.

Kihuen apologized for his past actions around the time of the initial media reports and announced he would not run for re-election.

“After much reflection and introspection, I recognize that regardless of the fact that I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable or disrespected, what matters is how my actions were perceived by the women who came forward,” he said. “It saddens me greatly to think I made any woman feel that way due to my own immaturity and overconfidence. I extend my sincere apologies to each of these women.”

Katherine Tully-McManus contributed to this report

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Senate Armed Services Chairman James Inhofe has ditched a stock purchase in one of the Pentagon’s leading defense contractors amid pressure from a news organization that was preparing a report on the connection between his official duties and personal finances.

Inhofe’s office distanced the senator from his personal finances, saying in a statement that all of his financial transactions are handled by a third-party adviser.

The Daily Beast first reported this story.

The Oklahoma Republican has long been a proponent of increasing military spending. Last week, he successfully lobbied Defense Secretary James Mattis and President Donald Trump to ask for a record $750 billion in defense spending from Congress for Fiscal Year 2020. Trump had previously sought cuts to the defense budget, which is currently $717 billion.

News outlets reported that budget request Sunday. Two days later, Inhofe’s financial adviser reported to a public Senate database that he had invested $50,000 to $100,000 of the senator’s money in Raytheon, the third-highest paid defense contractor by the U.S. government.

Raytheon’s contract with the Pentagon tops $10 billion. The company builds high-precision missiles and other heavy munitions for the U.S. military.

When the Daily Beast inquired about Inhofe’s new stock in Raytheon, his office said the senator told his financial adviser to cancel the transaction and avoid future stock purchases in defense and aerospace companies.

He did not know about the Raytheon stock purchase until Wednesday morning, his office said.

“The senator has had no involvement in and has not been consulted about his stock transactions,” said Leacy Burke, his communications director. “As such, the Senator was not aware of this stock purchase until it came through the system very early [Wednesday] morning.”

Inhofe called his adviser to reverse, or “bust,” the transaction before it was actually settled, meaning the senator “never took ownership of it,” Burke said.

Inhofe also sent a letter to his financial adviser thanking him for his service but instructing him not to invest his money in aerospace and defense companies.

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Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi doesn’t feel handicapped by the deal she cut Wednesday to limit her pending speakership to no more than two terms. 

“Four years? No, I don’t think that’s a lame duck, no,” the California Democrat said Thursday when asked if she felt she has made herself one by agreeing to the term limit.

Pelosi had previously refused to provide an end date on her tenure as Democratic leader for fear that she’d be weakening her negotiating stance. 

But on Wednesday she agreed to a three- to four-term limit for senior Democratic leadership proposed by Democrats who had been opposing her speaker bid in exchange for their support. She told reporters Thursday that she’s “comfortable” with it limiting her time with the gavel to four more years. (The four years Pelosi already served as speaker from 2007 through 2010 counts toward the limit.) 

“That’s a long time,” the 78-year-old said. “I was saying one term, was what I was saying. They were saying six months, to begin with. I feel very comfortable about what they are proposing. And I feel very responsible to do that, whether it passes or not.”

Asked if her assertion that she didn't want to limit herself to one more term as speaker meant she'd run for another in 2020, Pelosi declined to answer.  

“I’m going to be speaker,” she said. “I’m going to do what we do. And there are a lot more important things around here than what my intentions are as we go forward.”

If Pelosi should run for speaker again in 2020 (assuming Democrats retain the majority) she’ll need approval of two-thirds of the Democratic caucus, under the agreement she reached with her former opponents. She surpassed that threshold running unopposed during the caucus election this year, and also got two-thirds support when she had a challenger for minority leader in 2016.

The deal is expected to provide Pelosi enough votes to be elected speaker during a Jan. 3 floor vote, even though there are 15 Democrats who are still publicly opposing her. 

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Rep. Cheri Bustos, the new Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairwoman, announced her senior staff hires for the 2020 cycle Thursday. Her campaign manager Allison Jaslow will be the committee’s executive director. 

The DCCC is shifting to defense in 2020 after flipping 40 seats to take over the House. The committee will be tasked with protecting vulnerable new members, including 31 Democrats running for re-election in districts President Donald Trump won in 2016.

Bustos, whose northern Illinois district Trump won by less than 1 point in 2016, has billed herself as a Democrat who knows how to win over Trump supporters.

She is bringing over veterans of her own team, including Jaslow, to the DCCC. She is also elevating staffers from the successful 2018 committee, including two African-American staffers who were key to the committee’s diversity and digital efforts. 

Watch: Border Wall Meeting Gets Hectic Between Trump, Schumer, Pelosi

“America’s strength has always come from our diversity,” Bustos said. “That’s why I’m committed to building a leadership team that reflects the tremendous diversity of our House Democrats and our nation.”

Both House campaign committees will now have women executive directors. Jaslow’s counterpart at the National Republican Congressional Committee will be Parker Hamilton Poling, who has served as chief of staff for North Carolina GOP Rep. Patrick McHenry.  

Jaslow is an Iraq War veteran who managed Bustos’ first campaign in 2012 when she unseated Illinois GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling. She worked as Bustos’ first chief of staff and was recently the head of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. 

In a statement announcing the senior staff, Bustos credited Jaslow with helping her secure a swing seat. Bustos won re-election in 2018 by 24 points against a Republican opponent with minimal campaign funds. 

Bustos is also bringing her deputy chief of staff and spokesman Jared Smith to the DCCC, where he will serve as the committee’s communications director. Smith assisted Bustos’ work on the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.

Two DCCC staffers from the 2018 team will also be promoted. Jalisa Washington-Price, who directed the DCCC’s Office of Diversity in 2018, will be the new chief of staff. She also helped manage the committee’s $30 million “Year of Engagement” effort to connect with minority voters.

Ryan Thompson will serve as the DCCC’s next digital director after serving as the deputy director in 2018. He was also a leader in the “Year of Engagement” effort. According to the press announcement, Thompson oversaw a $15 million budget to build the committee’s email list, which in turn raised $106 million for the DCCC in the 2018 cycle.

“The DCCC did amazing work in 2018 to win 40 seats,” Bustos said in a statement. “Our challenge is to build on that progress, to fortify and expand our majority.”

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At the Races: The Ghost of Midterms Past

By Bridget Bowman
Heard on the Hill

Farewell to George H.W. Bush

By Bill Clark