Bennie Thompson

2016 Presidential Campaigns Owe Secret Service $3.9M, GAO Says
Agency must collect its own debt, and most campaign funds are gone

U.S. Secret Service overpaid 2016 campaigns nearly $4 million for travel expenses, a new report found. Here an agent stands at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in Iowa. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four 2016 presidential campaign committees owe a combined $3.9 million to the Secret Service after the agency overpaid the campaigns in reimbursements for travel costs for agents who accompanied candidates and their families.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report Thursday analyzing the debts owed by the campaign committees of President Donald Trump, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Success Stories: Creating a More Diverse Capitol Hill
Jennifer DeCasper and Hope Goins on how they have done it

Hope Goins says half of her staff are women of color. (Bian Elkhatib/ CQ Roll Call)

Some offices on Capitol Hill make an extra effort to reflect the diversity of America. And while the lawmakers they serve might get the credit, the office directors in charge of hiring are the ones who make it happen.

“It’s been a huge priority of our office, just because our boss is obviously a diverse candidate, we come from a diverse state, and so our office needs to represent our state,” said Jennifer DeCasper, chief of staff for Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. “Diversity means that it includes everything of value to your constituency. Our constituency is not homogeneous, and so my office should not be homogeneous.”

New House Bill Would Prohibit Lawmakers from Sleeping in Offices
Speaker Ryan, who sleeps in his office, won’t support bill, spokeswoman says

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., introduced a bill Thursday to prohibit House members from sleeping in their congressional offices. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi introduced a bill Thursday to prohibit House members from sleeping overnight in their congressional offices as a way to save money.

The bill also would grant members a tax deduction for living expenses so they can better afford to make second homes in Washington during the work week while they're away from their home districts.

Members Dismiss Need for ‘Taxpayer-Funded Dorm’ in D.C.
Donovan says he would rather keep sleeping in his office rather than use taxpayer dollars

Rep. Dan Donovan, R-N.Y., said he doesn’t support a proposal to fund a facility for affordable housing for members of Congress in Washington. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Dan Donovan said he opposes legislation to provide members with cheap housing as an alternative to sleeping in his office.

The Republican congressman was one of several members who spoke to the New York Post about legislation being proposed by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson.

Digital Staffers Focus on Getting on Message
Democrats fighting to catch up to Republicans in numbers and training

GOP Labs brings in companies to train staffers in social media and digital platforms. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Breaking through the noise is a typical goal in communications, but this year, staffers just want to speak with one voice. They’re making coordination a priority within their parties.

That coordination is most obvious when multiple congressional offices blast out the same message with the same graphics on the same day. Whether it’s criticizing the Republican tax plan or celebrating Ronald Reagan’s birthday, it’s all from the same script.

Opinion: The Russians — and the Midterms — Are Coming
U.S. elections are vulnerable, and that needs to change

A march near the Kremlin in 2015 honors Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was fatally shot shortly before a major opposition rally. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Robert A. Brady warn against Russian meddling in future U.S. elections. (Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images file photo)

In November 2016, 139 million Americans cast their votes in the wake of a massive Russian cyber-enabled operation to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

The Kremlin spread disinformation through hundreds of thousands of social media posts. Russian agents hacked U.S. political organizations and selectively exposed sensitive information. Russia targeted voting systems in at least 21 states, seeking to infiltrate the networks of voting equipment vendors, political parties and at least one local election board.

Inside the House Republican Brain Drain
Record exodus by members who’ve wielded gavels will complicate next year

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce isn’t seeking re-election. He’s part of a record wave of departures by House chairmen. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

This has already become a wave election year, because a record wave of departures by House chairmen already guarantees a sea change in the Republican power structure next January.

Even if the GOP manages to hold on to its majority this fall, its policymaking muscle for the second half of President Donald Trump’s term will need some prolonged rehabilitation. And if the party gets swept back into the minority, its aptitude for stopping or co-opting the newly ascendant Democrats’ agenda will require some serious retraining.

White House Reiterates Wall Demand Ahead of Key Meeting
Sen. Graham, other lawmakers look to pair DACA with border security upgrades

Aurelia Lopez and her daughter Antonia overlook construction of border wall prototypes on Oct. 5, in Tijuana, Mexico. Prototypes of the border wall proposed by President Donald Trump are being built just north of the U.S-Mexico border. (Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images file photo)

Just hours before a high-stakes White House meeting with Republicans and Democrats, the Trump administration continued to hold tight to its demand that funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall be included in a possible immigration overhaul bill.

“President Trump looks forward to meeting with bipartisan members of the House and Senate today to discuss the next steps toward achieving responsible immigration reform,” White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters said in a statement.

Senate Democrats Doubt Validity of Puerto Rico Death Toll
Reports of full morgues may signal incomplete official count, senators say

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined 12 of her Democratic colleagues in signing a letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke raising questions about the official death count in Puerto Rico. (Tom Williams/Roll Call)

As Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló travels to Washington to meet with President Donald Trump on Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats is asking the administration about the accuracy of the island territory’s death toll.

Thirteen senators, led by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, have written a new letter to acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke expressing concern that reports about morgues at Puerto Rican hospitals being full may signal that the official tally of 48 fatalities may be incomplete.

Thompson Staffer Still Employed After Tax Conviction
Isaac Lanier Avant is facing new charges relating to a security clearance form

Isaac Lanier Avant served as chief of staff to Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson. (Courtesy Congressional Black Caucus Foundation)

A Capitol Hill staffer convicted of failing to file income tax returns, who faces new charges of falsifying a security clearance form, remained employed in Rep. Bennie Thompson’s office after his previous conviction.

A spokesman for the Mississippi Democrat confirmed Thursday that Isaac Lanier Avant, who served as Thompson’s chief of staff, was still employed by the office. Asked if Avant would remain employed following the new charges relating to his security clearance form, the spokesman said he believed Thompson would be making a statement on the subject soon.