Tag Archives: Mitch McConnell

Mitch McConnell Announces Bill to Legalize Hemp Nationwide

Washington, D.C.— Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced he will introduce a new bill on Monday that would legalize hemp, a non-psychoactive relative of marijuana, as an agricultural product. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

In addition to legalization, the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 would remove the product from the federal government’s schedule of controlled substances, while also authorizing it to be sold as an agricultural commodity.

“Hemp has played a foundational role in Kentucky’s agriculture heritage, and I believe that it can be an important part of our future,” McConnell said in a statement. “It’s now time to take the final step and make this a legal crop,” McConnell said, according to an Associated Press report. Kentucky is currently conducting a pilot program through the Department of Agriculture to grow the plant.

Industrial hemp is a specific variety of cannabis plant grown for industrial and commercial uses of its fiber which contains almost no THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that alters an individual’s mental state upon ingestion. Its fibers can be used to make numerous products including rope, cloth and paper, while the oil can be used in cosmetics, food, paper and numerous other products.

[RELATED: Alaska Legislature Passes Bill Legalizing Industrial Hemp Production]

In fact, industrial hemp has the potential to replace many of the fossil fuel-based products currently used, as it can be utilized in a reported 25,000 products— perhaps indicating why a substance that has no psychoactive value is treated as a controlled substance by the U.S. federal government.

As a report, entitled Hemp as an Agricultural Commodity by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) notes, “hemp is also from the same species of plant, Cannabis sativa, as marijuana. As a result, production in the United States is restricted due to hemp’s association with marijuana, and the U.S. market is largely dependent on imports…”

The legislation would also allow states to make their own laws regarding industrial hemp production by removing federal restrictions, while the Department of Agriculture would provide oversight over states’ production programs, as well as issue competitive grants to researchers developing uses and cultivation methods for the crop.

According to a report by the Washington Post:

McConnell has been an advocate of hemp cultivation for at least four years. In 2014, he backed a provision in that year’s farm bill to allow for a hemp cultivation pilot program in his home state, and the following year he sponsored a hemp legalization bill introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Paul has played a central role in persuading McConnell to become a proponent for the hemp industry.

With McConnell now a lead sponsor and significant bipartisan support secured for hemp legalization, the effort could find new success this year — although McConnell announced no immediate plans to bring the measure to the Senate floor.

Ranch Owner: Scalia Found Dead With a ‘Pillow Over His Head’

The owner of the ranch where Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, 79, was found dead Saturday shared the details of the judge’s appearance and the events surrounding his death.

John Poindexter, the owner of the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a 30,000-acre luxury ranch in the Big Bend region south of Marfa, Texas, told the San Antonio Express-News that he and a friend of Scalia’s entered the judge’s room three hours after he did not show up at a breakfast meeting at 8:30 a.m.

“We discovered the judge in bed, a pillow over his head. His bed clothes were unwrinkled,” Poindexter said.

Poindexter said Scalia had retired to his room around 9 p.m. Friday night after attending a dinner party with about 40 other guests. Poindexter said that when he found Scalia Saturday morning, he was lying very restfully,” and “looked like he had not quite awakened from a nap.”

Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara told ABC News that Scalia’s death certificate “will say the cause of death was natural, and that he died of a heart attack.” Guevara also said that “no autopsy was necessary.” 

As previously reported, Scalia was appointed to the Supreme Court by President Reagan in 1986, and was the longest-serving current justice.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) released a statement Saturday saying he thinks Obama “can and should send the Senate a nominee right away.”

“With so many important issues pending before the Supreme Court, the Senate has a responsibility to fill vacancies as soon as possible,” Reid said. “It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat.”

President Obama said he would nominate a successor in due time. “I plan to fulfill my constitutional responsibility to nominate a successor in due time,” He said, while traveling in Rancho Mirage, California.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he thinks the next administration should make the appointment to replace Scalia, in hopes that the next president is a Republican.

“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

[RELATED: Lack of Autopsy in Scalia Death Raises Questions]

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NSA Metadata Collection Has Come To An ‘Official End’

WASHINGTON, November 30, 2015– When the clock struck 12:00 AM on Thanksgiving weekend’s Sunday morning, the National Security Agency (NSA) was forced to end virtually all metadata collection of phone calls made in the United States. Key word: virtually.

In June, Congress passed the USA Freedom Act, which was signed by President Obama. The legislation vested the responsibility of data collection and storage with telecom companies, rather than a government agency.

Still, on both sides of the issue, some remain skeptics of the USA Freedom Act.

Judge Andrew Napolitano says nothing substantial has changed and that claims made by politicians that a ‘court order’ is needed under the USA Freedom Act, whereas one was not previously required, are misleading.

“When politicians tell you that the NSA needs a court order in order to listen to your phone calls or read your emails, they are talking about a FISA court order that is based on government need- not a constitutional court order, which can only be based on probable cause,” said Napolitano. “This is an insidious and unconstitutional bait and switch.”

However, even the most minuscule changes within the USA Freedom Act were enough for United States Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to fight against until the very last moments. The two attempted to use the Paris terror attacks as warrant for extending and strengthening the current NSA spy program.

Meanwhile, United States Congressman Justin Amash (R-Mich.) was an original co-sponsor of the legislation, but backed out of supporting the bill and actually voted against the final version because it was stripped down and “looked little like the original bill” he had worked to draft and lobby for.

Amash posted a lengthy explanation on Facebook in May:

“I am an original cosponsor of the Freedom Act, and I was involved in its drafting. At its best, the Freedom Act would have reined in the government’s unconstitutional domestic spying programs, ended the indiscriminate collection of Americans’ private records, and made the secret FISA court function more like a real court—with real arguments and real adversaries.

I was and am proud of the work our group, led by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, did to promote this legislation, as originally drafted.

However, the revised bill that makes its way to the House floor this morning doesn’t look much like the Freedom Act.

This morning’s bill maintains and codifies a large-scale, unconstitutional domestic spying program. It claims to end “bulk collection” of Americans’ data only in a very technical sense: The bill prohibits the government from, for example, ordering a telephone company to turn over all its call records every day.

But the bill was so weakened in behind-the-scenes negotiations over the last week that the government still can order—without probable cause—a telephone company to turn over all call records for “area code 616” or for “phone calls made east of the Mississippi.” The bill green-lights the government’s massive data collection activities that sweep up Americans’ records in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The bill does include a few modest improvements to current law. The secret FISA court that approves government surveillance must publish its most significant opinions so that Americans can have some idea of what surveillance the government is doing. The bill authorizes (but does not require) the FISA court to appoint lawyers to argue for Americans’ privacy rights, whereas the court now only hears from one side before ruling.

But while the original version of the Freedom Act allowed Sec. 215 of the Patriot Act to expire in June 2015, this morning’s bill extends the life of that controversial section for more than two years, through 2017.

I thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte for pursuing surveillance reform. I respect Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner and Rep. John Conyers for their work on this issue.

It’s shameful that the president of the United States, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the leaders of the country’s surveillance agencies refuse to accept consensus reforms that will keep our country safe while upholding the Constitution. And it mocks our system of government that they worked to gut key provisions of the Freedom Act behind closed doors.

The American people demand that the Constitution be respected, that our rights and liberties be secured, and that the government stay out of our private lives. Fortunately, there is a growing group of representatives on both sides of the aisle who get it. In the 10 months since I proposed the Amash Amendment to end mass surveillance, we’ve made big gains.

We will succeed.”

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Watch: Ted Cruz Calls Mitch McConnell A Liar On Senate Floor

Presidential candidate and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) shared harsh criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), comparing him to Harry Reid and accusing him of misleading Republican Senators and the public during the debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.

“A number of weeks ago when this body was considering trade promotion authority, a group of Senators gathered on this floor and blocked TPA for many minutes because they were pressing for the Export-Import Bank,” Cruz said.

“They huddled on this floor and negotiated a deal in front of C-SPAN and in front of the world. Then when they had their deal TPA had the votes to pass. Shortly thereafter we had a Republican Senate lunch, where I asked the Majority Leader very directly, what was the deal that was just cut on TPA, and was there a deal for the Export-Import Bank? It was a direct question, I asked the majority leader in front of all of the Republican Senators. The majority leader was visibly angry with me, that I would ask such a question. And the majority leader looked at me and said there is no deal, there is no deal…”

“Madam President, I went back to my office, and my staff told me that afternoon, ‘He’s lying to you.’”

“You know, it was striking, a minute ago, to see the Democratic leader, Sen. Harry Reid, calling out the majority leader for filling the tree, for engaging in the same procedural abuse that Harry Reid used over and over again in this body. Now the Republican leader is behaving like the senior Senator from Nevada.”

Watch Cruz’s statements during Friday’s Senate session below.

Mitch McConnell: Freedom Act Is A Victory For Snowden And For Those Who Plot Against The U.S.

After the USA Freedom Act passed in the Senate on Tuesday, 67-32, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) addressed the bill’s passage, and shared his thoughts on its impact.

While McConnell opposed the USA Freedom Act, which was created to maintain the NSA surveillance powers that expired with Section 215 of the Patriot Act at 12:01 a.m. on June 1, he was on the opposite end of the debate from his fellow Senator from Kentucky, Republican Rand Paul.

Although both Senators were against the USA Freedom Act, Paul led the campaign to abolish NSA surveillance altogether, and McConnell pushed for a “clean” extension of the Patriot Act.

The National Security Agency’s massive surveillance program was exposed by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in June 2013. While advocates of the USA Freedom Act presented it as a bill that vindicated Snowden by reforming NSA surveillance, those in opposition noted that the act wouldn’t end the government’s collection; it would only change the channels the government went through to collect Americans’ records.

On the Senate floor, McConnell quoted an article from the Associated Press, which called the passage of the USA Freedom Act a “resounding victory for Edward Snowden.”

“Those who reveal the tactics, sources and methods of our military and intelligence community give playbook to ISIL and al-Qaeda,” said McConnell, who went on to say that not only was the USA Freedom Act a “resounding victory for Edward Snowden,” it was also a “resounding victory for those who plotted against our homeland.”

Although the Washington Post reported in Jan. that the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records “has had no discernible impact on preventing acts of terrorism,” and the NSA’s mass surveillance was recently ruled illegal by a federal appeals court, McConnell defended the program.

“Nobody’s civil liberties are being violated here,” McConnell said, regarding NSA surveillance. “The president’s campaign to destroy the tools used to prevent another terrorist attack have been aided by those seeking to prosecute officers in the intelligence community, diminish our intelligence capabilities, and despicably to leak and reveal classified information, putting our nation further at risk.”

When the Senate passed the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday afternoon, it approved the same version that was previously passed in the House of Representatives, despite the fact that both McConnell and Paul requested amendments to the bill.

A debate was held over possible amendments on Tuesday, and while McConnell struck down the nine amendments presented by Senator Paul and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), he did bring up four amendments of his own, which were all rejected.

UPDATED: Senate Approves House-Passed USA Freedom Act, Sends Bill To President Obama

UPDATE: 10 p.m. Eastern – President Obama signed the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday evening.

A statement was released on Twitter, prior to the signing, in which Obama called the time between when the NSA surveillance powers under the Patriot Act expired, to the time when the Senate passed the USA Freedom Act, resurrecting those powers, a “needless delay and inexcusable lapse in national security authorities.”

In the statement, Obama also said he was “gratified Congress has finally moved forward” with what he called “sensible reform legislation.”

4:20 p.m. Eastern – On Tuesday afternoon, the United States Senate rejected any amendments to and ultimately passed the version of the USA Freedom Act passed by the House of Representatives. The USA Freedom Act, which revives some of the NSA surveillance powers that expired with Section 215 of the Patriot Act on June 1, was passed in the Senate with a final vote of 67-32.

The USA Freedom Act was created as a substitute for Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which expired at 12:01 a.m. on June 1. The controversial Section 215 was used by the National Security Agency to justify its bulk collection of Americans’ data.

Advocates of the USA Freedom Act presented it as a way to curb the powers of the NSA by transferring the bulk collection Americans’ phone records to private companies. However, those in opposition noted that it wouldn’t end the government’s collection; it would only change the channels the government went through to collect Americans’ records.

The House of Representatives passed the USA Freedom Act with an overwhelming vote of 338-88, the bill failed to reach the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate on May 22, with a 57-42, following a 10-hour and 30-minute speech from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has led the campaign against both the USA Freedom Act, and an extension of the Patriot Act.

Following a weeklong recess, in which many lawmakers vowed to lobby for the three votes needed to pass the USA Freedom Act, it was advanced in the Senate on Sunday, with a vote of 77-17.

The USA Freedom Act was advanced once again on Tuesday morning, with a vote of 83-14. A debate was held over amendments, and while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struck down the nine amendments presented by Senator Paul and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), he did bring up four amendments of his own, which were all rejected.

The bill will now be sent to President Obama, who strongly encouraged the Senate to approve the House-passed version of the USA Freedom Act, without adding any amendments and delaying the reinstatement of the NSA’s surveillance powers. According to the bill, the government will continue to collect Americans’ bulk data for the next six months. After that, phone companies will keep Americans’ phone records, and government officials will have to receive a warrant to gain access to the records.

Led By Rand Paul, Senate Blocks Extension Of The Patriot Act

The United States Senate blocked an outright two-month extension of the Patriot Act early Saturday morning, as three sections of the Act are set to expire at the end of the month. One of those sections, the controversial Section 215, is used by the National Security Agency to justify its bulk collection of Americans’ data.

In addition to blocking an extension of the Patriot Act with no changes, the Senate also did not pass the USA Freedom Act, which was passed in the US House of Representatives 338-88.

While those in support of the USA Freedom Act presented it as a bill that would end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ data, those opposing the bill said that it wouldn’t end the collection; it would only change the channels the government went through to collect Americans’ records.

The USA Freedom Act needed to reach a 60-vote threshold in the Senate in order to pass. It failed by a 57-42 vote on Friday.

On Wednesday, GOP Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took to the floor of the Senate for 10 hours and 30 minutes to filibuster the renewal of Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

Paul led the opposition against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who had said that he intended to set up a final showdown on the NSA’s bulk-data programs by “putting pressure on civil liberties advocates to muster the 60 votes needed to end the snooping,” in the hopes that the senators would end up having to accept an extension of the current Patriot Act.

[quote_center]“We have entered into a momentous debate,” Paul said. “This is a debate about whether or not a warrant with a single name of a single company can be used to collect all of the records of all of the people in our country with a single warrant. Our forefathers would be aghast. One of the things they despised was general warrants.”[/quote_center]

Although McConnell tried to extend the Patriot Act to June 8, to June 5, to June 3, and to June 2, Paul continued to object, and no extension was agreed upon.

According to a memo from the Department of Justice, because no renewal of Section 215 of the Patriot Act was passed, the NSA will now “begin taking steps to wind down the bulk telephone metadata program in anticipation of a possible sunset in order to ensure that it does not engage in any unauthorized collection or use of the metadata.”

The Senate has adjourned for a week-long recess for the Memorial Day holiday, and will not return until May 31, the day Section 215 of the Patriot Act is officially set to expire.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell Pushes for Two-Month PATRIOT Act Extension

In the past, long term re-authorizations of the USA PATRIOT Act have sailed through the Senate without controversy, but recent events have set up en epic battle between privacy advocates and national security hawks. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court ruled that the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of Americans’ cell phone records, authorized under the PATRIOT Act, is illegal. However, judges on the court stopped short of issuing an injunction that would terminate the program since its authorization expires on June 1.

Meanwhile, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are threatening to filibuster the renewal of PATRIOT Act section 215, which authorizes the NSA’s unpopular domestic cell phone spying program. The USA FREEDOM Act, which has been promoted by supporters as an effort to end the bulk phone records collection program, just passed the House of Representatives. However, congressional privacy advocates have said that the bill does not so much end the NSA program but instead outsources the job to private corporations by requiring them to, according to Congressman Justin Amash (R-MI), “hold, search, and analyze certain data at the request of the government.”

Now, National Journal is reporting that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has introduced a fast-track extension of the PATRIOT Act that would only re-authorize domestic spying through July 31. National Journal‘s Dustin Volz wrote, “By introducing a short-term clean re-authorization in addition to the House-passed reform measure known as the USA Freedom Act, McConnell may be seeking to forge some sort of compromise between the two measures. The Kentucky Republican and a group of GOP defense hawks have made a forceful case over the past month that reforms to the NSA’s surveillance operations could make Americans more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.”

Congressman Amash advanced his own theory on Twitter as to what McConnell intends to do and said, “McConnell is savvy. He likely supports #USAFreedomAct, b/c it authorizes bulk collection & NSA/FBI support it. But by pushing for clean #PatriotAct, McConnell buys leverage to make #USAFreedomAct even worse. He wins unless pro-privacy forces unite.”

Politico notes that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “How can one reauthorize something that’s illegal? This is not a partisan issue… Democrats and Republicans are united in reforming the National Security Agency and how they collect their data.”

A bipartisan joint statement by Senators Mike Lee and Ron Wyden read, “We will not agree to any extension of the NSA’s bulk-collection program, which has already been ruled unlawful by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. The Senate should not delay reform again this year.”

If the Senate does not act before June 1, the PATRIOT Act’s domestic spying provisions will expire. The Senate is preparing to consider three bills next week to address that controversy: the USA FREEDOM Act, a two-month extension of the PATRIOT Act, and a five-year PATRIOT Act re-authorization.

Neocon Attack on Rand Paul Backfires: Consultant Behind Ads Angers Client Mitch McConnell

In April of this year, TruthInMedia.com reported on a series of attack ads, funded by Lindsey Graham operative Rick Reed’s 501(c)(4) group The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America and promoted by GOP consulting firm Black Rock Group, which implied that, if Senator Rand Paul were to become president, Iran would develop intercontinental ballistic missile technology and unleash a nuclear attack on the United States. Now, according to Politicoone of Black Rock Group’s co-founders, Carl Forti, is in trouble with another one of his clients, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, over the ads. An example of one of the anti-Paul commercials can be seen in the above-embedded YouTube player.

Forti also works as political director for American Crossroads, a client of Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, which is working to expand the Republican Senate majority.

A McConnell aide, in light of recent revelations that the Senate Leadership Fund was paying a consultant to promote Senate Republicans who was at the same time profiting off of an ad campaign slamming one of those senators, lashed out at Forti. Said McConnell aide Brian McGuire, “Leader McConnell was of course not aware of this activity, but those involved should know that in his view it’s completely unacceptable, and that no consultant who makes a living attacking members of his conference who are running for reelection should expect to do any business with the party committees.”

Forti defended his decision to work on the Senate campaign while allowing one of his employees at Black Rock Group to promote the attack ad against Paul. Said Forti according to Politico, “I’m the one who works with Crossroads and Senate Leadership Fund, and [Black Rock Group employee Lisa Boothe] was acting as spokesperson for the group, so you got different people within a company here.”

American Crossroads CEO Steven Law said in his firm’s defense, “In the presidential primary, many of our consultants will be working for different candidates who are trying to win the nomination — it’s a fact of life that we and other groups are going to face. Our political conflicts test is going to be whether a consultant’s work for others prevents them from providing maximum effective service on what they do for us.”

Politico quoted a senior official at the National Republican Senatorial Committee who said about the potential conflict of interests, “What advisers do on the presidential level is their business, but if it starts affecting a 2016 Senate race, that is when we will have an issue.” In 2013, the National Republican Senatorial Committee blacklisted political consulting firm Jamestown Associates after it worked for Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund, which ran attack ads against Senator Mitch McConnell.

An aide for Senator Paul said, “An ad shouldn’t be run against a Republican candidate for Senate by anyone who is working to help elect Republicans running for Senate.” Rand Paul himself said recently that the attack ads have not affected his poll numbers.

Interestingly, one of the ads, which previously appeared on a YouTube channel associated with The Foundation for a Secure and Prosperous America, has been taken down by YouTube, apparently due to a copyright claim by photographer Gage Skidmore, a supporter of former Congressman Ron Paul who has taken many photographs of Rand Paul and other political figures in the past.

McConnell Fast-Tracks Bill To Reauthorize Patriot Act Until 2020

By Giuseppe Macri 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill Tuesday night to reauthorize a portion of the Patriot Act that allows the National Security Agency to sweep up call records on millions of Americans until 2020.

McConnell began the process of placing the bill on the Senate calendar Tuesday night under Rule 14, which allows the legislation to skip committee markup.

The bill, cosponsored by Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, “extend[s] authority relating to roving surveillance, access to business records, and individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and for other purposes.”

Under the legislation, Section 215 of the Patriot Act would be renewed for another five years. Section 215 authorizes the NSA to collect and store virtually all Americans’ landline telephone records, including telephone numbers, dialed numbers, call durations and locations. The provision expires on June 1.

McConnell’s bill comes amid a renewed effort to revive the U.S.A. Freedom Act in the House, where it passed last year but failed in the Senate. The Freedom Act renews Section 215, but includes reforms to limit the NSA’s access to phone records. (RELATED: House Working To Reauthorize Patriot Act By May)

Republicans led by McConnell attacked the Freedom Act late last year, insisting the new reforms would open the U.S. up to greater threats from terrorist organizations including ISIS in the Middle East.

Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, who originally sponsored the Freedom Act in the upper chamber, called McConnell’s move a “tone-deaf” attempt at green-lighting “unchecked surveillance.”

“Republican leaders should be working across the aisle on legislation that protects both our national security and Americans’ privacy rights, but instead they are trying to quietly pass a straight reauthorization of the bulk-collection program that has been proven ineffective and unnecessary,” Leahy said in a statement Tuesday. “And more, they are attempting to do so without the committee process that the majority leader has promised for important legislation.”

“This tone-deaf attempt to pave the way for five and a half more years of unchecked surveillance will not succeed,” Leahy added.

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Majority Leader McConnell’s Aides Say Senate Will Vote on Ron Paul’s Audit the Fed Bill

Former Congressman Ron Paul’s entire political career was dedicated broadly to promoting freedom and liberty. However, during that time, he also successfully brought the subject of monetary policy to the forefront of American political discourse, exposing the shadowy, private Federal Reserve’s built-in conflicts of interest and urging lawmakers to first audit it and then cancel the bank’s charter. The private bank, which has the power to manipulate the value of the US dollar, has been accused of giving sweetheart deals to insiders, such as the time it allegedly gave a $220 million bailout to the wives of two Morgan Stanley executives. Its original mandate was to keep the US currency supply stable, though the dollar’s value has plunged to a fraction of what it was worth when the Fed took over in 1913 and has swung wildly throughout the past decade, generating record profits for connected Wall Street insiders while families struggle to afford the rising prices of life’s necessities.

Ron Paul launched a legislative push to audit the Federal Reserve in 2009, taking advantage of the rising popularity he began to experience following his 2008 presidential bid. The bill he introduced, formally called the Federal Reserve Transparency Act but colloquially referred to by the title “Audit the Fed,” passed the House twice, but was blocked by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who refused to let the Senate vote on the proposed legislation. Ron Paul’s bill would allow the Government Accountability Office to review the Federal Reserve’s books and retroactively analyze the decisions it makes pertaining to monetary policy. Due to a grassroots push inspired by Ron Paul, a partial-but-incomplete Fed audit was included in the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which exposed the fact that Federal Reserve insiders were given conflict of interest waivers that allowed them to invest in companies that they knew were receiving emergency bailouts.

Now, Republicans have taken control of the Senate, and Senator Mitch McConnell, an Audit the Fed co-sponsor who happens to be a close associate of Ron Paul’s son Senator Rand Paul, has been tapped as majority leader. Stephan Dinan at The Washington Times is reporting that aides at Mitch McConnell’s office are saying that he plans to finally bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote now that he has the power to do so. Politico notes that Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky intends to re-introduce the bill in the House at the beginning of the 2015 session. Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul says he will launch the companion bill in the Senate in January. McConnell has not yet indicated when the bill might face a vote in the Senate.

Though the House is likely to pass Audit the Fed again, the Senate will be a tougher fight, as banking interests, known for funding the high-dollar campaigns of senators needing to win massive, state-wide races, oppose the legislation. In a press conference cited by The Washington Times, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said two weeks ago, “Back in 1978 Congress explicitly passed legislation to ensure that there would be no GAO audits of monetary policy decision-making, namely policy audits. I certainly hope that will continue, and I will try to forcefully make the case for why that’s important.” Opponents of the Fed audit claim that it constitutes Congress meddling in affairs too arcane for it to understand and warn that politicization of monetary policy will have unintended consequences.

Norm Singleton with Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty said, “The change in Senate leadership does present us with the best opportunity yet to get a stand-alone vote on ‘Audit the Fed’… This is popular with 75 percent of the American people, but it’s not popular among Wall Street; it’s not popular among banks; it’s not popular among foreign central banks… it’s better odds now than we’ve had before, but it’s not a slam dunk.”

A Senate vote on Audit the Fed will likely pit Ron and Rand Paul’s network of grassroots activists against wealthy banking insiders in a historic battle over the nation’s dollar, with both forces urging senators to pick sides. Senator Rand Paul’s presidential aspirations may also play into the debate, as he can use the platform of his presidential bid to apply additional pressure to promote the Fed audit.

Did Mitch McConnell Just Endorse Rand Paul For President?

Coming off a landslide Election Day victory, winning his sixth term and an expected appointment as majority leader, Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell is soaking it all it, and apparently endorsing fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul for president in 2016.

Here is what McConnell told the Lexington Herald-Leader:

“Obviously, I’m a big supporter of Rand Paul. We’ve developed a very tight relationship, and I’m for him,” he said.

But for president, right?

“Whatever he decides to do,” McConnell said. “I don’t think he’s made a final decision on that. But he’ll be able to count on me.”

In addition to throwing his support for Paul, McConnell also told the newspaper how committed he was to help to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon dioxide emissions at coal-burning power plants, especially after he won many of the Kentucky coal-producing counties for the first time ever.

He explained that coal has a future all over the world, but our coal future is being hindered by regulation.

“It makes me very angry, and I’m going to do everything I can to try to stop them,” he added.

Many libertarians and limited-government voters were upset when Paul endorsed McConnell over his Tea Party challenger, but it’s clear that Paul and McConnell have a good relationship. Having McConnell on his side, who is now the Senate majority leader, gives Paul a huge advantage in 2016.

VIDEO: Watch this Democratic Senate nominee refuse to associate with Obama

LOUISVILLE, October 9, 2014 – In Kentucky this morning, Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Alison Lundergran Grimes met before the Louisville Courier-Journal editorial board to seek their endorsement. Grimes will be facing off against incumbent U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

During her interview, Grimes was asked multiple times rather she voted for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and she continuously refused to answer the question.

Obama’s most recent national approval rating is at 38% according to Gallup in September of this year. In fact, Obama is even less popular in Kentucky than he is in the rest of the country.

Grimes has sought to distance herself from the Obama camp and has instead relied on the Clintons, longtime family friends of Grimes, to aid in her campaigns.

You can watch the full exchange here:


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Exclusive: Fake “Honest” Candidate Raises Over $70K Running Against Mitch McConnell and Allison Grimes

KENTUCKY, July 23, 2014– Gil Fulbright may soon change America. Due to a viral campaign featuring his “honest political ads”, the entire country will soon know who Gil Fulbright is. “People of Kentucky, you deserve complete honesty, so here it is. I don’t care about you,” says Fulbright in an ad. Fulbright declares that unless you’re a lobbyists- don’t expect him to work for your best interest.

In only 10 short days, Gil Fulbright has raised almost $70k from more than a thousand donors to run for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. In less than two weeks, Fulbright’s campaign ads have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube. However, Fulbright isn’t on the ballot. In fact, he’s not even real.

Fulbright is a satirical politician created by Represent.Us, an independent, not-for-profit organization. The organization’s advisory board consists of Tea Party leaders, Occupy Wall Street activists, Democratic and Republican strategists, former lobbyists, investment bankers, former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, a Harvard Law professor and more.

Their mission is simple. Run a pseudo candidate against Republican Mitch McConnell and Democrat Allison Grimes in the Kentucky 2014 U.S. Senate race to expose how crony corporatism has overthrown the American political system through the process of lobbying. Democrat, Republican— It doesn’t matter.

Represent.Us cites that about 87 percent of the donations funding McConnell come from out of state, and Grimes’ out of state supporters have contributed 75 percent of her funds.

Kentucky’s U.S. Senate race between Grimes and McConnell, the Senate’s minority leader, is expected to reach a $100 million price tag and become the most expensive Senate race in U.S. history.

Fulbright was kind enough to provide BenSwann.com an interview:

What are your thoughts on the Constitution? 
Constitution… That sounds familiar. Whatever it is, it’s got some weak name recognition. They should invest in better lobbyists! 
Grimes and McConnell both accept millions in special interest dollars. Do you find this unethical? 
Heck no. Special interest dollars are the lifeblood of American politics. If selling your constituents up the river in order to stay in office and eventually retire to a lucrative lobbying career is wrong, I don’t want to be right. 

What inspired you to run for office?
When I heard the Kentucky Senate race was on track to cost 100 million dollars — 100 million! — making it the most expensive race in US history, only one thought came to mind: “Old Gil needs to get a piece of that action.” Running for office means a chance to become even richer and more powerful. I’d like to be both of those things. 

What do you plan to change if elected to the United States Senate?
Whatever my financial backers want! Need a tax loophole? Done. Competing business nipping at your heels? I’ll regulate them back to the stone age. Need to bump up your bottom line? I’ll send as many federal dollars as you want your way. If you’ve got money to give, I’ll return the favor.  
My campaign advisors would like me to include a few more patriotic buzzwords in this interview. Jobs! Working class! Freedom! Eagles! 
Yup, that should cover it. 
Are you a Republican or Democrat? 
Depends on who’s buying. 

Mansur Gidfar, Represent.us Communications Director, answered the following questions concerning the campaign:

What’s your plan of attack?
Now that we’ve smashed our crowd-funding goal (we’re nearly 330% funded with 19 days left), we’ll definitely be sending Gil to Kentucky. He’ll be running ads, working the press, and making high-profile campaign stop appearances at major political events to make the unprecedented amount of money corrupting our political system a top story. The campaign is already a runaway success on that front — Gil has already generated more than 100 national and local news stories (highlights here), and he hasn’t even been to Kentucky yet. His campaign will officially launch on August 2 at Fancy Farm, a major event in Kentucky politics.
Do you plan to continue the campaign after the November election? 
Gil’s staying tight-lipped about his future for now. Who knows? If things go well in Kentucky, we might just have to run him for president.

Visit Gil Fulbright’s crowd-funding page to follow his progress.
Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter.

Poll: If Republicans Want To Keep KY They’ll Have To Vote McConnell Out, Bevin In


A recent Ramussen poll shows that Kentucky US Senator Mitch McConnell (R) is in serious trouble.

According to the poll, McConnell (42%) runs dead even with his democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes (42%).

However, Matt Bevin, McConnell’s tea party challenger, leads Grimes by 4% in the same poll.

McConnell is running scared. His campaign has recently released a series of attack ads calling Bevin a big government, bailout proponent. McConnel also tried to pass off claims that Bevin didn’t pay his taxes. Multiple fact checking organizations have proved McConnell’s claims about Bevin to be false.

If Republicans want to keep the Kentucky federal Senate delegation red their only choice may be to vote tea party.

The survey of 500 Likely Voters in Kentucky was conducted on January 29-30, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 4.5 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence.

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