U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and House Republicans hammered the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on Friday over missing emails related to its targeting of conservative groups.
The IRS announced last week that it can’t find two years of emails from Lois Lerner, the former head of the IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt groups. Lerner has acknowledged the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups that sought tax-exempt status from February 2010 through the 2012 election.
While testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee, Commissioner John Koskinen blamed the lost emails on an antiquated email system and a computer crash. Paulsen and other GOPers maintain the missing messages are part of a massive cover-up.
“Can you rule out that Lois Lerner destroyed her own computer?” Paulsen asked.
In response, Koskinen said: “There’s no evidence that she did. You can never rule out something that you don’t know.”
In a statement following the hearing, Paulsen said: “It’s long past time for the IRS to stop misleading Congress and the American people. The IRS systematically targeted individuals based on their personal beliefs, and as we found out today, is continuing to cover up their misdeeds.”
Michigan Rep. Sandy Levin, the lead Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said there was no conspiracy behind the computer crash, just an email system that was underfunded and deficient.
The leadership PAC of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who lost to a Tea Party challenger on Tuesday in a stunning Republican primary upset, has donated $169,500 to Minnesota candidates over the past decade, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Leadership political action committees take in money and donate it to like-minded campaigns.
During that time period, Cantor’s Every Republican is Crucial PAC has donated $40,000 to Rep. Erik Paulsen, $35,000 to Rep. Michele Bachmann and $34,500 to Rep. John Kline.
Cantor’s PAC has also donated to former congressmen Jim Ramstad, Gil Gutknecht and Mark Kennedy, who Cantor also supported during his failed 2006 U.S. Senate run against Sen. Amy Klobuchar. Former Sen. Norm Coleman’s 2008 campaign against Sen. Al Franken received a $5,000 boost from Cantor.
In 2010, he backed Randy Demmers’s campaign against Rep. Tim Walz in the First Congressional District with a $5,000 donation.
In 2012, he donated $10,000 to former Eight District U.S. Rep. Chip Cravaack who lost to current congressmen Rick Nolan. This cycle, he’s donated $10,000 to Nolan’s challenger, Stewart Mills III.
Cantor has also donated $5,000 to state Sen. Torrey Westrom’s campaign in the Seventh Congressional District, marking the first time he's put money behind a candidate vying to unseat Rep. Collin Peterson.
Cantor has also been an ally to Minnesota’s Republicans in his role as Majority Leader.
This year, he’s helped Paulsen shepherd anti-sex trafficking legislation through the House.
A charter school advocate, Cantor has backed Kline’s efforts to enact school choice legislation and rewrite the No Child Left Behind Act.
Cantor and Kline also are among a select group of Republicans tasked with developing a viable GOP alternative to the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s health care law.
WASHINGTON -- Minnesota's eight House members and both senators collectively urged the Army Tuesday to clarify a new directive expanding legal services to victims of sexual assault in the National Guard.
The Army recently released new rules expanding important legal services to certain victims of military sexual assault, but the rules don't cover National Guard members who become victims of sexual assault outside drill weekends or military duties.
Minnesota's ten members of Congress say the directive will undermine the Minnesota National Guard's ability to "effectively provide support services to survivors of sexual assaults," according to a release.
The letter was led by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar and GOP Rep. John Kline and co-signed by Democrat Sen. Al Franken and Reps. Collin Peterson, Betty McCollum, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan, and Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann and Erik Paulsen.
"Our Minnesota service members should not be impeded from seeking critical services in the aftermath of a sexual assault," the letter said. "The Army must provide clear guidance and direction in order for the National Guard to effectively provide these services authorized by Congress."
The letter comes as the Department of Defense scrambles to deal with the increasing problem of sexual assaults in the military. According to the delegation release today, the DoD found in May that overall reporting of sexual assaults in the military in 2013 was 50 percent higher than it was the previous year -- 5,061 in 2013 versus 3,374 in 2012. Previous year-to-year increases in reporting never exceeded five percent.
There are more than 13,000 soldiers and airman in the Minnesota National Guard.
The much-criticized nomination of businessman George Tsunis to be ambassador to Norway is facing even more opposition, now from the co-chairs of the congressional Friends of Norway Caucus.
The co-chairs – Minnesota U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum and Erik Paulsen -- are urging President Obama to withdraw Tsunis’ nomination.
“In Minnesota we have a vibrant Norwegian-American population with a rich appreciation for the culture and heritage of Norway,” McCollum said.
“We expect the next U.S. ambassador to possess both expertise and appreciation for Norway and its people. Unfortunately, the current nominee falls far short of this standard. I urge President Obama to withdraw his nomination immediately and instead find a new nominee who will make Norwegian-Americans proud.”
McCollum, a Democrat, and Paulsen, a Republican, join both U.S. senators from Minnesota, home to the United States’ largest Norwegian-American population, in opposing Tsunis.
Earlier this week, Sen. Al Franken announced he will vote against Tsunis if his nomination comes to the Senate floor. Sen. Amy Klobuchar made the same vow earlier this year.
Tsunis, who helped raise nearly $1 million for Obama’s 2012 campaign, was nominated for the diplomatic post nine months ago.
During an appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Tsunis bungled answers to questions and testified that he has never visited Norway. His performance drew a strong rebuke from Norwegian-Americans across the country.
Because the Senate has sole responsibility for confirming ambassadors, McCollum and Paulsen can’t cast votes against Tsunis.
"While ambassadorships are often tied to political support for the President, the answers provided by nominee George Tsunis clearly demonstrate that he is unqualified for this position and may damage an important international bond if confirmed,” Paulsen said.
“The President would serve the Norwegian-American community well by withdrawing Tsunis’s name and nominating somebody that will help our relationship continue to grow and thrive.”
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added former state Rep. Mike Obermueller's campaign to its "Emerging Races" list, the ground floor of a program designed to support promising U.S. House candidates from around the country.
The “Red to Blue” program allows the party to send a signal to political donors that candidates have organized campaigns. Obermueller is vying to unseat Republican Rep. John Kline.
But Obermueller’s 2014 congressional campaign has yet to generate the same enthusiasm among national Democrats as his 2012 bid.
At this point in the 2012 election cycle, Obermueller had already reached the top tier of the “Red to Blue” program, less than three months after announcing his candidacy. That year, he lost to Kline by eight percentage points, in what was a closer-than-expected race.
This time around, Kline has managed to accumulate a sizable fundraising advantage and keep the race off the national radar, until now. With the next federal fundraising reporting period just weeks away, the DCCC nod to Obermueller’s campaign could help him make up ground.
Kline had $1.66 million banked for his re-election bid at the end of March, the last reporting period. That’s roughly seven times as much as Obermueller’s $238,000 cash-on-hand total.
A six-term incumbent, Kline is chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and considered a safe bet for re-election by political handicapping services, including the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
Thus far, Obermueller is the only Minnesota candidate on any of the DCCC’s lists. Democratic candidates in the Third Congressional District, where Rep. Erik Paulsen is seeking re-election, and the Sixth Congressional District, where Rep. Michele Bachmann is retiring, haven’t made the cut.
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