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Posts tagged ‘Jim Matheson’

Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote.


Image: Rep. Hastings Announces Retirement In Wake of Debt-Ceiling Vote

 

By Todd Beamon

Rep. Doc Hastings on Thursday became the latest House Republican to announce his retirement — two days after he was part of a critical coalition of House leaders, made up of retiring GOP members and representatives primarily from Northeastern states, that backed a controversial bill to raise America’s debt ceiling without restrictions.

“Last Friday, I celebrated my 73rd birthday, and while I have the ability and seniority to continue serving central Washington, it is time for the voters to choose a new person with new energy to represent them in the people’s House,” Hastings said in a statement.

First elected in 1995, Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and recently called for overhauling the Endangered Species Act, charging that the 40-year-old law has been abused by environmental groups seeking to restrict development in the name of species protection.

The announcement came a day after GOP Rep. Gary Miller, 66, of California said that he was retiring after more than 15 years in the House because of family issues.

Hastings is now the 24th member of Congress to say that this year would be his last. He joins 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats to disclose their impending departures from Capitol Hill.

In the House, he is the 11th Republican and 18th member overall to announce his retirement.

But on Tuesday, Hastings and Miller joined with Speaker John Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and 23 other House Republicans to support a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing authority — agreeing to President Barack Obama’s demands for a debt-limit increase without any conditions.

Boehner backed the legislation, which won on a 221-201 vote. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

Besides splitting the House leadership — the No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking House GOP woman, was among the leaders to vote “no” — the vote rankled conservatives, tea party supporters and rank-and-file Republicans.

The Senate Conservatives Fund even charged that Boehner should be replaced as speaker.

These groups were further outraged the next day when the Senate voted — after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, of Kentucky, and Minority Whip John Cornyn, of Texas, led an assault on a filibuster by Sen. Ted Cruz — to pass a similar debt bill on a straight 55-43 party-line vote.

In the House, the 28 Republicans voting for the measure included six who are retiring at the end of the year. Besides Hastings and Miller, they are Howard Coble, N.C.; Buck McKeon, Calif.; Jon Runyan, N.J.; and Frank Wolf, Va.

“You’ve got retirees, the leadership and Republicans in safe districts with a Northeastern bias,” political analyst and pollster Doug Schoen explained to Newsmax on Thursday.

“Basically, the votes they gave were enough to get it passed — and they didn’t want to put anyone at risk,” he added. “It was retirees, leadership, and Northeastern moderate Republicans who could take the vote without a problem.”

Others in the top House leadership who supported the debt ceiling bill included Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Mich.; Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, Calif.; Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Ky.; and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, Calif.

Those Northeastern Republicans on board included four from New York — Reps. Chris Collins, Michael Grimm, Richard Hanna, Peter King — as well as three each from neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Seven California House members backed the measure.

“Put it another way: For the Republican base, this is toxic — and the way the process was organized was to insulate the party and its grass-roots as much as possible to avoid any political problems,” Schoen told Newsmax.

The primary problem was avoiding another federal government shutdown, similar to the partial one that lasted 16 days in October and cost taxpayers $1.4 billion — especially when the GOP could possibly retake the Senate in this fall’s congressional elections.

“It goes back to their basis thesis: We get through this. We don’t fight on an issue we can’t win because, ultimately, this election is moving in our direction — and we don’t need to have a problem like the problem we had with the government shutdown.”

Political strategist Dick Morris described the House skirmishing on Thursday as “phony” and “fraudulent.”

“Boehner went to his caucus and said: ‘Hey guys, let’s approve the debt limit in return for pretty-good spending cuts or other restorations,'” Morris told John Bachman on “America’s Forum” on Newsmax TV. “The House Republicans said, or enough of them said: ‘We’re not going to vote for a debt-limit increase under any circumstance. You could balance the whole budget and we’re not going to go for it.’

“He didn’t have his 218 votes to pass it — and he couldn’t get any Democratic votes if there were cuts,” Morris said of Boehner.

The Ohio Republican then put together the GOP coalition to support the clean bill.

“All of these Republican congressmen can now go to their primary opponents from the tea party and say, ‘Hey, I voted against raising the debt limit’ — knowing darn well that they were willing to vote for it if they needed it,” Morris said.

Schoen saw it another way.

“The Republican Party did not want to vote to increase the debt ceiling,” he said. “Because they are in the majority, they had to provide some votes — in this case, 28 — to go along with near-unanimous Democratic support to get it done.

“The leadership understood that it was in their interest, long-term, to increase the debt ceiling without any riders or any possibility of paralyzing the government,” Schoen added. “The vast majority of Republicans, for a variety of reasons, disagree.

“For John Boehner, this became a practical step to avoid more political harakiri.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Republicans Call Debt-Ceiling Vote ‘Missed Opportunity’ for Sanity.


Image: Republicans Call Debt-Ceiling Vote 'Missed Opportunity' for Sanity From left: Reps. Paul Ryan, Marsha Blackburn and Paul Broun

By Todd Beamon

House Republicans told Newsmax on Tuesday that they opposed Speaker John Boehner’s plan for a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing limit without restrictions because it would not hold President Barack Obama and Democrats accountable to work toward greater fiscal responsibility.

“This is a missed opportunity,” said House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin. “We need to pay our bills today and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow.

“I’m disappointed that the president and Senate Democrats refuse to get serious about our fiscal challenges,” Ryan said.

“Raising the debt ceiling without any guarantee of future spending cuts is irresponsible and only makes our nation’s debt problem worse,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee.

Rep. Paul Broun, of Georgia, said he voted against the bill because “we cannot continue to fuel the president’s spending addiction by increasing our nation’s borrowing limit and leaving our children and grandchildren with bills they simply cannot afford to pay.”

The House vote on the “clean” spending bill was 221-201, with only 28 Republicans supporting the measure. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

The vote marked a dramatic shift from the confrontational fiscal approach of House Republicans over the past three years, culminating in October’s 16-day partial government shutdown, which cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Discussions this time had concerned linking the debt ceiling to defunding Obamacare — part of last year’s unsuccessful effort — or to a repeal of planned cuts in military pensions.

Under the legislation, the debt ceiling would be suspended until March 15, 2015, allowing the government to keep borrowing beyond its current $17.2 trillion limit. Afterward, however, the new ceiling would equal the amount of debt the government has accumulated in total.

The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on the legislation.

The vote even split the top GOP leadership, with Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California backing the measure.

But the House’s No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking GOP woman in the lower chamber, rejected the bill, along with Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“We can continue to ignore the problem of out-of-control spending, or we can address it,” McMorris Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, the Democrats who run Washington refuse to seriously address our crushing debt in any other way than higher taxes, which isn’t fair to those in eastern Washington and across America.

“If President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate refuse to address our spending addiction when a debt limit increase is requested, when will they?” McMorris Rodgers asked.

Lankford said, “I could not vote to increase our national debt ceiling because the legislation did not offer long-term spending reforms or a plan to prevent having this same debate in the future.”

“We must stop pretending our national debt is not a major issue even though it already exceeds a completely incomprehensible amount,” he added. “On behalf of my daughters and future generations, I will not support taking the easy road today but make it harder in the future,” Lankford said.

Said Walden, “Previous debt-limit negotiations have resulted in historic agreements that reduced spending. I stood ready to work in a bipartisan way on another such agreement, but the Democrats have been unwilling to discuss even modest proposals to reduce the deficit.”

In addition, the Club for Growth and other conservative groups had urged legislators to reject the measure.

“When we heard that House leadership was scheduling a clean debt-ceiling increase vote, we thought it was a joke,” the Club for Growth said on its website. “But it’s not. Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party.

“This is not a bill that advocates of limited government should schedule or support,” the club said.

The Senate Conservatives Fund said in a fundraising letter that Boehner should be replaced.

“Republicans are giving up because they know that winning is impossible when their leaders are determined to lose,” the group said on its website. “These leaders have telegraphed weakness to the Democrats and sabotaged conservative efforts so many times that Republicans now have no leverage.

“Unless we install a new leader who will actually go on offense, Democrats will never fear us and we will never have any leverage,” the group said.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told Newsmax that the House failed to “heed the warning that reaching the debt ceiling provides” and did not “use this speed bump on the road to national bankruptcy as an opportunity to deal with the root cause of our debt crisis: out-of-control spending.”

“By passing the unconditional increase in the debt ceiling that the president demanded, the answer to this question sadly appears to be no,” Hensarling said.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma noted how Obama has refused to negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit. He reiterated that position heading into this round of talks.

“Every negotiation requires a negotiating partner, but the president has remained intransigent and refused to find common-sense solutions,” Cole said. “I have shown time and again that I am willing to work in a bipartisan manner to solve our nation’s most pressing economic problems, and I will continue to do so.

“The legislation presented today is not that solution,” Cole said.

Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said that “major reform is needed in an area that is swiftly consuming our GDP and is moving our entitlement programs toward insolvency. With today’s vote, we continue to show an addiction to spending and a negligence to address the root of our spending problems.”

Blackburn’s “Volunteer State” State colleague, Rep. Diane Black, was even more blunt.

“Our looming debt crisis threatens the security of the nation we leave behind for future generations,” she said. “Without needed reforms to address the drivers of our debt and deficits, the bill simply gives President Obama a blank check to continue borrowing against our children and grandchildren’s future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Matheson’s Retirement Gives Mia Love’s Campaign Edge.


Image: Matheson's Retirement Gives Mia Love's Campaign Edge

By Cathy Burke

Utah Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson unexpectedly bowed out Tuesday from another run for the House, a decision that gives rising Republican star Mia Love an edge in the 2014 race.

“I just never saw me doing this all my life,” Matheson told the Salt Lake TribuneTuesday. “I always thought there would be other chapters in what I do in my public service career and this just seemed the right time to move on to the next opportunity.”

Love, a Saratoga Springs mayor who rose to prominence with a prime speaking role at the2012 Republican National Convention, was gearing up for a competitive rematch against the seven-term incumbent, the state’s only Democratic congressman.

She lost to him last year by just 768 votes.

The 53-year-old Matheson, son of former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson,  first ran for Congress in 1999 and has held onto the seat for seven terms in a largely red state.
Larry Sebato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, tweeted that Matheson’s announcement Tuesday was a political game changer.

Campaign reports filed in October showed Love’s retooled campaign had raised — and spent — money certainly like she meant business.

From July through September, Love brought in more than $590,000 compared to Matheson’s collection of just $278,000, filings showed. Love spent more than $376,000 in the same period.

Still, Matheson’s decision stunned Love’s campaign, U.S. News & World Report noted.

“This was a total surprise,” Dave Hansen, Love’s campaign director, told the news magazine. “This becomes a different campaign, obviously… It was going to be focused on the general election. Now, it will focus more on the primary.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee, however, hailed the retirement as a sign of vulnerability for Democrats everywhere.

“It’s telling that Matheson, who didn’t even vote for Obamacare’s original passage, knows he can’t run and win in this climate. If it’s this bad for him, imagine how bad 2014 will be for the vast majority of Democrats who actually supported Obamacare from its start,” NRCC Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., said in a release.

Love said Matheson’s decision changes nothing.

“I certainly respect his decision and I wish him well in anything he decides to do,” Love said. “We’re going to keep going forward and raising money and getting our message out.”

Before Matheson’s announcement, Love was gearing up for the race, pushing back against his accusations that she was a tea-party extremist whose election would only further polarize Congress. “I am not an extremist. I’ve never been an extremist,” Love told theTribune during a Washington visit last month.

“I’ve talked to other tea-party members and, you know, the tea [partyers] have different ideas of who they are and what they believe in and what I’m telling you now is they’ve been the ones who label me. I don’t want anyone to put me in a box.”

Yet the newspaper notes Love courted tea-party groups when she first ran for Congress in 2012, and that her campaign had ties to conservative Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who came under fire for backing the failed effort to defund Obamacare, leading to a 17-day government shutdown in October.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Three Congressman Announce Retirement on Same Day.


Image: Three Congressman Announce Retirement on Same DayFrom left: Reps. Tom Latham, Frank Wolf and Jim Matheson

By Cynthia Fagen

Iowa Republican Tom Latham has become the third House member to announce his retirement on Tuesday, The Hill reported.  He joins Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, and Rep. Jim Matheson, a Democrat from Utah.

“It is never a perfect time or a right time to step aside. But for me, this is the time,” said the 10-term congressman, who is a close friend of Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Latham said in an email, “I want to share with you my decision that I will not be a candidate for any office in November of 2014.”

Democrats think they can win the seats held by Latham and Wolf. In the 2012 presidential race Obama won Latham’s district by four percentage points. Matheson’s vacancy could go to a Republican.

Latham’s retirement comes as a surprise, according to The Hill. A year ago he’d defeated Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) in a hotly-contested race, and had turned down national Republicans’ pleas to run for an open Senate seat, according to The Hill. Democrats had been rallying around former state Sen. Staci Appel to run against Latham. It’s unclear who might run on the GOP ticket.

House veteran Wolf said that he planned to continue his work as an advocate of worldwide human rights and religious freedom.

“As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves,” said Wolf, who was the first member of Congress to visit the troubled Darfur region of Sudan and has spoken out in defense of oppressed groups such as Tibetans and Kurds.

Matheson was expected to face a tough repeat challenge in 2014 from Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, a Republican who he narrowly defeated in 2012.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Despite Polls, Democrats Plan Obamacare Defense for 2014.


The House Democratic leadership appears to be gambling on a strategy to rally its political base with vigorous support of Obamacare, at a time when polls show the healthcare measure is unpopular with the overall voting public.

With Democrats needing to pick up 17 Republican-held seats in 2014 to recapture a majority in the House, leaders are not only urging lawmakers to stand firmly behind the Affordable Care Act, but have told them how to sell the measure back home during the congressional recess.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Democratic congressmen before the Memorial Day recess that “we now want to educate our constituents about the new law, help to implement it, and strengthen the hands of those who have helped to enact this historic reform.”

Attached to the document, which was co-signed by the Democratic co-chairs of the House Steering and Policy Committee — Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Rob Andrews of New Jersey — was a “tool kit” that provided “frequently asked questions” from constituents about Obamacare.

That document provides “a list of district training sessions and relevant federal contact information” to further explain the healthcare measure.

Among the selling points is that, starting this fall, “consumer-friendly marketplaces will enable families and individuals who are uninsured or buy their own coverage to buy their own quality, affordable coverage.”

“The majority of Americans will have access to subsidies to make their insurance more affordable. …There will be no annual limits on coverage for any patient and everyone will be guaranteed the availability of health insurance, regardless of medical history or pre-existing conditions,” House Democrats are told.

In what is tantamount to laying the groundwork for a national campaign based on support of Obamacare, the Democratic leadership, according to Pelosi’s letter, is “strongly encouraging” House Democrats to name an Affordable Care Act “coordinator” from their staffs.

“This individual should be in a district office and be the primary person tasked with the casework and constituent queries about the ACA,” wrote Pelosi, who urges her colleagues to register their coordinator through a special email address “so that this staff member will continue to receive important updates on ACA implementation.”

Five days after the Pelosi memo went out, a CNN/ORC International Poll showed that, among likely voters nationwide, 54 percent opposed Obamacare and 43 percent support it.

“Not surprisingly, the Obama coalition is most supportive of Obamacare,” CNN Political Director Ken Holland told the Huffington Post. The poll found that 75 percent of Democrats favored Obamacare, while only 16 percent of Republicans supported it.

House Republicans have taken the opposite approach from Democrats, often using Obamacare as a political punching bag.

The Republican-led House on May 16 voted for the 37th time to repeal Obamacare and is now focused on denying funding to the healthcare program, set to take effect Jan. 1.

The House vote was 229 to 195. Two Democrats — Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah — joined the 227 Republicans voting to overturn Obamacare..

McIntyre and Matheson both eked out re-election last fall in two of the closest House races in the nation. Both face rematches with their Republican opponents in 2014.

For Pelosi, lining up her colleagues and educating them on how to defend Obamacare is no major problem. As to whether making it a key plank in the coming midterm elections is good politics — and whether it can help vulnerable members — remains to be seen.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By John Gizzi

Mia Love to Run for House Again.


Image: Mia Love to Run for House Again

By Dan Weil

Mia Love, who lost her bid to become the first black Republican woman in the House of Representatives, says she is ready to give it another go.

Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, announced she will run again in 2014 against Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson. The state’s only Democratic congressman, Matheson beat her last year by 768 votes, the second-tightest race in the country.

Love announced her decision to challenge him at the Beehive State‘s GOP convention Saturday.

“You and I have some unfinished business with Rep. Jim Matheson,” she said, according to The Salt Lake City Deseret News.

Love told reporters her chats with voters convinced her to run.

“I wanted to see if the momentum was there, if we could build upon what we had before,” she said. “People are getting behind us and are more determined than ever to win this seat.”

Love, 37, said she’s uncertain whether she’ll face a Republican primary challenger. “Hopefully not, but we’ll see.”

She is seen as a rising Republican star, and Matheson’s 4th Congressional District — centered on Salt Lake City — represents a prime target for the national party.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

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Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

IRS Scandal, Higher Premiums Cast Doubts on Obamacare.


Higher-than-expected premiums, combined with the scandal-ridden IRS, are putting a shadow over Obamacare, with House Republicans vowing to keep up the fight against President Barack Obama’s key agenda item.

On Thursday, the House voted once again to repeal Obamacare. This time around, two Democrats, Reps. Jim Matheson (Utah) and Mike McIntyre (N.C.)., sided with Republicans on the vote. All GOP members voted to repeal the health care issue.

In Saturday’s weekly GOP address, Maryland Republican Rep. Andy Harris vowed his party will keep up the fight, discussing a report by the House Energy and Commerce Committee that detailed how insurance premiums will increase for many people under Obamacare, not lower them as promised.

“According to new data from the nation’s insurers, under ObamaCare, premiums in the individual market will skyrocket by an average of double what we pay now, with some rates rising by more than 400 percent,” said Harris. The report said people in about 45 states may see premiums jump by about 100 percent, according to statistics from 17 insurance companies.

In addition to the higher premiums, Harris Saturday claimed Obamacare will be mismanaged by the Internal Revenue ServiceThe Hill reports.

The IRS has confirmed that it gave conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status extra scrutiny, and Republicans are trying to determine if the Obama administration was involved in the scandal.

“Now, just think about the fact that it’s the IRS that will be responsible for enforcing many of these regulations,” Harris said. “If we’ve learned anything this week, it’s that the IRS needs less power, not more.”

In addition, it was learned this past week that Sarah Hall Ingram, who was named as the director of the Affordable Care Act’s office in the IRS, had been in charge of the office in the IRS that works on applications from tax-exempt groups. Harris said that Ingram’s involvement also casts a shadow over Obamacare.

Ingram was in charge of the tax-exempt division from 2009 to 2012, overlapping with the time when targeting first began. She began overseeing the health law implementation in December 2010, six months before her subordinate found out about the profiling.

Her successor in the tax-exempt division, Joseph Grant, said he plans to retire on June 3, just as Congressional hearings are getting under way, and earlier this week, the fallout over the IRS scandal lead to the ouster of acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.

But the Ingram connection is shaping up to be a key part of the Republicans’ fight to repeal Obamacare.

“As a matter of fact, it turns out that the IRS official who oversaw the operation that’s under scrutiny for targeting conservatives is now in charge of the IRS’s ObamaCare office,” said Harris. “You can’t make this stuff up.”

While the IRS won’t be administering the healthcare exchanges that are key to Obamacare, it is to charge fines against people who do not obtain health insurance, after the Supreme Court ruled that imposing fines for lack of health coverage is allowed when doing so is considered a tax.

As a result, the IRS is involved with four major parts of Obamacare, with the most major role to determine if individuals are entitled to new tax credits to help pay for private insurance premiums.

Other key Republicans, like Harris, are increasingly pointing out problems with Obamacare, mainly with the issue of the IRS’ connection with the program.

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite, said she is very worried about the connection.

“Does this means that some government plutocrat can look at my personal healthcare data?” she asked. “Could I be denied healthcare? Could it be delayed?”

On the floor last week,Bachmann said she is worried that this “gargantuan government expansion known as Obamacare will allow bureaucrats access to our most intimate, personal health information. It will be a huge database that government is putting together and building right now. Under Obamacare, the average American will pay more, they’ll get less, and now they have to worry that their government may punish them because of their beliefs.”

While the law doesn’t require the IRS to collect or view information about individuals’ health, they reflect the doubts about the IRS and its potential to abuse its power, reports The Associated Press.

But Democrats are accusing Republicans of politicizing the IRS scandal to score political points.

“There really isn’t a tie,” said Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., who is the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the IRS. “This is another effort by the Republicans to essentially try to score political points.”

Former Republican congressman Tom Davis, of Virginia, said Republicans should be looking for a connection, but should be careful about how far they take it.

Obamacare, Davis told the Associated Press “is 50-50 with the public on a good day,” said Davis. “You put that together with the IRS and it’s combustible. For Republicans, I think they need to go a little slower and get some facts in.”

There are further scandals that are giving Republicans further ammunition in their fight against the president’s health care law. Harris noted that it could also be mismanaged by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has been soliciting private donations from businesses in order to encourage people to sign up for health care coverage.

Republicans claim her actions are illegal, because of federal laws preventing private donations from financing programs for which Congress has already refused funding.
However, HHS maintains her actions are legal, as the director is permitted to seek funding for health care issues.

“Of course, there are powerful interests who will do all they can to prop up Obamacare,” said Harris. “The Secretary of Health and Human Services has been pushing private companies — businesses she herself regulates — to help pay for the implementation of Obamacare. This raises all kinds of legal and ethical questions.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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