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Posts tagged ‘Rod Blagojevich’

Christie Blasts ‘Washington Attitude’ But Doesn’t Mention Scandals in Inaugural.


Image: Christie Blasts 'Washington Attitude' But Doesn't Mention Scandals in Inaugural

Governor Chris Christie didn’t mention the New Jersey controversies threatening a possible 2016 presidential run as he began his second term by blasting political gamesmanship and called for bipartisan compromises.

“We cannot fall victim to the attitude of Washington,” the 51-year-old Republican said in remarks prepared for his inaugural address in Trenton. “The attitude that says I am always right and you are always wrong. The attitude that puts everyone into a box they are not permitted to leave. The attitude that puts political wins ahead of policy agreements. The belief that compromise is a dirty word.”

Challenges such as investigations of his office’s Hurricane Sandy spending and ties to politically motivated traffic jams come “out of nowhere, to test you,” Christie said last week. This weekend, another arose as a mayor accused his administration of threatening to withhold disaster aid unless she endorsed a redevelopment project. Today, with snow bearing down, the 51-year-old governor canceled an inaugural celebration at Ellis Island, a high-profile venue that had been taken as a sign that he might court a national electorate.

The governor and his family attended a prayer service today at Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church. The pastor, the Rev. Joe A. Carter, reminded the audience that hardships are ever present.

“All of us, at one time or another, have to deal with times of testing and seasons of frustration,” Carter said.

Muted Tones

The governor, ordinarily a clear-voiced, high-energy speaker, has appeared tired since Jan. 9, the day he told reporters he was “a sad guy” during an almost two-hour news conference to address the jams on the George Washington Bridge.

“He knows he’s in trouble,” said Peter Woolley, a politics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey. “He’s concerned that long-time friends and associates are clearly in trouble.”

Christie’s calls for smaller government and lower taxes made him a national figure during his first term. He turned down calls to run for president in 2011, but hasn’t ruled out a 2016 bid. He became chairman of the Republican Governors Association in November.

“I do not believe that New Jerseyans want a bigger, more expensive government that penalizes success and then gives the pittance left to a few in the name of income equity,” he said today after taking the oath of office. “What New Jerseyans want is an unfettered opportunity to succeed in the way they define success. They want an equal chance at the starting; not a government guaranteed result.”

Broad Assessment

Last month, Christie was neck and neck with Democrat Hillary Clinton, 48 percent to 46 percent, in a CNN/ORC International poll based on a hypothetical 2016 presidential race. The edge was within the margin of error.

Now he is at the center of an inquiry unprecedented in the New Jersey governor’s office. Democrats, who control both houses of the legislature, are examining whether Christie or members of his administration had knowledge of the lane closings and whether they tried to cover it up.

Legislative committees on Jan. 16 issued 20 subpoenas to individuals and organizations.

Bridge Game

The administration’s ties to the traffic messes came to light in a cache of e-mails and text messages obtained on Jan. 8 by news outlets. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote on Aug. 13 to David Wildstein, a Christie ally at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the George Washington Bridge. “Got it,” Wildstein replied.

For four days starting Sept. 9, two of three access lanes from Fort Lee to the bridge were closed. Typical half-hour delays on the New Jersey side stretched to four hours or more.

Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who hadn’t joined colleagues to cross party lines and endorse Christie for re- election, asked the governor’s appointees at the Port Authority whether he was being punished. He got no answer.

On Jan. 9, a day after the e-mail trail was published, Christie apologized and said he was “outraged” and “saddened” by lies within his administration. The governor said he had nothing to do with the tie-ups.

His troubles grew Jan. 13, when the independent inspector general of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it was auditing Christie’s expenditure of $25 million in federal Sandy disaster aid on a “Stronger Than The Storm” ad campaign featuring Christie, his wife and their four children.

New Accusation

Then, this weekend, Hoboken’s mayor accused Christie’s administration of muscling her over the redevelopment project.

Christie’s office immediately rebutted the claims by Dawn Zimmer, a Democrat. But Zimmer said in a statement that she met Jan. 19 with federal investigators.

Her allegations will be included in lawmakers’ probe, said Assemblyman John Wisniewski, a Democrat co-leading the probe. The Assembly and Senate plan to conduct a joint investigation with help from Reid Schar, the lead prosecutor in the corruption trials of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Christie ran up record public approval in the wake of Sandy in October 2012. He beat his Democratic challenger, state Senator Barbara Buono, by 22 percentage points in November.

“It matters what the public believes,” said Woolley of Fairleigh Dickinson. “It’s the tide of public opinion that will stay with him or turn against him. Where that tide turns, or doesn’t, is not always on the facts of the case.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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Chicago district disappointed in ex-congressman.


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CHICAGO (AP) — Residents in this swath of sprawling Chicagoneighborhoods and suburbs have brimmed with loyalty to Jesse Jackson Jr. over the past 17 years, giving him an enthusiastic majority each election — even after questionable links to ex-Gov.Rod Blagojevich, reports of an extramarital affair and a bizarre five-month medical leave.

But the former congressman’s guilty plea to charges that he lived off and lavishly spent campaign money for personal use — on everything from toilet paper to mink capes — has turned the tide. In territory where it was difficult to scrape up any criticism of Jackson, his Chicago alderman wife or his famous civil rights leader father, the mood is now simply one of disappointment.

“He knew better; it was a very stupid thing to do,” said 75-year-oldJeannette Reese, shaking her head as she grocery-shopped at a busy shopping complex. “He and his father came to our church. I thought he was the real thing.”

Reese said she had voted for the younger Jackson for years.

Jackson, who resigned from office in November, pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Washington to criminal charges that he engaged in a scheme to spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal items. He faces up to 57 months — more than four years — in prison and a fine, under a plea deal with prosecutors.

It was an emotional day for Jackson, 47, who held back tears as he addressed the federal judge, just hours before his wife pleaded guilty to filing false joint federal income tax returns that knowingly understated the income the couple received. She faces up to two years in prison and a fine.

“I did these things,” Jackson told the judge, adding later, “Sir, for years I lived in my campaign.”

Jackson first won office in a 1995 special election and developed widespread support from mayors who said he delivered and constituents who valued his family legacy and said he gave them a voice. That support persevered even through an intense primary challenge last year from former one-term U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson who made Jackson’s ethical troubles central to her campaign. He came away with the easy majority even as he remained under a House Ethics Committee investigation for ties to Blagojevich, who’s serving a federal prison sentence on allegations that he tried to profit from President Barack Obama’s former U.S. Senate Seat.

Even the most loyal Jackson supporters who praised him for bringing home nearly $1 billion in federal funding to the district were rattled.

“I hate that circumstances ended up like they did,” said Ford Heights Mayor Charles Griffin. His small community south of Chicago — one of Illinois’ poorest — got a boost in its water system because of Jackson.

Still, Griffin did not want to pile on criticism. “His situation is between the court system and the family,” the mayor said.

Next week, voters in the heavily Democratic district head to the polls in a special primary to replace him. The crowded field of candidates includes Halvorson, former state Rep. Robin Kelly and Chicago Alderman Anthony Beale.

Jackson is scheduled to be sentenced June 28 and his wife on July 1. Both Jacksons, who maintain homes in Washington and Chicago, are free until sentencing.

More details emerged in a 22-page statement compiled by prosecutors and filed Wednesday. In it, Jackson admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy thousands of personal items worth $582,772.58 from 2005 through April of last year. The most lavish purchases included the spending of more than $43,000 on a gold-plated men’s Rolex watch.

Court papers said more than $60,000 was shelled out for restaurant, nightclub and lounge outings. Money was also spent on a washer, a dryer, a range and a refrigerator for the Jacksons’ Chicago home.

Jackson even arranged for the use of campaign money to buy two mounted elk heads for his congressional office, according to court documents.

Jackson entered the courtroom Wednesday holding hands with his wife and looking a bit dazzled as he surveyed the packed room. He kissed his wife and headed to the defense table.

After the hearing he shouted to a reporter: “Tell everybody back home I’m sorry I let them down, OK?”

The Chicago Democrat disappeared from the public eye last June for a medical leave, though details on his condition and location were always scarce. Doctors later said he suffers from bipolar disorder and was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

His attorney said after the court appearance that Jackson’s health is “not an excuse” for his actions, “just a fact.” Jackson’s father has said that his son remains under strict medical supervision.

One attorney, Reid Weingarten, told reporters after the hearing that there’s reason for optimism.

“A man that talented, a man that devoted to public service, a man who’s done so much for so many, has another day,” he said. “There will be another chapter in Jesse Jackson’s life.”

___

Associated Press writers Frederic J. Frommer and Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By SOPHIA TAREEN | Associated Press

Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. due back at Mayo Clinic for more tests.


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CHICAGO (Reuters) – Embattled U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., who is being treated for bipolar disorder, will return to the Mayo Clinic this week for a re-evaluation by his doctors, his father, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, said on Sunday.

The civil rights leader and former presidential candidate did not give a specific day when his son, a nine-term Illinois Democrat, would return to the clinic, or say whether he would be re-admitted to the facility.

“That has not yet been determined. It’s a re-evaluation of his status and that will then determine what should happen,” the elder Jackson told Reuters.

Congressman Jackson, 47, was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, this summer for bipolar disorder, a psychological condition marked by extreme mood swings, and has been on medical leave from the House of Representatives since June.

Since leaving the hospital last month to continue his recovery at home in Washington, the lawmaker has been seeing two doctors a day and “struggling with his own desire to get back to his work, which … seems to be premature if he does not have strength to handle that challenge,” his father said.

The younger Jackson made his first public statement about his absence in an automated “robocall” to constituents on Saturday, saying he was anxious to return to work.

“But at this time, it’s against medical advice. And while I will always give my all to my constituents, I ask you to continue with your patience as I work to get my health back,” he said.

Jackson’s congressional office confirmed on Wednesday that he remains on the ballot for the November 6 election, which he is favored to win. He has not been campaigning for the heavily Democratic Chicago-area seat he has held since 1995.

In addition to his health issues, Jackson has been the subject of a congressional ethics committee probe over an alleged bribe offered by a Jackson supporter in 2008 to then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The bribe was said to be intended to entice Blagojevich into appointing Jackson to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who has since been convicted on corruption charges and imprisoned.

According to news reports citing unnamed sources, Jackson is also under investigation by the FBI over possible misuse of campaign money. The FBI has not confirmed this.

Jackson’s Republican challenger, Brian Woodworth, urged voters to pray for Jackson’s recovery but said the district needs to elect someone who can be a voice for constituents.

His possible return to the Mayo Clinic shows “he is not getting better and it’s another indication that says he’s not going to be ready to serve, even when January comes around,” Woodworth told Reuters.

Repeated calls to Jackson’s congressional and campaign representatives went unanswered. His father said he could not give a timeline on when Jackson would recover and get back to work.

(Reporting by Renita D. Young; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Steve Gorman and Mohammad Zargham)

Source: YAHOO NEWS.

By Renita D. Young | Reuters

Pharmacists’ Victory in Illinois Caps Seven-Year Fight for Conscience Rights.


pharmacist
(ACLJ)

The Illinois Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s injunction against the State of Illinois on Friday that protects the right of pro-life pharmacy owners to refuse to stock and sell the morning-after pill and similar drugs that interfere with the development of human life at its earliest stages.

In Morr-Fitz, Inc. et al., v. Pat Quinn, Governor, et al., the court held that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act “protects plaintiffs’ decisions not to dispense emergency contraceptives due to their conscience beliefs.”

The plaintiffs, Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog, owners of three pharmacies between them, have been fighting a state mandate that they stock and sell the “morning-after pill” since 2005. The ACLJ is co-counsel for the pharmacies and their owners, along with Mark Rienzi, Esq. of the Becket Fund.

In April, 2005, then Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an “Emergency Rule” mandating that pharmacies fill prescriptions for drugs, including emergency contraception, “without delay.” The Emergency Rule became a final administrative rule later that year. After the Rule was finalized, Kosirog and Vander Bleek sued the governor and other state officials claiming that the regulation violated their rights under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, one of the country’s most comprehensive set of protections for the rights of conscience in the health care arena.

After going to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in 2008 that Kosirog and Vander Bleek had standing to challenge the rule, the case went back to the trial court which, in March of 2011, entered an injunction blocking enforcement of Blagojevich’s Rule. Today, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the permanent injunction as to Kosirog and Vander Bleek, allowing them the freedom not to comply with the Rule.

In arriving at its decision, the court relied in part on a case brought by the ACLJ in 2006, Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores. In that case, a federal court ruled that a pharmacist who refused to dispense emergency contraception because of his religious and conscientious beliefs fell under the protection of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

Both these cases are part of a long line of litigation that the ACLJ has brought on behalf of pro-life health care professionals over the past decade and a half in both federal and state courts. The ACLJ seeks to defend such professionals who are on the front lines of the pro-life battle. While most of us enjoy the freedom to profess pro-life views without much fear of an immediate personal toll, when doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers take a pro-life stand, it can cost them their jobs and livelihoods.

With a permanent injunction in place, Kosirog and Vander Bleek have the legal right to run their pharmacies according to the dictates of their conscience without interference from state officials. Considering the ongoing, nationwide litigation pending against the HHS Mandate, today’s decision is a welcome one indeed. While the decision turned on the application of state only, it shows that courts will protect the rights of conscience when the legal authority is clear. We are confident that the federal courts will do the same against the HHS Mandate.

Click here to read the original article at ACLJ.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

FRANCES J. MANION/ACLJ

Pharmacists’ Victory in Illinois Caps Seven-Year Fight for Conscience Rights.


pharmacist
(ACLJ)

The Illinois Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s injunction against the State of Illinois on Friday that protects the right of pro-life pharmacy owners to refuse to stock and sell the morning-after pill and similar drugs that interfere with the development of human life at its earliest stages.

In Morr-Fitz, Inc. et al., v. Pat Quinn, Governor, et al., the court held that the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act “protects plaintiffs’ decisions not to dispense emergency contraceptives due to their conscience beliefs.”

The plaintiffs, Luke Vander Bleek and Glenn Kosirog, owners of three pharmacies between them, have been fighting a state mandate that they stock and sell the “morning-after pill” since 2005. The ACLJ is co-counsel for the pharmacies and their owners, along with Mark Rienzi, Esq. of the Becket Fund.

In April, 2005, then Governor Rod Blagojevich issued an “Emergency Rule” mandating that pharmacies fill prescriptions for drugs, including emergency contraception, “without delay.” The Emergency Rule became a final administrative rule later that year. After the Rule was finalized, Kosirog and Vander Bleek sued the governor and other state officials claiming that the regulation violated their rights under the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the state’s Health Care Right of Conscience Act, one of the country’s most comprehensive set of protections for the rights of conscience in the health care arena.

After going to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled in 2008 that Kosirog and Vander Bleek had standing to challenge the rule, the case went back to the trial court which, in March of 2011, entered an injunction blocking enforcement of Blagojevich’s Rule. Today, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the permanent injunction as to Kosirog and Vander Bleek, allowing them the freedom not to comply with the Rule.

In arriving at its decision, the court relied in part on a case brought by the ACLJ in 2006, Vandersand v. Wal-Mart Stores. In that case, a federal court ruled that a pharmacist who refused to dispense emergency contraception because of his religious and conscientious beliefs fell under the protection of the Illinois Health Care Right of Conscience Act.

Both these cases are part of a long line of litigation that the ACLJ has brought on behalf of pro-life health care professionals over the past decade and a half in both federal and state courts. The ACLJ seeks to defend such professionals who are on the front lines of the pro-life battle. While most of us enjoy the freedom to profess pro-life views without much fear of an immediate personal toll, when doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health care workers take a pro-life stand, it can cost them their jobs and livelihoods.

With a permanent injunction in place, Kosirog and Vander Bleek have the legal right to run their pharmacies according to the dictates of their conscience without interference from state officials. Considering the ongoing, nationwide litigation pending against the HHS Mandate, today’s decision is a welcome one indeed. While the decision turned on the application of state only, it shows that courts will protect the rights of conscience when the legal authority is clear. We are confident that the federal courts will do the same against the HHS Mandate.

Click here to read the original article at ACLJ.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

FRANCES J. MANION/ACLJ

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