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Arizona Republican Paul Babeu slammed for abusive treatment of students at school he ran (February 5, 2016, 06:52 PM)

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu was already one of the most despicable human beings running for Congress this year, but now he's cemented his hold on the very bottom spot. Before moving to Arizona, Babeu served as headmaster of the DeSisto School, a private school for troubled youth in his home state of Massachusetts. The school, known for treating students with an "intense discipline regimen," was a nightmarish disaster that shut down in 2004, after state investigators found massive violations of basic dignity like these:

The probe resulted in a court order to stop specific activities, including punishments that put students in chairs facing corners for hours at a time, withholding food from students and strip-searching. The court also ordered the school to stop group showers and allow students to use the bathroom in private.

That was all well-known when Babeu first sought the Republican nomination in Arizona's 4th Congressional district back in 2012?a bid that was derailed when a former lover of Babeu's, an unauthorized immigrant, alleged that Babeu had threatened him with deportation if he did not remain quiet about their relationship. Babeu denied the allegations but acknowledged he was gay and quit the race a few months later.

Babeu's now waging a second congressional bid (in a different district), and his DeSisto history has re-emerged thanks to a home video obtained by a local TV station, ABC15, in which Babeu spoke highly of the harsh punishment of the children under his care. ABC15 had investigated Babeu's tenure back in 2012, after which Babeu denied knowing anything about the school's abusive practices and had his lawyers send a threatening letter to the station.

But in this newly emerged video, taken at a family Christmas gathering in 1999, Babeu goes into great detail about what went on at DeSisto. He calls his students "bonkers" and explained, among other things, that they could be made to sit in a chair facing the corner of a room "for weeks." He also indicates that food might be withheld, saying students "have to be free of anything, any distraction, like food to TV, radio." To get better, he insists, "They need to feel hopeless and feel depression and complete failure." Babeu's claims to have known nothing about what was going on under him wouldn't have absolved him of responsibility even if true, but in any event, they are now rendered indisputably false.

And in a remarkable coincidence, the Massachusetts state attorney who ran the investigation of DeSisto is someone Babeu is now hoping will be his colleague a year from now: Democratic Rep. Katherine Clark. Should Babeu prevail, though, Clark's welcome won't be warm. In new comments, Clark accused Babeu of trying to "stonewall" her inquiry and just absolutely lacerated him:

"It was really just a cesspool of really horrendous practices towards children. I think it's rather appalling to think that he is overseeing people with badges and guns, and that he thinks he is fit to run for Congress." [?]

"It was ritualistic child abuse?a sort of lord of the flies situation, where some of the children were groomed into positions of disciplining other children, including some really egregious things like students strip searching other student when they arrived at the school."

Added Clark, "The things that went on at that school still really haunt me, and I think they should haunt him." Babeu, however, continues to dispute just about everything, claiming yet again that he had "no involvement in discipline or student affairs." That's utterly belied by this new video, and it's going to be a hard line to keep taking. If there's any justice, he'll ride it to another ignominious failure.


Daily Kos Elections weekly open thread: Which Republican presidential candidate will drop out next? (February 5, 2016, 06:37 PM)

 David Bowie ? ?Rebel Rebel?

The March to Madness continues! With Santorum, Huckabee, and Rowdy Randy Paul all hitting the eject button on their presidential campaigns this week, a fearsome field of nine remains. Who will be the next to drop out? Take our poll below.


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 2/5 (February 5, 2016, 09:00 AM)

Welcome to the Daily Kos Elections Live Digest, your liveblog of all of today's campaign news.

Friday, Feb 5, 2016 · 4:25:02 PM +00:00 · Jeff Singer

NV-04: Ever since Sen. Harry Reid endorsed him last year, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen has been drowning in union endorsements. On Thursday, the powerful Culinary Union joined in and threw its support behind Kihuen. Culinary represents workers at most of the resorts on the Las Vegas strip, and their backing can definitely make a big difference in the Democratic primary to face freshman Republican Cresent Hardy.

Kihuen doesn?t have a clear path to the Democratic nod though. Philanthropist Susie Lee has been partially self-funding her bid, and she had a $647,000 to $373,000 cash-on-hand lead over Kihuen at the end of 2015. Ex-Assembly Speaker John Oceguera and ex-Assemblywoman Lucy Flores are also seeking this seat. Neither of them has raised much money but thanks in part to self-funding, Oceguera has $204,000 in the bank.

Flores, a former Reid protégé who badly lost the 2014 lieutenant governor?s race, has just $84,000 on hand. Flores drew some attention when she endorsed Bernie Sanders last month. (Kihuen is backing Hillary Clinton.) If Sanders supporters united behind her she could have a shot, but Nevada?s June congressional primary will be held months after the presidential caucus.

Whoever emerges with the Democratic nod will have a good chance to make it to Congress. Awful Democratic turnout helped Hardy win in 2014, but he won?t have a fun time in a presidential year. Obama carried this suburban Las Vegas seat 54-44, and 2012 Democratic Senate candidate Shelley Berkley won it 48-42 even as she was narrowly losing statewide. Hardy isn?t a particularity formidable fundraiser either. Hardy had $660,000 in the bank at the end of 2015, a whole lot less than other vulnerable freshman like Arizona?s Martha McSally, Florida?s Carlos Curbelo, or Maine?s Bruce Poliquin.


Morning Digest: Black Lives Matter activist Deray Mckesson joins race for Baltimore mayor (February 5, 2016, 08:00 AM)

Leading Off:

? Baltimore, MD Mayor: On Wednesday, literally minutes before candidate filing closed, Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson entered the crowded Democratic primary to become mayor of Baltimore. Mckesson gained prominence during the Ferguson protests in 2014, and he's utilized social media to get his message out. (Hillary Clinton notably called him a "social media emperor.") Mckesson, who is originally from Baltimore, was active in the demonstrations that followed after Freddie Gray died in police custody. Mckesson recently moved back to the city from the Midwest a few months ago.

The Democratic primary is April 26, and Mckesson faces plenty of competition. The best-known contender is ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon. Dixon resigned in 2009 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families. However, some early polls show her leading the rest of the field, and she has a credible amount of money in her campaign account. Businessman David Warnock is capable of self-funding, and he has more cash available than any of his foes.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh is well financed as well, and lawyer Elizabeth Embry also has some cash to burn. City Councilman Nick Mosby, the husband of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and fellow Councilor Carl Stokes are also in, though they haven't raised too much money. Warnock and Embry are white, while Mckesson, Dixon, Pugh, Mosby, and Stokes are black: In Baltimore, African Americans outnumber whites 63-32.

Mckesson isn't going to have an easy time winning, but Baltimore's election rules could give him a lift. It only takes a simple plurality to secure the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in this very blue city. A candidate with a small but loyal group of supporters could definitely do well in a crowded field. Mckesson will need to get his campaign together very quickly, but his ties to national Black Lives Activists will help him raise money. Indeed, less than 24 hours after he entered the race, Mckesson raised $39,000. Mckesson earned national media attention when he kicked off his bid, and he probably won't struggle to get noticed.

We have a while to go until April. Most of the candidates haven?t aired many ads yet, and voters haven't begun to tune in. But Mckesson's campaign adds a jolt to what was already shaping up to be a competitive race.


Prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson enters the race for mayor of Baltimore (February 4, 2016, 05:16 PM)

On Wednesday, literally minutes before candidate filing closed, prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson entered the crowded Democratic primary to become mayor of Baltimore. Mckesson gained prominence during the Ferguson protests in 2014, and he?s utilized social media to get his message out. (Hillary Clinton notably called him a ?social media emperor.?) Mckesson, who is originally from Baltimore, was active in the demonstrations that followed after Freddie Gray died in police custody. Mckesson recently moved back to the city from the Midwest a few months ago.

The Democratic primary is April 26, and Mckesson faces plenty of competition. The best-known contender is ex-Mayor Sheila Dixon. Dixon resigned in 2009 after she was convicted of stealing gift cards that were supposed to help needy families. However, some early polls show her leading the rest of the field, and she has a credible amount of money in her campaign account. Businessman David Warnock is capable of self-funding, and he has more cash available than any of his foes.

State Sen. Catherine Pugh is well-financed as well, and lawyer Elizabeth Embry also has some cash to burn. City Councilman Nick Mosby, the husband of Baltimore State?s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and fellow Councilor Carl Stokes are also in, though they haven?t raised too much money. Warnock and Embry are white while Mckesson, Dixon, Pugh, Mosby, and Stokes are black. In Baltimore, African Americans outnumber whites 63-32.

Mckesson isn?t going to have an easy time winning, but Baltimore?s election rules could give him a lift. It only takes a simple plurality to secure the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in this very blue city. A candidate with a small but loyal group of supporters could definitely do well in a crowded field. Mckesson will need to get his campaign together very quickly, but his ties to national Black Lives Activists will help him raise money. Indeed, less than 24 hours after he entered the race, Mckesson raised $39,000. Mckesson earned national media attention when he kicked off his bid, and he probably won?t struggle to get noticed.

We have a while to go until April, and none of the candidates have aired many ads yet, and voters haven?t begun to tune in. But Mckesson?s campaign adds a jolt to what was already shaping up to be a competitive race.


Daily Kos Elections 4Q 2015 House fundraising reports roundup (February 4, 2016, 02:08 PM)

Quarterly fundraising reports for federal candidates, covering the period from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, were due at the Federal Elections Commission on Sunday night. Below is our list of fundraising numbers for House candidates in all the key 2016 races. That includes, among others:

  • Races we expect to be competitive in this year's general elections
  • Open seats in otherwise safe districts with contested primaries
  • Under-the-radar contests where a candidate raised an unexpectedly high sum
  • Incumbents who might face a credible primary challenge (or recently have)
  • Incumbents who might retire or run for higher office

As always, all numbers are in thousands. An explanation of each column is below:

  • "CD" stands for congressional district.
  • "Raised" is the amount the candidate has received in donations from donors during the quarter, not including any self-funding or loans.
  • "Self Fund" is the amount of direct contributions a candidate has made to his or her own campaign. This number, if any, is not counted in the "Raised" column.
  • "Self Loan" is the amount of any loans a candidate has made to his or her own campaign. This number, if any, is not counted in the "Raised" column.
  • "CTD" indicates how much a candidate has raised cycle-to-date as of the end of the quarter. (This figure does not include self-funding or loans.)
  • "Spent" is the amount of money the campaign has spent during the quarter.
  • "CoH" stands for total cash-on-hand at the end of the quarter.

You can access our spreadsheet directly here. If you click through, you'll see two additional columns on the right-hand side. One is called ?Self Fund CTD,? which is the amount of direct contributions a candidate has made to his or her own campaign throughout the election cycle. (This number, if any, is not counted in the "CTD" column.) The other is called "Transfers." This column shows monetary transfers from other political committees. Ultimately, all money received from all sources (including transfers) is reflected in every candidate's cash-on-hand totals, less spending.

You can also find our earlier roundups for both the second and third quarters of 2015.


The Daily Kos Elections guide to every key international election in 2016 (February 4, 2016, 10:00 AM)

This fall, Americans will vote in an exciting and close presidential race that has already dominated the news for the better part of a year. However, many other countries are holding national elections this year, with consequences for hundreds of millions of people?and U.S. foreign relations?that make them worth following, too. Daily Kos Elections is therefore pleased to present our guide to national elections around the world this year.

Our focus is on executive and legislative races in countries whose elections are, by and large, free and fair, such as Taiwan or Ireland. However, we've also included some states whose electoral practices don't conform to traditional democratic norms but where, nevertheless, election outcomes are uncertain and can have an impact on how power is distributed and exercised. Iran is one such example. We don't discuss nations with entirely un-free sham elections, like Russia. (We've also left out a few microstates.)

A couple of notable countries have already held elections this year, but many more are on tap. Join us as we take a month-by-month look at what's on the 2016 ballot around the world (and be sure to check out our general explanatory notes at the end). You can also follow these links to jump directly to a particular country:

Australia ? Benin ? Dominican Republic ? France ? Georgia ? Ghana ? Haiti ? Iran ? Ireland ? Lithuania ? Macedonia ? Mongolia ? Montenegro ? Niger ? Peru ? Philippines ? Portugal ? Romania ? Serbia ? Slovakia ? South Korea ? Taiwan ? United Kingdom ? Zambia ? Notes


Daily Kos Elections Live Digest: 2/4 (February 4, 2016, 09:00 AM)

Welcome to the Daily Kos Elections Live Digest, your liveblog of all of today's campaign news.


Morning Digest: DC Democrats groan as ex-Rep. Joe Garcia tries to reclaim his old Miami seat (February 4, 2016, 08:01 AM)

Leading Off:

? FL-26: Miami-area freshman Republican Carlos Curbelo will be a top Democratic target, and national Democrats tried to clear the field for businesswoman Annette Taddeo. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer even outright urged two prospective candidates, ex-Rep. Joe Garcia and businessman Andrew Korge, to stay out. Well, he was half successful. While Korge originally insisted he would run here even after Hoyer's plea, he's announced that he'll challenge state Sen. Anitere Flores instead (see our FL State Senate item below for more on that race). However, Garcia, who lost to Curbelo last cycle under the old district lines, announced that he'd run again on Wednesday.

Garcia had a number of issues during his brief tenure. Most seriously, Garcia's former campaign manager went to prison after being convicted in a 2012 voter fraud scheme. While there's no evidence that Garcia knew about it, the whole matter didn't make him look good. Garcia also made some very weird mistakes in 2014 that drew some unwanted attention. When discussing how border security creates jobs, Garcia declared that, "[w]e've proved that Communism works." Garcia was being sarcastic, but it was the wrong thing to say in a district full of Cuban American voters who don't see communism as a laughing matter. 

Garcia also was caught on camera during a House Judiciary Committee appearing to pick his ear and eat what he found. Garcia claimed it was a hangnail, which isn't exactly appealing either. You can watch the video and decide for yourself? you know what, on second thought, just don't. Garcia lost his seat to Curbelo 51-49 during the GOP wave, which on the surface isn't so bad. However, gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist (who had Taddeo on his ticket as his running mate) carried the district 51-46 that same night.

Florida's congressional map was redrawn last year, and the 26th became quite a bit bluer. While Obama carried the old seat 53-46, he won the new version 55-44. Numbers like that are certainly daunting for Team Red, and even a flawed opponent like Garcia may not be enough to save Curbelo. However, this area is still friendly to local Republicans, and Curbelo has a hefty $1.5 million warchest. Taddeo had a little more than $460,000 on hand at the end of 2015, and she's going to need to spend some of it in the August primary. National Democrats will invest in this race in the fall, but they won't be happy that their preferred candidate will be distracted for the next few months.


How to prevent another Flint: Move gubernatorial elections to presidential years (February 3, 2016, 01:49 PM)

The ongoing toxic water crisis in Flint, Michigan, has underscored just how critical state and local politics can be. State Republicans, led by Gov. Rick Snyder, have long used their power to usurp local government authority by appointing unelected emergency managers in solidly Democratic cities, including Flint. Their aggressive gerrymandering has insulated their legislative majorities from public disapproval, even though the GOP habitually loses the statewide popular vote. Together, these measures have subverted the democratic process in Michigan.

However, there is a way to break the Republican stranglehold on state government and align Michigan?s policies more closely with its citizens? wishes: Move gubernatorial and state elections from midterms to presidential years.

Republicans benefit heavily when elections don?t coincide with the presidential cycle because voters who skip midterms tend to disproportionately lean Democratic. Sixty-five percent of eligible Michigan voters turned out in 2012, but without a presidential race on the ballot, turnout plummeted to just 43 percent in 2014. Snyder won a second term that year by just a 4 percent margin; with presidential turnout, he could very well have lost. It seems even likelier that he never would have won in the first place had Michigan elected its governor in 2008 and 2012, when Democrats easily won the state for president?as they have every year from 1992 on.

One new reform effort gaining steam in Michigan would use the ballot initiative process to move elections for governor (as well as other statewide offices and the state Senate) from midterm to presidential years starting in 2020. While still in its formative stages, an early poll shows voters favoring such a move by a 60 to 32 percent margin. Nonpartisan advocacy organizations such as Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, who?ve been instrumental in passing similar good-government reforms in other states, seem supportive of the idea as well.

It won?t be easy, though: Proponents would need to gather at least 315,654 valid signatures by July to place a constitutional amendment on the 2016 ballot. It's a tough but extremely worthwhile mission. For everyone who is justifiably enraged by what?s happened in Flint, this is a way to channel that anger into meaningful change. While this plan can?t fix the tragedy currently playing out before our eyes, it can prevent the next one by ensuring that Michiganders have a government responsive to their concerns.


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