Entries in Politics (2)


Teacher Reportedly Takes Pro-Obama Position in Assigning Homework

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CLIFTON, Va.) -- The Fairfax County Public Schools system says there are no plans to discipline a middle school teacher after he was reported to have assigned his students work that involved researching the vulnerabilities of the Republicans running for president.

The conservative-leaning Daily Caller website reported Thursday that Liberty Middle School teacher Michael Denman told his eighth-grade students to find “weaknesses” among the GOP candidates and send their results to President Obama’s campaign.

John Torre, a spokesman for the school system, said the kids weren’t instructed to send their findings to the Democrats. Denman didn’t reply to an email requesting comment.

The school’s principal, Catherine Cipperly, sat down with Denman after parents complained of the assignment, which had already been completed, Torre said. Denman agreed to give his students the option of doing opposition research for candidates of either party if he assigns similar homework again, Torre said.

The Virginia Education Association provides guidance to teachers on how to assign work related to politics, and it says that teachers “must avoid involving their schools and students” in political activites.

“A government teacher has more latitude to engage students in discussion of political issues or to stage a mock election, for example, as long as the lessons fit the approved curriculum,” the association says in guidance written by its legal director. “Teachers in other content areas would likely be on shakier ground.”

John O’Neil, a spokesman for the VEA, said Denman is not a member of the association.

The Daily Caller quoted a student’s father, who didn’t give his name but said he has conservative leanings, as saying, “I was shocked that a school teacher would so blatantly politicize the curriculum of a middle school classroom.”

“Teachers acting in such manner need to be called out,” he told the publication.

Torre said parents have called for Denman to be fired but that the county has no plans to discipline him.

“There have been plenty of calls on this from parents, community members and from folks outside of the district,” Torre said.

The episode is different but still reminiscent of the furor that erupted among conservative parents when Obama announced that he would be giving a back-to-school speech to be broadcast in classrooms across the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Alabama Lawmakers Acquitted in Gambling Corruption Case

Hemera/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- All six defendants in a sweeping corruption prosecution, including three current and former Alabama state lawmakers, have been acquitted on charges of trading bribes for votes on gambling legislation.

In addition to the three current and former lawmakers, a powerful casino owner, a casino employee and a gambling interest lobbyist had been charged in the widespread alleged corruption scheme, according to ABC News Montgomery affiliate WNCF.

The first federal probe into the alleged corruption began in 2008, when then-state senator Paul Stanford, along with two other Republican legislators, went to the FBI claiming that not only had he personally been offered $250,000 as a bribe, but said there was widespread corruption in Alabama's statehouse.

"There's always a backdoor deal going on in somebody's office or in the corner of the chamber or over dinner with a lobbyist," Sanford said during an ABC News investigation in 2010. "There's always somebody working an unusual angle to try to sway your vote or entice you with a vote."

When several officials were arrested in 2010, Sanford called it a "dream come true" because the arrests "[told] the people of Alabama that integrity does matter."

The most recent case was the second time the officials had been in front of a jury -- a previous trial ended in August without decision for most defendants and with two others being acquitted. One other defendant, legislature bill writer Ray Crosby, died reportedly of natural causes in January before the retrial began.

Even before the 2010 arrests, authorities in Alabama said it was becoming clear that the lobbyists seeking help with bingo legislation were pressing the limits.

"If you're going to be in politics you're going to have to raise money but when it gets to the point that there's a quid pro quo -- I will give you this if you do that, then I think it's gone too far," Alabama Gov. Bob Riley told ABC News in 2010.

Riley first began waging a campaign to stop the spread of electronic bingo machines in 2008. He argued they were nothing more than slot machines. "I [think] anyone who has ever played bingo understands you can't play it in six seconds," he said.

After an electronic bingo bill passed in the state senate last spring, with several lawmakers switching their votes in the final hours, authorities began to harbor suspicions. Federal agents received permission to eavesdrop on suspects using wiretaps and convened a grand jury.

Reacting to the news of indictments, the governor's office released a statement calling the arrests "disappointing but hardly surprising."

But in the end, the defense for the remaining suspects argued that the case was based on lies told by those who already pleaded guilty who were hoping for less harsh punishment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio