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Tuesday
Aug192014

Gov. Rick Perry Booked on Felony Charges with 'Head Held High'

Travis County Sheriff's Office(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Mobbed by cameras and supporters chanting “Perry, Perry, Perry,” Texas Gov. Rick Perry sidled up to a podium outside the courthouse before turning himself in late Tuesday following an indictment filed against him last week for two felony charges.

“I’m here today because I believe in the  rule of law and I’m here today because I did the right thing. I’m going to enter this courthouse with my head held high, knowing that the actions that I took were not only lawful and legal but right,” Perry said to cheers outside the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in downtown Austin, Texas. ”And if I had to do so, I would veto funding for the public integrity unit again.”

“I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail. And we’ll prevail because we’re standing for the rule of law,” he added.

The Texas governor then proceeded inside the courthouse where he was set to be fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken. Perry stood in front of a light blue background as he had his mugshot taken. He took off his glasses and appeared to be smiling ever so slightly, with no teeth showing.

Following his booking, Perry spoke to reporters again, calling the indictment a “political act.”

“This indictment is fundamentally a political act that seeks to achieve in a courthouse what could not be achieved at the ballot box,” he said.

Perry’s booking comes just four days after he was first indicted on two felony counts – abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official.  The charges originate from Perry threatening to veto $7.5 million in funding for the state’s public integrity unit unless District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg resigned following a DWI conviction in 2013.

Perry’s arraignment is currently scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Friday, the same day he’s scheduled to appear in New Hampshire.

Michael Czin, national press secretary for the Democratic National Committee, said the booking was a “sideshow” for Perry and that he would be held responsible for his actions when he appears in court.

“This may be a sideshow to Rick Perry but no amount of spin can cover up two felony charges. When Rick Perry has his day in court, his case will be decided by the facts, not theatrics,” Czin said. “We look forward to the evidence being presented in court that convinced a jury of the Governor’s peers to indict.”

After being booked, Perry took to his Twitter account to share what he did next.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Hagel Looking into Program Involving Transfer of Equipment to Local Police

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is taking a deeper look into the longstanding program which allows that Pentagon to transfer excess equipment and weapons to local police given the images coming from Ferguson, Missouri, in recent days.

During a Tuesday briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said that Hagel had "asked for some more information so that he can have a more informed opinion" about the program. Kirby also outlined the equipment the Ferguson Police Department has received since 2007 -- including two Humvees, one generator and one cargo trailer. Other police departments in St. Louis County have received six pistols, 12 rifles, 15 weapon sights, an EOD robot, three helicopters, five Humvees and two night-vision devices.

While the Pentagon does hold spot checks to ensure local police departments keep proper inventory of the equipment received from the Pentagon, they "do not legislate, we don't dictate, we don't - we don't mandate any kind of certain use," Kirby said.

Still, Kirby noted, the Secretary of Defense has the power to rescind donations of equipment given to local police departments, and that not all requests are approved. "We don't push equipment on anyone," Kirby said, "There's a lot of due diligence here. Just because they ask for a helicopter doesn't mean they are going to get a helicopter."

Kirby did note that the program also affects counterdrug and counterterrorism activities in a positive way. "Some of this equipment saves lives," he noted, "Let's be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Former Obama Adviser David Plouffe Joins Uber

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(NEW YORK) -- Former Obama campaign manager and White House adviser David Plouffe is joining on-demand car service company Uber.

Plouffe joins Uber as senior vice president of policy and strategy in September, tasked with leading a campaign to continue expanding the company's services to new cities and overseas.

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick announced the hiring of Plouffe on the company's blog. Plouffe, in turn, said that he is "thrilled" to be joining the Uber team, stating his belief that Uber can "spur the creation of hundreds of thousands of small businesses and directly create millions of jobs."

Both Kalanick and Plouffe cited the obstacles in Uber's path, including competition from the taxi industry. Plouffe called the current situation a "monopoly," accusing the taxi industry of wanting to "play the inside game to deny opportunity to those on the outside."

Still, Plouffe said, "Uber has the chance to be a once in a decade if not a once in a generation company."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Rick Perry to Turn Himself In on Charges He Abused His Power

Stewart F. House/Getty Images(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Texas Gov. Rick Perry will turn himself in Tuesday on charges that he abused his gubernatorial power, his attorneys said.

Perry, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, was indicted by a grand jury on two counts Friday. Prosecutors say he abused the power of his office by trying to force the resignation of a Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, who oversees the state’s public integrity unit.

The Texas governor faces charges of coercion and official oppression for vetoing funding for the state's public integrity unit last summer to force Lehmberg to leave office.

When he turns himself in on Tuesday, Perry is expected to be fingerprinted and have his mugshot taken. He will not be allowed to wear his glasses in the photo due to standard procedures, according to the Travis County Sheriff's Department.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

US Rejects International Criticism of Ferguson Police

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A State Department spokeswoman pushed back against countries like Egypt, Iran and China that have chided U.S. law enforcement for its handling of protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police shooting death of unarmed Michael Brown.

Marie Harf said such countries, which, at best, have mixed records on human rights and free speech, should avoid comparing themselves to the United States.

“We here in the United States will put our record for confronting our problems transparently and honestly and openly up against any other countries in the world,” Harf said. “When we have problems and issues in this country, we deal with them openly and honestly. We think that’s important, and I would encourage the countries you named particularly to do the same thing.”

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday urged authorities to use “restraint” against protesters, mimicking a similarly worded statement released by the White House in July 2013 when the United States advised Egypt to use discretion when dealing with supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Iran’s top religious figure, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, has posted frequently about Ferguson on his Twitter and Facebook pages in recent days, including a post Sunday that read, “You are not alone in your complaint against the oppressive govt of US; the US has oppressed many nations. #Ferguson.”

And China’s state-run newspaper Xinhua published an op-ed urging the United States to stop criticizing other nations, like China, for its human rights and free speech abuses.

“Obviously, what the United States needs to do is to concentrate on solving its own problems rather than always pointing fingers at others,” it read.

Harf declined to address each country’s critique individually.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Missouri Sens. McCaskill, Blunt to Join Eric Holder in Ferguson

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General Eric Holder will have company when he travels to Ferguson, Missouri on Wednesday amid the ongoing clashes between protesters and police there following the shooting death of unarmed teen Michael Brown.

Sens. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will both join Holder in the St. Louis suburb, aides to both senators confirm.

President Obama is sending Holder to Ferguson to meet with FBI and Department of Justice officials working the case.

When asked by ABC News Radio's White House correspondent Ann Compton why he doesn't go to the city, Obama replied on Monday, "The DOJ works for me when they are doing an investigation and I got to make sure I don't look like I'm putting thumb on the scales one way or the other."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Paul Ryan Implores GOP to Offer a ‘Meaningful Choice’ in 2016

United States House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- For Rep. Paul Ryan, the lesson of the Republican loss in the 2012 presidential election was the need for the GOP to offer Americans “a meaningful choice” on Election Day, even if he isn’t the next Republican presidential candidate.

“This isn’t just a ‘me’ book about me, this is an ‘us’ book about how America needs to tackle its challenges,” Ryan told ABC News’ Ann Compton in an interview to promote his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea.

“Regardless of who runs for what in 2016, this book is meant to offer the country a meaningful choice and an alternative to the path we are on,” said Ryan, who has not ruled out a future presidential bid.

The new book, he said, articulates “full-spectrum conservatism” though a mix of step-by-step policy proposals and memoir.

“It’s not enough to just to be critical and criticize the president or the left as a conservative,” Ryan said. “Show them your ideas. Show them how you would do things different.”

In Washington’s partisan political climate, Ryan said, leaders of both parties need a change of tone.

“Too many of our politics are based on dividing people. They’re based on feeding on darker emotions like fear, envy, anxiety,” he said. “We need political leadership that appeals to our better emotions.”

The Wisconsin Republican begins a nine-day national book tour Wednesday in Philadelphia. Ryan will reunite with 2012 running-mate Mitt Romney Thursday for a Chicago book signing and discussion.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

The Primary Primer: Five Races to Watch in Alaska and Wyoming

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- WHO’S ON THE BALLOT? On Tuesday, voters cast ballots in Alaska and Wyoming. The marquee race to watch is a three-way bitter GOP Senate primary in our nation’s 49th state. Alaskan voters will decide between the establishment front-runner, a tea partier with Sarah Palin’s backing, and Alaska’s lieutenant governor.  Also in the state, a young upstart in an Alaskan primary tries to take on the longest-serving Republican in the House and there’s a contentious ballot measure.  In Wyoming, there’s a Senate primary race that may be lower profile since Liz Cheney dropped out, but there’s a gubernatorial primary, and much more.  

Here are five races to watch and one ballot measure to keep an eye on:


THE FROZEN PRIMARY: Alaska’s Republican Senate primary is not only one of the most closely watched and contentious this cycle, it will also select the Republican nominee to face Democratic Sen. Mark Begich in November. WHY IT MATTERS: This race could decide control of the Senate and could be the tightest this cycle. There are three viable contenders and with little polling, Dan Sullivan may be the favored front-runner, but it’s still anybody’s game. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin shook up the race Friday by backing tea party favorite,  attorney Joe Miller. She backed him in 2010, but it’s different this time around as Sullivan was her attorney general appointee in 2009. Before his time as Alaska’s attorney general, Sullivan worked as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Sullivan, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Reserves, is also an attorney and the former natural resources commissioner in the state. The front-runner has been dogged by his Ohio upbringing and his critics have called him a carpetbagger, although he’s been here since 1997 (leaving once for seven years to work in Washington, D.C.) and neither of his opponents were born in the 49th state, unlike Begich. Miller moved just two years before in 1995 while Treadwell has been in the state 40 years. He’s up against Miller, who was the 2010 GOP nominee when he beat Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a primary shocker. He lost when Murkowski ran a successful write-in campaign. Miller had spooked the GOP for awhile, refusing to rule out an independent bid if he didn’t win on Tuesday, but last week he said he would back one of his Republican rivals if he loses the primary. The third candidate is Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell who has been going door to door to try and sway voters. Sullivan, who is backed by establishment figures like Karl Rove, has bested his rivals in fundraising raising $4 million to Treadwell’s $1.2 million and Miller’s less than $328,000. He’s also run television ads for months and has a more sophisticated get-out-the vote operation, which includes paid aides with national political experience on top of local volunteers. But, Alaska is notoriously difficult to poll and front-runner status may mean nothing when it comes to this Alaska brawl. Another possible factor: there are two Dan Sullivans on today’s ballot. Yes, you read that right. There’s the Dan Sullivan running for Senate and then the Dan Sullivan, currently the mayor of Anchorage who is running for lieutenant governor. Sullivan’s Senate ads have had to waste precious seconds clarifying, but it is still confusing. Both are Republicans and this could play a complicating role today, but it’s hard to tell now what that could be. The victor will not only face Begich, but also at least four other minor party candidates. Both the Libertarian and Alaskan Independence Party candidates have contested primaries and will be on the ballot in November, likely a help to Begich, who face no serious primary challenger Tuesday.

AN INCUMBENT CHALLENGE IN WYOMING: Gov. Matt Mead is seeking a second term, but he has two Republican challengers in today’s GOP gubernatorial primary in Wyoming. WHY IT MATTERS: Mead is facing off against state superintendent of  public instruction and tea party favorite Cindy Hill and Dr. Taylor Haynes, a rancher and retired urologist. Haynes has called for the removal of federal control from all land in the state. Mead has run against federal overreach in Wyoming and opposition to Obamacare, while  Hill’s candidacy is more of a personal cause and a hint at how contentious this primary has become. Her run is inspired by legislation Mead signed last year which removed her as the head of the state Department of Education after a series of problems. The Wyoming Supreme Court reversed her removal this year. The victor on Tuesday will face Pete Gosar, the former Wyoming Democratic Party chairman, but the GOP winner is the likely general election victor as well because a Democrat hasn’t held a statewide office in Wyoming in almost four years. Plus the GOP has over three times as many registered Republicans in the state. Mead is expected to win, but Hill may cut into his margin of victory more than an incumbent would like.

THE OTHERS:

ALASKA’S AT-LARGE HOUSE SEAT: In Alaska, everyone knows Rep. Don Young. He’s Alaska’s only member of the U.S. House and at 81 years old is currently the longest-serving Republican in the House. The newly engaged Young has been rebuked for violating House ethics rules, but is expected to easily advance over little-known GOP primary challengers Tuesday on his way to a 22nd term.  There is a Democratic primary and 29-year-old Ivy-League educated Forrest Dunbar is the favorite and has the backing of the state Democratic party. He faces perennial candidate Frank Vondersaar. Dunbar is a judge advocate general in the Alaska Army National Guard. He interned for then-Sen. Frank Murkowski when he was 17, spent two years in the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan, and has degrees from Yale Law School and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Young is still heavily favored in November and he has served in Congress longer than Dunbar has been alive. Dunbar runs on the slogan “Run, Forrest, Run” and argues the long-serving Young is no longer effective. Along with better care for veterans, Dunbar wants to make same-sex marriage legal in the 49th state.  Young has raised over $631,000 to Dunbar’s less than $94,000.

WYOMING SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY: This race immediately became lower profile, less exciting, and much less contentious when Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, dropped her bid in January to challenge incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi. Her short-lived campaign was a political shocker when she decided to challenge Enzi, but after several missteps and even some family drama she abandoned her bid citing family health issues. Enzi now only faces token opposition from four GOP opponents including  a self-described soldier of fortune, an oil company worker, a retired Air Force officer and energy consultant, and the fourth is a completely unknown candidate.  There are also four Democrats: a former priest, a contractor worker, a retired sign painter and a fourth candidate from Brooklyn (yes, New York) vying for the chance to face Enzi, but in this red state, the incumbent is likely to sail to victory.

WYOMING’S AT-LARGE HOUSE SEAT: Like Alaska, Wyoming only has one U.S. House seat and incumbent GOP Rep. Cynthia Lummis, 59, is seeking a fourth term, but she is facing a political newcomer, Jason Senteney, today. Senteney, 36, is a corrections officer and volunteer firefighter. Lummis was first elected in 2008 and easily won re-election in 2010 and 2012. Senteney is running on support for a flat tax, while Lummis has decried what she calls federal overreach. It’s likely Lummis will sail to victory and she has no Democratic candidate from Wyoming facing her in November. Richard Grayson, a Democrat and political gadfly from Arizona is on the ballot, but has already said he has no hope of winning.

WHAT ELSE ARE WE WATCHING?


ALASKA’S BALLOT MEASURE NUMBER ONE: Alaskans will also vote today to decide if the state’s old system for taxing oil companies is better than the new system and it’s stirred up passion and action on both sides. The old one championed by then-Gov. Sarah Palin passed in 2007 and it was her hallmark achievement in office. The new system was only passed last year and is pushed by current-Gov. Sean Parnell, who was her lieutenant governor and succeeded her when she resigned in 2009. The goal of Parnell’s plan is to attract more investment from oil companies and what supporters say will increase drilling in the state’s North Slope, where production has declined. It replaced the production tax created under Palin titled “Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share” or ACES. The oil companies hate Palin’s plan with critics blasting the progressive surcharge as discouraging new investment in oil production. It has brought together the strange bedfellows of Palin and some of the most liberal lawmakers and residents of the 49th state. She weighed in last week on both her Facebook page and her new subscription web channel saying Parnell’s law should be repealed and decrying “outside” influences.  “We own the energy sources per our Constitution, and we violate our state’s blueprint that creates security and prosperity when we wave the white flag and give in to every demand of multinational corporations doing business up here,” Palin wrote. Supporters of ACES say the oil belongs to the state and it’s the state, not oil companies, that should profit from the drilling in Alaska. Critics of Parnell’s law says it gives massive tax breaks and incentives to the oil industry at the expense of revenues that could go to the state, while supporters say it needs more time to succeed and it will ensure jobs for Alaskans. The oil companies support Parnell’s plan and have outspent the supporters of Palin’s plan by 10 to 1.  Under the state constitution oil resources are owned by state residents, but critics who want to repeal the new law say it could put that fact of Alaska life at risk in some circumstances. The ballot measure is so contentious and high profile it could actually boost voter turnout in traditionally low turnout primaries. The three GOP Senate candidates: Sullivan, Miller, and Treadwell all support staying with Parnell’s plan while Begich has not weighed in, saying it’s up to Alaskans to decide.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Poll: Whites and Blacks Not in Sync on Michael Brown Shooting

Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A Pew research poll finds wide differences between black and white Americans over various aspects of the shooting of unarmed Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown, who witnesses say was gunned down by a local cop.

Overall, 44 percent of the 1,000 respondents questioned say the case that has resulted in civil unrest in Ferguson raised important issues about race. Eighty percent of blacks concurred with that assessment, compared to 37 percent of whites.

Meanwhile, four in 10 of Pew respondents believe the incident is getting too much attention. Just 18 percent of blacks and 47 percent of whites agreed with that statement.

As for the police response to the protests over Brown's death, blacks by a two-to-one margin over whites feel law enforcement has overreacted. Twenty percent of blacks and 32 percent of whites contend the police response has been justified.

Regarding the investigation into the shooting, 76 percent of blacks and a third of whites don't have confidence in the probe up to now, while 52 percent of whites and 18 percent of blacks say they have either a great deal or fair amount of confidence.

Breaking it down by party lines, Republicans are more apt than Democrats to say the case has gotten too much attention and that the police response has been justified.  GOP voters are also more confident in the investigation of the case than Democrats.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug192014

Federal Judge Denies ACLU Challenge to Tactics Used Against Ferguson Protesters

iStock/Thinkstock(SAINT LOUIS) -- A federal judge in Missouri on Monday night rejected an ACLU challenge that would have put a stop to certain tactics being used by the Missouri State Highway Patrol against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.

According to a release from Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the ACLU sought to prevent the state highway patrol from enforcing requirements that protesters remain moving unless they are gathered in an "organized protest area." Koster argued against the ACLU motion, calling the requirement a measure "designed to protect public safety."

Judge Catherine Perry of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri heard arguments from Koster and the ACLU and determined that the existing requirement was proper.

"The vast majority of protestors, we have seen are peaceful," Koster said in a statement. "However, law enforcement has repeatedly encountered groups employing violence against officers, businesses, and threatening the citizens of Ferguson." He also cited a threat against the Unified Command Center on Sunday night, saying that public safety required "reasonable measures."

"This restriction is as narrowly tailored as the gunfire and violence along West Florissant Avenue will allow," Koster said.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio