Entries in Emails (13)


ICE Emails Show a Desire to Grow Criminal Deportation Stats

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- "Gang bangers." That's how President Barack Obama, while speaking at a November presidential debate, characterized the criminal immigrants who have been deported during his administration.

A recent news report, however, shows that immigration officials floated ideas last year aimed at buoying deportations stats by focusing on minor criminals.

Drawing on interviews and internal emails, USA Today's Brad Heath found that federal immigration officials suggested tactics that included "trolling state driver's license records for information about foreign-born applicants, dispatching U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to traffic safety checkpoints conducted by police departments, and processing more illegal immigrants who had been booked into jails for low-level offenses."

Heath links to a series of emails that show immigration officials searching for ways to meet deportations goals for the year. David Venturella, who oversaw ICE's field operations at the time, wrote in an agency email about keeping the stats high. "There is a lot of concern that criminal removals will fall below not only target but possibly lower than last year's output," he wrote.

Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for ICE, told USA Today that the agency "does not have quotas." She added that ICE sets "annual performance goals" that "reflect the agency's commitment to using the limited resources provided by Congress."

The Obama administration touts the record number of deportations under the president's watch, as well as a record number of criminal deportations. But whether the crimes that lead to deportation are serious or not is unclear. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has yet to release a detailed look at criminal deportations, spelling out exactly what crimes lead to a person being removed from the country.

In a set of yearly statistics published by the department, deportations are lumped together in broad categories. One category, "dangerous drugs," for example, could hypothetically include both those deported for a felony drug trafficking charge and those deported for a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge.

In September, ABC/Univision raised questions about the criminal deportation stats with David Burnham, the co-director of Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), an organization that gathers government data.

"The Obama administration claims that more of the people they're deporting have been convicted of a criminal violation, although our data says that may not be true," he said. "What they mean by a criminal violation is someone arrested bicycling on the sidewalk; really they've defined everything as criminal. And they're using that to get rid of people."

While it's unclear whether immigration officials adopted the tactics laid out in the email, the article cites David Venturella saying that some administration aides appeared to think producing higher criminal deportation numbers would help their careers. ICE spokeswoman Christensen told ABC/Univision that "few of the contemplated steps were ever pursued."

A memo obtained by USA Today mentions a proposal to comb driver's license databases in North Carolina for applicants who were denied licenses because they were unable to prove residency. Such a search "would provide a significant foreign-born target base" that could be vetted to find those with prior criminal convictions, the memo said. An ICE official told ABC/Univision in an email that the proposal was never enacted.

The emails featured in the USA Today report were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which was investigating allegations of racial profiling at immigration checkpoints in North Carolina.

Raul Pinto, a staff attorney with the ACLU of North Carolina, found the information worrisome.

"They thought that promotions were tied to those numbers," Pinto said. "So there really is an incentive for field officers to arrest as many people as possible and increase the deportation numbers by using questionable tactics."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Odd Obama Email Subject Lines Drew Huge Cash During Campaign

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Remember all those Obama campaign emails and their, shall we say, unusual subject lines?

“Hey,” wrote President Obama in at least five messages during the campaign.

“Hell yeah,” topped one note from strategist David Axelrod.

Beyonce Knowles teased in an inbox message, “I don’t usually email.”

And women’s rights activist Sandra Fluke provocatively reached out on “Legitimate rape.”

New data released by the campaign show that these and other catchy and casual phrases were hugely successful at getting Obama supporters to open the emails and click through to donate.

Most of the $690 million “Obama for America” raised through online fundraising came from direct email appeals, according to data provided by the president’s campaign exclusively to Bloomberg Businessweek and confirmed by ABC News.

The more casual and profane the tone, the campaign said, the more lucrative the blast.

Obama’s “Hey” subject-lined messages were the most effective pitches of all, though the campaign did not provide a specific dollar amount.

One Obama email blast from June 26 with the subject line, “I will be outspent,” raked in $2.5 million, the data provided to Bloomberg showed.  Other iterations of the same message sent under different subject headings -- e.g. “Thankful every day,” or, “Michelle time” -- were notably less successful, raking in $545,486 and $604,813, respectively.

The campaign relied on a staff of 20 full-time email writers who constantly drafted and experimented with different versions of appeals, officials said, sending them to small lists first to see what was most effective before mailing to a larger listserv of millions of names.

An October report by Return Path, an independent “email intelligence” group, found that Obama’s email campaign dwarfed that of GOP rival Mitt Romney in terms of scope and effectiveness.

The study found that Obama had 13 million email subscribers -- five times as many as Romney -- with a 68 percent inbox placement rate (evading spam filters).  Romney’s placement rate was just 50 percent, according to the group, which based its findings on a random sample of two million inboxes between Aug. 27 and Oct. 10.

All told, by ABC News’ count, Obama sent 65 fundraising emails under his name to his campaign listserv; Michelle Obama sent 35; Obama campaign manager Jim Messina sent 34; deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter sent 45; national field director Jeremy Bird sent 21; and former President Bill Clinton sent nine.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rep. Darrell Issa Demands Details on White House Email Use

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The powerful chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, Friday escalated a showdown with the White House over use of personal email accounts to conduct official government business.

In a letter to White House chief of staff Jack Lew, Issa requested the names of all administration staffers who have engaged in the practice, their email addresses and copies of work-related messages sent outside of government email servers.

Congressional Republicans and campaign aides to Mitt Romney have been alleging that members of the Obama White House, including former chief of staff Jim Messina, may have broken federal law by conducting official business through private accounts so as to avoid automatic archiving into the public record.

“The American people have a right to know that White House staff and federal officials are conducting the business of the government transparently and in accordance with record-keeping statutes,” Issa writes in the letter. He gave a deadline of Aug. 17 for his request.

Administration and Obama campaign officials insist they have obeyed all federal laws, forwarding business-related email from personal accounts into the White House servers for archiving.

“We all have personal email addresses, and for our longstanding relationships, they often use those personal email addresses,” said deputy Obama campaign manager and former White House adviser Stephanie Cutter on Wednesday.

“But at the White House we were all instructed for official business to just forward those emails into the White House system. And so that’s what we’ve all done.”

Issa, citing Cutter’s statement, said the apparent “often” use of private email accounts raises transparency concerns because the onus is on staff to do the forwarding -- a practice that is not subject to oversight.

“Unless all emails were forwarded to federal government (.gov) addresses or preserved as paper copies, there is a risk that records subject to the PRA or FRA were not retained as required by law,” he wrote.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the administration’s general counsel is reviewing the Issa letter and will “respond as appropriate.”

“Let’s be clear that this is nothing more than a nakedly political, taxpayer-funded effort designed to serve partisan interests, over an issue which House Republicans have already conceded is not serious,” Schultz said in a statement.

Democrats have pointed out that Issa and Republicans defended the George W. Bush administration against a similar inquiry in 2008. They also note that a Republican staff memo from the time noted “the White House is NOT required to preserve and retain every communication or piece of paper ever created” and that “oversight should not be a pretext for congressional micromanagement of executive branch functions.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Sticks By McGurk, Despite Racy Emails

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When sexually explicit emails first surfaced between Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s nominee to be the ambassador to Iraq, and a Wall Street Journal reporter who later became McGurk’s wife, the State Department refused to comment.

But now spokesperson Victoria Nuland is making it clear the State Department is sticking by its choice.

Nuland defended the nomination of McGurk calling him “uniquely qualified” for the position.

“He spent the better part of the last decade serving our country in and out of Iraq, working for a Republican administration, a Democratic administration,” she told reporters. “He is in our view uniquely qualified to serve as the ambassador and we urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination,” she said.

Nuland would not comment directly on the explicit nature of the emails, some of which included references to masturbation. The email exchanges were sent to Gina Chon in 2008 when McGurk was working in Iraq negotiating sensitive diplomatic issues such as the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. Chon was covering Iraq for the Journal. At the time McGurk was married. The blog Cryptome published their racy correspondence earlier this week. ABC News has confirmed the authenticity of the emails.

Senate sources tell ABC News that they have questions over whether McGurk was offering access to information and power, even jokingly, to Chon as part of their blooming relationship. For example in one email Chon jokingly refers to reporters as vultures attacking sources, to which he replies, “If treated to many glasses of wine -- you could be the chosen vulture.”

McGurk also talks about bringing the reporter with him to dinner with a leading Iraqi politician. He ultimately does not, but writes later, “I had a very good day with the Iraqi’s … the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course. But you should definitely stay past Sunday,” he writes.

McGurk and Chon are now married, a point Nuland made to reporters saying that she had no comment on the emails except that “they are out there for everyone to see between him and the woman who subsequently became his wife.”

As to whether McGurk was properly vetted, Nuland maintained that “all of the necessary things were done before his nomination” and managed with the exact same process the administration uses for all nominations.

Nuland would not comment specifically about Republican Senate criticism of the emails and McGurk’s nomination, but confirmed that the department is continuing to work with members of Congress over McGurk’s nomination process, “in support of it as we do on all nominees.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Perry’s Campaign Circulates Internal Romney Campaign E-mail

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Rick Perry’s campaign was quick to circulate an e-mail Wednesday that’s been making the rounds within the campaign of another presidential contender -- Mitt Romney.

Perry’s press team sent reporters an “In Case You Missed It” e-mail originally sent from the Mitt Romney “War Room” to a list of undisclosed recipients.  The e-mail highlighted an article about Perry’s recent defense to questions of his intelligence, saying President Ronald Reagan was also cast as dumb by critics.

When asked if this was a shot across the bow at Romney, Perry’s campaign told ABC News, “You can interpret it however you’d like.”

“It’s their e-mail that they’re comparing Reagan to, highlighting the comparison of President Reagan and Gov. Perry,” Mark Miner, a spokesman for Perry, told ABC News.  “We appreciate the Romney campaign providing us some information to send out.”

Miner said the Romney e-mail was sent to them, but did not disclose the sender’s identity.

Officials at the Romney campaign confirmed that the e-mail message containing the news clip was circulated within their campaign, but noted that it was just one of hundreds of articles that are sent from their team’s “war room” every day.

“We internally distribute news stories on a variety of topics, which are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute the viewpoints of the campaign,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul told ABC News.

Perry is atop the Republican field in recent polls after ousting Romney from his frontrunner status, but the two have yet to fully engage one another.  Romney took a veiled swipe at Perry, who has served in Texas government for three decades, on Tuesday when he said career politicians were to blame for the troubled economy.

“Career politicians got us into this mess and they simply don’t know how to get us out,” Romney said Tuesday at the VFW convention in San Antonio, Texas.

But Perry’s campaign didn’t take the bait, saying the swipe at career politicians couldn’t be directed at Perry, whose resume includes several years working outside of government.

Romney and Perry will face each other for the first time next week since Perry entered the presidential race.  They will both attend Sen. Jim DeMint’s Palmetto Freedom Forum in Columbia, South Carolina on Labor Day and join their fellow Republican contenders at a debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in California next Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Jon Huntsman, DNC Duel in Video Showdown

Richard Ellis/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jon Huntsman’s week of media mania has attracted more than just Twitter followers.  He has also caught the eye of the Democratic National Committee, which capitalized on Huntsman’s television blitz with an email blast quoting the former Utah governor’s negative comments about the rest of the GOP field.

Huntsman was quick to fire back, reminding the DNC via tweet that he has criticized President Obama just as much.

Now, both sides have taken to their respective edit rooms, releasing unique takes on Huntsman’s appearances on ABC News’ This Week and CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight.

On Monday evening, the DNC sent an email to reporters praising Huntsman’s interview with ABC News’ Jake Tapper.

“Jon Huntsman served as our best possible surrogate,” they wrote, “reiterating what we already know about the Republican field of presidential candidates: that they have 'zero substance,' are 'too far to the right,' and can’t be trusted with the economy.  In fact, we were so pleased with his message discipline that we decided to put out a web video titled, 'Don’t Take It From Us' -- enjoy!”

The email ended with a warning to Team Huntsman: “P.S.: This 30 second treatment could be coming to a TV screen near you in the near future.”

The video, which was embargoed until 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, contains four clips from Huntsman’s interview with Tapper, each slamming his opponents Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.  At the end, a title graphic appears on screen: “Don’t take it from us…Take it from one of their own.”

Four hours later, Huntsman’s campaign sent out an email response.

“Over the weekend Gov. Huntsman taped interviews on This Week with Jake Tapper filling in for Christiane Amanpour and Piers Morgan Tonight," wrote Huntsman’s spokesperson Tim Miller.  “Gov. Huntsman reiterated what all Americans already know about the Obama Administration -- it has failed.  We were so pleased with his performance that we released the following web video titled, 'Take It From Me.'"

Huntsman’s video, embargoed until 5:00:01 a.m., contains four clips, all knocking President Obama.  Just like the DNC, Huntsman’s clip ends with a single graphic: “Take It From Me...The President Failed.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Campaign Email Blasts Economist, Liberal Blogs

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A controversial email from an Obama campaign staffer in New Mexico to statewide supporters earlier this month highlights the ideological divide on the left over the debt ceiling deal, while raising the ire of the president's most liberal critics.

On Aug. 1, just hours after Congress approved the bipartisan deal, Obama for America New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval sent out an email blast with an attached blog post that he said “does a great job of explaining the Debt Ceiling deal.”  

The article, penned by Spandan Chakrabarti of The People’s View, is largely an annotated summary of the legislative package, which he calls an “out and out win for the president,” including links to the White House website and explanations of the super committee process and the ensuing triggers, or automatic cuts, if it doesn’t reach a deal.

But it’s Chakrabarti’s words for some of the president’s Democratic critics that pack the real punch.  He calls Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman a “political rookie” and refers to other detractors of the compromise from the “Firebagger Lefty blogosphere” who he believes are all misguided in their assessment of the deal.

“The loudest screeching noise you hear coming from Krugman and the ideologue Left is, of course, Medicare.  Oh, no, the President is agreeing to a Medicare trigger!!!  Oh noes!!!  Everybody freak out right now!  But let’s look at the deal again, shall we,” he writes.   

Krugman has called the debt deal a “disaster” for Obama, Democrats and the U.S. economy.

Later, Chakrabarti, 28, says of the triggers, which include pain for both parties, “The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut ‘trigger’ for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere….”

The email was first obtained and reported on by the Huffington Post.

While an Obama campaign spokeswoman said “the views expressed in this email do not represent the views of the campaign,” the association of inflammatory language with the president’s re-election team has touched a nerve in some circles.

“What exactly does OFA [Obama for America] think they stand to gain by ridiculing Krugman as a ‘political rookie,’ a hysterical ‘fanatic’ and an ‘ideologue’?,” blasted Jane Hamsher, author of the popular liberal blog FireDogLake.  “Do they think they hold so much sway with liberals that they can discredit Krugman and thus neutralize his criticism?”

The episode likely compounds the belief expressed by some liberals that the White House has not been respectful of or responsive to their concerns.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Calls Emails 'Benign and Boring,' Weighs In On Weiner

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In her first television appearance since the release of 25,000 emails from her term as Alaska governor, Sarah Palin said she hopes "folks learned a lot" from the "benign and boring" messages.

"It certainly shows the priorities in what was once a respected cornerstone of our democracy, our mainstream media," she said on Fox Business Network's Freedom Watch Thursday night, talking about the coverage of the email release.

"I hope folks who read the emails learned a lot about oil and gas policy," she added. "I hope people who read the emails understood why I opposed Obama's stimulus package."

She said the correspondence detailed her work on fish and game conservation, protecting second amendment rights and ethics reform before concluding, "I hope folks learned a lot from these, I guess sort of benign and boring emails."

Palin also weighed in on Rep. Anthony Weiner's Thursday resignation from Congress, saying he made himself "impotent" by spreading lewd photos on the Internet. 

"Anthony Weiner, from henceforth after his personal indiscretions were disclosed, he was going to be rendered impotent basically in Congress and he wasn't going to be effective," she said. "So obviously [resigning] was the right thing to do. Day late dollar short, though. I think he should have resigned when all of this came to light."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Sarah's Inbox' Simplifies Search of Palin's Emails

Randy Snyder/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- You can now search through Sarah Palin’s emails as easily as you’d search through your own.

On Wednesday, the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group, debuted “Sarah’s Inbox,” a searchable database of Palin’s recently released emails that looks and functions like Gmail.  Users can search the more than 14,000 emails from Palin’s tenure as Alaska governor by keyword and “star” messages for later viewing.

There’s also handy “Inbox” and “Sent Mail” links as well as a handful of “Sample Searches” including “flippinbelieveit” and “who’s going to trim my hair?”

In a blog post, the Sunlight Foundation said they started the project after they were approached by Twitter users to “take this ugly data and add the Sunlight secret sauce to make it user friendly.”

“Sarah’s Inbox” builds on technology the group developed for “Elena’s Inbox,” which it launched after Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan's emails were released during her confirmation hearings last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sarah Palin Supporters Working on New Analysis of Email Dump

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Sarah Palin supporters have united in a collective grizzly roar, angered by the media's decision to analyze more than 25,000 pages of emails from Palin's term as the governor of Alaska.

For the past several days hundreds, if not thousands, of commenters expressed their disappointment online, conservative writers and radio hosts lashed out, and even Ashton Kutcher seemed dismayed.

And now, claiming Palin has been mistreated by the media once again, Conservatives4Palin, a non-profit website with more than 1 million visitors each month, is planning to analyze the emails themselves.

"Some of us were like, 'Oh no, it's just going to be a massive witch hunt.'  We were afraid of what the media would cook up or try to take out of context," said Conservatives4Palin contributor Nicole Coulter, who lives in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  "We feel like the media was hoping to find something to pin on her negatively but it's kind of blown up in their faces, with all due respect."

Coulter, who was a Democrat until deciding to become a Republican in 2004, has spent the past year writing for the pro-Palin website, which was co-founded in 2009 by Rebecca Mansour, a current SarahPAC staffer.

Coulter says it's impossible to read the emails and not come away with the impression that Palin is loyal and protective of her staff.

"We're categorizing all those emails that suggest the record of a competent and ethical person," she said.  "Her record is being finally revealed.  I hope everybody reads the emails."

Coulter added, "I 100 percent support her, she's my number one candidate."

Although the email dump wasn't damaging to Palin, many of her advocates remain frustrated that the emails were posted in the first place.  Angry comments have dominated news websites since Friday, and over the weekend the Twitter account of Crivella West, the company that put Palin's emails online for MSNBC, Mother Jones magazine and investigative news website ProPublica, were hacked.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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