|On The Right, No Rush To Reform|
|Michael Falcone||May 23, 2013, 9:03 AM|
Image credit: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images
By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Assuming the Obama administration has nothing to hide in the IRS scandal, officials are doing a reasonably good job impersonating people who do. The IRS official who brought the scandal to public light and briefed reporters on what happened took her beating in front of Congress while taking some version of the Fifth. The White House has offered shifting explanations about who knew what and when they knew it. Most importantly, big questions - who ordered the tea party scrutiny? how did it not come out before the election? - remain. This scandal was going to take a while to play out in any event; little the administration did this week shortened that timeline.
ABC's JEFF ZELENY: A splash of American Aristocracy will be on display today when Penny Pritzker faces her confirmation hearing as Commerce Secretary. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Commerce Committee, will lead the questioning. But will there be an awkward moment as she explains a "clerical error" that caused her to underestimate her income by at least $80 million? Her family founded Hyatt Hotels and she's worth $1.5 billion, which would make her one of the wealthiest Cabinet officials in history. The $80 million may be a rounding error for her, but to put it in perspective: It's nearly the full amount of Rockefeller's wealth. Yes, she's still expected to be confirmed, but the sailing may not be as smooth as it seemed before her lawyers disclosed that clerical error on the eve of the hearing.
ABC's DEVIN DWYER: National Security Council spokeswoman Laura Lucas says that top U.S. officials have been "closely" following the situation in London and in touch with their counterparts in the U.K. government in the wake of yesterday's attack. "The White House and other relevant agencies of the U.S. Government have been in contact with the U.K. at various levels," she said when asked about the administration's response to the incident. No word as of yet whether President Obama has spoken directly with Prime Minister Cameron. She declined to discuss with specificity whether the U.S. was assisting in any way with the investigation.
ABC's MICHAEL FALCONE: Just over 26,000 votes prevented Los Angeles mayoral hopeful Wendy Greuel from making history this week. Greuel, the city controller was vying to become the first woman mayor of the nation's second-largest metropolis, but her opponent, City Councilman Eric Garcetti, prevailed. "I may not have been able to break the glass ceiling," Greuel told supporters yesterday, "but we sure made a crack in it." Her loss dealt a blow to Emily's List, a national organization devoted to electing Democratic women to office, which endorsed her in March and declared 2013 to be "The Year of the Woman Mayor." Although Los Angeles was a top prize for Emily's List, it is not the biggest. That distinction belongs to New York City where City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leads a crowded field of Democratic mayoral contenders, which now includes former Rep. Anthony Weiner. And other women leaders are running in mayoral races in large cities around the country - in Houston, Minneapolis, Seattle, Dayton, Syracuse, Albany, Long Beach and Tulsa - to name a few. Just last week, voters in Omaha, Nebraska chose Republican Jean Stothert to be their next mayor. And there are plenty more opportunities: According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, more than 400 U.S. cities have held or will hold mayoral elections this year alone. http://abcn.ws/185Mmkr
OBAMA TO TALK DRONES. President Obama delivers a speech on the administration's counterterrorism policy at 2 p.m. ET at the National Defense University. In lengthy remarks, the president is expected to clarify the use of drone strikes to kill terror suspects and unveil new policy guidance, ABC's MARY BRUCE reports. According to a White House official, he will discuss "why the use of drone strikes is necessary, legal, and just, while addressing the various issues raised by our use of targeted action." The president will also renew his push to close Guantanamo.
DID LOIS LERNER BOTCH FIFTH AMENDMENT RIGHTS? After a key agency IRS official yesterday invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself during congressional testimony, Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said he will review legal precedent in order to determine whether Lois Lerner, the director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS, could be held in contempt of Congress, ABC's JOHN PARKINSON reports. Although Lerner, who's at the center of the controversy, refused to answer questions from members of the committee, she read a brief statement into the record declaring her innocence. Furthermore, at the request of Issa, Lerner authenticated a document containing her written answers for the inspector general's investigation of the matter. Those actions prompted members of the committee to question whether Lerner effectively waived her right to invoke the Fifth Amendment. "She just testified. She just waived her Fifth Amendment right to privilege," Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor, said. "You don't get to tell your side of the story and then not be subjected to cross-examination. That's not the way it works." Although Issa dismissed Lerner, at the end of the hearing he announced that the committee would recess rather than adjourn while he determines whether Lerner should be recalled before the panel. http://abcn.ws/16Pil8c
FORMER MISS AMERICA MAY TAKE ON MITCH MCCONNELL. Ashley Judd may not be running for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, but another possible candidate is thinking about taking on Mitch McConnell and she has some local star power of her own: Former Miss America Heather French Henry, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE writes. French Henry, who was crowned Miss America in 2000 and is married to former Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, told ABC News she is being "urged by a number of individuals in political leadership to contemplate the possibility of running for Senate" as a Democrat. "I feel I owe them the time and consideration to listen to their position," Henry said in an e-mail. "Is there a political race in my future? Possibly. Is it this Senate race? I am not sure … Over the past year it has become apparent to me that I may enter politics. I have become increasingly concerned about the direction and future of our country. Therefore, I have agreed to meet and discuss all options including a race for U.S. Senate." French Henry said her time contemplating a bid "will not be a prolonged process" and she "will make an announcement in the near future." http://abcn.ws/11ZRfuk
SOCIAL MEDIA'S IMMIGRATION MARCH ON WASHINGTON. The current march on Washington won't fill the National Mall, or see an influx of buses down Constitution Avenue. But what it will do is clog your inbox, notes ABC's SERENA MARSHALL. You can only see it on your computer, or mobile device, but it's out there: a two-day virtual march on Washington with the goal of demanding immigration reform. "We don't see this as exclusive of a regular march," Jeremy Robbins, director of the Partnership for a New American Economy, told ABC News. "It's 2013 and the way we communicate is broader and different than it was a generation ago, and we want to be able to maximize all the ways we can to push Congress." The event, which started today and goes until Thursday night, is organized by Mayor Bloomberg's immigration forces in partnership with President Obama's OFA (Organizing for Action) and asks viewers to send their senators emails, tweets and Facebook messages demanding immigration reform. http://abcn.ws/10lTo09
WHAT WE'RE READING
"PRESIDENT OBAMA'S 1979 PROM PHOTOS," by Time Magazine's Adam Sorensen. "Tucked away in someone else's shoe box of adolescent artifacts, there might be a picture of you in garish clothes and with an outdated 'do, your arm around a high school squeeze. The President of the United States is no different. These previously unpublished photos, obtained exclusively by TIME from Obama's schoolmate Kelli Allman show a 17-year-old Barack Obama on the night of his senior prom. Barry spent his days at the Punahou School in Hawaii studying, shooting hoops and goofing off with his friends. Greg Orme, a fellow varsity basketball player, was Obama's constant companion. 'They were like brothers,' says Allman. On prom night, the pair double-dated. Obama and his date Megan Hughes, a student at the Hawaii School for Girls at La Pietra, joined Orme at Allman's house, where the two couples sipped champagne before going to the dance and then an after-party." http://ti.me/10VdTgT
IN THE NOTES' INBOX
-EMILY'S LIST MAKES FIRST GUBERNATORIAL ENDORSEMENT OF 2014 CYCLE. Emily's List is backing Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) in her bid for governor of Pennsylvania, making their first endorsement of the 2014 gubernatorial cycle, ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. The group, known for backing female Democratic candidates that support abortion rights, is supporting Schwartz in her bid against Republican Gov. Tom Corbett. "Allyson Schwartz has an incredible track record of fighting for the women and families of Pennsylvania. Now it's time for her to take that experience and dedication all the way to the governor's mansion, where she will help get Pennsylvanians back to work, protect access to healthcare, and fight for seniors and veterans," Stephanie Schriock, president of Emily's List, said in a statement. Schwartz, the only female member of Pennsylvania's congressional delegation, currently represents the 13th congressional district of Pennsylvania and is serving her fifth term. She represents Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia in Congress. Schwartz announced her gubernatorial campaign last month and as Schriock noted would be the first female governor of the state. http://abcn.ws/1aaFw9S
-DEMOCRATS UNLOAD ON VIRGINIA'S GUBERNATORIAL TICKET. The Democratic National Committee is out with a new video this morning attacking Virginia's Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor as "Virginia's Extreme Dream Team." According to a DNC aide: "After just a few days of travelling around the state, it's become abundantly clear the Republican ticket of Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson are way outside the mainstream of Virginia's values. On social issues like women's health and gay rights, E.W. Jackson has taken positions that would be harmful to his fellow citizens and used rhetoric that is offensive, demonizing and dangerous. In response to Jackson's comments Ken Cuccinelli has called Jackson a "powerful voice" and said "I'm glad he's on this ticket." Cuccinelli and Jackson were cut from the same extreme right-wing cloth." WATCH: http://youtu.be/iRomLijgMlc
-111 CONSERVATIVE ECONOMISTS SUPPORT IMMIGRATION REFORM. An announcement from the American Action Forum: "More than 110 influential conservative economists released an open letter to Congressional leadership today supporting immigration reform and touting its economic and budgetary benefits for America. The letter, led by American Action Forum President Douglas Holtz-Eakin, includes a who's who of conservative luminaries: Nobel Laureate in Economics Edward Prescott, Art Laffer, Glenn Hubbard, Ed Lazear, Larry Lindsey, June O'Neill, George Shultz and more. The letter, signed by 111 economists, expresses support for broad-based immigration reform including a visa system that reflects America's economic policy objectives. The signees look forward to a reformed and efficient legal immigration system that moves toward promoting economic growth over other objectives. As the letter states, the signees 'believe a reformed and efficient immigration system can promote economic growth and ease the challenge of reforming unsustainable federal health and retirement programs.'" Read a copy of the letter and see the full list of co-signers: http://bit.ly/187SHfh
@RealClearScott: Long look at challenges facing Iowa caucuses & why IA is almost certain to remain first in '16: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/05/23/under_fire_again_will_iowa_caucuses_remain_first_118518.html …
@amyewalter: The prom pic of Obama is pretty tame. How many among us have more to be embarrassed about in our own pics? (raises hand)