Andy Kroll

Andy Kroll

Senior Reporter

Andy Kroll is a former Mother Jones reporter. His work has also appeared at the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, Men's Journal, the American Prospect, and He tweets at @AndyKroll.

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The Toxicity of Harry Reid

| Fri Jun. 25, 2010 10:58 AM EDT

"Rory's Education Plan." "" "Paid for by Rory 2010."

If you didn't know better, you might think the Nevada gubernatorial candidate named Rory was a Brazilian soccer player, one of those guys with just one name on the back of his jersey. (Hey, it's World Cup season!) Well, not quite. "Rory 2010," if you don't already know, is the campaign for Democrat Rory Reid, the son of Nevada's most recognizable—and, for many, most loathed—politician: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Today, Reid officially launched his run for the Silver State's governor's office with an ad that's notable for, well, completely omitting his last name. The ad—which features a cast of cute little kids talking education reform, a major issue of Reid's, ahem, Rory's—just goes to show how toxic the Reid name has become amongst large swaths of Nevada voters. In a recent Rasmussen poll gauging the elder Reid's standing in his US Senate race, fringe conservative Sharron Angle leads Harry Reid by 7 percentage points. Even on Rory Reid's website, his ties to his father are completely scrubbed; Rory's bio page, for instance, reads like this:

As Chairman of the Clark County Commission Rory has managed a budget bigger than the state’s general fund for seven years, balanced it every year, and never raised taxes.

Rory, 47, grew up in Nevada attending public schools, as do his three great kids. He attended Brigham Young University, graduating with a dual degree in international relations and Spanish, and continued his studies there through law school. He and his wife, Cindy, have been married for 22 years.

Here's Rory's ad:

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Goldman Sachs Still Eviler Than BP

| Thu Jun. 24, 2010 10:06 AM EDT

Felix Salmon points to a graph today mapping out the public's impression of three of the most wounded, scandal-ridden companies: Toyota, BP, and Goldman Sachs. As it turns out, in reaction to the question "If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, was it positive or negative?" the Biggest Loser award belongs to...Goldman Sachs. Despite BP's ongoing, ever worsening catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, Goldman, under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the face (fairly or not) of Wall Street greed and recklessness, still has the worst public image among the three companies. Here's the graph, via Felix:

Reid: Sharron Angle, the GOP Extremist?

| Thu Jun. 24, 2010 9:37 AM EDT

Today Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) released a new campaign ad bashing his conservative, Tea Party-endorsed opponent, former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle. In it, Reid's campaign rips Angle for saying that Social Security is "welfare," and for claiming to want to eliminate both Social Security and Medicare. (Angle told Fox News' Sean Hannity earlier this month that she "want[s] to save Medicare and Social Security." She added that lawmakers need to "personalize" the two programs so "the government can't go in and raid it any more.") The ad concludes with a black-and-white screen that reads, "Sharron Angle: Just too extreme." Here's the ad:

This ad, of course, is just the beginning of what's sure to be a barrage of messaging from Reid's camp and his Democratic backers. They're certainly not lacking for dubious statements of Angle's to harp on; after all, this is the woman who recently claimed that unemployed people receiving government support are "spoiled." You can bet there's an ad in the works making light of that gaffe.

For Angle's part, she has yet to wade into the ad wars, so far releasing only one online commercial and mostly avoiding the press as she builds up her campaign operations. But you can bet she'll come out swinging soon enough.

Prisoners Scored $9 Mil in Housing Tax Credit

| Wed Jun. 23, 2010 1:45 PM EDT

More than a thousand prisoners, 241 of whom were behind bars for life, pocketed more than $9 million in tax breaks as part of Congress' highly popular first homebuyer tax credit. All told, the housing tax credit, which has propped up the US' wounded housing market for months, has lost nearly $30 million to fraud, according to a new Treasury Department report.

Here's CNN Money on the report:

According to the report, 4,608 state and federal inmates filed for these tax credits, and that fraudulent refunds were doled out to 1,295 of them.

The inspector general's report said the most "egregious" fraudsters were 715 prison lifers, including 174 who filed with the help of paid preparers. From this group, 241 lifers were awarded $1.7 million.

The problem was particularly bad in Florida: 61% of the lifers who got credits were incarcerated in the Sunshine State.

The homebuyer tax credit program was very specific about the time period in which homebuyers were allowed to participate, though this rule seems to be the most widely violated. The credit was for home purchases that happened after April 8, 2008, with a cut-off date that was eventually extended to May 1, 2010.

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