Stephanie Mencimer

Stephanie Mencimer

Reporter

Stephanie works in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. A Utah native and graduate of a crappy public university not worth mentioning, she has spent the last year hanging out with angry white people who occasionally don tricorne hats and come to lunch meetings heavily armed.

Full Bio | Get my RSS |

Stephanie covers legal affairs and domestic policy in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. She is the author of Blocking the Courthouse Door: How the Republican Party and Its Corporate Allies Are Taking Away Your Right to Sue. A contributing editor of the Washington Monthly, a former investigative reporter at the Washington Post, and a senior writer at the Washington City Paper, she was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2004 for a Washington Monthly article about myths surrounding the medical malpractice system. In 2000, she won the Harry Chapin Media award for reporting on poverty and hunger, and her 2010 story in Mother Jones of the collapse of the welfare system in Georgia and elsewhere won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Credit Card Industry Kicks Consumers Off Congressional Panel

| Fri Mar. 14, 2008 4:30 PM EDT

Politico-ad.jpgIn 2000, Illinois resident Marvin Weatherspoon (right) got a Bank of America credit card that he used to consolidate $12,000 in home repair bills, thinking the 4.5 percent introductory interest rate would help him get out of debt faster. Instead, though, eight years later, he has paid the bank more than $15,000, yet has reduced his principal balance by only $800. The reason? Even though he's paid his bills on time, Bank of America inexplicably raised his interest rate, first to 19.99 percent and then to 25 percent, where it is today.

Weatherspoon came to Washington yesterday to tell his story at a hearing on the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights, a bill sponsored by New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) that would restrict the kind of arbitrary interest rate increases Weatherspoon got hit with, among other things. But as it turned out, Weatherspoon never got to testify. The ever-powerful credit-card companies successfully bounced all of the consumers off the panel, leaving only academics and credit card executives to speak publicly.

At the outset of the hearing before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, Maloney explained that "there have been fairness concerns raised about having consumers testify this morning without a waiver that allowed their credit-card issuers to respond publicly." Translation: The credit card companies wanted the consumer witnesses to make their financial records public so the banks could "rebut" their complaints, i.e., trash them in the press.

More Bad News For Bush's Judicial Nominee

| Fri Mar. 14, 2008 11:53 AM EDT

What with his deep connections to Dick Cheney and the endorsement of lots of home-state Republicans, Gus Puryear IV should have been a shoe-in for his nomination to a federal trial court in Tennessee. But not only has Puryear run into trouble over his membership in an exclusive country club, but this week, Time magazine and the Tennessean have both published critical stories about him alleging that he abused the attorney-client privilege to prevent the release of damaging information about his employer, the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's largest private prison company.

A former CCA employee has written to the Senate Judiciary Committee outlining his allegations that Puryear tried to prevent employees from giving other government entities the full details about prison riots, unexplained deaths and other negative events to which they were entitled, for fear that the information could be used in lawsuits or that it might threaten the company's government contracts. If true, it's not a pretty picture, and it might be damaging enough to make Puryear one of the rare trial court nominees to face a bona fide confirmation fight.

Confirmation Battle Brewing Over Nominee's Country Club Membership

| Thu Mar. 13, 2008 3:49 PM EDT

Most ambitious lawyers know that if they want to become a federal judge, they have to fulfill several key requirements. First, they must schmooze the right people, sit on the right bar committees, and make the requisite political contributions. Then, above all, they must 1) pay nanny taxes, and 2) wait until after securing a lifetime appointment to join an exclusive, discriminatory country club.

Gustavus Adolphus Puryear IV, Bush's choice for a trial court seat in the middle district of Tennessee, had ticked off most of the items on the list by the time he was nominated last summer. He'd given money, befriended Dick Cheney's son-in-law, and even prepped Cheney for the vice-presidential debates in 2000 and 2004. But he forgot about rule number 2, an oversight that might be his undoing.

As a prison company lawyer with virtually no litigation experience, Puryear's resume offers any number of reasons why he shouldn't be confirmed. But inexperience has never stopped the politically connected from ascending to the bench. Country club memberships, however, are a different matter. And Puryear happens to be a member of the exclusive Belle Meade Country Club in Nashville, a club whose racist history is so well known that even former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist had the good sense to quit the club before running for office.

Wed Jul. 9, 2014 12:44 PM EDT
Wed Apr. 30, 2014 12:07 PM EDT
Tue Dec. 3, 2013 7:55 AM EST
Tue Sep. 17, 2013 1:32 PM EDT
Tue Aug. 27, 2013 11:12 AM EDT
Wed Jul. 31, 2013 4:01 PM EDT
Tue Jul. 23, 2013 12:36 PM EDT
Fri Jul. 19, 2013 12:54 PM EDT