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.

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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.

On the Mall, Penis Trumps Tea-ness

| Fri Apr. 1, 2011 1:38 PM EDT

On Thursday, the Tea Party Patriots held a "continuing revolution" rally on Capitol Hill. Originally, the rally was advertised to take place on the east side of the Capitol, which isn't the most desirable spot for a protest. Later, the activists ended up even farther down the Hill in a wooded spot near the Robert Taft memorial and away from most gawking tourists. At least one tea partier suspects that the location problem stemmed from the fact that the most desirable spot on the Hill—the west lawn, where tea partiers have held most of their big protests—has been occupied most of the week by a group of anti-circumcision activists. Those particular activists have been protesting on the Hill annually at this time for 16 years.

David Wilson, who runs Stop Infant Circumcision, says he applied for a permit before the tea partiers did, and as such, he was naturally entitled to the space. "I feel as though my purpose and cause is greater than their is," he told me. Wilson notes that at least 120 boys die every year from circumcision and "you don't hear a big outcry over this." That said, Wilson, who sports long dredlocks and a large Uncle Sam hat that would fit right in at a tea party rally, says that because he and his group will be protesting most of the week, he would have happily accommodated the tea partiers for a couple of hours Thursday if they'd just asked him.

Perhaps you can't blame the tea partiers for not wanting to have foreskin preservation propaganda cluttering up their C-SPAN broadcast. And while likely presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) may not have minded the presence of a few bloody fetus posters during her speech (there were some), it's hard to imagine she would have wanted to be filmed in front of posters of screaming babies emblazoned with the slogan "Don't Snip the Tip!". But Wilson thinks that he and the tea partiers would find some common ground. Perhaps the conservative activists might even help move his foreskin cause to the forefront. "I'd be interested to see what the tea party has to say about this. They believe in personal freedom."

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Tea Party Rally Washout

| Thu Mar. 31, 2011 5:04 PM EDT

Previewing a protest on the Hill targeting the GOP leadership's failure to sufficiently cut the federal budget, the Washington Times ran a front-page, above the fold story headlined "Tea party to storm capital for 'gut check.'" The storm never came—unless you are referring solely to the weather.

Given the weak turnout for the "continuing revolution" event, as the Tea Party Patriots dubbed it, it would be hard to say that any storming occurred at the rally—unless you are solely referring to the weather. Maybe 40 or 50 tea partiers turned out for the "continuing revolution" rally. Granted, it was 40 degrees and raining out, but tea partiers are a hearty bunch who are not usually deterred by bad weather. The problem may lie with the issue at hand: it's awfully hard to mobilize people around yet another "continuing resolution" to keep the government open.

Tea Party Express Jumps Into Wisconsin Judicial Race

| Wed Mar. 30, 2011 11:49 AM EDT

In recent years, judicial elections have been among some of the nastiest in the country. But next week's election for a seat on the Wisconsin state supreme court might go down in history as one of the worst. The election comes smack in the middle of Wisconsin's epic fight between the GOP-controlled legislature and governor's office and the state's public employee unions. The political warfare that wracked the state capital for weeks over Gov. Scott Walker's bill to strip public employees of collective bargaining rights has moved to the courts, where opponents of the law have filed a host of lawsuits to prevent its implementation. The fate of Walker's bill will eventually be decided by a slim margin on the state's highest court, making the stakes in the race extremely high. As a result, out-of-state interest groups have been pouring money into the judicial campaign. This week, the Tea Party Express upped the ante by pledging to raise tens of thousands of dollars to re-elect Justice David Prosser, an incumbent judge who liberals have said will be nothing more than a rubber stamp for Walker.

Tea Party Express is the California-based political action committee created by a group of GOP political consultants, which helped elect Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). It also backed Alaska's Joe Miller in his surprise upset of incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the GOP primary last year, demonstrating the PAC's political savvy and fundraising prowess. Tea Party Express is the largest and most active PAC associated with the tea party movement. On Tuesday it was sending out appeals to supporters seeking to raise $15,000 in 18 hours to launch a new wave of TV ads in Wisconsin. Sal Russo, the PAC's founder, wrote in an email that because the group has created a state PAC for this particular campaign, "there are NO contribution limits, and corporate contributions ARE accepted."

Both candidates in the race have taken public money for the election so are not eligible to accept private contributions. That's why the campaign is being waged almost entirely by third partys like Tea Party Express, which will be able to have an outsized impact on the race. Tea Party Express, of course, isn't the only outside group getting involved in the judicial campaign. The Club for Growth has pledged $300,000 to supoprt Prosser, and liberal and union activists have created their own outside spending operation, the Greater Wisconsin Committee, that has said it will spend $3 million to defeat Prosser. Prosser, a Republican who makes up part of a 4-3 conservative majority on the court, served in the state assembly with Walker and voted with him 95 percent of the time, according to liberal activists working to unseat him. Liberal activists have run ads against him that say "Prosser is Walker," turning the race into a referendum on the GOP agenda.

Unions and liberals are backing state Justice Department attorney JoAnne Kloppenburg. Tea Party Express' new ads suggest that Kloppenburg is a four-time loser, having failed to land other judicial plum spots she's aspired to. But the campaign is likely to get even nastier in the last few days. The liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee has already aired ads indicating that 30 years ago Prosser, then a district attorney, failed to prosecute an alleged pedophile priest who went on to molest many more kids. As the campaign comes down to the wire and more outside corporate money pours in, the attacks are only likely to escalate. Whether Tea Party Express can work its magic to save Prosser from the extremely angry and motivated union voters remains to be seen.

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