Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a senior reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. His writing has been featured in Slate and the Washington Monthly. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy [at] motherjones [dot] com.

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Herman Cain's Other Big Scandal: A Possible IRS Violation

| Mon Oct. 31, 2011 11:31 AM EDT
Herman Cain chief-of-staff Mark Block, in a clip from a recent campaign ad.

Washington was in full feeding frenzy mode on Monday over reports that Herman Cain, as president of the National Restaurant Association, had been accused of "unwanted sexual advances" by former female employees. That is, needless to say, bad news for Cain's presidential campaign. But the Milwaukee Journal–Sentinel has its own big investigation this morning that's just as damning, if not more so: Cain's chief of staff, Mark Block, flouted federal elections laws and disclosure requirements by using his own non-profit to essentially fund the campaign for its first few months. The expenditures are documented in the filings of Blocks group, Prosperity USA, but are never mentioned as debts in Cain's own campaign finance filings. Among other things, Prosperity USA paid for iPads, chartered flights, and trips to Vegas for the Cain campaign:

The national election expert who works with GOP candidates said it would be a violation of the tax code for Prosperity USA to advance money to the Cain campaign for these items. She said there also are strict federal election regulations on reporting debts and incurring travel obligations.

"I just don't see how they can justify this," she said. "It's a total mess."

The records suggest that Prosperity USA had been underwriting travel for Cain even before he announced his plans to run for president.

For instance, one document says the group was to be paid $5,000 for the costs associated with Cain's speech in September 2010 to the conservative Right Nation rally in Chicago, an event that the records say Cain attended at the request of Americans for Prosperity. The Cain campaign later used a segment from that speech in a campaign ad.

As a tax-exempt non-profit, Prosperity USA would not have been legally permitted to make donations, either directly or in-kind, to a presidential campaign. As one elections expert told the paper, "If the records accurately reflect what occurred, this is way out of bounds."

The charges are especially noteworthy given Block's own history. He was suspended from participating in any elections in the state of Wisconsin (other than voting, of course) for three years and forced to pay a $15,000 fine after a similar scandal in 1997. In that race, where he worked for a candidate for the state supreme court, he set up a supposedly independent non-profit designed to register voters, but in effect turned it into a campaign organ. It's not quite as salacious as sexual harassment charges, but it's a lot more recent, and suggests a certain carelessness (to be generous) with campaign finance law.

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Long-time Bachmann Ally Jumps Ship: "Lady, You Stink"

| Mon Oct. 31, 2011 10:04 AM EDT

The good news for Michele Bachmann is that she's probably not having as bad of a day as Herman Cain. But that's about it, really. On Saturday, the Minnesota congresswoman sent out an urgent plea to supporters saying that "in order to run a winning campaign we need to raise an additional $50,000 before the end of the month." (That's today.) The latest polls show her at 8 percent in Iowa, a state she needs to win, and just one week earlier, her entire New Hampshire campaign staff quit en masse. Even tea party activists are calling on her to drop out of the race.

And now she has lost the support of one of her longtime allies in her Minnesota district—Bradlee Dean, an anti-gay hair-metal evangelist who Bachmann has raised money for and publicly prayed for. The folks at Dump Bachmann listened to Dean's radio show last week and flagged this nugget, in which Dean rips into Bachmann as just another spineless politician:

Is This the Weirdest Rick Perry Speech Ever?

| Sun Oct. 30, 2011 10:28 AM EDT

Jon Ward flags this video of Texas Governor Rick Perry speaking at an event in New Hampshire on Friday, and politely calls it "unusually expressive." I will go a few steps further and say it is the strangest Rick Perry video I have ever seen (which is a pretty long list). Just watch:

Have you ever seen anyone so happy to receive a jug of maple syrup? Ward, who was in attendance, says the clip was not fully representative of the speech, but notes that the entire presentation was weird enough to prompt a tea party leader to tell him, "I think Obama would chew him up." The most recent Des Moines Register survey has the Texas governor polling at just 7 percent in Iowa (tied with Newt Gingrich), a state he led just two months ago. Speeches like this, which look more like an appeal to Alec Baldwin to make another guest appearance on SNL, likely aren't going to do much to stop his free-fall.

Important Moments in History With Oakland's Kitty Cop

| Fri Oct. 28, 2011 3:10 PM EDT

On the morning after a violent crackdown that left a protester—and Navy Marine vet—in critical condition after being hit by a bean bag projectile, the Washington Post chose to illustrate their story about Occupy Oakland with a photo of an Oakland police officer petting a kitten. Was it a metaphor? A somber reflection on human decency? A flickering, 120-watt incandescent light bulb of hope amid the encroaching shadows of oligarchy?

It was none of these, actually. As the Post's photo editor Carol McKay explained, "The photograph was chosen because it was a visual 'moment' in time showing a police officer doing something interesting—not just walking through tents and trash." Plus there was the whole time zone thing. Fair enough; a deadline's a deadline, and as Shani Hilton notes, the Post's online coverage of the demonstration was characteristically strong.

But about that photo. It looked so, so—so familiar. Where had we seen it before?

And then it hit us:Vancouver Riot KittyRich Lam/Getty Images; photo illustration by Tim MurphyBut of course! Kitty Cop is everywhere:

 

Selma KittyAP; photo illustration by Tim MurphyAnd in Libya, too:

Libya KittyAris Messinis/AFP; photo illustration by Tim MurphyAnd New York City:

V-Day KittyAlfred Eisenstaedt; photo illustration by Dave GilsonAnd here:

Abbey Road KittyPhoto illustration by Dave GilsonOkay, I'll stop.

Texas Store Refuses to Sell Guns to Muslims, Socialists

| Fri Oct. 28, 2011 1:28 PM EDT

Mason County, Texas, is notable mostly for being the only place in the United States to have a piece of public art inspired by the book Old Yeller. It's also home to Keller's Riverside Store, a general store owned by one Crockett Keller, who recently cut a radio ad announcing that his store would refuse to offer training lessons to Muslims and Obama supporters.

Here's the offending ad, which has prompted an investigation from the Texas Department of Public Safety:

"If you are a socialist liberal and/or voted for the current campaigner-in-chief, please do not take this class. You have already proven that you cannot make a knowledgeable and prudent decision as required under the law. Also, if you are a non-Christian Arab or Muslim, I will not teach you the class. Once again, with no shame, I am Crockett Keller. Thank you and God bless America."

I can accept the premise that Crockett Keller might have some sort of prejudice against Muslims, because Islamophobia is pretty widespread in the United States. But non-Muslim, non-Christian Arabs? Who exactly is he referring to—the Druze?

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