Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy


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.

Get my RSS |

Kentucky Governor's Race Devolves Into Debate Over Hinduism

| Tue Nov. 1, 2011 2:19 PM EDT
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) prays to his false horse god.

You would think that securing $43 million in tax credits for a to-scale replica of Noah's Ark would be enough to protect Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) from allegations that he's secretly some sort of America-hating pagan who takes his policy proposals straight from the malaria-infested mouth of the great swamp god, Mordu. You would be wrong. Beshear, who is heavily favored to win re-election this November, is taking heat from his Republican opponent for participating in a Hindu "ground blessing" ceremony last weekend at a groundbreaking for a new Indian-owned Elizabethtown factory. Here's how Republican Senate president and gubernatorial nominee David Williams put it:

He's there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony. They can say what they want to. He's sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don't know what the man was thinking...

If I'm a Christian, I don't participate in Jewish prayers. I'm glad they do that. I don't participate in Hindu prayers. I don't participate in Muslim prayers. I don't do that. To get down and get involved and participate in prayers to these polytheistic situations, where you have these Hindu gods that they are praying to, doesn't appear to me to be in line with what a governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ought to be doing...

Yet between his not being pro-life and his support for gambling and now getting down and doing Hindu prayers to these Hindu gods, I think his grandfathers wouldn't be very pleased with Steve Beshear.

Williams, per the Lexington Herald-Leader, went on to dismiss charges that he was demeaning Hinduism by referring to it as "idolatry," telling the paper that if anyone had offended Hindus, it was Beshear. Kentucky politicians have a proud—and bipartisan—history of making absurd allegations about their opponents' faith. Last fall, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway accused Sen. Rand Paul of worshipping the false-God* Aqua Buddha (a nod to a prank Paul had played in college).

(h/t Eric Kleefeld)

*His assertion, not mine.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

It Begins: Pro-Perry Group Runs First Super-PAC Ads of 2012

| Tue Nov. 1, 2011 1:26 PM EDT
Mike Toomey (left) and Texas Governor Rick Perry go way back.

Things could be going better for Rick Perry's presidential campaign. He probably wishes he hadn't gone into a total free-fall in the national polls (and in Iowa), for instance. Maybe he regrets giving a speech in New Hampshire on Friday in which he sounded like he'd just shotgunned a bottle of Robitussin. But there's a reason Republicans still believe he has a shot to beat Mitt Romney: The Texas governor has a lot of money in the bank, and just as importantly, he's got a lot of friends with a lot of money in the bank.

Perry has not one but two super-PACs working on his behalf—dark money groups that can accept unlimited donations (including from corporate sources)—the most notable of which is Make Us Great Again, founded by Perry's former chief of staff and long-time friend, Austin mega-lobbyist Mike Toomey. Make Us Great Again has a goal of raising and spending $55 million on Perry's behalf during the primaries alone, which is a lot. And now it's on the air with its first set of television ads—making it the first super PAC to hit airwaves during the Republican primary:

We're betting they won't be the last.

The Elizabeth Warren–Scott Brown Proxy War

| Tue Nov. 1, 2011 10:29 AM EDT
Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren is expected to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)

Next year's Massachusetts Senate race, between Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, is shaping up to be one of the most-expensive, most-watched races of the cycle. As we've noted previously, at least one recent poll gave Warren, the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a slight lead over Brown, who helped to gut some of the key provisions of last year's financial reform bill. Brown has $10 million in the bank; Warren raised $3 million in just her first six weeks as a candidate.

But for now, the race is something of a proxy war. Warren doesn't mention Scott Brown by name during her stump speech, choosing instead to cast her candidacy as a campaign against Washington inaction in the face of income inequality and crumbling infrastructure. Brown, for his part, has said he won't start campaigning until after New Year's. But in their absence, their surrogates are gearing up for a fight.

Cain on Student Loans: "I Don't Have a Position"

| Mon Oct. 31, 2011 3:14 PM EDT
GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain discussed student loan reform at the National Press Club on Monday. Well, not really.

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain just finished up a 30-minute press conference at the National Press Club in DC by singing, at the request of the moderator, "Amazing Grace." That came just a few hours after Cain was aked at the American Enterprise Institute what fellow presidential candidate he'd dress up as for Halloween (answer: Ron Paul). But, on a day he's been accused of possibly breaking federal campaign finance laws, and forced to respond to reports of sexual harassment, Cain was asked some nuts-and-bolts policy questions, too.

Specifically, the former talk radio host and Godfather's pizza CEO was asked what he would do to control the rising cost of attending college—and what actions he might take to make student loans more manageable. Cain's answers were revealing:

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

| Mon Oct. 31, 2011 10:31 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.

Thu Oct. 1, 2015 10:23 AM EDT
Thu Aug. 13, 2015 5:00 AM EDT
Wed Aug. 12, 2015 9:46 AM EDT
Thu Jul. 2, 2015 10:31 AM EDT
Fri Jun. 12, 2015 10:59 AM EDT