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.

Get my RSS |

More Good News: Michigan's "Foreclosure King" Headed to Congress

| Tue Nov. 4, 2014 11:34 PM EST

Michigan's "foreclosure king" is coming to Washington. Republican David Trott, a Michigan businessman who got rich on the collapse of the state's housing market, easily fended off his Democratic rival in Michigan's 11th congressional district.

A former state finance chair for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, Trott's line of work made him a polarizing figure in Michigan. As I reported in January:

Trott's campaign notes that the candidate has a wide array of business interests, but his financial disclosure forms leave no doubt that foreclosures are where he made his fortune. Through various interconnected concerns, Trott is involved in virtually every aspect of the foreclosure business.

His flagship operation is Trott & Trott, a 500-person law firm founded by his father that is one of the largest foreclosure specialists in the state; its clients are largely lenders, such as Bank of America and Countrywide. Trott & Trott doesn't personally evict homeowners; it handles the paperwork for banks that do. "It's what we do; it's all we've ever done," Trott said in a 2007 TV interview, of his foreclosure work.

He also owns a real estate firm that manages foreclosed properties, as well as a newspaper chain, Michigan Legal News, that banks are required to post foreclosure notices in.

Trott doesn't just benefit from foreclosures; his firm has pushed to change state law to make it easier for banks to kick people out of their homes.

The race was (most likely) the swan song for GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio, a Santa-impersonating reindeer rancher who was elected almost by accident in 2012 when the incumbent congressman was disqualified. Trott crushed Bentivolio in the August primary, and Bentivolio appeared finished. But in October, Bentivolio announced he would wage a write-in campaign for the seat on the grounds that it might help drive out turnout for other GOP candidates on the ticket. (The fact that he continued to refer to Trott as "the foreclosure attorney" perhaps pointed to less altruistic motives.)

As of Tuesday night, Bentivolio has received fewer than 1,100 votes.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Tom Cotton's Victory in Arkansas Is a Huge Win for Neocons

| Tue Nov. 4, 2014 9:05 PM EST

GOP Rep. Tom Cotton defeated two-term Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor on Tuesday, bringing Republicans one step closer to winning control of the Senate. Cotton hammered Pryor repeatedly on Obamacare, which remains deeply unpopular in Arkansas even though the legislation has helped hundreds of thousands of residents get health insurance.

But it's foreign policy where Cotton could make his biggest impact in the Senate. "Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they're willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism," Cotton said during a September tele-town hall. "They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas." Three weeks later, he put his money where his mouth was, airing an ad featuring footage pulled straight from an ISIS propaganda film called Flames of War.

This is what you can expect more of from Cotton, an Army veteran who first rose to fame after writing a letter to the editor of the New York Times demanding that everyone who worked on a story on a top-secret terrorist tracking program be tried for treason. During his brief tenure in the House of Representatives, he was one of the few House Republicans to vocally back an intervention in Syria.

Over the last four years, civil libertarians and non-interventionists have made big gains in the GOP, led by congressional newcomers like Michigan Rep. Justin Amash. But Cotton's win marks a victory for the neo-cons—a young voice with a good-looking resume who should be in Washington for a while. Just take a look at former Texas Rep. Ron Paul's reaction:

 

It was Cotton who rose to speak against Amash's 2013 amendment that would have curtailed the NSA's surveillance powers. "We are at war," he said. "You may not like that truth, I wish it weren't the truth, but it is the truth. We are at war. Do not take away this tool from our warriors on the front lines."

Among Beltway conservative scribes, Cotton's political arc has taken on an almost singular importance, with writers at places like the Weekly Standard salivating over his small-town credentials in True Grit country. As I reported when I visited Cotton's hometown of Dardanelle in September, I found the local hero in Yell County isn't Cotton; it's fourth-district Democratic nominee James Lee Witt. But it didn't matter. Mark Pryor voted for Obamacare, he probably voted for Obama, and now he's looking for work.

Anyway, here's your next Senator from Arkansas eating a watermelon:

 

A video posted by Tom Cotton (@tomcottonar) on

Where Should Scott Brown Run for Senate Next?

| Tue Nov. 4, 2014 9:02 PM EST
Illustration: Thomas Nast/Library of Congress; Scott Brown: Seamas Culligan/ZUMA

Former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown's comeback bid hit a wall on Tuesday, as he failed to unseat New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. More than perhaps any other Senate candidate, Brown based his campaign on border security, warning that ISIS agents could enter the country at ease, and that migrants could bring diseases (including, maybe, Ebola) across the Southern border. At one point, he even merged the two, warning that ISIS terrorists might smuggle in Ebola across the Mexican border.

It didn't work. According to exit polls, 54 percent of New Hampshire voters thought Brown hadn't been in New Hampshire long enough to represent it in Washington. (For what it's worth, we think that's kind of unfair.) So where should Brown run next? There are still four New England states he hasn't tried. But these areas don't offer much opportunity. The Granite State is the last Yankee state to vote for a Republican presidential candidate—and that was in 2000.

But even if Brown doesn't campaign somewhere again in two years, it's a sure bet he won't stop running:

Scott Brown/Instagram

 

Thu Dec. 6, 2012 9:54 AM EST
Tue Dec. 4, 2012 6:08 AM EST
Mon Dec. 3, 2012 12:25 PM EST
Tue Nov. 27, 2012 12:44 PM EST
Mon Nov. 19, 2012 2:13 PM EST
Mon Nov. 19, 2012 10:22 AM EST
Wed Nov. 14, 2012 10:15 AM EST
Mon Nov. 12, 2012 10:31 AM EST
Thu Nov. 8, 2012 1:45 PM EST
Wed Nov. 7, 2012 2:48 PM EST
Tue Nov. 6, 2012 10:20 PM EST
Tue Nov. 6, 2012 9:44 PM EST
Tue Nov. 6, 2012 1:02 PM EST
Thu Nov. 1, 2012 1:08 PM EDT
Wed Oct. 31, 2012 4:09 PM EDT
Tue Oct. 23, 2012 5:08 AM EDT
Wed Oct. 17, 2012 9:26 AM EDT
Thu Oct. 11, 2012 9:24 PM EDT
Wed Oct. 10, 2012 1:44 PM EDT
Tue Oct. 9, 2012 10:26 AM EDT
Fri Oct. 5, 2012 9:27 AM EDT
Fri Sep. 28, 2012 12:18 PM EDT
Fri Sep. 28, 2012 9:53 AM EDT
Thu Sep. 27, 2012 10:03 AM EDT
Mon Sep. 24, 2012 9:20 AM EDT
Fri Sep. 21, 2012 9:52 AM EDT
Wed Sep. 19, 2012 12:17 PM EDT
Wed Sep. 19, 2012 5:00 AM EDT