Indiana already passed legislation banning same-sex marriage years ago, but now, just to be sure, state Republicans are frantically scrambling to do it again. On Wednesday, a House committee on elections approved a measure to put a referendum on banning marriage equality on the November ballot. But there's a catch: it took two tries.
Much of the testimony was a repeat of that given during a previous three-hour hearing on Jan. 13 before the House Judiciary Committee. The amendment stalled in that committee because there apparently were not enough votes to move the amendments to the full House.
That prompted House Speaker Brian Bosma to take the unusual and controversial step of reassigning the amendment and a companion bill to the elections committee, saying he was responding to the wishes of a majority of the GOP caucus.
In other words, Indiana's Republican leaders are so dead set on banning gay marriage they upended the traditional process for putting initiatives on the ballot. But the real news is that they needed a workaround at all. Marriage equality, even in Indiana, is a popular enough position in 2014—and guaranteed to be increasingly more popular going forward—that even some staunch Republican legislators were wary of casting the crucial vote to slow its progress. With even places like Utah beginning to soften their attitudes on gay rights, though, the effort in Indianapolis looks less like the decisive victory its proponents are gunning for and more like an ever-so-temporary stop-gap solution.
By day, Doyel Shamley helps congressional staffers understand natural-resource law. By night, he's an Illuminati conspiracy theorist.
Tim MurphyJan. 22, 2014 7:00 AM
When state Sen. Jennifer Fielder, vice chairwoman of the Montana Republican Party, needed an expert on natural resources to testify before the state's Environmental Quality Council earlier this year, she turned to Doyel Shamley.
An Army veteran and president of a Nevada-based firm called Veritas Research Consulting, Shamley's trip to Montana was only the latest in a long line of appearances as an expert witness on land management. There he was at a county board of supervisors in the Sierras, on behalf of the California Association of Business, Property and Resource Owners. And before the Arizona Senate. And in Northern California, alongside a local sheriff. And in southern Arizona, at an event sponsored by the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity, a leading conservative group backed by the Koch brothers. And in Kingman, Arizona, discussing wolves. In 2012, at the invitation of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), he testified at field hearing for the House Committee on Natural Resources. On his website, he lists four current Republican congressmen—Reps. Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), Rob Bishop (R-Utah), and Gosar—as "clients."
But his interest in the federal government goes far deeper than water rights and wildfire prevention. By day, Shamley is a consultant and natural resources coordinator for Arizona's Apache County. But by night, he's a conspiracy theorist who until recently hosted an online radio show called The Hour of the Time, during which he speculates that UFO sightings are a false-flag operation by the Illuminati to accumulate more power, and federal agents killed his friend because he was asking questions about the attacks on the World Trade Center.
A guide to the corruption charges facing the former Virginia governor and his wife.
Dana Liebelson and Tim MurphyJan. 21, 2014 7:03 PM
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury indicted former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, on 14 counts related to gifts the couple accepted from a businessman looking to curry favor with the McDonnell administration. McDonnell, whose one term in office expired in early January, was once considered a possible Republican vice presidential candidate before reports of his dealings with businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. cast a shadow over his last year-and-half in office.
In a statement, McDonnell apologized for his actions but maintained that he never did anything illegal: "I deeply regret accepting legal gifts and loans from Mr. Williams, all of which have been repaid with interest, and I have apologized for my poor judgment for which I take full responsibility. However, I repeat emphatically that I did nothing illegal for Mr. Williams in exchange for what I believed was his personal generosity and friendship. I never promised—and Mr. Williams and his company never received—any government benefit of any kind from me or my Administration. We did not violate the law, and I will use every available resource and advocate I have for as long as it takes to fight these false allegations, and to prevail against this unjust overreach of the federal government."
Here's everything you need to know:
Who's Jonnie R. Williams Sr.? Until December, Williams was the CEO of Star Scientific, Inc., a dietary supplements company. The company's main products are Anatabloc—an anti-inflammatory supplement derived from tobacco plants—and smoking-cessation product CigRx. According to the indictment, Williams forged a friendship with the the McDonnells starting in 2009, after he gave Bob McDonnell use of his private jet during his gubernatorial campaign. McDonnell and Williams soon discovered that they both had a lot in common, according to the Associated Press: They both have large families, started their careers in health services, and honeymooned at the same spot in Maine. This isn't the first time Williams has had a run-in with federal investigators: In 1993, the Securities and Exchange Commission fined him $300,000 for peddling false medical claims.
What did Williams get out of this? Authorities say that in exchange for gifts, the McDonnellslegitimized and promoted Star Scientific products. Among the allegations: In February 2011, Bob and Maureen McDonnell praised Star Scientific's products at a dinner the company held in an effort to convince doctors to prescribe CigRx to their patients. In August, 2011, the defendants hosted an event for the launch of Star Scientific's Anatabloc product at the Governor's Mansion; the invitees included some university researchers Star Scientific wanted to perform clinical trials of Anatabloc. In October 2011, Maureen McDonnell attended another Star Scientific dinner to lend her support to Anatabloc, according to the indictment.
Could this have been avoided if the McDonnells had been nicer to their staff? Maybe. Things began to fall apart when the couple's chef, Todd Schneider, was accused of stealing food in 2012. Schneider denied any wrongdoing, instead implicating the McDonnell family themselves as the culprits. Upset about his treatment, he turned over a pile of documents revealing the tip of the iceberg of the family’s financially cozy relationship with Williams.
What will happen to McDonnell if he's found guilty? Per the Richmond Times Dispatch, the charges could put the couple behind bars for decades and carry a fine of more than $1 million. But prominent political couples don't normally receive maximum sentences. Top Virginia politicians in both parties have, at McDonnell’s request, lobbied the Department of Justice to go easy on him.
Is there a silver lining? If recent history is an indication, he'll probably get a reality show. Former Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich was indicted in 2009 for attempting to sell President Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat. He was convicted one year later and is currently serving a 14-year sentence—but not before his wife, Patricia, raised funds for his legal fees by starring in the show I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards, who served six years in prison over federal corruption charges, landed a post-penitentiary gig as the co-star of short-lived A&E series The Governor's Wife.
Come live in the OMEGA HOUSE! One of our roommates left to start a pot dispensary and another is quitting his job and now we might need a housemate.
THE PLACE: $800/mo. plus utilities for one room in a two bedroom row house on Capitol Hill. Short walk to Union Station, Capitol South Metro, Johnny's Half Shell, Charlie Palmer, and Bistro Bis. You'd take the larger upstairs bedroom and share a bathroom with two other roommates. Vintage '70s record collection. Newish big-screen TV in the living room, which doubles as a bedroom. Place is occasionally a little messy but not unkempt. (Semi-kempt?) Peeling paint on the walls adds a rustic touch. Mostly functioning kitchen. Stove has a giant hole in it, on account of the rats. I was told not to talk to you about the rats, but frankly, that's the kind of petty brinkmanship that the American people are sick and tired of. We're in the solutions business. Real solutions that can bring real change and improve the lives of real people. Dick, the other roommate, is pretty good at killing rats.
THE ROOMMATES: Current occupants are three laid-back government workers in our sixties. We hold pretty busy lives and aren't around the house too often. Not looking for a best friend, but someone we can have an occasional bowl of cereal with. (We eat a shit-ton of cereal. Come to think of it, maybe that explains the rats.) We're fairly tolerant people, but it's a small house so we ask that you avoid certain kinds of destructive behavior, such as drug use, smoking, and metal-bristle grill brushes.