Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

Reporter

Tim Murphy is a reporter in MoJo's DC bureau. Last summer he logged 22,000 miles while blogging about his cross-country road trip for Mother Jones. 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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Report: Americans Really Don't Like Mosques

| Thu Sep. 27, 2012 11:03 AM EDT

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has a great new interactive feature up today on the boom in mosque construction in the United States since 2000—and the corresponding boomlet in organized backlash to mosque construction. It's not just lower Manhattan—Pew found 53 different projects that faced resistance from their respective communities:

Courtesy of the Pew Research CenterCourtesy of the Pew Research Center

The full report is here.

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Romney Gives a Shout-Out to Supporters Linked to Fraud Scheme

| Thu Sep. 27, 2012 6:00 AM EDT

Mitt Romney kicked off his appearance at last week's Univision Forum in Miami by thanking a few key supporters. First, he gave a nod to the state's former Republican governor, Jeb Bush. Then he turned to an elderly couple sitting near the front: "Remedios! Fausto! How are you?"

The GOP presidential candidate would be hard-pressed to find two more enthusiastic supporters in South Florida than Remedios Diaz-Oliver and her husband, Fausto, a Cuban-American power couple with GOP roots as deep as their pockets.

They also have a troubled history when it comes to the IRS and US Customs.

In 1999, then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush was forced to distance himself from Remedios Diaz-Oliver when the Associated Press reported that she had recently pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of accessory to customs fraud after the fact and one of knowingly providing a false document. Diaz-Oliver had raised at least $25,000 for the Bush campaign at a Miami fundraiser, which campaign spokeswoman Karen Hughes called "unfortunate," adding, "I could only speculate that if the (Miami) volunteers would have known, they would not have asked her to help in the host committee." The Diaz-Olivers and their business partners had been indicted on 18 counts relating to a tax evasion scheme, but Remedios' felony charges were dropped as part of the plea deal. Remedios was given three years' probation and forced to pay $92,012 to the US Customs Service. (The charges centered on a scheme to avoid paying import duties on imported food products by filing fraudulent invoices.) "I can go back to work and I don't have to spend one single day in any place," a relieved Diaz-Oliver told the Miami Herald at the time.

 

"In my 40 years in private business, I have never evaded my tax obligations," Diaz-Oliver wrote in an email to Mother Jones. "Moreover, I have never committed, nor plead, to any felony violations. To the contrary, I have always proudly paid all of my tax dues to this great country, which opened its doors to me. The record stands absolutely clear on that."

Fausto Diaz-Oliver, meanwhile pleaded guilty in 1999 as part of the same case, to felony charges of corporate tax evasion and customs fraud. He received a sentence of three years probation and 300 hours of community service.

Remedios Diaz-Oliver's ties to the Romney campaign go well beyond that one shout-out. In a January press release, the Romney campaign named Diaz-Oliver as a member of its National Hispanic Steering Committee, alongside prominent Republicans, including former Florida Sen. Mel Martinez. That month, the couple appeared at an event for the US-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee, of which Diaz-Oliver is a member. In May, both Diaz-Olivers co-chaired a fundraiser for the Romney Victory Fund at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, where a $10,000 contribution or a $25,000 bundle of donations earned funders a photo with the candidate.

 

The Diaz-Olivers came to the US from Cuba together in 1961. In 1991, Remedios founded All American Containers Inc., a plastic and glass container manufacturer. Remedios has also given generously to Democratic politicians, including Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, who is Cuban American.

Supporters' tax woes have plagued both candidates during the campaign. In June, President Obama cited pop singer and prominent supporter Marc Anthony as an example of someone who should be required to pay more in taxes—an auspicious example, given that Anthony recently owed $3.4 million in federal taxes. But the issue is more pronounced for Romney given the controversy over his own returns.

This isn't the first time Romney has run into trouble with a South Florida supporter. In August, the Associated Press reported that the host of a Romney fundraiser in Miami had a prior felony conviction for cocaine trafficking, which under Florida law means he might not even be eligible to vote.

Correction: The headline originally referred to the Diaz-Olivers as donors. They have co-chaired a fundraiser but not donated to the campaign.

Joe Walsh, Flailing in the Polls, Sticks it to the 47 Percent

| Wed Sep. 26, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.)

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) probably could have picked a better time to come rushing to the defense of Mitt Romney. On Tuesday, a new survey from Public Policy Polling showed the first-term tea partier trailing Democratic challenger and Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth by 14 points (52–38) in his Chicagoland district. Just 35 percent of voters said they approved of his job performance.

But Walsh, a bombthrower famous for overheated floor statements and dismissive critiques of his political rivals—he recently suggested that Duckworth, a double-amputee, was not a "hero" because she talks about her military service too much—doesn't appear to be toning things down. While other Republican candidates across the country are distancing themselves from Mitt Romney's suggestion that 47 percent of Americans are moochers, Walsh came to the GOP presidential candidate's defense at a campaign stop on Saturday in Roselle, Illinois:

He didn't say it as probably exquisitely as he should have said it...But what Mitt Romney meant to say was this: Here's why this is the most important election in our nation's history: Because we are at a very scary point right now where there are too many Americans dependent upon government right now. Or as a very wise woman told me in the last campaign, we have too many people in the wagon and not enough people pulling the wagon. And if we don't get this election right, the people pulling the wagon are going to put the wagon down and say, "You know what? I've had it, I'm tired." That's what this election is all about.

Here's the video, captured by the liberal super PAC CREDO:

Walsh's hardline on the 47 percent would make a bit more sense if Romney were at least polling well in the district. But Walsh has hitched his horse to the wrong wagon: Only 40 percent of voters in the 8th district say they'll vote for the former Massachusetts governor this fall.

WATCH: Scott Brown Staffers "Tomahawk Chop" at Warren Volunteers

| Tue Sep. 25, 2012 11:12 AM EDT

This is how you kill a talking point. On Monday, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) released a new television ad hammering his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, for identifying herself as part Native American to her employers at Harvard Law School. On Tuesday, the progressive blog Blue Mass Group published this video, which shows at least three two top Brown staffers shouting Indian war whoops and making tomahawk gestures at a group of Warren supporters:

The Warren volunteers had gathered outside of a Brown campaign event in Boston on Saturday.

Brown's Native American attack always had an air of desperation to it, but this video of his aides—according to Boston ABC affiliate WCVB, that's Brown's deputy Chief of Staff Greg Casey and Constituent Service Counsel Jack Richard in the video—would seem to further complicate his efforts.

Update: Brown's response, per WCVB: "It is certainly something that I don't condone. The real offense is that (Warren) said she was white and then checked the box saying she is Native American, and then she changed her profile in the law directory once she made her tenure."

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