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Received this e-mail today from U.S. Senator Al Franken (D. MN) in support of Russ Feingold's (D. WI) comeback bid against Tea Party U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R. WI):
Wisconsin’s 167th birthday is coming up at the end of the week. What better gift could we give the state than Russ Feingold in the Senate?
Answer: There is no better gift. Because Russ is a tireless fighter for Wisconsin’s families who isn’t afraid to take tough stands to improve people's lives.

Russ just launched his bid for Senate. Can you contribute $5 or $10 to his grassroots campaign?

Russ led the effort to limit special interest spending in our elections, so you can bet he’ll be an outspoken voice against Citizens United in the Senate.

Special interests are going to do everything they can to make sure Russ doesn’t make it to the Senate. He needs us standing with him.

Please help me help wish Wisconsin a happy birthday by helping Russ Feingold’s campaign with $5 right now.

Thank you for all the help.


P.S. Coincidentally, I hear that the traditional 167th birthday gift is, in fact, Russ Feingold. So please, contribute $5 right now.

Click here to contribute to Feingold's campaign:
Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis) speaks at a campaign event with first lady Michelle Obama Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2010, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Former Bush Trade Representative & U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R. OH) took the most pro-TPP corporate cash.
The Guardian has a great article out about which U.S. Senators took the most corporate cash to help fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Three of them are Democratic U.S. Senators up for re-election, (Patty Murray (D. WA), Michael Bennet (D. CO) and Ron Wyden (D. OR)) and they took in a combined $105,900. That's pretty bad but the list of GOP U.S. Senators up for re-election next year is much linger and took a lot more corporate cash. Here they are:

Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track – the only two non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a Republican from Alaska.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who is the former US trade representative, has been one of the loudest proponents of the TPP. He received $119,700 from 14 different corporations between January and March, most of which comes from donations from Goldman Sachs ($70,600), Pfizer ($15,700), and Procter & Gamble ($12,900). Portman is expected to run against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland in 2016 in one of the most politically competitive states in the country.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R. Monsanto)
Seven Republicans who voted “yea” to fast-track and are also running for re-election next year cleaned up between January and March. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia received $102,500 in corporate contributions. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, best known for proposing a Monsanto-written bill in 2013 that became known as the Monsanto Protection Act, received $77,900 – $13,500 of which came from Monsanto.
UNITED STATES - JUNE 3: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on the Veterans Choice Act, which would provide veterans
Senators John McCain (R. AZ) & Richard Burr (R. NC)
Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain received $51,700 in the first quarter of 2015. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina received $60,000 in corporate donations. Eighty-one-year-old senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is running for his seventh Senate term, received $35,000. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who will be running for his first full six-year term in 2016, received $67,500 from pro-TPP corporations. - The Guardian, 5/27/15
While Senators Isakson, Scott and Grassley all look safe for re-election, Senators Portman, McCain and Burr are top targets next year and Senator Blunt has a potentially stronger challenger in Secretary of State Jason Kander (D. MO) who is heavily against the TPP. Former Governor Ted Strickland (D. OH) has been making the TPP a campaign issue and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D. AZ) is against fast tracking the TPP. We don't have a challenger to go up against Burr yet but hopefully soon. But if you want to donate and get involved with Strickland, Kander and Kirkpatrick's campaigns, you can do so here:
Received this e-mail today from Joe Sestak's (D. PA) U.S. Senate campaign:
Sen. Toomey says one thing in Pennsylvania, and then does another with his votes in Washington, D.C. Let's take a look.

On the left, below, we have what Sen. Toomey says in Pennsylvania, from his May 22 newsletter. On the right is what he does when he gets to Washington, D.C.

If you would like to donate and get involved with Sestak's campaign, you can do so here:
Congressman Joe Sestak stands with his daughter Alex (left) and wife susan (right, behind) as he gives his concession speach after losing to Pat Toomey on Tuesday, October 2, 2010 at the Radnor Hotel.  //ed note: ROB KANDEL / THE MORNING CALL  ***** Headline:  2010 THE YEAR IN REVIEW ** From a quadruple homicide in Northampton to the defeat of Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator, 2010 will go down as a year of heartache, anxiety and political change (12/26/10) *****
So last week, U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R. NH) and Cory "Personhood" Gardner (R. CO) introduced a new over the counter birth control bill:

UNITED STATES Ð MARCH 3: Sen. Kelley Ayotte, R-N.H., listens to opening statements during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination for Gen. Martin Dempsey's reappointment to the grade of general and to be the Army chief of staff on Thursday, march 3, 2011. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)
Gardner is sponsoring the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act with Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. Their bill also would repeal the Affordable Care Act’s restriction on the use of health, medical and flexible savings accounts to purchase over-the-counter drugs without a prescription.

“It’s time to allow women the ability to make their own decisions about safe, effective, and long-established methods of contraception,” Gardner said, in a news release.

“Most other drugs with such a long history of safe and routine use are available for purchase over the counter, and contraception should join them. Making this medication available over the counter would increase access in rural and underserved areas, save consumers money by increasing competition and availability, and save women time by increasing the ease of getting the safe contraception they need.” - The Denver Post, 5/21/15

Well that sounds nice except here's the thing:

Senatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, (R-Colo.), left, gestures during a debate with incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, (D-Colo.), in Denver, Monday Oct. 6, 2014. Gov. The two are locked in what many polls say is a tight race, less than one month before election day on Nov. 4, 2014. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)
“This bill is a sham and an insult to women,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards said in a statement sent to Bustle. “It would give women fewer birth control options and force women to pay twice for their birth control.”

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act and its accompanying HHS mandate, Republicans have been touting OTC birth control as a better, more efficient, and cheaper option for American women than having birth control covered by their health insurers. In fact, OTC birth control was a common talking point among Republican candidates in the 2014 midterm elections.

In a statement released last week on his official website, Gardner, the Republican senator from Colorado, further framed OTC birth control as a way for women to take full control of their reproductive choices when discussing his latest bill, the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act:

    It’s time to allow women the ability to make their own decisions about safe, effective, and long-established methods of contraception. Making this medication available over the counter would increase access in rural and under-served areas, save consumers money by increasing competition and availability, and save women time by increasing the ease of getting the safe contraception they need.

Yet many doctors and reproductive health advocates are wary of the Republican Party’s new plan, particularly because it’s often introduced in tandem with a repeal of the ACA and its HHS mandate — and an end to no-copay contraception. Even without a repeal of the ACA, reproductive health advocates say the bill erase insurance-coverage of birth control, because the health care act only covers birth control medication that requires a prescription. A push for “routine-use” contraception sold over-the-counter would mean women would have to pay for the medication entirely out of pocket.

So, there’s the catch — buy your birth control pill as easily as you can buy your Claritin, yet expect to shell out some bucks. Without insurance-covered contraception, a woman could end up paying $600 out of pocket for birth control each year, according to research from Planned Parenthood. - Bustle, 5/25/15

Planned Parenthood isn't the only one calling out Ayotte and Gardner's B.S.:

Today, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) joined the growing chorus of doctors and women’s health advocates opposing Kelly Ayotte’s sham birth control bill.

Salon called the bill “a giant fraud.” Adding, Ayotte “wants to sell women a bill of goods. They’re not buying, and neither are doctors.”

The Huffington Post reported that ACOG President Mark S. DeFrancesco, M.D., issued the following statement on behalf of the non-profit organization of women’s health doctors:

“The Affordable Care Act removed many barriers to preventive care that keeps women healthy. By making contraceptives available to women without a co-pay, it has truly increased access to contraception, thereby decreasing unintended pregnancies, and allowing women to better plan their futures. Unfortunately, instead of improving access, this bill would actually make more women have to pay for their birth control, and for some women, the cost would be prohibitive.”

“As women’s health care providers, we welcome robust and productive dialogue about the indisputable role that contraceptives play in the health, well-being, and productivity of American women. We would welcome any legislation that would do what this proposal purports to do – help women. As it stands, however, we cannot support a plan that creates one route to access at the expense of another, more helpful route.” - New Hampshire Democratic Party, 5/22/15

Nice try GOP. Luckily, Ayotte will be a top target next year and hopefully Governor Maggie Hassan (D. NH) will jump in to take her out. I also recently visited Colorado for my first time. Spent time in both Denver and Boulder and I loved it. Colorado voters, you'll have your chance to rectify your mistake from 2014 when Gardner faces the voters in 2020, another Presidential year with President Clinton or Sanders or O'Malley on the top of the ticket running for re-election. Stay tuned.
Received this e-mail today from CREDO Action:
The Republican head of the Senate banking committee just revealed a massive bill that reads like a Wall Street wish list.

The so-called “Shelby Bill,” named after Richard Shelby (R-AL), would make it far more difficult to subject the biggest financial institutions to strict standards and would blow massive holes in the rest of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law.1

The Obama administration and progressive champions like banking committee ranking member Senator Sherrod Brown have already blasted the bill, but the reaction from a few members of the Wall Street wing of the Senate Democratic caucus was muddled and far too conciliatory.2 We need to make it clear to leaders of the Senate Democratic caucus that no Democrat should be lending “bipartisan” support to a massive Wall Street giveaway.

Tell Senate Democrats: Unite against Republican “Wall Street wish list” bill. Click here to sign the petition.

Senator Brown, the ranking Democrat on the banking committee, worked for months with Senator Shelby to try and craft a truly bipartisan bill, one that helped small, community banks without fueling more Wall Street greed, fraud, and recklessness. But after Brown refused to endorse giveaways to the biggest banks, Shelby broke off negotiations.3

Giant Wall Street firms are hiding behind small community banks for political cover. Opponents of Wall Street reform claim that new rules – from requirements that banks hold actual capital to cover their bets to oversight from Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – fall hardest on community and regional banks, not the too-big-to-fail behemoths. But the truth is that while there are some measures we could take to help small community lenders, Republicans’ actual proposals will mostly help Wall Street titans.4

There is a very real risk that corporate Democrats will buy the lies and misleading rhetoric, and give away too much. Instead of fiercely opposing the Shelby bill from the start, Democratic Senate banking committee members such as Heidi Heitkamp, Jon Tester, and Jack Reed all released cautious statements noting concerns but remaining open to compromise.5 This is no time for abandoning principles – Democratic support for the Shelby bill in any form would not only put us all at risk of another Wall Street meltdown, it would Republicans bipartisan cover for giveaways to the big banks.

Tell Senate Democrats: Unite against Republican “Wall Street wish list” bill. Click here to sign the petition.

The Shelby bill is 216 pages of handouts that our friends at Americans for Financial Reform say “would constitute a major rollback of financial reform.” It would weaken the ability of regulators to oversee big non-bank financial institutions like insurance companies, even though the meltdown of AIG was a huge part of the last crisis. It adds an absurd and cumbersome process before the Federal Reserve can apply stricter standards to the biggest banks, blows huge holes in mortgage underwriting rules that would lead to more shady and abuse subprime lending, and require the re-review and re-examination of almost every regulation in Dodd-Frank, including many that have not been implemented yet.6

No Democrat should spend a split second considering supporting these changes. Nor should they attempt to negotiate with Republicans who have made their true agenda so clear, at least until Senator Shelby takes the massive Wall Street handouts off the table. We need to show that we don’t care how much arm-twisting Wall Street lobbyists are doing: rolling back Wall Street reform is simply unacceptable.

Tell Senate Democrats: Unite against Republican “Wall Street wish list” bill. Click below to sign the petition:

Thank you for speaking out,

Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets

Click here to add your name:

Received this e-mail today from former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto's (D. NV) U.S. Senate campaign:
There are more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for a home. And yet, around the country, qualified LGBT adoptive parents are still being discriminated against and turned away for no reason at all.

That’s just wrong – plain and simple.

Protecting children and families has always been my top priority. It’s part of why I’m running for Senate. So when I hear that children are being kept from loving homes, and LGBT families are being discriminated against, I have to stand up and do something about it. And I’m not willing to wait.

There’s a bill in Congress right now that would end discrimination against LGBT families and help more foster children find homes – but Congress won’t pass it unless we make our voices heard. Will you join me in telling Congress to immediately pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act?

Click here to add your name and tell Congress that discrimination is wrong: LGBT families are just as able to provide a loving and stable home for children as anyone else.

As attorney general, no part of my job was more important than making sure children were safe and cared for – and I’m looking forward to continuing that work in the Senate. But tens of thousands of kids are stuck in limbo in foster care, and they can’t wait for Election Day. They need our help right now.

Ending discrimination against LGBT families would help make sure that every child has a family to go home to. I’m proud to support the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. Will you please stand with me and urge Congress to help every child find a loving home?

Sign your name: Tell Congress to pass the Every Child Deserves a Family Act!

Thanks for standing with me on this,


Click here to add your name:

Received this e-mail today from Joe Sestak's (D. PA) U.S. Senate campaign:
Sen. Pat Toomey said, “You don’t have to look just at what I say, you can look at what I did.” We need to, because Pennsylvanians were harmed by what Toomey did with his votes in Washington, D.C., last week.

1.  Toomey’s Harmful Votes Against Pennsylvanian Seniors:

    Cut Medicare by $700 million

Voted to take $700 million out of Medicare, which the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare called “a terrible precedent.”

    Dismantle Operation Chokepoint, the Justice Department’s anti-fraud Task Force established two years ago to protect Pennsylvanian seniors from bank-abetted scam artists.

After accepting campaign contributions from one of his top 10 donors -- the American Bankers Association -- and $52,250 from payday lenders that prey on senior citizens, Toomey was one of just three Senators last year to co-sponsor a bill to defund Operation Chokepoint. Unsuccessful, Toomey voted last week to deny financial regulators from participating in Operation Chokepoint – even though the initiative has forced banks to report fraudsters who prey on senior citizens’ bank accounts and has already returned millions to our seniors.

2. Toomey’s Harmful Votes Against Pennsylvanian Jobs

    Allowed China and other nations to manipulate their currency to sell cheap, manufactured goods to America

Toomey voted against a bipartisan amendment that made currency manipulation by foreign countries a principal element of the ongoing trade negotiations. Foreign countries like China use currency manipulation to artificially decrease the cost of their manufactured goods, hurting PA workers.

Earlier this month, Toomey was one of just 20 Senators who voted against a bipartisan bill to penalize imports from countries that manipulate their currency.

3. Toomey’s Harmful Failure to Protect Pennsylvanian Workers

    Did nothing to help workers laid off due to trade agreements

Toomey abstained from voting for an amendment which would have reversed the $125 million cut in Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funding to help retrain workers laid off by unfair foreign trade practices.

4. Toomey’s Harmful Vote Against Pennsylvanian Consumers…and For His Wall Street Friends

    Voted for his own amendment increasing the threshold for institutions subject to examination by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from $10 billion to $50 billion.

If Toomey's amendment becomes law, 99 percent of all banks in the nation would have no federal regulator ensuring the bank follows consumer financial protection laws. For example, IndyMac, one of the worst violators of consumer protections in the lead-up to the financial crisis, had $32 billion in total assets.

Toomey, who used to be a currency-related derivatives trader on Wall Street, was willing to extend a helping hand to the banking industry that supports him by voting for his own amendment for banking deregulation that drove us into financial crisis – while voting against Pennsylvanian consumers who would have been protected from fraud and harmful practices by some banks.

5. Toomey’s Harmful Hypocrisy on “Support” for Victims of Human Trafficking

    Toomey mentioned on social media his vote to increase fines against convicted human traffickers by $5,000. However, he failed to mention his votes to defund the programs that help victims of human trafficking, including:
    Ending the U.S. Attorney Led Task Force on Human Trafficking.
    Defunding the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, which investigates and prosecutes human trafficking cases in coordination with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security.
    Stopping the program that provides services to victims of human trafficking such as crisis intervention, counseling, emergency shelter, criminal justice advocacy and emergency transportation.
    Toomey also failed to co-sponsor the International Violence Against Women Act of 2014, which would have permitted U.S. leadership to have regional cooperative arrangements with other countries to help prevent human trafficking.

6. Toomey’s Harmful Hypocrisy on “Support” for First Responders

    Toomey mentioned his vote for establishing a national Blue Alert communications network within the Department of Justice but the bill does not provide any funding for it. Furthermore, Toomey failed to mention he has voted to:
    End $1 billion in state and local law enforcement grants, contracts and cooperative agreements that help our first responders through training programs and new equipment.
    Cut off funding that goes toward law enforcement armor vests.
    Defund evidence-based programs that help police officers reduce gun crime and gang violence.
    Stop funding the Interoperable Communications Grants, which help local police, firefighters and emergency responders talk to each other during a crisis.

    Similarly, Toomey wrote a letter this week that he cares about our police having “defensive equipment like riot helmets and riot shields” when he has voted three times against funding for law enforcement equipment, including riot helmets, riot shields and armored vests.


People are taking notice of how Toomey’s tactics of saying one thing in Pennsylvania and the voting and acting a different way in Washington, D.C., are becoming increasingly evident in their harm to Pennsylvanians.

    The Center for American Progress found that Toomey “has been slow in delivering nominee suggestions to the White House” and noted that since 2014 when one of Toomey’s desired judicial candidates was not nominated by the President, judicial nominations “became stalled” and the situation has since gotten worse.
    In fact, Pennsylvania now has the second most federal judicial vacancies in the nation, creating a backlog of justice denied to law-abiding Pennsylvanian citizens.

    And after the recent Amtrak train tragedy – which a Transportation Board member said would have been prevented if the installation of Positive Train Control (PTC) systems had not been delayed – an article noted Toomey’s actions in Washington, D.C, observing that, “Over the years, he’s written letters to regulators, complaining about the system’s high costs, sponsored legislation to delay it and testified at committee hearings that it’s a misplaced priority.”

Pennsylvanians need a new Senator who supports them here in our state and in D.C.

For more information, contact:
Danielle Lynch

If you would like to donate or get involved with Sestak's campaign, you can do so here:
Congressman Joe Sestak stands with his daughter Alex (left) and wife susan (right, behind) as he gives his concession speach after losing to Pat Toomey on Tuesday, October 2, 2010 at the Radnor Hotel.  //ed note: ROB KANDEL / THE MORNING CALL  ***** Headline:  2010 THE YEAR IN REVIEW ** From a quadruple homicide in Northampton to the defeat of Pennsylvania's longest-serving senator, 2010 will go down as a year of heartache, anxiety and political change (12/26/10) *****

Things just got a whole lot more exciting in the Arizona U.S. Senate Race:

Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick will challenge Republican Sen. John McCain for Senate, according to a source with knowledge of Kirkpatrick’s plans, giving Democrats a top recruit and a potential pickup opportunity.

Kirkpatrick made calls Monday to inform people of her plans, the source told CQ Roll Call. Her bid also opens up Arizona’s 1st District, a GOP-leaning seat spanning the northeast quadrant of the state.

An hour after this story was published, Kirkpatrick sent out an email making it official. “I love this state, and I’ve worked hard all my life to put Arizona first,” she said in a video. “From the timber towns of the White Mountains to the tech hubs of Phoenix and Tucson, we are working to build a strong, diverse economy. I’m fighting for Arizona every single day, and I’d be humbled to represent our state in the United States Senate.”

She touted her service on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and work on a project she described as aimed at wildfire prevention and job creation in Arizona. - Roll Call, 5/26/15

McCain himself already has a primary battle to look forward to:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 5,2015, before a GOP luncheon.  (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
For months, there have been rumblings of a conservative primary challenge to McCain. A Public Policy Polling survey in early May found Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) running just one point behind McCain, while Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) polled two points behind the senator and state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) trailing McCain 44 percent to 31 percent.

If one of those conservative Republicans challenge McCain —especially Schweikert or Salmon— they would likely have the backing of powerful outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) or Club for Growth, which heavily backed tea party primary challengers in the last cycle. Less than a week ago, SCF sent an email to supporters titled "Time to Replace John McCain."

"John McCain lost his way a long time ago and it's time to replace him with a strong conservative leader who will support and defend the Constitution," SCF President Ken Cuccinelli wrote in the email. - TPM, 5/26/15

It's looking like McCain has overstayed his welcome but of course it's still too early to really say anything. But if you would like to get involved with Kirkpatrick's campaign, you can do so here:
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D. HI), who has been an adamant opponent of the TPP, is now focusing on stopping the TPA:
Thank you for adding your name to our petition opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. With your help, we were able to show that the American people want what’s best for our workers, not what’s best for corporations and special interests.

But now we’re facing an even greater challenge with the upcoming vote on the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA), also known as Fast Track. This act could have a devastating impact on American workers if passed. This is why I spoke out in opposition of TPA this week on the Senate floor.

Will you join me in standing firm against TPA today?

The TPA procedure would force Congress to consider legislation such as TPP with an up or down vote, with no possibility for adding amendments. This is not in the best interest of the American people.

By taking away lawmakers’ power to oversee critical trade agreements and putting them on a “fast track” to approval, we could jeopardize hundreds of thousands of American jobs and weaken our manufacturing industry. TPA is in the corporate interests and that should not be the driving force for public policy decisions on public health, consumer safety, and the environment.

Sign my petition today and let’s stand together against Fast Track.

Thanks for your continued support.


Click here to add your name:

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R. IL) has been pushing his Iran Sanctions Bill which would greatly undermine President Obama's negotiations with Iran:

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, right, speaks to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and other area law enforcement officials as he highlights his anti-gang legislation that was recently included in the Senate Commerce, Justice and Science funding bill, at a news conference Monday, Aug. 19, 2013, in Chicago. During the event Kirk says he recently went on a ride-along with Chicago police to see areas plagued by street-gang violence. And he even responded to a call where one alleged gang member was shot. Asked about his tour of Englewood, Kirk used slang for a shooting and said: ìOne guy got popped.î (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Senate hawks like Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) do not like diplomacy with Iran. Graham has repeatedly threatened war with Iran, whereas Kirk prefers to starve the Iranian people. Yet, given that most Americans do not want another military adventure in the Middle East, and largely support a negotiated nuclear deal with Iran, the hawks are pivoting. Instead of doubling down on untenable positions, hardliners like Graham and Kirk are now offering their own versions of an unobtainable perfect deal to provide cover to kill the good deal in front of us. The problem is, based on their recent comments on the scope of a final agreement, their versions of a “better deal” are, in many regards, much less stringent than what President Obama and the P5+1 have actually lined up.

Senator Kirk, who has been warning of nothing short of nuclear Armageddon if a nuclear deal goes through, made fairly dubious recommendations during remarks at the Chicago Council on Global Affairslast week. According to Sen. Kirk, a good deal would look like “the agreement that Nelson Mandela signed with the international community to get rid of his four nuclear weapons that he had.” If it’s good enough for Mandela, it should be good enough for Iran, according to Kirk. That’s a catchy phrase, but one that is completely and utterly inaccurate. - National Iranian American Council, 5/19/15

Here's the argument Kirk has been making:

“What would a good agreement look like? A good agreement in my view would be the agreement that Nelson Mandela signed with the international community to get rid of his four nuclear weapons that he had. … I have told many members of Congress, when they ask what does a good agreement look like, I have said, ‘If it’s good enough for Nelson Mandela, it should be good enough for Ayatollah Rouhani.” - Sen. Mark Kirk (R. IL), The Chicago Council On Global Affairs, 5/15/15

And he's also been saying this:

“There is one simple plan, if they do exactly what Nelson Mandela did on disarming nuclear weapons. As you know, South Africa built four nuclear weapons, and when Nelson Mandela wanted to get rid of them, he agreed to anytime, anywhere inspections. So international inspectors could go, even go through his underwear in his home at any time, at any place, looking for evidence of nukes.” - Sen. Mark Kirk (R. IL), Hugh Hewitt Show, 3/24/15
Now here's where Kirk gets his facts completely wrong:

epa03771019  (FILE) An undated file photo of former South African President Nelson Mandela (R) talking to incumbent State President FW de Klerk (L) at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, 04 February 2010. Media reports on 02 July 2013 state that FW De Klerk, was admitted to hospital and will have a pacemaker installed, his foundation said. 'Mr De Klerk felt dizzy and saw his specialist yesterday.' He has had several such spells in recent weeks and his specialist recommended the immediate installation of a pacemaker. He will be fitted with a pacemaker later today and will spend the night in hospital," according to the statement. De Klerk, 77, was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize alongside Nelson Mandela, who is currently in hospital in critical condition.  EPA/STR
The history has been fairly well-documented. The apartheid regime of South Africa had embarked on a secret nuclear weapons program in the 1970s and ultimately built six nuclear weapons (not four, as Kirk stated), each with 55 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium. In September 1989, newly elected President F.W. de Klerk — the last white president of the country — told officials he had decided to dismantle the program.

At the time, Nelson Mandela was still in prison, where he had been for a quarter century. A key motivation to end the program was that de Klerk was intent on ending apartheid and was worried about leaving a nuclear stockpile in the hands of a future South African government.

On Feb. 11, 1990, de Klerk released Mandela from prison. That same month, he issued written instructions to terminate the program and dismantle the weapons. On July 10, 1991, South Africa acceded to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Given that Mandela did not become president until May of 1994, three years after the weapons were slated to be scrapped, what is Kirk talking about?

There’s a clue in the slide that appeared as Kirk spoke at the Chicago Council. With the tagline of “Good Enough for Mandela, Good Enough for Iran,” the slide purports to show how South Africa’s inspections compare to arrangements with North Korea and Iran in terms of transparency. South Africa is represented by a picture of Mandela.

But this is historically inaccurate as well. Initially, the South Africa government chose not to tell the International Atomic Energy Agency that it had a secret bomb program. As Waldo Stumpf, the head of South Africa’s Atomic Energy Corp., explained in 1995, officials believed the country’s “internal political transformation process” was not ready for such an announcement. Moreover, the stand-off at the time between Iraq and the IAEA over Baghdad’s nuclear program made South African officials fearful that they would become a “second Iraqi case.”

But when De Klerk decided to reveal the weapons program in 1993, after pressure from Mandela’s African National Congress and increasing suspicions from the IAEA, he also told the IAEA that they could conduct visits “anywhere, any time, any place—within reason.”

David Albright, a former weapons inspector and an expert of the South Africa case, said “it was de Klerk who made this offer after he admitted to a nuclear weapons program. It was definitely de Klerk who set this up with the IAEA.” - Washington Post, 5/21/15

Pretty shameful that Kirk has to resort to to distorting Nelson's legacy in order to start a war with Iran. Democrats are eyeing to take him out next year. I for one am backing Rep. Tammy Duckworth's (D. IL) U.S. Senate campaign who has bashed Kirk on Iran in the past:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth on Tuesday criticized Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk as "irresponsible" for recently signing an open letter to the government of Iran regarding ongoing nuclear talks.

Duckworth was referencing a letter signed this month by 47 Republican senators who warned Iranian officials that any nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration could expire as soon as the president leaves office. Democrats argue the letter interferes with talks to curtail Iran's nuclear activities.

"To come together in a very partisan way and send a letter to a foreign nation that does not have America's best interest at its heart, that undermines our nation's unity, I think is very irresponsible and it's certainly not befitting of a United States senator," said Duckworth, a two-term lawmaker from Hoffman Estates. - Chicago Tribune, 3/31/15

If you would like to donate and get involved with Duckworth's campaign, you can do so here:

Received this e-mail today from Attorney General Kamala Harris' (D. CA) U.S. Senate campaign:

CULVER CITY, CA - DECEMBER 04:  California Attorney General Kamala Harris speaks onstage during Children's Defense Fund - California Hosts 24th Annual Beat The Odds Awards at Book Bindery on December 4, 2014 in Culver City, California.  (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Children's Defense Fund)
"How can you possibly expect to get anything done with the culture of dysfunction in Washington, D.C.?"

That's a tough question for any candidate to answer. But this weekend at the California Democratic Party ("CDP") convention, Kamala Harris knocked it out of the park when she told her story to a thunderous crowd of thousands of Democratic activists, delegates, and students.

Another memorable moment was when Senator Elizabeth Warren gave Kamala a shout-out during her headliner speech, saying she knew Kamala was a "fearless" leader from their early days working together to protect homeowners from big banks during the mortgage crisis.

Watch this video from last weekend's California Democratic Party convention, and see why Kamala will be a tremendous U.S. Senator:

As Kamala's new campaign manager, this was my first experience at the CDP annual convention. For Kamala, however, after so many conventions, the enthusiasm at this convention has shown that year by year, she's grown a real grassroots movement.

We met hundreds of #TeamKamala supporters over the weekend. We shared conversation, passed out rally signs, and received commitments from people wanting to volunteer for the campaign. All in all, it was a huge success.

Take a peek at our new video of Kamala's big convention speech, and then share it with your friends.

Thanks for all your support!

Rory Steele
Campaign Manager

Click here to share the video and to donate and get involved with harris' campaign:
UNITED STATES - JULY 25: Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., speaks at an event with House Democrats on "promoting affordable education as part of House Democrats' 'Middle Class Jumpstart' agenda," in the Capitol Visitor Center, July 25, 2014.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Received this e-mail today from Rep. Donna Edwards' (D. MD) U.S. Senate campaign. Edwards has been a fierce opponent of the TPP and now she's highlighting a key part of the trade deal:
Fast Track and TPP just got a whole lot worse. Republicans have added $700 million in cuts to Medicare to pay for the trade adjustment assistance.

We need your voice now to get them to back down.

Add your name and tell the Senate to say no to Fast Track and the cuts to Medicare.

The more the public learns about the wheeling and dealing done to get Fast Track and the TPP passed the worse it looks. And that doesn’t even include the the awful corporate and special interest giveaways inside the actual trade deal!

The Senate can vote no and stand up for our workers and most vulnerable citizens. We don't have to pit Americans on Medicare against our workers. Will you stand with me to tell the Senate to do what is right?

We only have a short time before the Senate votes again on this deal -- add your name and tell the Senate to remove Medicare cuts and vote no on Fast Track.

Thanks for standing with me in this fight,


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