Senate Leadership Fund: Mo Brooks ‘lies again’ about ‘100 percent’ support of Trump’s agenda


Mo Brooks is lying once again about his “100 percent” support for President Donald Trump, says the leading Senate Republican organization.

Senate Leadership Fund, the super PAC linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, is accusing the Huntsville Republican congressman and U.S. Senate candidate of once again “falsely” stating he voted “down the line” on bills supported by Trump.

SLF offers a clip of Brooks telling WVNN radio July 21: “Out of 300 and something votes that we’ve cast so far this year in the House of Representatives, every single one of them that has involved a White House position, I have voted with the White House.”

“I have concurred with the policy goals they have put forth,” Brooks continued. “The record is, the White House and I have agreed 100 percent of the time on the things that the White House has sought to achieve.”

Not so, says SLF spokesperson Chris Pack.

As proof, Pack offers research by the nonpartisan Congressional Quarterly’s Vote Watch, where Brooks is, in fact, among the bottom 10 Republican members of Congress with the lowest percentage of voting in line with Trump’s agenda.

While the number is still somewhat high – it is far from the “100 percent” that Brooks claims.

“Like a typical Washington politician,” Pack says. “Mo Brooks keeps saying things that are plainly untrue to hide his record of opposing Donald Trump as a candidate and as President.”

SLF recently launched a website – MoBrooksMoLies.org — dedicated to fact checking Brooks as he faces a tough Senate campaign against sitting Sen. Luther Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. They are part of a 10-person field vying for the Republican nomination to serve the remaining term of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Last week, Roll Call reported on internal polling that puts Brooks third in what seems to be shaping up as a three-candidate race; Moore leads with 27 percent, Strange at 23 percent and Brooks at 21 percent.

Alabama voters have until July 31 to register for the Aug. 15 Republican and Democratic special primaries. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Aug. 10. If there is no primary winner — with 50 percent plus one — a runoff is Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12.

Roy Moore blasts Mo Brooks ‘ridiculous’ stance on marijuana legalization


This week, Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks, in a heated race for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Luther Strange, declared his support for legalizing medical marijuana.

Taking that stance during a Senate race is “absolutely ridiculous,” said former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, also running in the special election to serve the remaining term of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The United States faces bigger, more pressing problems, Moore said, and those issues are what should be addressed during a Senate race, not whether to legalize medical marijuana.

On Monday, Brooks made the declaration at a news conference streamed on Facebook, the same day fellow Senate candidate Dom Gentile — whose wife has cancer — dropped out of the race to endorse Brooks.

The Huntsville Republican said: “Medical cannabis should be treated like any other medical treatment that saves lives or eases pain and symptoms … That is what I believe. That is how I will vote in the Senate. That is how I have voted in the House.”

Appearing on WYDE Wednesday, Moore slammed Brooks’ position as a non-starter.

“I think it’s ridiculous to concentrate on a matter like that as a United States Senator which should be left to the states,” Moore said on The Michael Hart Show. “I mean we got North Korea threatening to nuke us, we got a health care system that’s broken and costs everybody, an immigration system that’s risking the security of our national security because of people flowing across the borders; we’ve got unfair trade agreements … I could go on and on … we got judges thinking they rule the world.”

“About an issue like this,” Moore added, “leave it to the states.”

As for legalization of medical marijuana, it continues to be a hotly debated issue, particularly over the possibility of increased use among youths.

A new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics found as more states legalize the drug for adult use, a greater number of teenagers think it is safe. This leads to rising concerns by doctors and other medical professionals that teens are underestimating the risks of marijuana use.

“Marijuana is not a benign drug for teenagers because it affects their developing mind. Teenagers are at a critical time of brain development and they have lifelong impacts from marijuana during adolescence,” Dr. Stephen Patrick of Vanderbilt University Medical Center told Chris Martinez of CBS New York.

“People living in states with legalized medical marijuana are more likely to use and abuse cannabis than people living in states where pot remains completely illegal, says a new study that cautions policymakers,” wrote Trevor Hughes in an April 26 piece for USA Today, reporting on a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

In July 2015, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on a study by Florida International University finding legalized medical marijuana could lead to increased marijuana use by teenagers.

According to research by FIU criminal justice professor Lisa Stolzenberg, legalized medical marijuana in Florida marijuana could lead to increased pot use by youths, similar to what happened in other states that passed laws allowing marijuana for the treatment of pain, nausea, vomiting and other medical conditions.

The study also cited statistics for 2010-11, the most recent year in the study, where 9.7 percent of high school students reported using pot in states with legalized medical marijuana, compared to only 6.8 percent in states where it was illegal. Marijuana use among youth in states that legalized rose consistently since 2004, staying higher than in states where it’s illegal.

In the Alabama Senate race, Roll Call reports recent internal polling puts Moore in the lead with 27 percent, Strange at 23 percent and Brooks at 21 percent.

If no candidate reaches 50 percent plus one in the Aug. 15 special primary, the top two vote-getters will face a runoff Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12.

Moore’s appearance can be heard here:

Trip Pittman nets $250K in Senate bid, ‘top-tier’ in Q2 fundraising


State Sen. Trip Pittman raised nearly $250,000 in the second quarter, putting him in the “top tier” of candidates in Alabama’s special election for the Senate seat currently held by Luther Strange.

Pittman’s take included a personal loan of $50,000, reports AL.com, and shows he was “among the race’s thriftiest spenders up to the end of June, spending a little more than $30,000 on his campaign.”

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and Huntsville Republican Congressman Mo Brooks each posted $300,000 in donations, while Strange raised $1.8 million in the second quarter.

Roll Call reported recently on internal polling that puts Moore in the lead with 27 percent, Strange at 23 percent and Brooks at 21 percent.

In a campaign statement, Pittman noted there was only a single donation from a PAC: The University of South Alabama.

“The people of Alabama need someone with integrity,” said Pittman, who represents Montrose. “I am running to shake up Washington, not to be part of the problem. Alabama needs to select their next senator, not the Washington money crowd or a disgraced former governor. I am 100 percent committed to this race, and have no interest in any other elected office.”

While Pittman touts a lack of PAC money in contributions to his Senate campaign, AL.com notes there were a significant number of lobbyists: Joseph Fine and Robert Geddie, of the Fine Geddie lobbying firm; Dax Swatek and Tim Howe, of the lobbying firm Swatek, Howe & Ross; Tom Coker, president of the lobbying firm Tom Coker & Associates and Michael Sullivan, owner of The Lobbyist Group.

If one person does not reach 50 percent plus one in the Aug. 15 GOP primary, the top two vote-getters will face a runoff Sept. 26; the general election is Dec. 12.

Jesse Nevel protesting Paul Congemi ‘go back to Africa’ rant at rally Tuesday


Jesse Nevel

St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel is organizing a “major public event” this week in response to racially charged statements made by fellow candidate Paul Congemi.

After video emerged of Congemi berating supporters of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, telling them to “go back to Africa,” Nevel — the Uhuru-backed candidate — announced he will hold a “St. Pete Rally for Racial Justice and Reparations” Tuesday in the city’s downtown Williams Park. The event begins 6:30 p.m.

Last week, during a question at a mayoral forum about opportunities for youths, Congemi went on a bizarre rant leveled against Nevel: “You and your people, you talk about reparations … The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations … Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.”

Congemi continued: “My advice to you, my advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa, go back to Africa.”

Video of Congemi’s comments went viral with millions of views worldwide and was picked up by international media including The Washington Post, USA TODAY, Russia Today, Teen Vogue, BET, Essence magazine and others.

According to Nevel, Congemi’s tirade has “raised concern for local government and community leaders about the city’s reputation before the eyes of the world.”

“We want the world to see, Congemi does not speak for St. Petersburg,” Nevel said in a statement.

Nevel, whose campaign theme is “Unity Through Reparations,” is running on a platform that St. Petersburg’s $500 million budget has “ample room to redirect resources to economically uplift and develop the black community.” He also suggests using funds from the Penny for Pinellas infrastructure sales tax, as well as calling for a “reparations tax” on major corporations.

The committee to elect Eritha “Akile” Cainion for St. Petersburg City Council is co-sponsoring the event. Ebony magazine recently profiled Cainion, a 20-year-old black activist running in the crowded District 6 race.

Nevel has also invited incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former two-term Mayor Rick Baker, who is also running for his old job, to speak at the rally.

 

Luther Strange mailer blasts Mo Brooks on Trump as Senate primary approaches


About six weeks away from the special primary for Alabama’s U.S. Senate seat, the battle is escalating between Incumbent Sen. Luther Strange and Congressman Mo Brooks, one of his top Republican opponents.

A new mailer, paid for by the Strange for Senate committee, blasts Brooks for not supporting then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential primary, as well as his criticism after Trump won the nomination.

Brooks, Strange and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore are the three leaders in a crowded GOP primary, with a (likely) September runoff, unless a single candidate gets 50 percent plus one in August.

As reported by POLITICO, Strange’s mailer quotes Brooks as saying on MSNBC in February: “Trump voters are going to regret their votes.”

After Trump won the nomination in May, Brooks told the Montgomery Advertiser: “Voters sure are facing some tough choices in November, aren’t they?” (He later admitted he would vote for Trump in November.)”

The mailer proclaimed that “Luther Strange strongly supported our President from Day 1,” adding, “this was never a ‘tough choice’ for Luther Strange.”

Appointed to the Senate in February by then-Governor Robert Bentley, Strange is facing a crowded 10-person field for the Aug. 15 Republican primary. A primary runoff, if necessary, will be Sept. 26; a general election is Dec. 12.

Alabama ranked near bottom of list of best states for startups, small business


A financial website ranks Alabama as one of the least favorable places for starting a business in the U.S.

The study announced this week by personal finance website WalletHub ranks Alabama as the 42nd best state for startups in 2017.

Grading on a 100-point scale, WalletHub used 20 key indicators of startup success to come up with its “2017 Best & Worst States to Start a Business,” averaging the score on each — with 100 being best.

Metrics include office space expense, incentive spending, financing, an average length of the workweek, availability of human capital and the growth in the number of small businesses.

On that scale, Alabama scored 40.92 points —  last in Business Environment, 31st in Access to Resources and ninth in Business Costs. Alabama is among the bottom five states with the lowest average growth in the number of small businesses.

However, the Yellowhammer State ranked in the top five for lowest labor costs, along with four other Southern states.

In relation to some of its neighbors, Alabama listed at or near the bottom: Florida is sixth, Georgia is eighth; Tennessee and Mississippi were 27th and 28th respectively.

Maryland, New Hampshire and New Jersey ranked lowest overall.

The company also asked a panel of nine experts for their business insights on four key questions:

  1. Do you believe that the economic policies being pursued by the Trump administration will promote new-business development?
  2. To what extent do state policies, such as corporate tax rates, influence decisions about whether and where to start a new business?
  3. Are tax breaks and other incentives to encourage new businesses overall a good or bad investment for states?
  4. What measures can state authorities undertake in order to encourage entrepreneurs to start new businesses in their state?

Answers are available at WalletHub.com.

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Source: WalletHub

Increased food spending, lower gas prices give retailers boost for Independence Day


With Independence Day arriving Tuesday, retailers expect a surge in one of the things Americans do best – eat.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts Americans will spend more than $7.1 billion for Independence Day weekend on food items for picnics, barbecues and other celebrations. That’s an increase of about $2 in per-person spending over 2016.

Numbers from the NRF annual survey, conducted by Prosper Insight & Analytics, note that as many as 88 percent of those surveyed (an estimated 219 million Americans) will be celebrating Independence Day weekend, with 162 million of them — 66 percent — taking part in a cookout or picnic, spending an average of $73.42 per person, up from $71.34 last year.

Americans will be showing their patriotic spirit with flags and clothing. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. consumers — 65 percent — own an American flag, while more than half (53 percent) will wear some sort of patriotic themed clothing like T-shirts, bathing suits or shoes. Forty percent own some other patriotic themed decorations, and 28 percent say they plan to buy additional patriotic items.

Fireworks are another popular Independence Day activity, despite July 4 falling on a weekday in 2017. Less than half of Americans — 44 percent — plan to watch fireworks Tuesday night, while 14 percent will watch a parade.

Lower gas prices will also have a noticeable impact on Independence Day activities, with nearly 33 million Americans planning to head out-of-town for the long weekend, up from 31 million last year. The NRF survey found just 18 percent of Americans are concerned about gas prices, down from 21 percent last year; it is at the lowest level since the survey began in 2004.

Worries about gas prices for Independence Day peaked in 2008 when 59 percent of Americans said they were concerned over the cost of gas.