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Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a news writer for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett and interned at The L Magazine. At New York University she served as the deputy managing editor of NYU's student newspaper, The Washington Square News. She can be reached at catherine@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Catherine

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) said Thursday that he may sue to prevent congressional staffers from receiving employer contributions under Obamacare, Roll Call reported.

Johnson filed a formal comment to the Office of Personnel Management last week that challenged a rule it issued allowing the federal government to contribute insurance premiums for lawmakers and congressional staff set to buy health care plans under the Affordable Care Act. He told Roll Call he filed the comment in order to create standing for a legal case.

“My intent is to make sure President Obama is not allowed to exceed his legal authority in implementing this law, and that members of Congress and their staffs are not shielded from the harmful effects of this law that every other American will experience," Johnson said in a Sept. 10 statement announcing he and his staffers had filed the comment, as quoted by Roll Call.

This post has been updated.

An attorney for former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin filed to postpone his client's corruption trial indefinitely after a judge granted a new trial in the Danzinger Bridge shooting case this week, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said in his Tuesday ruling that several government attorneys posted anonymous comments on the Times-Picayune's website that "distorted" justice in the Danzinger Bridge case. Nagin's attorney, Robert Jenkins, said in a filing Thursday that the same anonymous commenting by prosecutors on criminal matters is a concern in his client's case, according to the newspaper.

Nagin was indicted by a federal grand jury in January on charges including bribery, money laundering and tax fraud. He pleaded not guilty in February.

This post has been updated.

Police said two men with concealed-carry permits died Wednesday after a shootout allegedly motivated by road rage, the Grand Rapids Press reported. 

The initial police investigation showed Ionia, Mich. residents James Pullum, 43, and Robert Taylor, 56, pulled into a car wash parking lot after a confrontation on the road. They then exited their vehicles, drew handguns and exchanged fire, authorities said. 

Police found both men at the scene with gunshot wounds, and the two were pronounced dead at an area hospital soon after, according to the newspaper.

A California town removed its mayor this week, allegedly for her declaration of an LGBT pride month, Fresno TV station KFSN reported Wednesday. 

The city council in Porterville, Calif. voted to oust both Mayor Virginia Gurrula and Vice Mayor Pete McCracken by a 3 to 2 vote, according to the news station. Gurrula told KFSN that there was no basis for her removal, but said she was not surprised by the vote since she's a supporter of gay rights. The former mayor's supporters said the city council was rankled when Gurrula proclaimed June be designated as Porterville's LGBT Pride Month.

Gurrula's replacement Mayor Cameron Hamilton denied that the pride month spat was the reason for Gurrula's removal, according to the news station.

Porterville's city council received backlash from gay rights supporters in 2009 for publicly supporting California's Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state.

[h/t Huffington Post]

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) invoked the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks at a rally in Omaha, Neb. Friday to argue that undocumented immigrants are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.  

In a video recording of the event surfaced by the Des Moines Register on Thursday, King said a former immigration official from New York told him in congressional testimony that the number of Americans who have been killed by people who entered the country illegally would be "in multiples of the victims of Sept. 11."

"Now that hits home, doesn't it?" King said. "When you think about multiples of the victims of Sept. 11, three thousand times something."

The rally was held to honor victims of crimes committed by people residing in the United States illegally, according to the Omaha World-Herald, including a 93-year-old woman who died after being raped and beaten in her home by a native of Sonora, Mexico.

“The violent rape and murder of 93-year-old Louise Sollowin was a 100 percent preventable death,” King said. “What we needed to do was enforce our existing laws. We didn't even need to pass a new one.”

Friday's comments aren't King's first on the consequences of immigration policy. Back in July, King said that for every undocumented valedictorian, there are 100 more immigrants carrying drugs across the border.

EMILY's List, the group that supports Democratic female political candidates, endorsed Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) for governor on Thursday, just four days after Coakley formally launched her campaign.

“Martha Coakley is a trailblazer who has shown an unwavering commitment to serving her community and Massachusetts as a strong advocate and problem solver for nearly three decades,” EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock said in a press release. “She worked tirelessly to protect women and families from abuse by engaging communities in crime prevention efforts as district attorney. As attorney general, Martha fights for taxpayers and consumers and brings the criminals who betray their trust to justice. Martha Coakley will be the kind of bold, pragmatic governor that Massachusetts women and families need, and the EMILY’s List community – now more than two million members strong – is excited to support her campaign.”

Coakley is the most widely recognized candidate in a field of five Democrats, including another woman, former Homeland Security advisor Juliette Kayyem. The only Republican to announce his candidacy so far is former gubernatorial hopeful Charlie Baker.

Aaron Alexis carved odd messages on the shotgun he used to kill 12 people at the Washington, DC Navy Yard on Monday, according to media reports.

Alexis carved "better off this way" and "my ELF weapon" on the shotgun, according to a law enforcement document reviewed by the Associated Press. That document described the firearm as a "sawed off" Remington shotgun.

It's unclear what Alexis meant in carving the messages. As the Washington Post pointed out, ELF can be an acronym for "extremely low frequency" and may refer to communications efforts.

Officials said Alexis was treated for a host of mental problems prior to the Navy Yard shooting, including insomnia, and had been hearing voices in his head. 

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) announced Wednesday that he plans to travel to Manchester, N.H. in November for the state Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson dinner.

O'Malley is reportedly considering a presidential run in 2016. New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hasan (D), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) are slated to join O'Malley at the dinner on Nov. 16 in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.

Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Wednesday defended a tweet he posted in the wake of the Washington, DC Navy Yard shooting that seemed to implicate the National Rifle Association in the incident, adding that he's not sure what the right wing holds more dear: guns or Bibles.

Cohen on Monday tweeted a political cartoon that depicted a rifle inscribed with "NRA" on the stock, which was part of a series of cartoons on gun violence. The gunman in the Navy Yard Shooting was widely speculated to have used an AR-15 rifle until the FBI said it had "no information"that was true. Instead, the FBI said he had a shotgun and handgun with him at the time of the shooting.

"I wanted to show we have gun violence, gun culture," Cohen told MSNBC's Alex Wagner on Wednesday. "We need to respond to it ... I think there definitely is a connection between the NRA and the continuing gun culture that we have that needs to be limited to protect Americans."

When Wagner asked what Cohen made of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's (D-NV) assertion that there aren't enough votes to revive gun control legislation that failed in the Senate in April, Cohen said "it's sad." The Tennessee Democrat agreed the votes just aren't there.

"The Republicans will shy away from it," he elaborated. "I got the vitriol on Twitter from all these people that opposed that cartoon. They are hardcore Republicans. This means more to them. I think their guns are right there next to their Bibles. I'm not sure which they find more important to them."

Correction: This post originally incorrectly described the gun depicted in the cartoon as an AR-15. It has been updated to clarify that the cartoon did not classify what type of rifle was depicted. It has also been updated to correct a reference to the stock of the gun.

The mother of Aaron Alexis, the man police identified as the gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington, DC Navy Yard on Monday, told NBC News Wednesday that she was heartbroken over her son's actions.

"Our son, Aaron Alexis, has murdered 12 people and wounded several others," Alexis' mother, Cathleen Alexis, told a reporter from her Brooklyn home. "His actions have had a profound and everlasting effect on families of the victims. I don't know why he did what he did and I'll never be able to ask him why. Aaron is now in a place where he can no longer do harm to anyone, and for that, I am glad. To the families of the victims, I am so, so very sorry that has happened. My heart is broken."

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