Catherine Thompson

Catherine Thompson is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. Before joining TPM, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She is a graduate of New York University, where 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

A self-described white supremacist's plans to turn the tiny North Dakota town of Leith into a white enclave could be sidelined over health code violations, the Bismarck Tribune reported Tuesday.

An order giving Craig Cobb five days to make plans for running water and a sewer outlet in his Leith home expired Monday, according to the newspaper. 

Custer District Health Unit's environmental health practitioner, Aaron Johnson, told the Tribune that since Cobb hasn't shown he has plans for potable water in his home, the structure may either be declared uninhabitable or the matter may be taken to court. Johnson said he suspects Cobb may be using an old outhouse on the property.

Cobb has so far purchased about a dozen lots in Leith in hopes of persuading fellow white supremacists to move there, according to the Associated Press.

Johnson added that two of the properties Cobb purchased, an abandoned creamery and a home the activist planned to sell to a Wisconsin man, are in the process of being condemned. The city plans on removing those structures along with nine other abandoned properties in mid-October, he said.

Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX) on Wednesday praised Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) marathon speech against Obamacare on the senate floor via Twitter, contrasting the senator's stamina with President Barack Obama's response to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"Ted Cruz stayed up all night to fight ObamaCare," Stockman wrote. "Obama went to bed while Ambassador Stevens was being murdered."

The Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attack, in which four people including Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed, remains a heated issue among Republicans. Some members of Congress used the first anniversary of the Benghazi attack on Sept. 11 to suggest that the White House had failed to answer their questions and could be hiding evidence from the attack.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) said in an interview published Wednesday that shutting down the federal government in an effort to defund the Affordable Care Act isn't a "good option" for Republicans in Congress.  

“I don't think it's a good option,” Perry told ABC News' Jeff Zeleny. “There's still time to sit down and try to fix Obamacare.”

The Texas governor ticked off a list of alternatives to the defund Obamacare strategy, including health savings accounts and personal responsibility programs, that would give individual states more flexibility in insuring residents.

While Perry wouldn't say that Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) strategy to peg defunding Obamacare to a continuing resolution to fund the government was wrong, he said he believes "the idea that you have to defund government over one program is a bit nonsensical."

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on Wednesday argued that if Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) understood the moral of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham," he would wait to see how Obamacare performs before publicly decrying the health care law.

During the sixth hour of his extended remarks against the Affordable Care Act Tuesday night on the Senate floor, Cruz read the Dr. Seuss story in full to his two daughters in Texas watching the live feed of their father via CSPAN. 

"I thought it was interesting that Ted Cruz used 'Green Eggs and Ham,'" McCaskill said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I went to the University of Missouri, I did not go to Harvard, but my daughter texted me this morning and said 'Mom, does he not know the point of the story?' It's that you can't knock things until you try it."

Cruz said after he finished reading the story that the book "has some applicability, as curious as it may sound, to the Obamcare debate," adding that Americans "did not like green eggs and ham, and they did not like Obamacare either."

McCaskill thought it was "ironic" for Cruz to read the story during his faux-filibuster, since she said those who read the law know that private insurance companies operate on its health care exchanges. 

"It's all private insurance companies on these exchanges," she said. "I'm trying to figure out why we should delay them going into effect when it is a free market solution to accessible health care."




Correction: This post has been updated to show that McCaskill made her comments Wednesday.

Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is slated to headline a private fundraiser for Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's (R) gubernatorial campaign on Wednesday, the Washington Post reported.

“Ken is grateful to have Governor Romney’s support,” Cuccinelli spokesman Richard Cullen said in an email to the Post. “He’s looking forward to sharing ideas with the governor on how to grow Virginia’s economy and implement his plan to create 58,000 jobs.”

The campaign confirmed Romney would appear at the lunch reception in McLean, Va., but did not disclose the cost of attendance, according to the newspaper.

Cuccinelli faces Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, in the Virginia governor's race.

The Senate Ethics Committee on Tuesday dismissed a complaint filed by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).

Vitter requested earlier this month that the committee carry out an investigation into what he called "attempted bribery" on Reid's and Boxer's part, after reports emerged that Senate Democrats were drafting a plan to deny government contributions to lawmakers' health care plans if there is "probable cause" they solicited prostitutes. The plan would have raised the specter of Vitter's 2007 prostitution scandal if he continued to push an amendment repealing federal contributions to congressional staffs' health care coverage.

The Senate Ethics Committee's chief counsel, John C. Sassaman, wrote in a letter to Vitter that the complaint Sens. Boxer and Reid and their staffs violated committee rules in proposing the draft legislation and circulating it to the press had no merit.

From the letter:

The Committee has previously concluded that mere allegations, with no evidence or information to support their substantive merit, are insufficient to extend the Committee's investigative process. The complaint offers no concrete information to support the allegation that Senator Reid, Senator Boxer, or their staffs were involved with the legislative language drafted by unknown parties that you described. Further, an inquiry involving speculation over draft legislative language not part of any bill or any proceeding would be unprecedented.

The daughter-in-law of former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) on Tuesday stood by her account of a tense encounter between the Wyoming politician and Lynne Cheney, sparked by his support for daughter Liz Cheney's Senate primary opponent.

Deb Oakley Simpson wrote on her Facebook page Saturday that during a fundraiser in Cody, Wyo., the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney told her father-in-law to "shut your mouth" about his support for incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).

"I just wanted to say, I stand by my post as honest and straight-forward," Simpson wrote Tuesday. "Despite what others are saying, it did happen and I am fascinated by people who won't own up to their actions." 

Simpson also clarified her role in the incident. She wrote that she was not part of the alleged conversation between Lynne Cheney and her father-in-law, but instead "was near and was told by my husband and my father-in-law at the dinner table of Lynne's comments."


A lawyer for Newt Gingrich ordered a group of supporters encouraging him to mount a campaign for U.S. Senate to "cease and desist" from associating itself with the former speaker of the house, the Washington Post reported Tuesday. 

Andrew Hemingway, a former state director in New Hampshire and national digital fundraising director for Gingrich's 2012 presidential campaign, launched the Draft Newt PAC last week to persuade the former Georgia representative to run against Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2014. 

Gingrich's lawyer, Stefan C. Passantino, said in a letter to the organization that the newly minted co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" will not run for Senate at any point in the future. 

"For this reason, Speaker Gingrich encourages supporters to ignore solicitations from any group seeking to raise funds in the name of a 'Draft Newt' movement," the letter stated, as quoted by the Washington Post.

"Accordingly, we hereby demand that you cease and desist from the unauthorized use of Speaker Gingrich's name or likeness and that you further cease and desist from any activity implying or insinuating that your group is in any way authorized by, or affiliated with, Speaker Gingrich or his organizations," the letter continued.

While Former Vice President Dick Cheney has stayed mostly mum on his daughter's bid for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), his wife allegedly had some harsh words Saturday for a former senator who voiced his support for Enzi.

Lynne Cheney told former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) to "shut your mouth" about Liz Cheney's primary opponent at a fundraiser in Cody, Wyo., according to Simpson's daughter-in-law. 

“So I’m at the Patrons Ball tonight and Lynne Cheney, the mother of Liz, comes up to my father-in-law and tells him to… I believe the direct quote was 'Shut your mouth' regarding his support of Mike Enzi,” Deb Oakley Simpson wrote on her Facebook page, as quoted by the Casper Star-Tribune.

Liz Cheney's campaign denied those were her mother's words.

"We love Al and Ann," a statement from the Cheney camp emailed to the Star-Tribune and attributed to Lynne Cheney read. "We have been friends for over 40 years. As to the story posted on Facebook, I have to admit I am at a bit of a loss. That simply did not happen."

Alan Simpson did not offer comment to the newspaper on the issue.

Update: Deb Oakley Simpson's Facebook post was visible to the public Tuesday.

Correction: The headline of this post originally misstated Lynne Cheney's alleged remark. She reportedly told Simpson to "shut your mouth."