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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

Twenty Tennessee-based tea party and conservative groups published an open letter Wednesday to Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) urging him to retire, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"During your tenure in the Senate we have no doubt that you voted in a way which you felt was appropriate. Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous," the letter read, according to the Journal.

"America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values," the letter continued. "Quite honestly, your voting record shows that you do not represent the conservative values that we hold dear and the votes you have cast as Senator are intolerable to us."

The letter encouraged Alexander to retire rather than take on a primary challenger, according to the Journal, although no Republican has yet come forward to challenge Alexander's seat in 2014.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said Wednesday that he believes there's no "objective evidence" that African-American voters are being disenfranchised at the polls, Louisville, Ky.'s WFPL reported.

"The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government," Paul said at the Louisville Forum, as quoted by WFPL. "So really, I don't think there is objective evidence that we're precluding African-Americans from voting any longer."

The Supreme Court ruled in June to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act setting a formula that identified which states with a history of racial discrimination needed to pre-clear changes to voting laws with the federal government. States like North Carolina have since moved forward with new voter ID legislation

The Kentucky senator said comparing new voter ID legislation to Civil-Rights-era Jim Crow laws was doing a disservice to icons of the Civil Rights movement, according to WFPL.

"I don't see a problem with showing your driver's license to vote," Paul said, as quoted by WFPL. "I also think that some people are a little bit stuck in the past when they want to compare this. There was a time in the South when African-Americans were absolutely prohibited from voting by selective applications of bizarre and absurd literacy tests. And that was an abomination, that's why we needed the Voting Rights Act, but that's not showing your ID."

Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) announced Wednesday that he will seek re-election to his congressional seat, dispelling speculation that he would make a gubernatorial run.

"I believe that I have been able to make a difference and have a lot of influence in Washington during my short time there, and I know I can have an even bigger impact in the years to come," Labrador said in a press conference, as quoted by the Idaho Statesman. "Even though many of you had very persuasive reasons why I should consider running for governor, I genuinely believe that Congress is the best place for me to serve you at this time."

Labrador wouldn't endorse incumbent Gov. Butch Otter (R) during the press conference, according to the Statesman, saying Otter "could do a better job."

Kentucky Republican Senate candidate Matt Bevin challenged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to act on his stated support for ending Obamacare in a web video released Wednesday.

The video places Bevin alongside Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) in calling on McConnell to take action to halt the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

"You hear a lot of empty rhetoric from Mitch McConnell about ending Obamacare," Bevin said in a clip of his recent speech at Kentucky's annual Fancy Farm picnic. "Stop talking about yanking it out root and branch, and start voting in the U.S. Senate to kill it by defunding it."

McConnell said Tuesday that he supports bringing an end to the health care law, but that shutting down the government will not be able to stop the law's implementation. 

Former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Wednesday, according to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki. Her husband, former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), was also sentenced to 30 months in prison for crimes related to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. 

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement Wednesday condemning the use of violence against protesters in Egypt as well as the country's return to a state of emergency.

"The United States strongly condemns the use of violence against protesters in Egypt. We extend our condolences to the families of those who have been killed, and to the injured," Earnest said in the written statement. "We have repeatedly called on the Egyptian military and security forces to show restraint, and for the government to respect the universal rights of its citizens, just as we have urged protesters to demonstrate peacefully. Violence will only make it more difficult to move Egypt forward on a path to lasting stability and democracy, and runs directly counter to the pledges by the interim government to pursue reconciliation. We also strongly oppose a return to a State of Emergency law, and call on the government to respect basic human rights such as freedom of peaceful assembly, and due process under the law. The world is watching what is happening in Cairo. We urge the government of Egypt - and all parties in Egypt - to refrain from violence and resolve their differences peacefully."

Egyptian Vice President Mohammed ElBaradei resigned from the country's interim government Wednesday over the government's "handling of sit-ins," NBC News's Ayman Mohyeldin reported from Cairo. The Agence-France Presse also reported El Baradei's resignation. 

The death toll from clashes between pro-Morsi protesters and security forces on Wednesday has risen to 149, according to the Associated Press.

An emotional former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) apologized for his crimes in a sentencing hearing Wednesday, admitting he "couldn't have been more wrong" in misusing $750,000 in campaign funds.

"I am the example for the whole Congress,” Jackson said, as quoted by the Chicago Tribune. “I understand that. I didn’t separate my personal life from my political activities, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

A staffer for mayoral candidate and Miami Comissioner Francis Suarez had used her private Twitter account to bash constituents, going as far as to suggest they get "a lobotomy," the Miami Herald reported Tuesday.

Christina Haramboure, 24, littered her @ChristinaHam Twitter feed with complaints about her job for over a year, according to the Herald. On Monday she tweeted "Dear Constituents...PLEASE GET A LIFE, A HOBBY, A LOBOTOMY ... whatever."

That same day she tweeted “It amazes me how much people like to call here & b*itch at me ALLL DAY. their lives must really suck #leavemealone #socrabby #angryoldpeople," according to the Herald.

Haramboure, a "special aide and administrative assistant" for Suarez, told the paper in an email that the tweets from her now-deleted account do not reflect her attitude toward constituents.

"Over the last two years, I have worked tirelessly to help hundreds of constituents, and I have made great personal sacrifices to continue serving the residents of District 4,” she wrote. “I regret the Twitter postings and I apologize to anyone I may have hurt.”

Suarez described Haramboure to the Herald as an "overqualified" receptionist, and said that he had been unaware of the tweets. He explained that Haramboure was likely "frustrated" on the day of the tweets in question because she was covering for a sick coworker.

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