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-three mass killings have taken place in the past year since the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting, according to a USA Today report.

According to USA Today, 126 people have been killed in mass killings across 19 states since July 20, 2012. The analysis used the FBI's definition of mass killings as those in which four or more people were killed in a short time span. The list was not limited to shootings.

Six of the attacks, the newspaper reported, were "public killings in which many of the victims were unknown to their killers" -- including the Newtown, Conn. elementary school massacre, the Boston Marathon bombings, and the Santa Monica College shooter.

The USA Today analysis showed that the 17 other mass killings were mostly family slayings or robbery- or drug-related murders, in which victims typically know their killers. Public killings like Aurora and Newtown that draw national attention are thus "anomalies," USA Today found.

Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have thrown their support behind Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's (D-NY) efforts to remove military sexual assault cases from the chain of command, Politico reported Tuesday.

Paul is scheduled to join Gillibrand and the bill's other supporters to discuss his changed position at a press conference Tuesday in the Capitol, according to Politico. 

Gillibrand's proposal was voted down in the Armed Services Committee in June. With 32 cosponsors already signed on to the measure, Paul and Cruz's support bring the proposal closer to the 51 votes it would need to pass when it comes to another vote as early as next week.

Lawyers for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) appealed his conviction and 14-year sentence for political corruption Monday, shortly before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' midnight filing deadline, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Blagojevich's lawyers claimed that U.S. District Judge James Zagel put the former governor's defense team at a disadvantage with "one-sided evidentiary rulings," according to the Tribune. 

"While critical evidence for the defense was excluded, the court allowed the government to introduce almost any evidence no matter how irrelevant to paint the defendant in a negative light," the lawyers wrote, as quoted by the Tribune.

The appeal also alleged that Zagel favored the prosecution by preventing Blagojevich's attorneys from pointing out potential bias in government witnesses' testimony, as well as misleading the jury by "failing to explain the legal distinction between campaign contributions and bribes," according to the Tribune.

Blagojevich entered federal prison in March 2012 near Denver, Colo.

A literary agent for the George Zimmerman trial juror who planned to write a book about why the jury found Zimmerman not guilty of the murder of Trayvon Martin said Monday that juror B37 has decided not to move forward with the plans, Reuters reported.

"The potential book was always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband's perspectives solely and it was to be an observation that our 'system' of justice can get so complicated that it creates a conflict with our 'spirit' of justice," juror B37 said in a written statement, as quoted by Reuters.

"Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury," the statement continued.

Vice President Joe Biden will swear in Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) as the freshman Massachusetts senator on Monday at the U.S. Capitol, according to the White House. The event will begin at approximately 10 a.m. ET.

Markey will fill the seat vacated by former Sen. John Kerry (D), who joined the Obama administration as secretary of state.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D), embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal, reiterated Monday that he will not give up his post despite a slew of area politicians calling for his resignation.

"As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions," Filner said in a statement, as quoted by CNN. "But as a citizen of this country, I also expect -- and am entitled to -- due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me."

Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), a "long-time ally" of Filner's, called for his resignation Monday, according to the U-T San Diego.

"Despite his inclusive vision for San Diego, Mayor Filner has lost the confidence of San Diegans to lead," Davis said in a statement, as quoted by the U-T San Diego. "He has taken advantage of the trust the voters placed in him - and lost both the promise and capacity to ignite positive change. His behavior, if not illegal, is reprehensible."

Filner had issued a contradictory statement last week in which he admitted to sexually harassing women who worked for his office, saying "I need help." 

Filner's ex-fiancee Bronwyn Ingram further stoked the flames of the scandal in a separate statement she released Monday that was published in the U-T San Diego. Ingram cited verbal harassment and sexually explicit messages Filner would send other women as motivation for calling off their engagement last week. She further denied any knowledge of the sexual harassment charges facing the mayor in the statement.

"I do not have any direct knowledge of details in the many controversies surrounding bob, including the sexual harassment charges," the statement reads. "But I do know that anyone embroiled in so many serious controversies is impaired in ability to run a city. As someone who believes with all my heart in our shared vision for the city, someone who campaigned day and night to help elect Bob, it gives me great pain to admit that he is no longer capable of carrying out that vision."

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) slammed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) opposition to same-sex marriage Monday in a fundraising email for Christie's gubernatorial challenger, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.

“Christie vetoed a marriage equality bill last year, denying thousands of New Jerseyans equality,” O’Malley wrote in the email touting state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) for governor, as quoted by the Star-Ledger. “We have a chance to defeat him and make real progress, but we need you today.”

"I was honored to lead the fight for dignity and equality in Maryland,” he continued. “And today I strongly support Barbara Buono, who can finally defeat Chris Christie and make sure that New Jersey is no longer the only state in the Northeast that doesn't recognize marriage equality.”

Christie also criticized the Supreme Court's striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last month as a "bad decision."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a Monday press briefing that President Barack Obama will not weigh in on whether the Justice Department should bring civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. 

"Cases are brought on their merits by the professionals at the Department of Justice," he said, adding that "it would be inappropriate" for the president to comment on the matter.

Carney said he was not sure if Obama had spoken with Attorney General Eric Holder about the Zimmerman trial.

The Gallup Organization has settled with the United States for $10.5 million amid allegations it inflated its federal contract prices and improperly negotiated a FEMA subcontract, the Justice Department announced Monday.

The Washington, D.C.-based polling and research firm violated the Fair Claims Act when it "overstated its true estimated labor hours" in proposals for U.S. Mint and State Department contracts, according to the U.S. complaint filed in November 2012. The complaint also alleges that Gallup "engaged in improper employment negotiations" with FEMA official Timothy Cannon to procure a subcontract at an inflated price, in violation of the Procurement Integrity Act.

In April, Cannon settled with the United States for $40,000 after accepting an offer of employment from Gallup while negotiating the organization's FEMA subcontract, according to the Justice Department. Cannon was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty in related criminal proceedings.

The whistleblower who originally raised the False Claims Act allegations, Gallup's former Director of Client Services Michael Lindley, stands to receive $1,929,363 of the government's recovery sum, according to the Justice Department.

More Americans were likely to say their views on immigration match up with those of the Democratic party than the Republican party, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

The Democratic party's policies on immigration aligned more closely with the views of 48 percent of U.S. adults versus 36 percent who said their views more closely hewed to those of the Republican party, according to the survey.

Republican strategists have been urging the party to embrace comprehensive immigration reform as a means to court critical Hispanic voters. While less than half of U.S. adults surveyed related to either party on the issue, the Gallup poll found adherence to Democratic policies on immigration increased to 60 percent among Hispanics -- representing a "slightly greater preference for the Democrats among Hispanics than is seen in their general political party identification."