Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at

Articles by Dylan

Everybody is looking for distance between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Every current political issue is run through her. Reporters are parsing her media appearances and recently released book for any arm-lengthening by Clinton from the current administration.

It's going to be a real question for her campaign, should she decide to run. Republicans want to tie her to the most unpopular elements of the Obama White House, while Democrats remain fond of the 44th president. As the administration's former secretary of state, the questions are inevitable and they will require a certain balancing act on Clinton's part.

So what might she do to set herself apart? Veterans of two previous presidential campaigns that faced the same question offered TPM a guess: Hillary Clinton can say that she will, as one strategist put it, "get shit done."

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The president of the conservative group that pushed Arizona's anti-gay "religious freedom" bill earlier this year took Hobby Lobby's victory Monday at the Supreme Court as a vindication of sorts for that since-vetoed legislation.

"This decision underscores the purpose of Arizona’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act – to balance a compelling governmental interest with every American’s freedom to live and work according to their faith," Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said in a statement. "The Court’s ruling exemplifies how the CAP-supported SB 1062 would have protected individual liberty, while protecting against unlawful abuse of religious freedom."

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While the company Hobby Lobby triumphed at the U.S. Supreme Court in challenging Obamacare's contraceptive mandate on Monday, the Court does not seem to have flung open the floodgates for anti-LGBT discrimination as some had feared it might.

Instead, legal observers noted, the ultimate resolution has been left for another day on whether a private business could lawfully discriminate against LGBT people on religious grounds. But Justice Anthony Kennedy offered gay rights advocates a glimmer of hope on that front as well.

The Court ruled 5-4 that the government could not mandate "closely held" private companies with sincerely held religious beliefs, like Hobby Lobby, to cover certain kinds of birth control for their employees. That decision hinged in part on the religious freedom rights of a private corporation. Prior to the ruling, LGBT rights advocates had worried that a broad decision could open the doors for more anti-gay discrimination bills like the Arizona bill that stirred national debate earlier this year.

Based on initial readings of the Hobby Lobby decision, LGBT advocates seemed to have dodged a bullet. The Court's ruling, written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito, is explicitly narrow in effect. But some advocates worry that those pushing anti-LGBT bills will see an opening to introduce new bills and file new lawsuits to legitimize discrimination. Whether they'd win, though, is much less clear.

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In the spring of 2013, two federal investigators spoke to a Republican House staffer about a recent leak of a Medicare policy change that had set off a flurry of stock trades in major health care companies.

The investigators, one from the FBI and the other from the Health and Human Services Department, wanted to know about a conversation the staffer, Brian Sutter, allegedly had with a lobbyist on April 1, 2013, the day the information leaked.

According to court documents filed last week in Manhattan federal court, Sutter initially told investigators he could not remember having spoken to the lobbyist about the Medicare policy change. The lobbyist had said during the investigation that he and Sutter discussed the information, the documents said.

But several days later, the court documents said, an attorney for the House wrote a letter to the FBI and HHS on Sutter’s behalf saying the staffer thought more about his answers and his "best recollection now" is that he "may have" spoken with the lobbyist.

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At the center of the ongoing lawsuit between House Republicans and the Securities and Exchange Commission over subpoenas for a House committee and a congressional aide is the Constitution's separation of powers. And the key to unlocking that dispute -- whether the House must comply with subpoenas from the executive branch -- might be a 1971 Supreme Court case involving the Pentagon Papers leaked by Daniel Ellsberg (pictured).

The aide, Brian Sutter, and the House Ways and Means Committee have been sued by the SEC to force them to comply with a subpoena issued as part of an investigation into the leak of non-public information to Wall Street back in April 2013. The leak, about an imminent policy change to Medicare, resulted in significant trading for some health care companies, which were about to benefit from a reversal in proposed funding cuts. A federal grand jury in New York is also investigating the leak.

The lawsuit, in which the SEC alleged Sutter "may have been" the source of the leak, followed the refusal of Sutter and the committee to comply. The counsel's office for the House, which is representing Sutter and the committee, told TPM earlier this week that the subpoenas "run seriously afoul of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause, and we expect to respond in due course on that ground, among others."

Generally speaking, the Speech or Debate clause, found in Article I of the Constitution, protects members of Congress from being prosecuted for their official work, except in extreme circumstances. It is a core element of the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine.

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Attorneys for the House Republican aide at the center of investigations into the leak of a Medicare policy change to Wall Street are providing information to the Justice Department, a source familiar with the legal negotiations told TPM on Thursday.

Because of that, a federal grand jury subpoena of the staffer has been withdrawn, according to the source.

Attorneys for Brian Sutter, the top health policy director on the House Ways and Means Committee, offered to provide the information that he would have given in grand jury testimony, the source said.

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Utah is one of the major hotbeds for disputes between the Bureau of Land Management and those who consider the federal agency in a permanent state of overreach.

Now the feud is spreading to another arena: contracts in which the agency pays local sheriffs for law enforcement on federal land. Alongside all the BLM-related controversy in the West, the BLM has allowed its contracts with five Utah county sheriff offices to expire over the past year or so.

The agency says that the move is wholly unrelated to any of broader disagreements over federal authority, which gained national attention since the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada. But the Utah county sheriffs believe otherwise.

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