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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 dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

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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The federal estimates on health care spending in the first quarter of 2014 have been all over the place. First, the Bureau of Economic Analysis estimated that health care spending boomed 9.9 percent, one of the biggest quarterly jumps in decades.

But on Wednesday, the BEA revised its estimate to a 1.4 percent decrease in health care spending, contributing heavily to the overall estimate that economic growth dropped 2.9 percent in the first quarter of the year.

Observers had attempted to reconcile the originally projected boom with the beginning of Obamacare coverage in January. Federal analysts even pointed to the law in an interview with Business Insider after the first estimate came out.

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The Arkansas GOP official who reportedly said that Hillary Clinton would "probably get shot" if she entered the state as a presidential candidate asserted on Tuesday that he had been taken out of context.

"That comment was taken way out of context," 2nd Congressional District party chairman Johnny Rhoda told Business Insider about the U.S. News report on his remarks. "It certainly was not meant in a threatening or hostile way at all. It was just a comment. Perhaps I used the wrong word."

"It was completely blown out of proportion," he added.

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Early last year, Wall Street traders somehow found out that the Obama administration planned to make a policy change to Medicare before the news was even announced.

The flurry of stock trades in major health care companies that followed has since caught the eye of federal law enforcement as well as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who has made investigating the matter one of his pet projects on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. In his search, Grassley has gone as far as to cast suspicion on the Obama administration as the source of the leak.

But in a twist, the Wall Street Journal reported last week that federal regulators and law enforcement officials have now focused their attention on a Republican health policy staffer in the House. A lawsuit filed on Friday by the Securities and Exchange Commission, first reported by the Journal, said investigators believe the staffer "may have been" the source of the leak. It also sought to force the staffer to turn over records to investigators, something he and the committee have reportedly refused to do despite being handed subpoenas.

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