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Hunter Walker

Hunter Walker is a national affairs reporter for TPM. He came to the site in 2013 from the New York Observer. He has also written for New York Magazine, Gawker, the Village Voice, Forbes, The Daily, and Deadspin. He can be reached at hunter@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Hunter

From 2010 until January this year, Republican Scott Brown represented the people of Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate. Now, in his post-government career, Brown is working with a company that has sold weapons to Bahrain, a country where the regime has been engaged in a brutal crackdown against its citizens for more than two years.

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Days after his triumphant return to the House floor, former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) announced Monday that his next move will be a collaboration with one of the nation's most prominent birthers.

DeLay announced plans to write a book in an interview with Newsmax, following last weeks' news that a Texas Court of Appeals had overturned his 2010 conviction on money laundering charges.

DeLay's co-author, he said, will be none other than Jerome Corsi, a conservative columnist and bestselling author who has been one of the most prominent proponents of conspiracy theories alleging President Barack Obama was not born in the United States. In the interview with Newsmax, DeLay, who returned to the House floor for a "victory lap" last week, said he'd "spent a lot of time" with Corsi and shared some details about their planned book project.

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Now that the Democratic primary fight is over, President Barack Obama is taking sides in the New York City mayor's race and backing Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. 

“Progressive change is the centerpiece of Bill de Blasio's vision for New York City, and it's why he will be a great mayor of America's largest city," Obama said in a statement released Monday morning by the de Blasio campaign. "Whether it’s ensuring pre-kindergarten is available for every four-year old, expanding after-school programs for every middle school student who wants and needs them, making affordable housing available for more New York families and preserving community hospitals, Bill's agenda for New York is marked by bold, courageous ideas that address the great challenges of our time."   

President Obama also endorsed the Democratic candidate in New York's 2009 mayoral election, albeit through spokesman Robert Gibbs. 

De Blasio, who is currently enjoying a wide lead over Republican Joe Lhota in the polls, said he was honored to receive Obama's endorsement ahead of the general election Nov. 5. 

"I am deeply honored by President Obama’s endorsement," said de Blasio in a statement. "If I am fortunate to earn the trust of the people of New York on November 5th, I will work every day to advance our shared value of making sure everyone has a fair shot. On health care, tax fairness or the economy, the President is no stranger to addressing big problems with big ideas and big solutions. I will emulate the example he has set, and if elected I stand eager to work with him on an urban agenda that grows prosperity for all."

 

According to multiple reporters who were on the scene, former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) returned to the House floor Thursday evening, hours after a Court of Appeals in Texas overturned his 2010 money laundering conviction. Roll Call's Matt Fuller posted on Twitter that DeLay was hugging other members and doing a "victory lap."

"Tom DeLay on the House floor, hugging it out, doing a general victory lap," Fuller wrote

Politico's Ginger Gibson wrote that DeLay told her he wanted to "hang out" on the floor. 

Former House members are afforded floor priveleges. DeLay resigned from Congress in 2006 as he faced accusations he conspired to funnel corporate money to political candidates in Texas in an effort to secure a Republican majority in that state's legislature in 2002. He was convicted of money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more and conspiracy to commit money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more in 2010, but was allowed to remain free on bail pending his appeal. 

Prosecutors have said they will ask the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the decision overturning that conviction and acquitting DeLay. Brian Wice, an attorney for DeLay, told TPM Thursday that he wished the prosecutors "good luck" in their efforts to convict DeLay. 

Brian Wice, an attorney for former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) told TPM on Thursday he has some choice words for prosecutors who indicated they want to have an appeals court review the decision that overturned DeLay's 2010 money laundering conviction. 

"I am confident based upon the statement that was issued today by the Travis County District Attorney's Office that they are going to seek review in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals," Wice said. "My response is, 'Hey, good luck with that.'"

Wice described the acquittal from the Court of Appeals was a "total vindication" for DeLay. He also criticized prosecutors for crossing the "fine line between prosecution and persecution" in their attempt to convict DeLay for allegedly conspiring to steer corporate money to political candidates in Texas in an effort to secure a Republican majority in that state's legislature in 2002. The accusations contributed to DeLay's decision to resign from Congress in 2006.

"It's not just Tom's good name that somehow managed to get thrown under the bus, but the people who in my estimation crossed the line from prosecution to persecution, they essentially ruined what was supposed to be his golden years," said Wice. "For that, they're going to have to answer to a higher authority than the Court of Appeals."

Wice said he hopes DeLay will now "be able to contribute as much or more as he has in the wake of his resignation from Congress." However, Wice said he was not sure whether DeLay was interested in returning to politics. 

"Boy, you know, that's one of life's unanswered questions. Like, 'Is there life after death?' ... 'Will I get to date Jessica Alba?'" Wice said of a potential DeLay comeback bid. "I think right now, he wants to stop, collect his breath, and just rejoice in what happened today."

Wice also said he was unsure about how DeLay, who was in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, would be celebrating the verdict. 

"I think that he is with the people who he cares about in a town where he devoted as much of his life as he could," said Wice. "I know he's giving thanks to the good Lord just like I have. It's a wonderful way to start off the Jewish new year."

DeLay did not respond to a request for comment from TPM. 

Brent Perry, an attorney who managed former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) legal defense fund, told TPM Thursday there is still money left over to help with Delay's legal expenses as prosecutors continue to pursue the case.

A Texas Court of Appeals overturned his 2010 conviction for  money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more and conspiracy to commit money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more Thursday, but the Travis County District Attorney has said it will ask for a review of the ruling

"We still have funds necessary if needed, if the state appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeals," Perry said.

Donations for the Legal Defense Fund were solicited on DeLay's website. TPM asked Perry whether leftover money from the fund would potentially be returned to donors or given to charity when the case is concluded. Perry said he's not sure what will become of any leftover funds. 

"I don't know the answer to that at this point," he said.

Though he declined to discuss the ruling in detail and said he can "only comment on issues relating to the fund," Perry said he was "happy" the court of appeals rendered an acquittal.

"I got a large Dr. Pepper and a large fry with lunch today to celebrate," said Perry.  

The Travis County District Attorney's Office in Texas released a statement Thursday vowing to push for a review of a state appeals court ruling that overturned the 2010 conviction against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Delay was convicted for conspiring to funnel corporate money to political candidates in Texas in an effort to obtain a Republican majority in that state's Legislature in 2002. 

"We strongly disagree with the opinion of Judges (Melissa) Goodwin and (David) Gaultney that the evidence was insufficient," the statement said. "We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. We are preparing a response to this opinion and will ask the full Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the ruling."

DeLay was originally given a three year prison sentence on charges of money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more and conspiracy to commit money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more. He remained free on bail pending his appeal. The Texas Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that "the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay’s convictions" and acquitted him of the charges.

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay's (R-TX) wife told TPM on Thursday that the court decision to overturn her husband's conviction for money laundering had "been a long time coming."

Christine Furrh DeLay also offered a theory for why DeLay had been accused of conspiring to steer corporate money to political candidates in Texas in an effort to secure a Republican majority in the Texas legislature in 2002.

"It was just -- he was being punished by the liberals, Democrats," she said with a laugh. 

DeLay's trial occurred in November 2010. He was initially convicted of money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more and conspiracy to commit money laundering of funds of $100,000 or more. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but was allowed to remain free on bail pending his appeal.

Since then, he has been engaged in a lenghty appeals process. The Texas Court of Appeals ruled  on Thursday "the evidence was legally insufficient to sustain DeLay’s convictions" and acquitted him of the charges. 

"It's taken a damn long time," Christine Furrh DeLay told TPM. 

Tom DeLay and his attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM. 

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Wednesday that he doesn't believe the recall last week of two Colorado state senators who voted for expanded gun control laws was a loss for his gun control group.

The recall has widely been viewed as a battle between Bloomberg's gun control group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which sent dozens of organizers to Colorado in support of the senators, and the National Rifle Association, which pushed for the recall and supported their opponents. However, at a press conference Wednesday, Bloomberg argued the election was really a victory for advocates of stricter gun control because the laws supported by the senators were still in place.

"The truth of the matter is, in Colorado, the NRA lost. We got the law passed, and it's the law of Colorado," said Bloomberg. "It helps the citizens of Colorado, but because you can buy guns and transport them easily across borders, all the other 49 states in this country are better off."

Bloomberg also said the NRA was only able to defeat two politicians that they identified as especially weak.

"Nineteen senators stood up to the special interest pressures and voted to pass a gun background check on all gun sales. Instead of challenging all the members that voted for the bill, the NRA picked out four of the most vulnerable … and tried to mount a recall election against them," Bloomberg said. "They failed to get enough signatures for two of the four. … They did get enough signatures of two cherry picked races that -- including one against someone who was term limited -- leaving office in three months anyway -- and they funded a major campaign to go after them."

Bloomberg went on to dispute the notion the Colorado recall was simply a referendum on guns by claiming the opponents went after the two senators on an array of issues.

"They threw the sink at them, accused them of everything from Obamacare, to civil unions, to drivers license for undocumented immigrants. I mean it was every single argument that they could get to stir up dissension against them," said Bloomberg. "It was not just on guns, although thats the way the NRA phrased it."

Bloomberg described the two recall contests as "teeny, tiny elections" and said the gun control laws had the support of the majority of people in Colorado.

"Something like 50,000 people out of 5 million in the state voted, so it was not a lot. And, incidentally, the will of the the people strongly supported in every poll these background checks and opposed these recalls," Bloomberg said. "What happened there did not reflect the will of the people of Colorado."

At a press conference Wednesday at City Hall, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will "absolutely" remain involved with his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, after he leaves office at the end of 2013. 

"Absolutely, absolutely. My kids and I live in this country and we want to be safe," Bloomberg said in response to a question from TPM. "I'm not going to walk away from this." 

Bloomberg scheduled the press conference to announce the results of an investigation into online gun sales, which was conducted by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. He co-founded the group in 2006 and has been the primary vehicle for his high-profile national gun control advocacy. According to Bloomberg, that investigation found "thousands of criminals and other prohibited purchasers" were seeking to illegally purchase guns online. 

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