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

Sarah Palin and her political action committee, SarahPAC are being sued by a newspaper publisher for allegedly using an iconic photo showing the aftermath of the September 11th attacks without permission. 

North Jersey Media Group Inc., which publishes over 40 local papers in New Jersey, told the Associated Press, Palin's PAC used the picture on their website and Facebook page. The photo shows a trio of firefighters raising a flag at the World Trade Center site. 

SarahPAC did not respond to a request for comment from the AP. The lawsuit, which was filed in New York City on Friday seeks damages and for the pictures to be taken down. 

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New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio was invited to speak at Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network rally in Manhatten Saturday morning, but his Democratic rival, Bill Thompson, was not.

De Blasio finished first in Tuesday's primary election and was just above the 40 percent threshhold needed to avoid a runoff in the initial results. Thompson, who finished second on Tuesday, has not conceded and is waiting for the Board of Election to being counting paper ballots. On Thursday, a spokesman for the Thompson campaign told TPM they believe there are about 50,000 paper ballots that have yet to be counted.

Prior to the event, a spokeswoman for Sharpton denied the decision not to have Thompson at the event was a slight and simply said, "No runoff has been declared in the mayoral race and thus the front-runner Bill de Blasio was invited.” On stage Saturday, Sharpton said he had called Thompson and told him he would be welcome at his rallies any time. Sharpton has not made an endorsement in the mayoral race. 


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Updated: September 12, 2013, 2:13 PM

Anthony Weiner's political career may be over, but his wife, Huma Abedin, has returned to her position as director of Hillary Clinton's transition office.

Back in July at the height of Weiner's unsuccessful mayoral bid, Abedin took an extended vacation from her job as the director of former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's transition office. Abedin spent the time off fundraising for and campaigning with Weiner. Now that the race is over, Clinton spokesman Phillippe Reines, confirmed to TPM Thursday that she has returned to her position with Clinton.

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Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was on the verge late Tuesday of locking down the Democratic nomination in New York City's mayoral election.

As of about 6 minutes before midnight, with about 96 percent of the vote in, de Blasio was winning with 40.15 percent, a hair over the key 40 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff against the second place finisher. Former Comptroller Bill Thompson was in second place with 26.20 percent.

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Someone who supports New York City Council candidate and alleged sexual harrasser Vito Lopez seems to have used a rather interesting strategy to drum up support for him on Election Day.

Councilman Brad Lander tweeted a photo on Tuesday of a flyer that encouraged voters to support Lopez. Lander said he found it outside a polling place in the Brooklyn district where Lopez is running. The flyer claimed most people who accuse others of sexual harrassment are lying.

"Over 95% of these cases prove to be unfounded. They are usually taken by disgruntled employees who are only looking for a cash settlement," read one quote in the flyer attributed to a "noted human rights lawyer."

Another quote, which was attributed to a "noted employment lawyer," said, "When an accuser's 'story' changes so many times, it ALWAYS proves to be false."

It is impossible to assess whether the flyer came from Lopez's campaign. A Lopez campaign staffer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TPM. Lander told TPM there was nothing on the flyer indicating who paid for it.

Lopez was a member of the State Assembly up until March when he resigned while facing expulsion due to allegations of sexual harassment made by two former staffers. A report compiled by the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics detailed complaints made by Lopez's staffers including accusations of forced kisses and hand massages, unwanted requests to "cuddle," and groping. Immediately after relinquishing his Assembly seat, Lopez launched his council bid. 

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According to "The Sopranos" star Lorraine Bracco, New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn has what it takes to be the boss of a fictional mafia family. 

Bracco campaigned with Quinn on Tuesday morning in Manhattan, and TPM asked her which of the characters on the mob show reminded her most of the candidate. With a laugh, Bracco said Quinn was clearly reminiscent of the leader of "The Sopranos'" mafia clan.

"I'm going to give her a Tony Soprano for sure," Bracco said of Quinn. "She's a Tony. Are you kidding?" 

Quinn's wife, Kim Catullo, who was standing with Bracco, thought Quinn would be flattered by the comparison.

"She'd be honored by that," Catullo said.

Bracco went on to explain which of Quinn's qualities reminded her of the television don.

"Listen, you have the same laugh, which is very funny, makes me laugh," said Bracco. "No, she's everything we want in a mayor. The truth of the matter is, she reminds me more of Ed Koch, OK? ... She's honest, she's truthful, she's loud, she knows what she wants. ... I do feel it's Koch really she reminds me of, but in the cast of 'The Sopranos,' she takes Tony. Oh yeah."

Quinn also talked with reporters and was asked about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's perceived support for her campaign and the possibility it had actually hurt more than it helped. Quinn, who currently serves as speaker in the City Council, replied that she was proud of the work she'd done both with and against Bloomberg. 

"Look, I'm very proud of my time as speaker. I'm proud of the things that I've been able to accomplish for this city, working with my colleagues and working with the mayor. And I'm also as proud of the times that I've stood up to the mayor, whether it was to prevent the layoff of 4,100 school teachers, to pass independent monitoring of the police department, to stop a cruel homeless policy," Quinn said. "And I'm proud that in my New York Times endorsement they noted what a strong counterbalance I was to Mayor Bloomberg."

In an interview with New York Magazine this weekend, Bloomberg seemed to concur with the Times' endorsement of Quinn. TPM asked whether she appreciated that expression of support from the mayor. Quinn didn't exactly answer the question.

"You know, look, I appreciate the New York Times endorsement, let me be clear about that," said Quinn.  


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New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson doesn't think this year's race is going to be like the last one. 

In 2009, he was a surprisingly close runner up to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who Thompson has said was aided by a poll-driven sense of inevitability. This year, in surveys ahead of Tuesday's Democratic primary, Thompson had polled far behind Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who pollsters have placed on the cusp of the forty percent threshold necessary to avoid a runoff iin the crucial Democratic primary.

However, Thompson said Monday night the pollsters had been underestimating him once again, and he told TPM he's not worried that the polls could become a self-fulfilling prophecy this time around.

"It's not the reaction I'm getting across the city. I think that the polls are indicating something. I think it's helped him with some momentum," Thompson said of de Blasio at a campaign event in East Harlem. "But at the same point, I don't think it's going to be, you know, it's not overwhelming like it was in 2009. And people still know there's an election out there and that their vote counts."

Thompson's campaign has seemingly focused on key blocs in Upper Manhattan, the Bronx, and Central Brooklyn. When TPM asked whether de Blasio's lead in the polls showed this strategy may have been somewhat flawed, Thompson rejected the notion he hasn't run a broad campaign.

Bill Thompson's afro

"I think I've continued to run a campaign that's reached out all across the city, so I don't think it has been segmented in any way," said Thompson. "I think it has reached out to people all across the city of New York."

Another often-cited factor behind de Blasio's surging poll numbers has been an advertisement featuring his son, Dante de Blasio, who has a now-famous afro hairdo. In his high school days, Thompson also sported an afro, so TPM asked whether he wished he still had the hairstyle.

"I think in looking at my hair right now, if I could have that afro, I'd be happy to," Thompson said. "I don't think it's exactly going to work. I dont think it's a question of would I like to keep it. It's a question of, I think nature has said that I'm not going to be able to keep it."

Yearbook photo from Classmates.com via The Observer

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At least two candidates in New York City's mayoral election reportedly had a hard time voting Tuesday. 

According to Reuters reporter Francesca Trianni, Republican candidate Joe Lhota was forced to use a paper ballot because "all lever voting machines were broken, except for one" at his polling site in Brooklyn. A spokesperson for the Lhota campaign confirmed the "machines were broken" at his polling place.

Democratic candidate Anthony Weiner also had issues when he showed up to vote. Buzzfeed's Ruby Cramer reported there was a "snafu" that delayed Weiner because his name was in the voter rolls "but his signature was missing." The Weiner campaign did not immediately respond to a request to confirm this report. 

Candidates weren't the only ones reporting problems at polling sites. Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams told TPM multiple polling sites in his district had "minor" problems and, at one point, all of the machines were down at one site. The Board of Elections has also been responding to multiple complaints on Twitter since polls opened at six Tuesday morning. 

Since New York City switched to electronic voting in 2010, there have been multiple races that included disputed vote counts, allegations of fraud, long lines at polling sites, and legal battles. Because of this, the BOE brought back lever voting machines that had been in use since the 1960s for Tuesday's mayoral primary and other citywide races in an effort to prevent potential problems. However, many officials and experts have expressed concerns about the condition of the machines, which had been mothballed since 2010, and the BOE's spotty track record.

A large number of paper ballots and any other issues at the BOE could lead to a slow, contentious vote count in the mayoral election. This could be extremely problematic if the margins in the race are close. New York City election law provides for a runoff between the top two primary finishers if no candidate earns more than 40 percent of the vote. This means the winner's total as well as the totals for the second and third place candidates (and the margin between them) are all important.

Pre-election surveys in the crucial Democratic mayoral primary showed Public Advocate Bill de Blasio just shy of the 40 percent threshold and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Comptroller Bill Thompson in a fairly close race for second place. All of the major Democrats participated in the city's public financing system and, if there is a delay in results being certified, it will make it difficult for candidates to campaign and receive the public matching funds ahead of a potential Oct. 1 runoff. 

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One of the world's biggest gun companies is at the center of a dramatic divorce case that involves allegations of an affair, a secretive network of international bank accounts, and even an attempted murder case. And last month, the battle over the Glock fortune landed in an American courtroom where the company's founder is fighting attempts by his ex-wife and her attorneys to obtain documents detailing the firm's finances.

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New York Magazine on Saturday edited a quote that appeared in an interview with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in which he seemed to accuse Bill de Blasio, the Democratic frontrunner in the race to succeed him, of being a "racist."

In the interview, Bloomberg described de Blasio's campaign as "class-warfare and racist." When questioned about his use of the word "racist" by New York Magazine writer Chris Smith, Bloomberg immediately said, "Well, no, no," according to the latest version published by the magazine. Those three words were not included in the original version. 

An editor's note was added to the story to explain the change. 

"The mayor's office asked us to amend the remarks to add an interjection that was inaudible in our audiotape of the interview, which was conducted over speakerphone. In our view the added words do not alter the meaning of the exchange as reflected in the published interview," the note said. 

New York Magazine spokeswoman Lauren Starke declined to respond to a question from TPM about whether the magazine received an alternate recording of the interview to back up the addition of the three words, saying she did not "want to add anything to the note." Mayor Bloomberg's office declined to comment on record.

As initially reported, Bloomberg's comment made major waves in the election to replace him, which is in the home stretch ahead of Tuesday's crucial primary. The original version of the quote drew rebukes from de Blasio and all of the other major candidates