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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

New York City mayoral contender Joe Lhota (R) told TPM on Tuesday that he hasn't heard from his former colleague, Bernie Kerik, in years and has no plans to attend Kerik's homecoming party from prison.

Lhota's comments came after word that Kerik, the ex-NYPD Commissioner and bodyguard for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, was released from federal prison on Tuesday after serving a little more than three years on charges of tax fraud and making false statements.

"First I'm hearing about it," the Republican frontrunner said when asked about Kerik's party, which is taking place at his home in New Jersey. "I haven't spoken to him in three and a half years."

Lhota also released the first television ad of his mayoral campaign on Tuesday. The commercial referenced Lhota's experience working in the Giuliani administration in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Lhota and Kerik reportedly sat next to each other during Giuliani's meetings in the wake of 9/11.

Kerik was imprisoned in 2010 after pleading guilty to multiple counts of tax fraud and obstruction relating to repairs made on his home during his time in City Hall by a company seeking licenses from the city. The allegations came to light when Kerik was being considered for a post as Secretary of Homeland Security in the Bush administration.

Jeb Bush will headline the 51st Annual State Dinner of the New York State Conservative Party next month.

Christopher Ruddy, the CEO and founder of the conservative Newsmax Media Inc. will also be speaking at the dinner. According to an invitation posted on the New York State Conservative Party's website the event will take place june 25 at the Sheraton New York in Midtown Manhattan. 

"Our theme this year is 'Defending Liberty,' and that’s important: Right now liberty is under attack in New York like never before," the invitation says. "Our special guests Jeb Bush and Christopher Ruddy are fighting for what’s right in the media and in politics and public policy."

Tickets to the dinner start at $500. 

A pair of Democratic congressmen is pushing an amendment that would place an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. According to Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), who is sponsoring the legislation along with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), the amendment would protect voters from what he described as a "systematic" push to "restrict voting access" through voter ID laws, shorter early voting deadlines, and other measures that are being proposed in many states.

"Most people believe that there already is something in the Constitution that gives people the right to vote, but unfortunately ... there is no affirmative right to vote in the Constitution. We have a number of amendments that protect against discrimination in voting, but we don't have an affirmative right," Pocan told TPM last week. "Especially in an era ... you know, in the last decade especially we've just seen a number of these measures to restrict access to voting rights in so many states. ... There's just so many of these that are out there, that it shows the real need that we have."

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The Texas Legislature approved a final version of a bill Sunday that would allow students with gun licenses to keep their firearms in cars on college campuses. Following this approval, the bill will be headed to Governor Rick Perry to be signed into law. 

Colleges are currently allowed to prohibit guns on their property. Backers of the bill argue faculty and staff members already are permitted to bring their guns to campus in cars. 

The House and Senate had already approved separate versions of the bill, which was proposed by Republican State Senator Glenn Hegar. On Sunday both chambers gave final approval to a joint version of the bill.  

Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC) told North Carolina television station WECT that he's unhappy the Boy Scouts of America lifted its ban on gay youth.

"I'm very disappointed," McIntyre said. "I know my church has a long history of producing Eagle Scouts including my son and I know that many organizations that sponsor scouting are quite concerned about that and did not feel like it was an appropriate step. I know I'm concerned about it and did not think it was an appropriate step."

McIntyre is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is identified on its website as a group of "fiscally conservative Democrats that are deeply committed to the financial stability and national security of the United States and dedicated to finding bipartisan solutions to the nation's biggest challenges." The congressman isn't the only prominent critic of the BSA's new policy. Religious groups and Republican Texas Governor Rick Perry were among those who expressed disappointment after the organization voted to end the ban.

Former Congressman Anthony Weiner's tabloid infamy was apparent almost immediately when he arrived Thursday morning on the corner of 125th Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem for the first public event of his mayoral campaign.

"Good morning sir, would you like a free paper?" a man hawking copies of AM New York asked as the candidate approached.

"Well, who's on the cover?" Weiner asked.

"You are, sir," the man said.

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Unnamed allies of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo now claim a statement he made saying it would be a "shame" if voters elected Anthony Weiner mayor of New York was a joke. Cuomo made the remark in an editorial board meeting with the Syracuse Media Group and Post-Standard Thursday, but a source identified as "a Cuomo administration official who did not want to be named" told Capital New York's Azi Paybarah, "the comment was made in jest."  

"As the governor has said many times he has no plans to endorse in this year's mayoral election," the unnamed official added.

Paybarah also reached out to Marie Morelli, the "Editorial / Opinion Leader" of Syracuse Media. She said the comment was "in context" and readers could judge for themselves. Morelli declined to provide audio of the meeting. 

President Barack Obama's speech on counterterrorism at the National Defense University in Washington Thursday afternoon was disrupted multiple times by a heckler. In a series of tweets from its official account, the anti-war group Code Pink identified its co-founder, Medea Benjamin, as the person who interrupted the president to demand he close the prison at the Guantanamo Bay naval base.

"#CODEPINK disrupts #Obama confronting him to #CloseGitmo," one of the tweets read

"Thanks to our very own @medeabenjamin for standing up and speaking the truth to @BarackObama!" read another

Benjamin also matches photos of the heckler that appeared on Twitter. Code Pink regularly stages disruptions at high-profile events. President Obama repeatedly asked the heckler to allow him to continue with the speech. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo commented on his fellow Democrat Anthony Weiner's mayoral bid in a Thursday morning editorial board meeting  with the Syracuse Media Group and Post-Standard. Cuomo initially used his typical rhetorical strategy of answering a question with a question of his own when the question of Weiner's campaign was brought up by Syracuse Media Group Chariman Stephen A. Rogers. 

"He runs? He runs," Cuomo responded. 

"And if we elect him?" Rogers asked.

"Shame on us," Cuomo said. 

Cuomo isn't the only high profile Democrat who had harsh words for Weiner on the first day he hit the campaign trail. In an appearance on MSNBC Thursday, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) was asked if he supported Weiner's bid, which had its first public event about a block away from Rangel's Harlem office a few hours earlier.

"Only to the extent that only in America can we do these types of things," said Rangel. "Sanford did it in Carolina and Anthony Weiner--I think he would not be able to live with himself."

"You don't think he's going to win?" MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing asked.

"No, I don't think so," Rangel said. 

During the first public appearance of Anthony Weiner's mayoral campaign, TPM asked him his take on another scandal-scarred politician who made a comeback attempt this year--Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC). Sanford was elected to represent South Carolina's first congressional district May 7 in spite of 2009 revelations he cheated on his wife while serving as that state's governor. Weiner said he's not considering Sanford's win any reflection on his own chance of rebounding and winning the mayor's race after the 2011 scandal surrounding lewd photos he sent multiple women on Twitter.

"I dont look at my race through the lens of anyone else's experience," said Weiner. "Believe me, mine is unique enough."

Weiner later told Politico reporter Maggie Haberman he didn't pay much attention to Sanford's race.

"I don't know if there's anything similar between South Carolina, and Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan," he said. "I mean, I don't know. I wasn't watching it very carefully."

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