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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

J. Everett Dutschke -- Mississippi taekwondo instructor, blues singer, failed political candidate, and alleged child molester -- had his first day in court Monday morning after being charged with possession of the poison ricin.

After Dutschke's initial appearance, his public defender, George Lucas, told TPM it was too soon to discuss how they might respond to the charges against him. "I really can't at this stage," Lucas said when asked what shape the defense might take. "It's too early, we've only had the complaint for a few hours."

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Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) issued a statement of support after his former roommate at Stanford University, NBA center Jason Collins, came out in an article written for Sports Illustrated Monday. 

“For as long as I've known Jason Collins he has been defined by three things: his passion for the sport he loves, his unwavering integrity, and the biggest heart you will ever find," said Kennedy. "Without question or hesitation, he gives everything he's got to those of us lucky enough to be in his life. I'm proud to stand with him today and proud to call him a friend.”

By coming out, Collins became the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport. In his article he said his decision was partly motivated by being unable to join when Kennedy marched in the 2012 Gay Pride parade in Boston. Collins said he plans to march in the parade this year. 

A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed J. Everett Dutschke, the man at the center of the investigation into ricin-tainted letters sent to President Barack Obama and other officials, was arrested at his home in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

"James Everett Dutschke was arrested, without incident, at his residence in Tupelo, MS, at approximately 12:50 a.m. Saturday, April 27, by Special Agents of the FBI," Deborah Madden, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Jackson, Mississippi field office told Talking Points Memo.

Investigators focused on Dutschke after dismissing charges against another man, Paul Kevin Curtis last week. According to Curtis and his attorneys, Dutschke had a longrunning feud with Curtis and may have framed him. In the past few days, federal agents have searched Dutschke's home, a Tupelo martial arts studio he operates, and the home of one of his taekwondo students. As of this writing, Dutschke's attorney, Lori Basham, did not respond to a request for comment from TPM. 

In addition to his martial arts career, Dutschke fronted a "loop-oriented" blues band and has mounted multiple unsuccessful political campaigns. Dutschke is also currently out on bond on child molestation charges. Though the FBI did not confirm the reason for his arrest, Sergeant James Hood of the Tupelo Police Department told TPM, "We did not arrest him on our charges we had prior to this incident."

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin weighed in on the Boston Marathon bombing during a marathon public question-and-answer session Thursday, claiming the information Russia provided the FBI about one of the alleged bombers did not have "operative significance." Putin also declared that Americans who want to see the surviving suspect branded a "prisoner of war" have "completely lost their marbles."

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On Friday, the New York State Republican Party announced plans for a "private luncheon" fundraiser with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that will take place May 21. 

Tickets to the event, which is being held at the 21 Club, are $1,000, a "photo opportunity" with Walker costs $2,500. 

According to the invitation to the lunch, it is being hosted by New York Republican State Committee Chairman Ed Cox, the state party's finance chairman Matthew Melllon, and the metro regional finance chairman Arcadio Casillas. Proceeds will benefit the New York Republican State Committee.

While the Boston Marathon bombing has dominated headlines and airwaves for the past two weeks, there's another story playing out in Massachusetts that has gotten far less attention: the special Senate election to fill the seat vacated when John Kerry was named secretary of state. On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls for the primary in that race and pick the final candidates in each party in a race defined by a breakneck pace forced by Kerry's departure, bickering, and the backdrop of the bombing.

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Democratic New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly orchestrating a bribery scheme to secure himself the Republican Party line in this year's New York City mayoral election, published a rather awkward flier featuring a picture himself under a giant "NO CRIME" logo. 

Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges against him Wednesday. His flier was made to advertise an anticrime meeting in his Queens district where residents will be able to meet with local police commanders. 

View the flier, which Smith sent out on his Twitter page this morning, below. 

On Wednesday, FBI agents and members of the National Guard searched a martial arts studio in Tupelo, Miss., run by Everett Dutschke, the new focus of the investigation into the ricin letters, according to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal. The newspaper also reported Tupelo police were on the lookout for a green 1998 Dodge Caravan, which records show is the model of car owned by Dutschke.

Investigators previously searched Dutschke's home Tuesday afternoon and, according to Dutschke, last Thursday. Dutschke seems to be investigators' main focus in the case after charges against an initial suspect, Paul Kevin Curtis, were dismissed "without prejudice" Tuesday. By dismissing without prejudice, the government reserved the right to refile charges later. Curtis and his attorneys have suggested Dutschke may have attempted to frame him for mailing the ricin-tainted letters that were sent to President Barack Obama and other officials.

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As the case against Paul Kevin Curtis for allegedly mailing ricin was unraveling Tuesday afternoon, FBI agents were already searching the house of another man in connection with the ongoing investigation.

Their focus has shifted to Everett Dutschke -- a failed political candidate, taekwondo teacher, and bluesman who's currently facing child molestation charges. While the feds has been publicly silent about Dutschke and the search of his home, Curtis' lawyers have been very loudly and publicly pointing the finger at Dutschke, claiming he framed Curtis because of a feud that began with music and martial arts.

Dutschke has not been charged in the case and has denied involvement in the mailing of the ricin-tainted letters to President Barack Obama and two other officials.

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On Tuesday, the federal prosecutors dismissed all charges against Mississippi Elvis impersonator Paul Kevin Curtis in the case of ricin-tainted letters that were sent to President Barack Obama and other officials. After he was released from jail, Curtis and his attorneys held a gonzo press conference outside the federal courthouse in Oxford that included allusions to their theory that he was framed by another man, a promise of mass foot massages, and the tale of a dog named "Moo Cow."

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