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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

Updated With Original Documents: April 15, 2013, 11:58 AM

Tensions between the United States and the North Korean regime have been approaching dangerous new heights of late, but Kim Jong Un's government still has a small, official presence in America. In addition to North Korea's Mission to the United Nations, the country has one registered agent in the United States, a businessman who lives in Upper Manhattan who has made casino and liquor deals with Pyongyang and was once convicted of lying to FBI agents in a mysterious case that involved spies and officials on both sides of the Korean Peninsula.

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On Saturday, members of New Hampshire's State Legislature were prohibited from entering the State House in Concord for about three
hours due to a "threat relative to possible violence" received by the police.

State Representative Peter Sullivan provided TPM with a copy of the email, which was sent to legislators and staffers shortly after 3 p.m. According to Sullivan an "all clear" was sent out at approximately 6 p.m. The email was written by the chiefs of staff of the New Hampshire State Senate and the New Hampshire House of Representatives. As of this writing, the chiefs of staff have not responded to a request for comment about the nature of
the threat.

TPM reached out to Concord Police, who referred us to the New Hampshire State Police. As of this writing, the New Hampshire State Police have not responded to multiple requests for comment.

A group called the Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC was scheduled to host a pro-gun rally outside the State House this afternoon. That
event ended shortly before the threat warning was sent to legislators.

Read the "threat" warning email below:

"From: Flanders, Jay
Sent: Saturday, April 13, 2013 3:11 PM
Subject: Attention - Saturday, 04/13/13

All Representative, Senators and legislative staff,

On Saturday afternoon the police received a threat relative to possible violence at or near the NH State House. We have been requested not to enter the State House until the police have had a chance to evaluate the threat and take any necessary action. Your cooperation in staying out of the building is appreciated. We will let you know when the situation is resolved.

Jay Flanders
Senate Chief of Staff

Ryan Mahoney
House Chief of Staff"

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the pro-gun control group co-founded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, released an ad Friday ahead of the Senate vote on a bipartisan background check compromise.

The ad features scenes of people mourning the Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooting and urges viewers to "call your senators and urge them to support the bipartisan effort."

Bloomberg, who launched a multimillion dollar effort to push for gun control in the wake of the massacre, has called the background check compromise, which was struck by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), good, but "not perfect" in a radio appearance earlier Friday.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg said he and Mayors Against Illegal Guns would work to make sure the bill passes. According to an announcement from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the ad will air in "Washington, DC and in states – represented by both Democrats and Republicans – where it can most influence the upcoming Senate vote." Other states where it will air, the group said, are Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Tennessee. Watch the ad below.

With Republican Party leaders pushing a plan for the GOP to broaden its appeal by softening its stance on social issues, a group of leading social conservatives sent a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus promising an exodus from the party if it stops opposing gay marriage.

But in the letter, the signatories -- who included Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, and Focus on the Family's James Dobson -- also expressed indignation that anyone would suggest they haven't been nice to gays -- or "homosexuals," as they say.

"We deeply resent the insinuation that we have treated homosexuals unkindly personally," they wrote.

So, of course, we had to dig through the archives to find some of the uniquely kind things these conservative activists have said about gays and lesbians over the years.

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On Wednesday morning former Rep. Anthony Weiner barged into the New York City mayoral election with a lengthy profile in the New York Times Magazine in which he expressed his interest in possibly entering the crowded race and, for the first time, addressed the racy Twitter picture scandal that led him to resign from the House in 2011.

Before he left office, the Queens Democrat was widely expected to be the frontrunner in this year's mayor's race and he amassed a nearly $5 million war chest for the campaign. He's certainly got name recognition and financial muscle, but after his fall from grace, does Weiner have a chance?

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Anthony Weiner, who resigned from the House of Representatives in 2011 after he was caught sending lewd photos and messages to several women on Twitter, is considering running for mayor in New York City this year. Weiner confirmed his mayoral ambitions in a lengthy interview with the New York Times Magazine in which he and his wife, Huma Abedin, discussed his scandal in depth

There has been speculation around a potential Weiner mayoral bid for months now. He was known to be considering the race prior to the Twitter scandal and he still has over $4.8 million in a New York City campaign account, which is near the maximum of $6.426 million the major candidates, who all are participating in the city's public financing system, will be allowed to spend in the September primary.

Weiner has used some of his money to conduct polls testing his prospects in both the mayoral election and the city comptroller's race. The Times Magazine story described him as "eyeing the mayor’s race," though he did not entirely rule out entering another citywide race when asked about the possibility. Weiner also admitted the more than $100,000 in polling and research he's conducted about the race showed some people who would not consider voting for him because of the scandal. 

"People are generally prepared to get over it, but they don’t know if they’re prepared to vote for me. And there’s a healthy number of people who will never get over it. ... It’s a little complicated because I always attracted a fairly substantial amount of people who didn’t like me anyway,” Weiner said.

 

Former President Jimmy Carter will meet with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Wednesday. President Carter will be in New York City to receive the International Advocate for Peace award from Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

According to a spokesperson for Mayor Bloomberg, the two will discuss "a number of issues including Hurricane Sandy." 

A group of pro-Israel activists led by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz has been critical of Yeshiva's decision to give President Carter the award. They created a website, shameoncardozo.com, that accuses Carter of having an "ignominious history of anti-Israel bigotry."

Yeshiva University President Richard Joel responded by issuing a statement that praised Carter "for his role in the Camp David Accords of 1978" while also noting the award was given to him by a "student-run" group and does not "indicate the slightest change in our steadfastly pro-Israel stance." 

 

Last year, the hotdish competition ended in a tie between Franken and former Republican Rep. Chip Cravaack. 

"I’m very excited about hosting another Hotdish Off tomorrow,” Franken said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to defending my title as the Minnesota delegation's hotdish champion and spending some quality time with the other members of the Minnesota delegation."

This time around, Senator Franken will be joined by eight of the nine other members of the Minnesota congressional delegation including; Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Reps. Collin Peterson (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Michele Bachmann (R-MN), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Tim Walz (D-MN), Eric Paulsen (R-MN), and Rick Nolan (D-MN). Rep. John Kline (R-MN) is not participating. The Hotdish competition will take place in the Senate office building at 1:30 p.m.

(Scene from the 2012 competition, pcitured left)

 

Updated 3:08 p.m.

Two of the world's most famous musicians, Beyonce and Jay-Z, made headlines last week when they visited Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary. American citizens are generally prohibited by the half-century-old economic embargo from traveling to the communist island nation unless the visit meets specific criteria. TPM cannot confirm whether Jay-Z and Beyonce obtained a license to visit Cuba. Reuters has reported an unnamed source in the Treasury Department said the couple was given a license to visit Cuba for an unspecified purpose, but, as of this writing, a spokesman for Treasury stood by earlier claims they cannot comment on specific licenses.

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Caleb Gray-Burriss, founder and president of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO), was sentenced to 76 months in prison Friday for taking money from the union's treasury and pension fund, according to the Justice Department. NAPSO represents security guards who work at federal buildings in the Washington, D.C. area.

Gray-Burriss was convicted of taking more than $150,000 in NAPSO funds by writing checks to himself from the union's pension account and giving himself and another associate unauthorized bonuses and salary increases. In addition to the prison time, Gray-Burriss was ordered to pay $252,000 in restitution and to perform 100 hours of community service.

Read the full announcement from the Justice Department below:


"FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT OF LABOR UNION SENTENCED TO 76 MONTHS FOR STEALING FROM UNION’S TREASURY AND PENSION FUND
 
        WASHINGTON – The founder and president of the National Association of Special Police and Security Officers (NASPSO) was sentenced to 76 months in prison today for stealing union treasury and pension funds, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
 
Caleb Gray-Burriss, 62, of Washington, D.C., was convicted on Dec. 4, 2012, of six counts of mail fraud, seven counts of theft from a labor organization, one count each of obstruction of justice and criminal contempt, and three counts of union recordkeeping offenses. Gray-Burriss was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts of the District of Columbia and ordered to pay $252,000 in restitution and to perform 100 hours of community service. Because of these convictions Gray-Burris is also now disqualified by federal law from serving as an officer or being employed by a labor union or employee benefit plan until 13 years following his release from prison.
 
NASPSO represents private security guards assigned to protect federal buildings in the metro Washington area. According to the evidence at trial, from approximately June 2004 through February 2011, Gray-Burriss wrote numerous checks to himself or to other third parties from the NASPSO pension plan checking account.  Gray-Burriss spent more than $100,000 of the pension plan funds in this way, while falsely maintaining it was an operational fund that he was properly administering and that was providing benefits to the beneficiaries.  The evidence further showed that Gray-Burriss committed criminal contempt of a court order addressing his prior misappropriation of pension and health plan funds after Gray-Burriss resumed his scheme in 2009 to defraud employers and NASPSO members of pension funds.
 
        In addition, the evidence presented at trial showed that Gray-Burriss, while an officer and employee of NASPSO, stole over $150,000 in NASPSO funds consisting of cash withdrawals to himself, unauthorized salary increases and bonuses to himself and another person, fraudulently drawn checks to himself – purportedly for employment taxes on behalf of NASPSO – and unlawfully used NASPSO funds to pay his personal fines in a civil lawsuit.
 
        The jury also found that Gray-Burriss committed obstruction of justice by destroying or concealing NASPSO financial records during a grand jury investigation; failing to file required annual reports on behalf of NASPSO, falsifying those reports, and failing to maintain properly the records of NASPSO.
 
        The investigation was conducted by agents and investigators of the U.S. Department of Labor.  Trial Attorney Vincent J. Falvo of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Trial Attorney Tracee Plowell, of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case."

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