Nick R. Martin

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Nick

The killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has reopened old racial wounds and ignited calls for justice from across the nation.

But as often happens when a local case captures national attention, the hard facts of the killing seem to have been drowned out amid the rumors, shouts and political rhetoric.

The debate has its place, no doubt. But to try to more clearly present what actually happened on the night of Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., TPM has put together a guide to the events that reportedly took place before, during and immediately after the killing.

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Investigators in Arizona are looking into whether embattled Sheriff Paul Babeu's office destroyed records that may have shed light on whether he threatened to deport his immigrant ex-boyfriend after their breakup.

A report published Friday morning in the Arizona Republic said the inquiry is focusing on roughly 6,200 files that seem to have disappeared after state investigators requested they be preserved.

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The US Army Reserve announced on Friday it had reprimanded one of its own, Spc. Jesse Thorsen, for making a political speech while in uniform at a rally with Ron Paul on the night of the Iowa caucuses in January.

The Afghanistan war veteran received the letter of reprimand after an almost three-month investigation by his superiors.

Thorsen, who was wearing his green military fatigues that night, gave an impassioned and apparently impromptu speech promoting the Republican Texas congressman's presidential bid. The specialist said at the time he particularly liked Paul's anti-war policies.

A statement released Friday morning by the military said Thorsen had violated Defense Department rules by participating in a "partisan political rally" while in uniform.

The Army Reserve previously referred to Thorsen's rank as a corporal, but during the investigation his superiors said they were unable to find any evidence showing he had been promoted to that rank.

Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain of Arizona threw their support behind President Obama's nominee to take over the scandal-plagued US Attorney's Office in Phoenix.

"John Leonardo is well equipped to serve in a key post that has been left vacant for far too long," the Republicans said in a joint statement released late Wednesday.

Leonardo, a longtime Arizona judge and former federal prosecutor, will have to be confirmed by the Senate. The position has been unfilled since August, when former US Attorney Dennis Burke resigned amid the ongoing Fast and Furious scandal.


President Obama nominated a longtime Tucson-area judge Wednesday to take over the scandal-rocked US Attorney's Office in Arizona, which is still facing fallout over the botched Fast and Furious investigation despite the resignation of its previous leader in August.

John Leonardo, who served as a judge in Pima County for about 19 years and as a federal prosecutor for 20 years before that, will still have to be confirmed by the US Senate.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, Obama called Leonardo's career "distinguished and impressive” and said he was confident the former judge would do well in the office.

Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee continues to investigate the gun-running scandal, which led to the resignation of Dennis Burke, the previous US Attorney for Arizona.

To state Sen. Wendy Davis, the firebombing of her Fort Worth district office on Tuesday was a clear sign that something is wrong in Texas.

Targeted by a man who authorities said talked of space aliens and had a history of psychiatric problems, the Democrat ripped into her fellow lawmakers on Wednesday for providing so little funding for mental health care throughout the state.

"These decisions have consequences," Davis said in an interview with TPM. "Many people are able to look at them just as dollars on a budget line and they forget that there are real people that are affected by them."

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Updated: March 21, 2012, 3:44 PM

A homeless man with a history of mental illness was arrested in connection with the firebombing of the Fort Worth offices of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D), an official with the city's fire department said on Wednesday.

Police arrested Cedric Steele, 40, on Tuesday night, just hours after he was suspected of hitting the Democratic lawmaker's district office with Molotov cocktails.

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Police have arrested someone in the firebombing of Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis' office in Fort Worth, an official with the city's fire department told TPM on Wednesday morning.

Fire Capt. Tom Crow said the person was arrested overnight and police and fire officials would be holding an 11 a.m. ET news conference to reveal the attacker's name, photograph and more details of the investigation.

Crow also said federal investigators with the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had joined the probe.

Davis, a Democrat, was not in the office when a pair of Molotov cocktails hit its door on Tuesday afternoon, but two of her staffers were. One of them quickly put out the fire. No one was hurt.

It is still unclear whether the attack was politically motivated, Crow said.

"I don't have any information regarding motivations right now," he said. "That’s not to say it is or it isn’t. I’m just not aware of it."

Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) held a news conference on Tuesday night, just hours after her Fort Worth office was hit with a pair of Molotov cocktails. Her spokesman, Anthony Spangler, sent TPM a copy of her statement:

First …

I'm thankful no one was hurt today and I'm grateful for the quick thinking of one of my team members who minimized the damage and ensured that no one was harmed in this violent senseless attack

As these violent incidents happen across the country, it should remind us of the importance of the democratic process and remind us to keep a sense of civility even as we disagree - acts of violence are never a solution and have no place in our society

While we don't know the motive today, we are in touch with police/fire investigators and this remains an ongoing investigation that includes Fort Worth Police/Fort Worth Fire/and Texas Department of Public Safety.


Let me say …

Texas faces enormous challenges that we all face. We can and should work together to resolve these issues through civil, non-violent discourse.

I will continue to stand up for the things we all believe in and hold important, such as adequate public education funding, job creation, and the protection of women's healthcare.