Tag Archives: cabinet

‘Resist Trump Tuesday’ actions planned across the country

More than 100 “Resist Trump Tuesday” actions are planned for Jan. 24, with the focus on urging  senators to oppose Donald Trump’s cabinet picks and agenda.

People’s Action, MoveOn.org, Working Families Party and other groups will hold actions at the offices of Democratic and Republican senators with a clear message: “Stop the Swamp Cabinet.”

As a candidate, Trump riled up supporters vowing to “drain the swamp” and chase corruption out of Washington, D.C.

Thus far, he’s moved to fill his administration with billionaires, bankers and Wall Street insiders.

Donald Trump’s “politics have only furthered a culture of corruption, and nowhere is that clearer than in the greed and hate embodied by the nominees to his swamp Cabinet,” said MoveOn.org organizing director Vicki Kaplan.

“Millions of Americans are taking action — meeting, marching, and organizing — to ensure Trump and the GOP don’t take away our health care, destroy public education, pollute our air and water, and put in charge billionaires and racists who look out for only themselves at the expense of the rest of us,” Kaplan added.

On the web

Check the action website for event listings coordinated by MoveOn.org, People’s Action, Working Families Party.

In Milwaukee

An action is planned at noon Jan. 24 at the Milwaukee office of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson.
The details:  Participants will meet at the SEIU Local 1 office and walk to Johnson’s office at 250 E Wisconsin Ave.  The action is being coordinated by Citizen Action of WI, SEIU and WI Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals. Sign up to attend here.

Students nationwide walking out of class to protest Trump

Within 100 hours of the inauguration, thousands of students across the country walked out of class in protest of Donald Trump and his billionaire cabinet.

The walk-out comes just two days after millions mobilized in Women’s Marches around the world.

Students on dozens of campuses across the country are demanding administrations resist and reject Trump’s climate denial cabinet by divesting from fossil fuels and reinvesting in solutions to the climate crisis.

“In the face of Trump’s dangerous climate denial, youth are rising up,” said Greta Neubauer, director of the Divestment Student Network. “For any chance at curbing the worst impacts of climate change, our universities must stand on the right side of history with students and take action now against Trump’s climate denial. We won’t allow Trump and his fossil fuel billionaire cabinet to foreclose on our future.”

Today’s day of action, dubbed #ResistRejectDenial, is said to be the largest youth-led mobilization in the history of the fossil fuel divestment movement.

“I need my university to stand up for our futures under Trump’s dangerous and corrupt climate denial,” said Samantha Smyth, sophomore at Appalachian State University. “We must disavow the blatant disregard for our well-being and future by climate deniers in office. We must stand up for the millions of people who are dying at the hands of powerful, morally corrupt individuals who deny climate change.”

Beyond fossil fuel divestment, young people are taking action to ensure elected officials take necessary action on climate and against Big Oil. In an ongoing lawsuit, 21 young people from across the United States filed a landmark lawsuit against the federal government for its failure to address the effects of climate change.

“This is a wake up call to Donald Trump; there are almost 75 million people in this country under the age of 18,” said Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, youth director of Earth Guardians and a plaintiff in the federal climate change lawsuit. “We didn’t have an opportunity to vote in the past election, but we will suffer the consequences of climate inaction to a greater degree than any living generation. Our right to a just and livable future is nonnegotiable.”

Just last week, the World Meteorological Organization confirmed that 2016 was the hottest year on record and the second hottest year in U.S. history surpassing records of 2015 and 2014.

Extreme weather, including storms, floods and droughts, are impacting communities at a pace and magnitude far exceeding previous predictions, making it even more crucial that institutions divest and take meaningful action on climate.

“Hope is something we must create. In this moment, the best way to do that is by taking action and showing that we will rise to this moment,” said Neubauer. “When it comes to climate change, time is not on our side. This is just the beginning of the opposition that the Trump’s administration should expect from young people.”

Ben Carson’s qualifications to be housing chief questioned

While Ben Carson’s celebrated career as a neurosurgeon leaves no doubt about his medical credentials, his lack of experience in government and public policy are raising questions about his qualification to serve as housing secretary.

President-elect Donald Trump wants Carson, a former rival for the Republican presidential nomination, to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a sprawling agency with 8,300 employees and a budget of about $48 billion.

Carson, in remarks prepared for his Jan. 12 hearing before the Senate Banking, House and Urban Affairs Committee, talked about growing up in inner-city Detroit with a single mother who had a third-grade education. She worked numerous jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.

“I understand housing insecurity,” he said in the prepared testimony, and credited his mother with showing him the importance of perseverance and hard work.

Carson said he wants to help heal America’s divisiveness and that the department could play a role. “I see HUD as part of the solution, helping ensure housing security and strong communities,” he said.

Democrats in the GOP-run Senate are questioning his experience and priorities. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., told Carson in a letter that the agency needs a strong, capable leader who believes in its mission.

“There is relatively little in the public record that reveals how you would further HUD’s mission to ‘create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all,’” Warren said.

Among the dozens of questions in the letter:

• What does Carson think about the condition of public housing?

• Should ending homelessness among veterans be a priority?

• How would he ensure equal access to HUD programs to same-sex couples and others?

Several former HUD secretaries, Democrats and Republicans, wrote the committee in support of Carson, saying they believe Carson will listen to staff to help fulfill HUD’s mission of affordable homes and inclusive communities.

The letter was signed by Henry Cisneros, secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Mel Martinez, Alphonso Jackson and Steven Preston, who worked for President George W. Bush.

Carson, the only black major-party candidate in 2016 presidential race, grew up poor. He attended Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School, and was the first African-American named as head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

In 1987, at age 35, Carson pioneered surgery to separate twins joined at the back of the head. In 2013, he entered the national political spotlight when, during the National Prayer Breakfast, he railed against the modern welfare state. President Barack Obama was sitting just feet away.

Carson had said little publicly about affordable housing, homelessness and other HUD-related issues. Last summer, he criticized an Obama administration fair housing rule as government overreach.

Gay members of Congress raise concerns about DeVos’ record on LGBT issues

Democratic U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Jared Polis of Colorado and Mark Takano of California are raising serious concerns about Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos’ views on issues affecting LGBT students and parents.

The reps — all openly gay and co-chairs of the  Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus — this week sent a letter to members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) urging them to closely examine DeVos’ record.

“It is unfathomable that the next Secretary of Education would oppose basic protections for LGBT students and roll back the progress we have made to ensure all students feel safe and supported in our schools,” Pocan said in a statement to the press. “Ms. DeVos’ history of opposing equality for LGBT individuals is deeply troubling, and the public deserves to know whether she will work with us to improve lives or continue to advocate an extremist agenda that bullies our students.”

The letter mentions the millions of dollars DeVos and her family have contributed to organizations and candidates that oppose equality for LGBT families and actively promote dangerous practices like “conversion therapy.”

The text of the letter

Dear Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray:

            As Co-Chairs of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, we write to express our deep concern with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the Secretary of the United States Department of Education, Betsy DeVos. While Ms. DeVos’ stances on a number of public education issues raise concerns, we cannot hold our silence regarding her opposition to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students.  

Betsy DeVos’ career has been marked by repeated attempts to undermine the rights of the LGBT community. She and her family have donated extensively to groups which promote the idea that students who identify as LGBT must undergo “conversion” therapy and have also affiliated with groups that oppose anti-bullying legislation. The next Secretary of Education must represent all students in our country. Anyone who promotes such fervently anti-LGBT viewpoints is wholly unqualified to serve as the Secretary of Education.  

            Since 1998, Betsy DeVos and her family’s foundations have donated at least $6.1 million to Focus on the Family, a right-wing organization which has spent millions of dollars attempting to defeat marriage equality amendments at the state level. Even more troubling, this organization supported by the DeVos family promotes “conversion therapy,” opposes the right of LGBT parents to adopt children, and has referred to transgender individuals as “mentally ill.” This organization has even gone so far to oppose anti-bullying policies and opposes basic workplace protections for LGBT individuals. The DeVos family’s support for anti-LGBT groups and policies extends beyond just this organization to many other groups known for their anti-LGBT activities, such as:  

·         $1,000,000 to the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, which has claimed that the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act amounted to a “fatwa;”

·         $15,000 to the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which has opposed adoption with same-sex couples;

·         $433,750 to the Council for National Policy, a highly secretive group that is led by extremists like Focus on the Family’s James Dobson among other extremists; and 

·         $13,498,000 to the Heritage Foundation, which has stated that “Despite activist judges’ opinions, the majority of Americans continue to affirm the reasonable conclusion that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.” 

The DeVos family does not stop with contributions to intolerant organizations as they also support anti-LGBT politicians. For example, the DeVos family – including Ms. DeVos – were top contributors to Michigan State Representative Andrea LaFontaine, who sponsored legislation allowing adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT parents and deny them the ability to adopt a child. 

            The LGBT community has made significant and long overdue advancements when it comes to equality in education. During President Obama’s tenure in office, the Department of Education took important steps to combat bullying and ensure that Title IX, which prohibits discrimination based on sex, appropriately reflects the rights of transgender students. It is imperative that the rights of LGBT students are adequately protected moving forward. 

            As you move to consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos, we strongly encourage you to seek out answers regarding Ms. DeVos’ stance on important education equity issues, including her views on protecting LGBT students from bullying and discrimination in K-12 and higher education spaces. We are particularly troubled by Betsy DeVos’ past support for inhumane “conversion therapy” treatments and believe it is imperative that any Secretary of Education nominee denounce such practices before being confirmed. 

            As Members of the LGBT community, we know our schools must be a safe place for all children. As you consider the nomination of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, we strongly encourage you to stand up for the civil rights of LGBT students and ensure the next Secretary opposes any action to roll back our progress toward equality.

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CorporateCabinet.org tracks Trump nominees

The corporate ties of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks and other top political appointees are exposed at CorporateCabinet.org.

Public Citizen said it unveiled the website to expose corporate ties, corrupting influences and conflicts of interest in Trump’s cabinet.

The site, which will be updated regularly, will eventually include other top officials such as deputy secretaries.

Many of the nominees have connections with corporations whose profit-driven interests are directly at odds with the federal agencies Trump has selected them to lead.

“Donald Trump, the candidate who ran against corruption, cronyism and insider dealmaking, is handing control of the government over to corporate chieftains,” stated Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “Trump’s corporate Cabinet nominees have staggering conflicts of interest, and if confirmed will drive forward policies to advance the interests of Big Business, not the American people. We’re facing the prospect of a government literally of the Exxons, by the Goldman Sachses and for the Kochs.”

The site has key information about:

  • Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who has strong ties to Koch Industries and raked in eye-popping sums from the finance sector, construction industry, pharmaceutical industry and chemical industry.
  • Rex Tillerson, Trump’s secretary of state pick, who made his career at Exxon Mobil.
  • Steven Mnuchin, treasury secretary nominee and longtime Goldman Sachs executive who was steeped in the investment banking industry long before it became a poster child for economy-wrecking, foreclosure-inducing Wall Street greed, and who later helped run a failed bank accused of duplicitous foreclosure practices.
  • Gen. James Mattis, being considered for secretary of defense, who has served on the board of General Dynamics, a multinational military contractor.
  • U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., under consideration for attorney general and a darling of the finance, insurance and real estate industries, among others.
  • Betsy DeVos, named to be education secretary, who is a billionaire scion and whose husband is heir to the Amway fortune.
  • Elaine Chao, up to run the U.S. Department of Transportation, who served on the board of directors of Wells Fargo during the cross-selling scandal.
  • Former Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, slated to head the National Economic Council, who led Goldman Sachs as it profited off the housing market collapse in part by misleading its own clients.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to the run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who has a deep affinity for fossil fuel companies.
  • Steve Bannon, a special adviser to Trump who once ran Breitbart.com, a far-right website, and is a former Goldman Sachs executive.
  • Linda McMahon, picked to run the Small Business Administration, who as World Wrestling Entertainment CEO helped ensure the wrestling industry remained largely unregulated, putting the health and safety of wrestlers at risk.
  • Fast-food mogul Andy Puzder, who is to head the U.S. Department of Labor and whose companies are known for being anti-worker and anti-union.
  • Wilbur Ross, a billionaire whose firm has profited from buying distressed firms and cutting workers’ benefits, who is under consideration for secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Extensive stock trading by Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services raises questions

Public Citizen says the Office of Congressional Ethics and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission should look more closely at the stock trading activity of U.S. Reps. Tom Price of Georgia and Chris Collins of New York for conflicts of interest and possible insider trading.

Price is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Extensive stock trading activity in industries that Price and Collins oversee as congressmen, and unusually good timing and financial benefits of those stock trades, raise red flags about the potential use of insider information,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The public information available falls short of hard evidence of insider trading, but the patterns of trading activity certainly warrant further investigation to determine if it occurred.”

Since 2009, according to congressional financial disclosure reports, Price has conducted over 630 trades on the stock market, many of which involve the pharmaceutical and health care sectors that he oversees as chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Budget Committee and as a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health.

Price’s colleague Collins also is a prolific trader of health care investments on the stock market, according to news and disclosure reports.

Collins, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health, is a board member and the largest shareholder of a major biotech company, Australia’s Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited — a company in which both Price and Collins made major stock purchases within days of each other, according to financial disclosure reports.

“Collins purchased 4 million shares in August in the company whose board he sits on , and Price followed up with his own major stock purchase in the company two days later,” said Lisa Gilbert, director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “The stock value doubled in the three months following their investments. That’s quite good luck. This is worthy of investigation to determine whether any wrongful conduct occurred.”

Since passage of the STOCK Act in 2012, members of Congress have been subject to the same laws against insider trading that apply to everyone else. Additionally, congressional ethics rules warn members to avoid substantial conflicts of interest that may cast aspersions on the integrity of their office. Rules also mandate that members may not use their office for personal gain.

Public Citizen’s letter asks that the OCE and SEC investigate the stock trading activity of Price and Collins for potential violations of insider trading laws and conflict of interest rules and regulations.

On the Web

Read Public Citizen’s letter.

Trump’s nominee for Housing and Urban Development opposed anti-poverty programs

Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of Housing and Urban Development has voiced little empathy for those who depend on the social welfare programs that aided his own climb out of poverty.

A retired neurosurgeon, Ben Carson has often recounted his childhood as the son of a single mother in inner-city Detroit. In his 1996 autobiography “Gifted Hands,” Carson wrote of the humiliation he felt using food stamps from his mom to pay for bread and milk and said he began to excel at school only after receiving a free pair of glasses that allowed him to see the lessons written on chalkboards.

After Carson’s mother and father divorced, she received a small house in the settlement. But as her financial situation deteriorated, Carson and his siblings were forced to move into a succession of tenements and apartment buildings, some of which he described as having “hordes of rats” and “armies of roaches.”

Carson, 65, has not said publicly whether his family ever lived in federally funded housing or received Section 8 subsidies to help pay rent, but as a conservative political figure he has criticized such public assistance programs for creating “dependency” on the government among low-income blacks.

“I’m interested in getting rid of dependency, and I want us to find a way to allow people to excel in our society, and as more and more people hear that message, they will recognize who is truly on their side and who is trying to keep them suppressed and cultivate their votes,” Carson said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015.

Carson has been married for more than 40 years to Candy Carson and the couple has three children. Financial disclosure reports show Carson has earned millions in book royalties and speaking fees in recent years, with an estimated net worth of more than $20 million.

The former Republican presidential candidate has never before held elected or appointed government office. He also has no experience managing an organization with a multibillion-dollar budget and thousands of employees.

If confirmed as HUD secretary, Carson would oversee a federal bureaucracy that provides Americans with mortgage and loan insurance, distributes housing grants to state and local governments, and offers rental assistance and public housing to low-income families, the elderly and disabled. The agency is also charged with enforcing federal fair housing laws.

Carson has not detailed what policy changes he might seek to make at the agency. But in a 2015 opinion piece in The Washington Times he compared an Obama administration effort to racially integrate majority-white neighborhoods to past federal efforts to desegregate schools through busing students, which he derided as a “failed socialist experiment.”

With the help of financial aid and scholarships, Carson attended Yale University and the University of Michigan Medical School before being the first African-American named as the head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. There, he garnered national acclaim for directing the first surgery to separate twins connected at the back of the head.

Carson’s rise to political prominence began with a 2013 speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, where he gave a withering critique of the modern welfare state and the nation’s overall direction while President Barack Obama was seated just feet away. During the 2016 Republican presidential primary, Carson’s inspirational life story, Christian faith and anti-establishment message briefly catapulted him last year ahead of Trump and other rivals in opinion polls.

But his success on the campaign trail quickly crumbled amid questions about whether elements of his rags-to-riches autobiography were exaggerated or fabricated – including a purported childhood fit of rage that compelled him to try to stab his best friend in the belly only to be foiled by a belt buckle. Carson’s business dealings also faced scrutiny, including his ties to a wealthy Pittsburgh dentist whom he helped avoid prison time for felony health-care fraud.

The Associated Press first reported last year that Carson invested millions of dollars in real estate deals with Alfonso A. Costa, whose dentistry license was revoked following a felony conviction. According to required financial disclosure forms he filed in 2015, Carson and his wife made between $200,000 and $2 million a year from those real estate investments. Costa also served on the board of Carson’s charity, the Carson Scholars Fund, which provides college scholarships to children in need.

Records show Carson appeared as a character witness at his friend’s 2008 sentencing hearing, pleading with the judge for leniency. Though he faced up to 10 years in prison, Costa received a greatly reduced sentence of one year of house arrest served in a suburban mansion. Yet in his 2013 book “America the Beautiful,” Carson called for severe penalties for those convicted of health care fraud, including at least a decade in prison and “the loss of all of one’s personal possessions.”

‘Populist’ Trump chooses Cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street insiders

She supported Trump for his populist vows  to “drain the swamp” in Washington of moneyed elites and Wall Street insiders who crashed the economy, so  when she learned of Trump’s Cabinet pick for Treasury Secretary — Steven Mnuchin — she felt betrayed.

OneWest, a bank formerly owned by a group of investors headed by Mnuchin, had foreclosed on her Los Angeles-area home in the aftermath of the Great Recession, stripping her of the two units she rented as a primary source of income.

“I just wish that I had not voted,” said Colebrook, 59. “I have no faith in our government anymore at all. They all promise you the world at the end of a stick and take it away once they get in.”

Less than a month after his presidential win, Trump’s populist appeal has started to clash with a Cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street elites.

In addition to Mnuchin, Trump has chosen Wlibur L. Ross Jr., a billionaire investor in distressed assets as Secretary of Commerce Department and Chicago Cubs owner and billionaire Todd Ricketts as deputy commerce secretary.

‘Now backing his buddies’

Less than a month after his presidential win, Trump’s populist appeal has started to clash with a Cabinet of billionaires and millionaires that he believes can energize economic growth.

The prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department drew plaudits from many in the financial sector. A former Goldman Sachs executive who pivoted in the early 2000s to hedge fund management and movie production, he seemed an ideal emissary to Wall Street.

When asked about his credentials to be Treasury secretary, Mnuchin emphasized his time running OneWest — which not only foreclosed on Colebrook but also on thousands of others in the aftermath of the housing crisis caused by subprime mortgages.

“What I’ve really been focused on is being a regional banker for the last eight years,” Mnuchin said. “I know what it takes to make sure that we can make loans to small and midmarket companies and that’s going to be our big focus, making sure we scale back regulation so that we make sure the banks are lending.”

But the prospect of Mnuchin leading the Treasury Department prompted Colebrook and other OneWest borrowers who say they unfairly faced foreclosure to contact The Associated Press. Colebrook wishes she could meet with Trump to explain why she feels betrayed by his Cabinet selection after believing that his presidency could restore the balance of power to everyday people.

“He doesn’t want the truth,” she said. “He’s now backing his buddies.”

The Trump transition team has been sensitive to preserving trust with its voters. Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway publicly warned that supporters would feel “betrayed” if former critic Mitt Romney was named secretary of state, for instance.

Wealth from Great Recession foreclosures

For Mnuchin, the fundamental problem stems from the Great Recession. His investor group was the sole bidder to take control of the troubled bank IndyMac in 2009. The group struck a deal that left the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation responsible for taking as much as 80 percent of the losses on former IndyMac assets and rebranded the troubled bank as OneWest.

The combination of OneWest’s profitability, government guarantees and foreclosure activities drew the ire of activist groups like the California Reinvestment Coalition. It found the bank to be consistently one of the most difficult to work out loan modifications with even though OneWest never drew a major response from government regulators.

By June of 2014, five years after taking over OneWest, Mnuchin sold the bank for $3.4 billion at a tremendous profit.

Colebrook said she learned the hard way about OneWest’s tactics, after the regional bank acquired her home lender, First Federal Bank of California, in late 2009.

 

Walker tells donors he doesn’t want cabinet post

Gov. Scott Walker said this week that he won’t accept a cabinet position if a Republican is elected president, plans to stay on as Wisconsin’s governor through the end of his term and is undecided about seeking a third term in 2018.

Walker made the comments in a conference call where he thanked donors for their support in his campaign, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which listened in on the call.

Walker’s campaign spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski was not on the call and told The Associated Press she could not immediately verify his comments as reported by the Journal Sentinel.

Walker returned to work in his Capitol office on Sept. 22, meeting with staff and state lawmakers. His first public appearance since abruptly dropping out of the presidential race Sept. 21 is set for today, at an anniversary celebration for a business in Beaver Dam.

Walker has not spoken publicly since his brief 4-minute address announcing that he was quitting the presidential race just 70 days after he got in. Walker dropped out as financial support dried up and his poll numbers in early voting states dropped below 1 percent.

But in the call with donors, the Journal Sentinel said Walker told them his campaign lacked the money needed to continue. Even with a smaller staff and budget, and potentially going into debt, he was not convinced he could still win the nomination, the newspaper said Walker told donors.

“When revenues are not meeting expenses you’ve got to look seriously at what action to take,” Walker said. “I was looking at whether a change would change the outcome as opposed to delaying the outcome.”

Walker also expressed particular frustration with the second GOP debate last week in California, saying that many of the questions revolved around negative attacks made by Donald Trump against other candidates. In his speech Monday ending his campaign, didn’t name Trump but said other candidates should “clear the field” so someone can emerge to surpass him.

With Walker out of the presidential race, Democrats renewed their call for him to follow through on a promise to reimburse taxpayers for travel costs of his state-funded security detail.

Those State Patrol officers are with the governor around the clock, but critics said it wasn’t right for taxpayers to pay for their travel costs as Walker campaigned for president around the country.

Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen, of Green Bay, and Rep. Katrina Shankland, of Stevens Point, said Walker should immediately pay the security detail’s travel costs. They cited media reports quoting Walker’s former campaign manager Rick Wiley as saying that the campaign has expenses as large as $800,000, with $1 million cash on hand.

The campaign paid the state back $14,000 for costs incurred through Aug. 1, and will pay all that is owed once final invoices are received, Walker’s campaign spokeswoman Kukowski said.

Our American Revival, a political committee Walker formed in January before he officially became a candidate, made two payments to the state, according to an IRS filing. It shows the committee paid the state $33,427 on June 25 for security services and $5,829 on May 26 for use of a state vehicle.

British government to ready same-sex marriage bill

The British government announced on Dec. 11 that it will introduce a bill next year legalizing gay marriage – but banning the Church of England from conducting same-sex ceremonies.

Equalities minister Maria Miller said the legislation would authorize same-sex civil marriages, as well as religious ceremonies if religions decide to “opt in.” 

“I feel strongly that, if a couple wish to show their love and commitment to each other, the state should not stand in their way,” Miller said.

“For me, extending marriage to same-sex couples will strengthen, not weaken, this vital institution.”

Some religious groups, such as Quakers and liberal Jews, say they want to conduct same-sex ceremonies.

But others, including the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, oppose gay marriage, and the government is seeking to reassure them that they will not be forced to take part.

Miller said the legislation would make it unlawful for the Church of England – the country’s official church, symbolically headed by Queen Elizabeth II – and the Anglican Church in Wales to conduct gay weddings.

It also will ensure that religious organizations or ministers who refuse to marry a same-sex couple can’t be sued for discrimination.

“No religious organization will ever be forced to conduct marriages for same-sex couples,” Miller told lawmakers.

Since 2005, gay couples in Britain have been able to form civil partnerships, which give them the same legal protection, adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual married partners – but not full civil marriage.

The government’s announcement was welcomed by gay rights campaigners, but condemned by some religious leaders.

The bill is likely to have enough support in Parliament to become law. Gay marriage is backed by Britain’s Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and many of his Cabinet, as well as by most lawmakers from the Liberal Democrat and Labour parties.

But some traditionalist members of Cameron’s Conservative Party remain strongly opposed.

“I would like to ask the Secretary of State and the government what right have they got, other than arrogance and intolerance, to stamp their legislative boot on religious faith?” said lawmaker Richard Drax.