See You In Court
Lawyers for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich have subpoenaed state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic nominee for Senate, to testify at Blagojevich's corruption trial.
Giannoulias's name surfaced at the trial last week, when Blagojevich's former chief of staff, John Harris, testified for the prosecution that his boss tried to sell the Senate seat once held by Barack Obama. The jury heard at length about Blagojevich mapping strategy to see what he could get in return for appointing Valerie Jarrett, now a senior adviser in the Obama White House, to the Senate.
Giannoulias said in an interview that he reached out to Harris to promote Jarrett for the Senate but that he never talked to Blagojevich or Obama about the issue. Giannoulias also said he helped set up a meeting between Jarrett and Tom Balanoff, the leader of the Service Employees International Union in Illinois, to discuss the Senate seat. After the 2008 presidential election, Giannoulias said, "[I] reached out to Harris to give him my thoughts, and at a certain point, Tom Balanoff reached out to me to get in touch with Valerie; he did not know how to get a hold of her. I put the two together in the meeting.
"Despite what the Republicans are trying to say," Giannoulias added, "I am really not a part of this circus. I think you know I have always thought very highly of Valerie."
Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for Giannoulias's GOP opponent, Rep. Mark Kirk, said, "Now we've learned Giannoulias's name has come up on federal wiretaps talking about the Illinois Senate seat, and he has been subpoenaed.... This revelation raises additional questions about Alexi Giannoulias that he needs to answer." (Chicago Sun-Times, 6/28)
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, the architect of her state's controversial policy on illegal immigrants, has endorsed Republican Karen Handel to be the next governor of Georgia.
"As a former secretary of state, I know how that office prepares you to be governor," Brewer said of Handel, who held that post in Georgia. "I've had to make tough choices. When Congress failed to act on illegal immigration, I took action to solve the problem. Now I'm taking on the Obama administration as they try to stop us. I know Karen Handel. She has the experience, courage, and tenacity that make her the best candidate to be governor."
Brewer, a Republican, also said she believed that Handel will "fight to pass similar illegal-immigration laws in Georgia."
Handel said that Brewer is "an inspiration to conservatives" for her fight against illegal immigration. "She also made the hard decisions and cut Arizona's budget to align with today's economic realities," Handel said.
Several of Georgia's GOP candidates for governor have made immigration reform a major plank of their platforms. Former Rep. Nathan Deal has vowed to create an Arizona-style program, and former state Sen. Eric Johnson has pitched an immigration policy that would require proof of residency from anyone using a hospital emergency room or enrolling in a public school. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 6/28)
Vice President Biden made a campaign stop in his home state of Delaware this week, speaking at a fundraiser for New Castle County Executive Chris Coons, who is running for Biden's old Senate seat.
"It's good to be home, and it's good to be campaigning for a guy who I would be proud to call 'Senator,' " Biden told a crowd of about 150 people in Wilmington. "I tell my colleagues in Washington that you're going to be amazed when you find out the quality of the man we're about to elect to the United States Senate."
Coons will likely face nine-term Republican Rep. Michael Castle in November; he introduced Biden to supporters who paid $1,000 apiece to hear him speak for about 30 minutes. Coons said he's running because of all the problems he and his wife, Annie, hear about as they visit different parts of the state. "We hear very real problems. We hear very real needs," he said. "We have problems that have not yet been tackled and fixed."
For his part, Biden spoke mostly about the foundering economy that he and President Obama faced when they took office. "We knew it was going to be tough," Biden said. "We knew we were going to have to make some very difficult decisions." Praising the "gumption" of Democrats in Congress, he added, "That caucus needs some new momentum.... Chris is a truly independent guy. He's a Democrat. He shares the same values we all share." (News Journal, Wilmington, 6/29)
A bikini hula-hoop contest intended to raise money for John Stephen's gubernatorial bid in New Hampshire was canceled last week at the Republican's insistence.
The Stephen camp was knocked for a loop when it heard that a Nashua businessman had added skimpy bathing suits and hip gyrations to a candidate-approved fundraising party set for July 11. After learning about the contest from reporters, campaign officials called Cigar Factory owner Victor Vitale and insisted that he cancel the racy add-on. "Nobody from the campaign knew about this," Stephen's spokesman, Greg Moore, said.
Moore described Vitale as "an overzealous host who wanted to make, in his mind, the event more enjoyable, but he didn't check in with the campaign.... We've raised $655,000, and we didn't do it by having bikini hula-hoop contests. We did it by having a message that resonates with the voters."
The original, more conservative event was advertised on Stephen's and the state GOP's websites. "You and your friends are cordially invited to join our hosts for a backyard barbecue at the Holiday Inn in Nashua," read the announcement for the fundraiser, which sought a $50 donation. Vitale's enhanced invitation exclaimed, "Hey, Party People. It's July, it's HOT, and we are having our HOTTEST party ever." It promised that the bikini contest would be "professional and classy."
The state Democratic Party jumped on the chance to criticize Stephen, the former commissioner of the state's Health and Human Services Department. A press release pinned the blame on the candidate, calling the party plan "outrageous," "demeaning," and "backward." (Union Leader, Manchester, N.H., 6/26)
"He had the courage to stand firm in his principles but also the courage to change over time." -- President Obama, remembering the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. (news release, 6/28)
"I respect and indeed I revere the military." -- Solicitor General Elena Kagan, responding to questions about her policies toward military recruiters when she was Harvard Law School's dean (Associated Press, 6/29)
"We all know that the majority of the people that are coming into Arizona and trespassing are now... drug mules." -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (KMSB-TV, Fox 11, Tucson, 6/28)
"Why don't you say something nice instead of being a smart-ass all the time?" -- Vice President Biden, after a Wisconsin frozen-custard shop manager asked him to "lower our taxes" (Los Angeles Times, 6/27)